Protospiel North FAQ 2012
What is it?
Protospiel North is a Hammercon IV event track that brings amateur and established game designers together to test and promote game prototypes. It is organized similarly to an original Protospiel event.
What is a Protospiel?
Protospiel is an annual event held in Ann Arbor, Michigan since 2001. It is specifically geared towards board game designers who bring their prototypes to be played and critiqued by the other designers who attend. Many of those who attended Protospiel in past years have become successful, either as published designers or through publishing their own games. For more information, check out the Protospiel website. http://www.protospiel.org/
How is Protospiel North organized?
P-North runs for the entire duration of HammerCon, which starts at 7:00pm on Friday and wraps at 5:30pm on Sunday. The atmosphere is casual, as designers meet and mingle and break into groups to play one another's games, and give feedback by discussing the play experience afterwards.
Are there any special events planned?
It is anticipated that there will be one or more informal round-table discussions about the hobby game industry. These will cover all aspects of the game business and the creative process behind it, from game development to self-publishing, manufacturing, distribution and retail sales.
Can non-designers be play-testers?
Yes. If you are a HammerCon attendee, you can become a play-tester, either by signing up to play in a Protospiel North game session on the event track, or by volunteering to play-test at a P-North open-table play-test session. The only requirement is that you give the designer your feedback after participating in the session.
I just designed my first game. Why should I attend?
There is no such thing as too much play-testing! Do you really know how good your game is? Playing it with friends and family is a good start, but having experienced designers give you their opinion is invaluable. You should also consider attending a round-table discussion dealing with the hobby game industry. I'm sure you have lots of questions and this is the best place to get answers!
I am an experienced designer with a number of published games. Why should I attend?
Chances are you already know the value of play-testing games with your peers. Additionally, HammerCon IV will give you an opportunity to present your latest work-in-progress to the general public for their consideration. It is also an opportunity to promote a self-published game, or a published game that is about to be released.
Will play-testers be signing non-disclosure agreements?
No. If you are paranoid about discussing game ideas or reluctant to have someone see your work-in-progress, Protospiel North is probably not the right place for you. However, if you want to become acquainted with other game designers and establish meaningful business relationships, then you should expect to be open and involved. Who knows - that magical collaboration could start here.
What is involved in running a play-test?
- You need to bring a playable prototype. It doesn't have to be the prettiest thing in the world, but it does need to be functional.
- You should have the game set up and ready to play before the play-testers sit down.
- Have all the pieces. Each player should have whatever they need to play.
- Make sure any game information is easy to read. This includes text on cards, game-boards, player-aids and rules sheets.
- Make sure the players are clear on what the game involves and what the rules are.
- Tell the players what you are trying to accomplish by running this particular play-test.
- If there are specific strategies that need testing, tell the players.
- If the end of the game has some issues, tell the players. If you can set up the game to begin play halfway through the game to get to the ending sooner, consider doing this.
- Let the players know what to focus on, what kind of feedback you will be asking for after the playing is done.
- It's a good idea to hand out feedback sheets to the players so that they can write down notes about the game while they are playing, instead of having to remember everything later. If you don't have your own feedback sheets, P-North can provide them for you.
- Wrap up the game well before the scheduled end time to allow for player feedback.
- Have the players write their answers to your feedback questions. Having data to review days later is invaluable.
I have a question, ideas, or feedback not covered in this FAQ. Who do I talk to?
The discussion forum for Protospiel North is maintained on Hammer Games. Go there and check if your question has been answered; if not, you can sign up for an account and contribute your comment in the discussion forum part of the group. Protospiel North is here for you, so if you have ideas for what you want to see then let us know!