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Playtest UK Games Meetup Group Message Board › Meetup Organisation

Meetup Organisation

Rob H.
user 11129400
Group Organizer
Surbiton, GB
Post #: 6
Dear Playtesters,

It is great to see that we have now grown to over 150 members and our meetups are attracting around 25-30 each time. With the increased numbers, the playtesting sessions are getting more complicated to organise on the fly. Many of you have already commented on my cross-eyed look as I try to work out the schedule for each meetup ;)

As we get bigger, the organisation should be tweaked to make sure that it works well and that everyone gets a fair chance to playtest and to get their designs playtested.

At the moment, I am thinking of implementing two possible changes:

1. To have a more rigid structure on the day of 75mins or 90mins playtesting sessions, with a timer and a strict cut off point. Then we could all rotate to the next game at the same time.

2. Having a proper pre-registration of game prototypes before each meetup with a cutoff of the Friday before. This would give me the chance to organise a schedule beforehand, which should make the sessions more manageable. People would still be able to bring other prototypes on the day, but with the understanding that they will be scheduled after the pre-registered games.

It is important that everyone gets a chance to comment on these changes and I am very interested to hear of any other ideas, which may improve Playtest. The members make this club possible, so everyone has a right to a point of view.

Of course there might/will be problems with both the suggestions above. Please give your views below or come on Sunday, when there will be time to discuss these changes and any other suggestions.

Look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Cheers, Rob
Behrooz S.
user 8748997
London, GB
Post #: 176
By 'the Friday before', do you mean 37 hours before the meetup?! Or 9 days before?

If the former, then that seems like a generous deadline. If there were a rule to register 9 days beforehand, that would seem reasonable.

Having an identical time for each game seems slightly odd to me. The maximum length would mean that longer games can never be playtested. And some faster games might only need 40 minutes at most to play a couple of games and have a lengthy discussion.

Furthermore, some games might require 2 players, some might require 10. With a 2-player game, I imagine the designer could create 2 prototypes and watch over 2 simultaneous games, writing notes from both games. However,
a) there's still a large discrepancy in player count
b) if the designer's watching 2 simultaneous games (possibly getting slightly less info from each than if they had been played separately), maybe it'd be best for folk to split up and for the other 2 folk to play someone else's game. Otherwise, there could be a surplus of games and a shortage of players.

I like the idea and would encourage its implementation. I think that a bit of structure is good. Just pointing out possible issues and playing devil's advocate to some extent, despite being a newbie and not having met you yet. These are my uncensored thoughts, and I trust that all the feedback is desired. It is a group all about feedback, after all. ;-)

There is also the consideration of folk who bring multiple games. Would these be grouped into one session?

Finally, could I ask for a clarification of your structuring idea? Just now, I'm not 100% certain how this rotation system will work.

I'd envisage an evening of 2 halves - half the games would be scheduled to run in the first 3 hours of the evening, then 3 hours for the remaing games. One hour for games brought on the day, general chat, spillage time and maybe for games that don't require the full 3 hours of playtesting, or maybe freeform 'do whatever' time.

Designers would then get 3 hours of playtesting time for their own stuff and would spend an equal (or greater) amount of time playing other folks' stuff. Anyone not bringing a game and choosing spend the whole day would get to play 4 games.

A timer of 90 minutes might simplify things, breaking the afternoon into 5 sections. Folk playing would be asked to move to a game they haven't played yet. Designers of 2-player games could prepare by creating 2 prototypes and shorter games could have a series of games with different setups within that hour-and-a-half.

I guess designers of epic 2/3 hour-long games would have to request exemption, accept that their game would be seen by fewer eyes, and warn playtesters that they would be playing that one game for the entire 3 hour 'half'.

I'm not sure if my interpretation is correct, but I heartily support structure and organisation within a meetup that has a 'serious' purpose in mind beyond 'just' the entertainment of the individuals within the group.
Rob H.
user 11129400
Group Organizer
Surbiton, GB
Post #: 7
Thanks for the feedback, Behrooz. You make some really good points. Although the group is about enjoying playing games and socialising, there is also a 'serious' purpose.

The deadline I envisaged would be for the Friday before a meetup, so approximately 37 hours before the start. I don't want to stop people from booking in a game in the last few days or indeed from bringing a game on the day. It is just to allow some of the organisation can be done beforehand.

At the moment, I make a list of all of the games that have been brought, with the number of players and the duration and then create the schedule on the fly. Hopefully this works at the moment, with everybody getting the opportunity to get their designs playtested, as well as play other's prototypes. In fact, we usually manage to playtest every game brought.

With the growing numbers for each meetup, this on-the-spot scheduling is becoming more difficult and can cause a bit of a delay at the beginning. If it was done beforehand, the organisation would run a little smoother.

It does bring up the problem of designers signing up and then maybe not being able to attend on the Sunday, but I think it would be easier to move other prototypes up to fill the spaces once there is a template.

The idea of the 75mins-90mins time slots is more problematic, due to some of the concerns Behrooz outlines above. A fixed duration may be too short for the longer games and too long for the shorter games.

My reasoning so far is that most games can be played and discussed in 75 mins. The shorter games can maybe be played twice and the longer games can be played, but perhaps not to the end. If a game ends early and all of the feedback has been taken, players would be happier to chill out for a while if they know when the next round of games is going to start.

My concern is for the longer games, so I would welcome any fair and workable solutions, which would allow the longer games to be played to conclusion. Perhaps this will arise from the flexibility afforded by the pre-registration of designs.

There is also the question of the playtesters in this situation. Most would happily try any game that lasts for about 60 mins and then have 15 mins discussion afterwards, even if it was a design or a genre that they wouldn't normally choose to play. However, if playtesters believe that they may be required to play such a game for 3 hours, they are less likely to volunteer. A designer may prefer to have a full complement of players for a shortened playtest, but perhaps there is a way to offer this choice to the playtesters.

If there was a set time for all games, it would make the change-over time between games a lot smoother. At present, after the first round of games, some playtesters are looking for a new game, while others may stay with the same game for longer. Then, a group of playtesters tend to travel together from one game to another and this lessens the opportunities for members to mix and get to know different games.

These are some of my thoughts about the re-organisation. Please feel free to post your own comments, whether they be one sentence or much longer. Also, the above suggestions are not written in stone. As Behrooz says, we are a group that thrives on feedback and this process will be on-going until we find the best possible solution.

In a way this is a great problem to have, because it means that the group is expanding. Hopefully, some reasoned re-jigging now will lay the foundations for continued growth in the future.
Andy O.
user 71498972
London, GB
Post #: 1
Thought I'd try and get in early for next month. Would it be possible to book in Terror at Graveport again. The interested publisher has asked how it plays with 5. I did design it to sit up to 5, but have never got that many to play it at once. Only possible issue might be that it took 1hr20mins with 4, and I can see it taking slightly longer with 5.

Cheers
Andy
Rob H.
user 11129400
Group Organizer
Surbiton, GB
Post #: 9
Hi Andy,

No problem; I'll add it to the list for next month's meetup. I'm finalising how I'm going to get all of the prototype information at the moment for the schedule, but it should be in place by next week. If your game is likely to run longer than 90mins, perhaps it can go into the final round of playtesting, if that's okay.

Cheers, Rob
Behrooz S.
user 8748997
London, GB
Post #: 178
Longer games in the last slot so extra time can be used for spillage?! Genius idea!

Are you hoping for 3 or 4 'slots' (excluding overspill time)?

Though I have no experience with the old system, the 'trial run' worked well.
Andy O.
user 71498972
London, GB
Post #: 2
Hi Andy,

No problem; I'll add it to the list for next month's meetup. I'm finalising how I'm going to get all of the prototype information at the moment for the schedule, but it should be in place by next week. If your game is likely to run longer than 90mins, perhaps it can go into the final round of playtesting, if that's okay.

Cheers, Rob

Sounds like a good idea to me. When you say proto-type info, do you want a brief written synopsis? Might be easier to distribute a few sheets with a summary of each game, rather than having people standing around trying to hear mumbled (in my case) descriptions.
Rob H.
user 11129400
Group Organizer
Surbiton, GB
Post #: 10
Longer games in the last slot so extra time can be used for spillage?! Genius idea!

Are you hoping for 3 or 4 'slots' (excluding overspill time)?

Though I have no experience with the old system, the 'trial run' worked well.

Thanks for the feedback, Bez. Sorry for the late reply. I only just saw your comment.
Hoping for 3/4 slots still, although as always this will depend on the games presented. Glad you enjoyed the new format. I thought it improved the day and definitely the organisation. It seemed to make the playtests more focused when the designer and playtesters knew there was a time limit, and everyone was able to mix more freely. The only issue is the problem of accommodating longer games, but hopefully moving them to a later round might solve this. Fingers crossed.
Rob H.
user 11129400
Group Organizer
Surbiton, GB
Post #: 11


Sounds like a good idea to me. When you say proto-type info, do you want a brief written synopsis? Might be easier to distribute a few sheets with a summary of each game, rather than having people standing around trying to hear mumbled (in my case) descriptions.

Apologies for the late reply.
The only prototype info to include at the moment is a brief description of the game, the expected duration and the amount of players. I thought that the designer introduction worked quite well, but I guess the important thing is to give fair warning so that people can prepare a brief description, rather than just picking people out like last time. Sorry about that ;)
Rob H.
user 11129400
Group Organizer
Surbiton, GB
Post #: 15
For the next session there will be a video countdown on the TV screen in the corner of the room to clearly show the time left for each session. As before the final session will have a more open time limit to accommodate longer games.

The part of the meetup which seems the most chaotic at the moment is the breaks between playtesting sessions. Members naturally want to have a toilet break or order food or a drink between games.

With the video countdown coming next month, I wondered whether it would be useful to add a 10-minute timer for the break between sessions as well? Would this prevent listless waiting or create too rigid a timetable. Is 10 minutes long enough?

As ever, please let me know your thoughts.

Cheers, Rob
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