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Friday, September 19, 2008

Why One Playtester/Reviewer Cannot Say No

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

When you are getting reports on a product in development, one of the things to be aware of is that the people reporting often see the game only from "their own point of view". Thus, if the reporter would "never use such a ship", it inherently means to the reporter that the ship should be thrown out and replaced with something "He" would use.

The thing is that ships are added because someone thought they would be useful to them in the way they play the game. There is no real way to tell if in a group of ten players all ten play exactly the way the reporting person plays, or if all ten of them do not play that way.

Local tactics influence things on local levels.

Thus a player (to take a gross example) who never uses electronic warfare has no use for scouts and would have any new scout immediately ejected from the game. To him, everyone plays the way he plays, i.e., they do not use electronic warfare, therefore no one needs scouts.

Another player may reject bases for the same basic reason. He never does an attack on a fixed position, and never defends them, so he does not want any new races to "waste pages" on things like battle stations and base stations. The problem is that other players play campaigns where the bases are necessary to the prosecution (defending and destroying as well as conducting campaign repairs and supply operations) to their game play.

The list goes on. The basic thing though is that we do not publish ships willy-nilly. We get requests for them. Some players just want an improvement to a ship (like better survey cruiser so his race can compete better in the survey captain's campaign, or a hypothetical survey ship just to be able to compete at all).

The upshot is that no one player is allowed to say "I would not use this, therefore no one else would". We do listen if the reporter can explain why the other player who wants the ship is wrong and it will not work the way he wants it to. But most such reports tend to come from the blind angle of "I would not use this ship, therefore no one will."