Yesterday I was able to play Peril in the Promised Land with a couple of friends. It's interesting how getting other people's perspectives on the game is very insightful. I have felt like the game is in a pretty good stage. I think things work pretty well and it's pretty balanced. Then they had a few insights as we played and after we finished (we lost!!) that really were completely logical and very helpful in making the game a lot better (at least it seems like it will be, I need to play it more with the changes to see how it all works). I guess you can tweak a game and go through iteration after iteration and, my question is, how do you know when you've finished or reached an end? Like I said, I thought things were good, but now, I wonder if other changes can be made to improve things. How much should a game be play-tested? How does one know that the game has reached an end of the design phase and needs no more tweaking?
On Board Game Designers Forum someone asked a similar question (here). Some of the response is that you can't really say how many times a game needs to be play-tested before it is "ready." It's important to make sure you are changing things up each time you play-test. One response in particular said: "remember your trying to break the game through your playtests try and find strange loop holes and other such things that will need changing to prevent certain outcomes or maybe even new strategies that you think need defined more so they may work." I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I think it is true. Each time I am able to play one of my games with a new person I get a lot of new insights that I hadn't even thought about before.
As a result I think I need to get my games to "a good point." Then I need to enlist several people at different times to play-test, with me as a player and with me as a spectator. Then I'll be able to get lots of different perspectives and the play-tests won't be the same all the time. I can also take it upon myself to attempt to play differently every time my wife and I play. It will reveal new things that haven't come up before.
I'm so glad that there are so many people out there willing to share their insights and experience, and that the internet offers us a place to do that.