Frequently Asked Questions

    • So, who are you guys anyways? The Coalition is a group of developers and playtesting coordinators scattered across the US, Canada, and Europe. Among our ranks, you will find multiple recognizable designers, a career writer and freelance copy editor, 15+ years of experience in professional gaming, and even the lead developer for a prolific publisher. Learn more about us by reading up on the team.
    • I can just pay my own playtesters with pizza. Why should I pay cash to use yours? You should absolutely playtest your game on your own, in as many circles as you possibly can. We do not preclude the need for your own playtesting. When you come to us, you're paying for more than just playtesting. You're paying for professional game development. Our feedback and actionable insights will help you make a better game. Check out our service summary for a better idea of what we have to offer.
    • How long will it take for me to receive my final reports and invoice? Every game's service is different. While we may be able to exhaustively test a featherweight game in a few days, it may take more time for longer and heavier games. If you've made special playtesting requests (like targeted age groups or specific player counts), it could take even longer. In general, however, our goal is a 1.25 avg session per week minimum. This means standard Exploratory service could be complete in 5 weeks, while Exhaustive is closer to 12. Your consultant will keep you up to date with your service’s progress.
    • How can I get my prototype to you? Are you gonna send it back? Once you fill out our questionnaire, an associate will contact you within 48 hours with your estimate and a PO Box address in Florida. Simply package your prototype up and send it by mail. If you would like us to return your prototype to you, let your consultant know ahead of time. Your final invoice will include return shipping costs. Tracking numbers are available upon request. We also offer a mock-up assembly service, priced aggressively low so you can still receive our services without sending your baby out in the mail.
    • My prototype is one-of-a-kind, or I don't want to ship internationally. Can you still playtest and evaluate my game? Absolutely. For a flat rate that is likely less than even domestic shipping, our team will mock up a prototype to your specifications. Just make sure you can send digital files containing the details and text of any custom components--especially cards and dice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide this service for dexterity games or games with mechanically significant artwork (unless you can provide a Print-and-Play file).
    • Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Hablas español? Parlez-vous Français? Nǐ huì shuō zhōngguó? Respectively, ein bisschen, muy poco, no, and...no? Sadly, English is the only language that our team members speak fluently enough to provide quality reports and copy editing.
    • Who exactly is going to be playtesting my game? The Coalition consists of a grassroots network of playtesters in multiple cities in the USA. Your consultant will coordinate sessions, and part of your fare goes towards playtester incentives (aka food). These playtesters range in demographics and game preferences, but they will have one thing in common--they're people that like to play tabletop games. We offer a brief, impartial description of the game's general concept and length when extending table invitations. This tends to winnow away the people that would never be satisfied with a game of your prototype's profile, but still preserves the blind nature of our playtesting. If you have any custom preferences (i.e., you're looking to test most heavily with a specific demographic), just let your consultant know. We're more than happy to accommodate any such requests, but certain requests may require an upcharge or extend the time frame in which we expect to complete your services.
    • Why do you say "6+" sessions instead of just 6 There are a few reasons when your consultant may actually continue to test beyond your specified depth. First, if a game session is compromised in some way, then we do not include it in our count. Fire or earthquake, certainly, but certain unrelated social dynamics can harm the patency of a game's survey results as well. If a squabbling couple's remarks make everyone feel like they were just kissed by a Dementor, then your consultant may choose to ignore the session. Most commonly, however, we extend beyond the minimum to ensure we get an even spread of sessions across player counts, or if we feel that a certain demographic is too underrepresented. In any case, you will not be billed extra for sessions beyond your indicated depth.
    • What if you find something breakable or exploitable in my game? It has come up from time to time where we find a problem during playtesting that would make any further testing irrelevant. We're quite good at picking up on these things early on--it's what we do. In these occasions, don't worry. Our goal is to provide you with the most meaningful and actionable information we can. Your consultant will be in touch as soon as possible to describe the problem, and to offer you the choice between continuing the service with the current iteration or applying a "hotfix" at your discretion. We'll leave survey results from "broken" sessions quarantined in your final spreadsheets, and strike them from the record when considering your game for our Seal of Approval. However, breaking a game is a valuable service, and possibly the best thing we can do for the iteration you've presented. As such, the broken session will count as part of your service, and a refund will not be available.
    • What is my consultant's role in playtesting? Your consultant will coordinate your game sessions, teach the game, and often participate. Our consultants are trained to maintain "blind" quality playtesting even when they are participating. This means they offer no insights into strategy to other players, and limit their interactions to the confines of the game as much as possible. Beyond being a standard playtester, your consultant will also stress test your game by exploring as much of the game's space as possible through repeat play. This may manifest itself as simply pursuing different routes to victory, or by attempting less conventional strategies to observe their effect on the game's ecosystem. Your consultant will never use his or her familiarity in the game as an advantage over the other players.
    • How much is all this going to end up costing me? Comprehensive playtesting at all player counts can be time-consuming, and this figure varies widely from game to game. Our rates take this into consideration. For more information on our sliding scale, check out our rates and billing page, or just get a free estimate.
    • How and when am I supposed to pay you guys? After you fill out our questionnaire, an associate will send you an estimate within 48 hours. Upon agreeing to our terms of service, you will then pay 25% of the total value of that estimate before our team gets to work on your game. Your final invoice will be sent to you when your services are completed, and you will receive your reports upon payment of the remaining balance. We currently accept Paypal and Google Wallets, and we expect our website to support secure online transactions as early as this summer.
    • My final invoice is different from my initial estimate, and I am carrying a large wooden club. Should I smash you? Please don't. As you'll see on the rate reference section, your estimate is based on your self-assessment of your game's average length and its projected weight. In the final invoice, we use hard data from our playtesting logs and your rules manual word count to determine your sliding rate. Additionally, if we feel our "W" formula is not representative of your game's actual rules weight, our analyst reserves the right to increase or decrease your "W" value by up to 0.2. In rare cases where your consultant sees your game and expects the final invoice to exceed a 10% margin of error, you will be immediately notified by email, and offered a return on your deposit if you wish to cancel the service. If you're still upset, go ahead with the club I guess.
    • I went through my Diagnostic Report and changed my game like you suggested. Now it's the first board game to break the trillion dollar mark on Kickstarter. Since I used your ideas, does that mean I owe you 51%? First of all, congratulations. I'm happy to hear that, somehow, apparently Coalition Games helped you succeed in breaking the trillion dollar mark. The answer to your question is no, you don't owe us a thing--not even accreditation. With the diagnostic service, our ideas come with no strings attached. However, we do accept tips...?
    • You mention that the Collaborative Consulting service is an "ongoing dialogue." Does this mean I can talk to my consultant about another game I'm working on, or about how my great aunt Hilda has the chicken pox? The official Coalition Game Studios policy on this ongoing dialogue is that it is to be focused only on the iteration of the game you submitted for service, and should depart from that only in the hypothetical when discussing design and theory. It's up to your consultant when and where to draw the line, but the general rule of thumb is that your dialogue should focus more or less exclusively on the topics mentioned in the Diagnostic Report. However, we do not have any policies in place that forbid the forging of unbreakable spiritual bonds. If this is the case between you and your consultant, then by all means, disclose any information about great aunt Hilda that you deem appropriate.
    • I don't like the suggestions from my consultant. What are my options? We're sorry you feel that way. Typically for our clients that upgrade to collaborative consulting, you'll have multiple members of our team on your case to help come up with the widest spectrum of suggestions we can. If you are still dissatisfied with the service, then we will bring one more consultant into the circle. Unfortunately, we have to draw the line somewhere. It may just be that you're not satisfied with the service. In such a situation, we cannot offer a refund as we have already completed the service. That said, so far our collaborative consulting service has had a 100% satisfaction rate.
    • Why is this so cheap? Do you have a crazy industrial printer or something? No, we don't have anything like that. We price the mock-up service aggressively low because we know what it's like to face the daunting task of duplicating your prototype and sending it out to strangers. We don't want the idea of production or shipping to interfere with your ability to access our services.
    • Surely you can't duplicate EVERY kind of game. What kinds of prototypes would you absolutely have to have a hard copy of? We're game designers ourselves, for the most part. You'd be surprised by what we can do when we put our minds and meeples towards it. Custom dice, cards, game boards, and more are no problem at all. However, you're absolutely correct, some games we can't put together. If yours is a dexterity game, or it has specific custom components or art that is mechanically significant in its form, then you may need to ship us a copy of the game.
    • Oh, cool, you guys assemble prototypes for ten bucks? How's about you make me a nice one and ship it my way? We provide a mock-up assembly service. What that means is, our prototype is going to be ugly. It will likely end up consisting mostly of paper products and scraps scavenged from other games. Unfortunately, this mock-up is only for Coalition playtesting...not that you'd want a copy of it anyways.
    • My game is beautiful unique snowflake with stunning art. If you make an ugly mock-up, will that affect my service? It's entirely possible that playtesters will have a different game experience with a mock-up than they would with your finished game, and we cannot guarantee that this will not be reflected on your playtester surveys. Most players that agree to try a prototype out are willing to suspend their expectation of professional presentation. However, if you feel that your game's tactile value provides a significant enough impact on player satisfaction, we encourage you to forgo the mock-up assembly service and send us a hard copy.
    • I only want you to proofread my rules manual. Why can't I choose the green level editing service? Our rules manual services are geared towards bringing your manual up to industry standard. For that reason, our writer/editor will personally determine the fair level of editing that your current manual requires, and you are free to decide whether or not you would like to receive those services.
    • Uhm, I just want copy editing and not any of your other weird services. Why do I have to send you my game too? If you're interested only in expert copy editing, there are many places you can find it. However, when you use Coalition Game Studio's editing services, you're guaranteed that your editor will be an expert in copy editing, tabletop gaming, and copy editing tabletop game rules manuals. Our mission in copy editing is to bring your manual up to industry standard, and we cannot do this without actually laying hands on your game. We've included the "Singleton" playtesting depth for just this reason--so that you don't have to pay for a lot of extra playtesting and grinding that you don't want.
    • Why isn't my rules manual copy editing service on my estimate invoice? You trying to pull a fast one or something? Not at all. We employ a subjective sliding scale for our copy editing, based on how much work we believe it will take to get your manual up to industry standard. That scale determines your rate by the word. For example, if you wrote your manual in crayon on a series of three hundred Denny's napkins, we'd probably have to charge $0.035/word to make it intelligible. If we just tidied it up a bit, your rate would only be $0.01/word. We won't actually know where your manual falls on the scale until we have laid eyes on it. As such, your editing service will be left out of your initial estimate entirely. Once we have your rules manual, we'll contact you as soon as possible with a separate estimate including only the rules work, and we'll proceed with the service only if you agree. Editing services will never require a second deposit on your behalf, and the full amount of the editing will be added in to your final invoice.
    • Why isn't this free? Not every client is interested in statistical analysis. Rather than force them to pay for service that includes this, we've dropped our prices across the board and itemized the PSDS The $10 covers your consultant's printing costs.
    • Your questions are cool and all, but I want more. Can we change the survey? Absolutely! We'll help you shape your questions to best get the information you want from our playtesters. We encourage clients to add specific questions, like "Did you feel element N was overpowered?" or "What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?" The first three custom questions are free. After that, the survey sprawls off of just one page, and we'll have to charge an additional $10 to cover printing costs.
    • These survey questions are kinda weird. How'd you come up with them? Our survey is designed to give an easy interface to accurately capture playtesters' feelings of satisfaction regarding your game. Its simplicity is entirely by design, in the interest of gathering more specific and meaningful data. We use a 0/1/2 scale because it's more consistent from player to player than a 1-10 scale. To quote Mark Rosewater, "Players are great at telling you when something is wrong with your game, but they're terrible at telling you how to fix it." As such, we center all of our questions around feelings of satisfaction. If you have specific information you need from playtesters, then we'll be glad to add custom questions to the survey, and work with you to phrase the questions to more closely match our guidelines.
    • I just read my report. I hate it, and I hate you. I didn’t get any of your seals of approval. I want my money back. Feedback is difficult to hear sometimes. We may have harsh critics on our team, but we will never say anything about your game you don’t need to hear. Our sample reports detail the exact information you’ll be receiving with your service. You’ve paid for the time and effort our team has taken to playtest and analyze your game. As such, we cannot offer returns on account of customer dissatisfaction. If you feel like your game has been treated unfairly and you deserve a second opinion, we invite you to contact us directly at admin@coalitiongames.com.
    • My evaluation didn’t go quite like I wanted it to. Can we….uh...kinda sweep this under the rug? The last thing we want to do is damage your game’s reputation, especially if it isn’t yet in its final iteration. Our service questionnaire lets you hand pick the level of confidentiality between us. Whether you're confined by a publisher's confidentiality agreement, or you'd just rather avoid bad PR on an unfinished prototype, we're glad to work with you to ensure the level of privacy you need. If you decide you'd like to change that level of confidentiality after you've seen your reports, just let us know and we'll be happy to keep things on the down-low.
    • What's so special about the Critical Evaluation Report? Isn't the whole service basically an evaluation? To offer a complete picture of your game's evaluation, we show you from as many angles as we can. The Critical Evaluation Report is intended to be a subjective assessment written by your consultant. It includes critique across our six pillars of game design--mechanical patency, thematic strength, replayability and value, time index, density index, and originality. Each section will include your consultants feelings about your game's strengths and weaknesses in that area, and reinforcement of those feelings through specific references to the game. Think of the Critical Evaluation Report as a professional game review--except it's entirely confidential, and it's entirely for your benefit. Our sole purpose is to accurately evaluate your game, so we don't have viewers or readers or publishers to please. In contrast, our playtester survey data spreadsheets compile objective and actionable data, and our collaborative consulting reports are our way of joining you in the creative process and working by your side to improve your game.
    • Why is the CER free? Can't I just skip it and make the service cheaper? Our Critical Evaluation Report is included for free with exploratory or deeper playtesting. While this likely looks like an attempt to upsell you on more playtesting, we've structured our billing like this for very good reasons. The CER is our way of proving to you that we can speak intelligently on your game. We believe that you shouldn't have to pay extra to be confident in the services that you received, so this is and always will be free for you. We don't offer this free report at our Impressionary or Singleton playtesting depths because, at those limited session counts, we do not feel comfortable asking our consultants to pass definitive judgement across the entirety of your game's breadth. Accurate evaluation is our brand, and we make sure we can provide just that before we open our big fat mouths.

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