The Board Game Design Course

Where great games begin

Game Design

How to playtest your game online with others (and play their games as well!)

If you’ve been following along with me over the past number of weeks, you should have at least one game of yours on Tabletop Simulator (TTS) and ready to playtest.

If you’re not ready yet, check out this article to get you started fast.

But how do you find other game designers and playtesters to play your game?

Rather than thinking about what others can do for me, I like to flip this idea on its head and think about what I can do for someone else. So, I start by asking if anyone else has a game on TTS they need to be playtested.

When you start by offering to help others first, you’ll often find that these other designers will be more than happy to playtest your game as well.

It’s part of the law of reciprocity. If you do something nice for someone else, they most likely will want to return the favor. And quite often, someone will do even more for you than you have done for them. Nobody wants to feel like they are in debt to another person, so many of us want to offer the same or even more help in return.

But this leads us to a similar question: where do we find other designers who need their game playtested?

Join the Board Game Designer’s Online Playtesting Group

I’ve been coordinating playtests among game designers who use TTS to help them find others to playtest with. It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, you should be able to find at least a couple other people you can playtest with.

Plus, I will be scheduling regular events here as well when everyone can get together.

There’s a Discord channel that will allow you to communicate with other designers and break out into individual rooms to create a playtest group. Then you can pick a game that someone has loaded up and join each other in Tabletop Simulator to playtest.

Click here to sign up for Discord channel and find other designers to swap playtests.

Find other gamers and game designers

Maybe you’re less of a planner and more of a spontaneous gamer. You’ve just gotten your game uploaded on Tabletop Simulator and can’t wait to playtest it with other people.

You could always post something in the chat within Tabletop Simulator, briefly mentioning the details of your game and the number of players you are looking for, and hope to find some takers. Even better, ask if anyone else has a game they would like to playtest first, join them, then you can ask about playtesting your game next.

You can also post a message in one of the Facebook board game design groups to see if anyone wants to set up a time to playtest games.

Invite friends and family

Do you have any friends or family who are into board games? Do any of them have Tabletop Simulator?

Even if they don’t, you might be able to convince them to join. Yes, there is a cost, but it’s fairly low when you consider the thousands of free board game mods that are available to upload (not to mention lots of awesome prototypes of yours they can playtest!). Licenses for TTS occasionally go on sale for up to 50% off as well.

You could even gift this to other people. Birthday coming up? It’s a great gift idea.

You can also buy a four-pack of licenses for the price of three. And when this goes on sale, it’s like buying four licenses for the price of one and a half. What a deal!

Getting other people you know set up with Tabletop Simulator accounts can also make for lots of great game nights. If other people are stuck at home and have nothing to do, invite them online to play a game. It’s such a great way to spend an evening.

How to set up an online playtest on Tabletop Simulator

If you’ve never run a playtest of your game with others on Tabletop Simulator or set up a table to host any game for that matter, I’ll show you how to do this in four simple steps:

1. From the main menu, select Create and choose “multi-player”

2. Name your server and give it a password. The server name should be something easy, perhaps the name of your game.

3. Ask others to select Join from the main menu and type in your server name to find you and your game. Give them the password and get them to join. Or, if you are friends with them on Steam, you can invite them directly to your table by clicking on the “invite” button.

4. Enjoy your game!

Are you facing any challenges with getting playtesters for your game on Tabletop Simulator? Just comment below and I’ll see if I can help.

Thanks for reading!

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    Thank you for these two posts on using Table Top Simulator for game development! I only just today had the idea that it would be a great development tool if you’re able to upload your own custom content. What I’m wondering about how is how to protect your own IP in TTS. Are you able to develop and even invite people to play test while maintaining all the rights to your own original material and control redistribution? I’m not sure where to find this info.

    Hey Laurie! Thanks for the question. Also, I love the designs you have on your site!

    The tabletop industry is generally a very open and giving community. It is very rare to have an idea stolen, as those who would partake in such an activity would quickly be found out and not be welcomed in the community. Also, most game designers have plenty of ideas they are already working on and it is human nature to favour your own ideas the most.

    If you are worried about protecting your own work, then it can actually be a really good idea to share it widely. This may sound counterintuitive, but it will give you a record of your work and your progress. Versions and documentation will be timestamped and seen by others that can verify the authenticity.

    When you put a game up on TTS it belongs to you. You can limit who sees this by opening it up to the public, friends only, or making it private and only showing it to those you choose to share your game with.

    I had many of the same concerns when I first started designing games. Personally, I never worry about this anymore.


    Thank you so much for the encouraging reply Joe! And thank you for the kind words. I think I will take a chance, because TTS seems like a fantastic way to iterate fast and play test with low commitment, no wasted materials if you decide to revise, and that could lead to a much better refined game. Thanks again!