As I wrote in my last post, it is encouraging to get positive feedback from the games I have published. Criticism can also help hone a designer's craft, and can be especially helpful in the playtest phase of a game's development. Following is a list of common criticisms of games (both prototype and published). It's a good excercise to ask yourself and and your playtesters if any of these apply to your prototype:
1. There is not enough player interaction. It feels like multi-player solitaire, and players have little influence over their opponents.
2. The game is too complex for what it offers.
3. The game is too long for what it offers.
4. The rules are unintuitive, even after repeated plays.
5. There are too many rules and exceptions to remember ("if...then" clauses).
6. The theme is pasted on. It does not harmonize with the rules.
7. The players' decisions are too obvious. The game feels scripted or "plays itself."
8. There are too many choices for the players. They feel overwhelmed.
9. There is too much downtime. Player turns take too long, and there is nothing meaningful for opponents to do when it is not their turn.
10. There is a runaway leader problem.
11. There is only one way to win the game. It lacks different paths/strategies that players can explore.
12. The game is too random and chaotic. Players do not have enough control and are prevented from forming any real strategy.
13. The game is too repetitive and lacks a story arc.
14. The game has a "kingmaker" problem, in that a losing player must often make a play at the end of the game that gives the win to one leading player over another.
15. The game lacks any original elements (or, at least, an original treatment or combination of familiar elements). There is nothing new here.