Play testing is a very important aspect of game development. Especially when you’re just 2 people making games, it’s incredibly easy to get so far into it that you unintentionally assume players are going to understand everything and feel engaged.
When should you play test?
A. After the game is 99%
B. Game Tutorials / On-boarding are implemented
C. After you’ve hit beta
D. After you’ve hit alpha
E. After you’ve implemented basic mechanics
F. ALL OF THE ABOVE
The answer is F. ALL OF THE ABOVE
You should basically be doing play testing from beginning to end. We’re being hypocritical though because that’s not what we did…. We ended up doing it when the game was about 90% done… We don’t advise you do that though.
You should be play testing to understand if
- The game is engaging/fun
- Players understand tutorials/on-boarding flow
- Players understand how to play and what they’re supposed to do
- Players are getting confused while playing
- Players are playing in a way you didn’t expect
- Players have feedback that can add a lot more to the game
The list goes on, but those are some basic things you should be finding out during your play tests.
After doing a play test you should be getting as much feedback from the player as possible. Get them to fill out a survey , allow them to talk to you about their play test session.
Something that is also very valuable is watching players test the game. There’s a lot of feedback you can observe just by watching them, such as seeing how long it takes them to figure things out, where their attention is, if they struggle at all, if they do things you didn’t expect (this happens A LOT). Players might not write down or tell you everything after their play test even though some issues were obtusely noticeable from your point of view.
Something that also needs to be thought about is who is giving you the feedback. Are they a friend or family member? Are they incredibly biased and going to give you nothing but positive feedback? There’s usually a filter you should to put your feedback through. Some play testers might not actually enjoy your game genre at all. Is it one of the goals of the game to make players who usually dislike the genre, to enjoy it? Is the play tester a casual player or a hardcore gamer? Think about the value and effort of each feedback point. If someone gives you feedback that they hate the art style, is it worth re-doing the entire games art style? These are things that are better to figure out earlier than later as well.
After Our First Play Test Session
Our first play test session was about 1 hour of the player playing the game, and then another hour afterwards talking about their experience and their feedback. We came away with ~80 tasks between to two of us of things we need to polish/fix/add to Batter Up! It’s incredibly important to prioritize all of the feedback as some feedback is going to have a much bigger impact on the overall experience than others. While some of the feedback might be a lot more work than it’s worth.
We’ve already fixed and implemented the majority of the feedback from that play test session and the game definitely feels A LOT better now. It was actually really cool to see someone enjoying the game before we’re actually done. It felt a little validating of all of our hard work that we’ve put into Batter Up over the past 6 months (holy crap 6 months already!!!) We’re really excited to continue play testing and improving the last couple of things before we finally bring Batter Up to all of you!