LAFS Game Design 8 - Playtesting

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Level 8 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.

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LAFS Game Design 8 - Playtesting

  1. 1. Level 8 David Mullich Game Design 1 The Los Angeles Film School
  2. 2. Designer Perspective: LucasArts G4 Icons Episode #28: LucasArts (21:00)
  3. 3. What Playtesting is NOT  Internal Design Review: Designer and team play the game and talk about its features  Focus Group Testing: Marketing execs watch a sample group play and discuss the game  Usability Testing: Designer analyze how users interact with the interface by tracking their mouse movements, eye movements, etc.  Quality Assurance Testing: QA team goes through and rigorously tests for flaws
  4. 4. So, What Is It? Playtesting is gaining useful feedback from players to improve the overall experience of the game. The goal is to make sure the game is functioning as intended and that it is internally complete, balanced and fun to play.
  5. 5. Interative Design When teams work on projects for months on end, they may lose sight of the game’s vision. A continual process of playtesting, evaluating, and revising is the way to keep the game on target. However, as production advances, the design issues you are testing should also advance from major to minor.
  6. 6. Extra Credits: Playtesting Extra Credits: Playtesting
  7. 7. Playtesting for Each Prototype Stage Prototyping Stage Self-Testing Friends and Family Target Player Foundation ✪ Structure ✪ ✪ Dramatic ✪ Polishing ✪
  8. 8. Places To Find Target Players  High Schools and Colleges  College Dorms and Rec Centers  Sports Clubs and Social Organizations  Game Stores and Computer Use Groups  Online Posts and Newspaper Ads
  9. 9. Screening Applicants You should be recruiting playtesters who are articulate enough to convey their opinions to you. Questions to ask:  What are your hobbies?  Why did you respond to my advertisement?  How often do you play this type of game?
  10. 10. The Ideal Playtester The ideal playtester represents your target audience – people who might actually buy your game. These are the types of testers who will:  Give you the most relevant feedback  Compare your game with similar ones they have played  Know what they like and dislike
  11. 11. How NOT To Conduct One Your role in a playtesting session is not to be a designer but that of an investigator and observer. Do not tell your players:  How your game works  Plans for future developments  Your hopes and dreams for the game
  12. 12. What You SHOULD DO  Give them access to your game  Let them play it with minimal explanation  Provide answers if they get stuck  Record what they say and do  Analyze their responses later
  13. 13. Running the Playtest The best way to run a playtest is to have an objective person run the test while you watch from behind a one-way glass or video feed. The next best solution is to write a test script to keep you on track and remind you of your role as an observer.
  14. 14. Introduction (2-3 Minutes)  Welcome and thank them for participating  Introduce yourself  Give a brief explanation of the playtesting process  Let them know if your are recording the session  If you are using a one-way glass, let them know if people are watching from the other side
  15. 15. Warm Up Discussion (5 Minutes) Ask them questions such as:  What are some of the games you play?  What do you like most about those games?  Where do you go to find out about new games?  What was the last game you purchased?
  16. 16. Play Session (15-20 Minutes) Explain that they will be playing a game still in development. The purpose is to get their feedback, and there are no wrong answers. After explanations, you can either:  Leave the testers alone and watch them from a one-way glass or video feed  Stay in the room and watch quietly from behind the playtesters Remind them to “think out loud” while they are playing so that you can learn what they are thinking.
  17. 17. Game Experience Discussion (15-20 Minutes) Wrap up with a one-on-one discussion with the testers. Questions to ask:  Overall, what were your thoughts about the game?  Where you able to learn how to play quickly?  What is the objective of the game?  How would you describe the game to someone who has never played it before?  Is there any information that would have been useful to you before starting?  Is there anything you didn’t like about the game?  Was anything confusing?
  18. 18. Wrap-up  Thank your playtesters for coming in  Keep their contact information to let them know when the game is finished  Give them a token gift, such as a T-shirt
  19. 19. Dealing with Feedback It’s very hard to listen to criticism without responding back.  Listen carefully to what players are saying  Don’t answer criticisms, just write them down  Realize that your goal is to find out what people don’t like or don’t understand about the game
  20. 20. Taking Notes It is vital to take notes of your playtests so that you don’t lose details of the playtester’s reactions.  Do not lead  Remind testers to think out loud
  21. 21. Quantitative Data In addition to taking notes, you should be generating data that shows trends.  Time it takes someone to read the rules  Number of clicks it takes to perform a certain function  Tracking the speed at which a player advances in a level
  22. 22. Ways To Structure Your Tests  One-On-One Testing  Group Testing  Feedback Forms  Interviews  Open Discussion  Data Hooks
  23. 23. Surveys  Use pictures whenever possible  Online surveys can save a lot of time  Use 1-5 scale ratings instead of 1-10  Don’t put too many questions on your survey  Give them the survey right after they play  Have someone on hand to answer clarifying questions  Note the age and gender of each playtester surveyed  Don’t take the survey data as gospel Jesse Schell
  24. 24. Interviews  Have a script of questions ready  Interview people privately  Playtesters will avoid hurting your feelings  Avoid memory tests  Don’t expect playtesters to be game designers  Ask for more than you need  Set your ego aside
  25. 25. The Art of Listening
  26. 26. Test Control Situations Sometimes you will want to lay down parameters that force players to test a specific portion of the game:  The end of the game  An event that rarely takes place  A special situation within a game  A particular level of a game  New features
  27. 27. Pro Tips Whenever you conduct a playtest session, ask yourself:  Why are we doing the playtest?  Who should be there?  Where will we hold it?  What will we look for?  How will we get the information we need?
  28. 28. 1. Playtest your fellow students’ games 2. Fill out playtesting form.
  29. 29. Functional The system is sufficiently established to the point where someone who knows nothing about the game can sit down and play it. In a paper prototype, this means the player can play the game by following the rules and procedures. In a digital prototype, this means that the player can use the controls and make the game progress.
  30. 30. Structure For your next prototype, you added enough structure to make the prototype playable for testers other than yourself. It was basic and clunky, but it had rules and procedures. Your focus was on both fun and functionality.
  31. 31. Questions Your Prototype Should Answer  Are the structural elements working together even in this basic state?  Is there a beginning, middle and end to the experience?  Can the players reach the objective?  Are they engaging in the conflict you designed, and are they enjoying that engagement?  Should you continue with this idea, or is it time to head back to the drawing board?
  32. 32. Never Give Up Hope! If your game doesn’t seem to be very playable:  Go back to your core mechanics  Strip away all the additional rules  Reintroduce them one-by-one to isolate the problem

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