One of the most important elements of the game development life cycle is game testing. With the recent developments in the industry, according to NEIT, being a video game designer pays itself off. When you see someone outside of the studio actually sitting and playing, you can better understand if your game is user-friendly, easy to use, and with attractive mechanics. These are not questions you want to answer after the game is released to the general public. As such, the data collected from game testing can be a valuable tool in reducing risk and ensuring the best chance for your game to be successful.
However, there are many methods for testing games that may fail, so it is important to create a process in which you feel confident and make improvements over time. Here are 5 game testing tricks that may prove useful to your team:
1. Hire specific players
When designing a playtest, you need to be very familiar with the types of players the game is suitable for. While your game may appeal to a wider audience, “design for all” is wrong. Most likely, adults won’t be interested in simple adventure games, while complex strategies might be too complicated for the younger players. PlayStation and iPhone games provide different experiences and require different skill sets. It is better to hire players who already know how to use a specific device. We found it helpful to identify the identity of the target audience, for example, “Jane, 25-34, has an iPhone,” and try to recruit players who fit that description exactly. Consider the following aspects:
- How old is your target audience?
- Target audience: men, women or divided?
- What device or platform will your game run?
- Does your game assume that the player has some prior knowledge?
Of course, it can be tricky to find and hire game testers that exactly match your objective role. Some online communities (such as those associated with your game) may have players who want to be able to visit your office and share their feedback with you. But even though his biggest fans want to help, they tend to know and interact with his game better than normal players.
2. Test before you test
Before the testers arrive, allow time for all team members participating in the game test for a software testing company to complete the test. Testing through QAwerk can ensure that everything goes smoothly as issues are resolved early and the entire team stays on the same page.
Start checking the player’s experience when you enter the house. When you enter or find the login form, your game tester will be happy to welcome you. Every detail is important and can create comfort.
It may have a state-of-the-art usability lab and tons of updates, but it doesn’t matter if the building’s front door is locked or not! Are all your techniques normal? Test your speakers, mouse, keyboard, and the Internet. You don’t want to call IT while testing the game because you forgot to install the necessary plugins to run the game.
3. Reduce stress
The game testing concept is still new to some game developers. For an ordinary person, this is completely strange. Game testers may not be sure what will happen, and uncertainty can negatively affect test results. Make your game testers comfortable so they can focus on the game and you get the best feedback. During the test, be sure to tell the facilitator that it is different from the game.
The testers should understand that this activity can’t be the same as playing at home: the game is not perfect yet and it can have many issues. It is essential to explain to the participants that such work might not be what they imagined it to look like — it can get frustrating and even boring. Testing is a job, not just entertainment.
It is also useful to record the trials of other teams in the game for later review. Since most people don’t play video games in front of laptops and cameras, we’ve found it important for gamers to easily look at these items and explain why they help. Players often walk into our office not knowing what will happen, but they only understand what a playtest is and why we are playing a game.
4. Rock the Survey
After players are done playing, they almost always want to ask them a few questions. Try to predict these questions in advance and include them in the questionnaire to collect the same data set for each game tester. If you have spontaneous follow-up questions, you can ask them after completing the questionnaire. Serious and targeted surveys can make it easier to share your game test results with your team. Focus on solving the game testing problem directly.
Feedback is one of the main outcomes of the game testing process. Be consistent with it and: divide the questions into different categories, try to think of every aspect of the game that should be evaluated. It is also important to be realistic — don’t omit the parts that you think are not problematic and should not cause any issues. Remember that the fresh eye notices the least apparent things.
5. Analyze in Aggregate
After testing the game, you will receive survey results and feedback from many different game testers and watchers. Quickly collect data and share it with your team without the need for analysis or conclusions.
After collecting the data, don’t forget! Identify the problems found in your playtest and prioritize the next step. The data you collect while testing a game, including everything from a player’s emotional state to the number of unsuccessful attempts to press a button, can always help you draw conclusions and develop action items for your team. If your data is not accurate, consider reviewing the playtest structure and the next survey.
The amount of data might seem overwhelming. Each player has something to say, and their observations might be drastically diverse. Take your time to analyze the information properly or delegate the task to a separate specialist. Remember that this feedback is the whole point of testing, and it is the key to making your product better.