Importance of Group Playtest for Game/App Development


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Jun 1, 2013
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Digital Eclairs went to Pinewood's after school program called AppLab, focused on getting kids more hands on on new electronics coming up.

We presented our project XnO, with multiple handled devices to kids (age group 8-12). After the first 15 mins of hands on experience, they were really enjoying the gameplay, comparing it to different games titles and how it was better, why they liked 3D, asking questions on when the app would be released, and they were very interested in knowing about the process of how it was created.

It showed us that 3D environments were a welcome change, kids respond well to warm colors we used. We set each kid on a different level and they seemed comfortable playing and getting familiar with the app. Some kids responded very well with the higher levels and some not so well because we had not ramped them through the initial gameplay, but after a few tries they started to get the hang of the game and when they were able to win they were really happy. In retrospect we realized that this was a bit of a difficult learning curve for someone new coming to this game, but with the release upon us we had to move forward with what he had. In order to give people a taste of the game on the iOS we released with a showcase of 5 levels, which looking back on it now, care is needed when choosing the level of difficulty to the casual gamer.

The Accelerometer presented an interesting challenge to the kids, once they figured out they could lift the device and tilt it left and right to move the character they were able to pick up on it quick and continue with how they had been completing the levels previously. We were short few devices and a few kids had to share the same device. The ones who were collaborating did very well on higher levels taking turns and really engaging in the game and helping each other and were faster in adapting to the game. This helped us understand that putting out a physics puzzled based game would definitely require a walkthrough to help the community through some of those tough levels.

As a developer with our first game a week away from release, it was an exhilarating experience to see our product being enjoyed by these kids. Their eagerness to explore all the game features gave us so much satisfaction and all the pain and efforts in building this game were totally worth it. The kids were very interested in knowing the process of how the game was made and when they were asked for feedback they all jumped in saying: They loved double headed turtle and wanted a three headed turtle, in-game currency that they can use to buy in things in game like weapons, wallpaper, and many more suggestions.

To anyone who want to make their own game, arrange group play tests ahead of time once you have a working build. You will get wonderful insight into your game. We had initially done a lot a individual testing from industry people, which is very useful and should not be ignored but for a complete overview on a game and end user perspective go for group tests, as individual test can sometimes be misleading. And do it as soon and as often as possible.

Digital Eclairs, is an independent game development studio. XnO - 3D Adventure Game is launched on iTunes and Google Play.