Planning the playtesting was more productive for the second game, as we had an idea of what sort of questions the playtesters responded best to, as well as the method to approach the playtesting. We were also able to narrow down the goals so that the data we collected was more refined and focused on specific areas that are needed rather than broadly covering all bases. While the broader questions still provide useful feedback, at this stage in the prototyping the information needs to focus on the base elements of the game, such as the player experience goals.
Each studio member used the other two members for their playtesting, as well as picking three naive playtesters. The naive volunteers used for the playtesting had no prior knowledge of the game and were especially observed on the way and how easily they were able to pick up the basic mechanics of Turn the Lights Off. Each playtest will be run on a computer, with the tester taking notes on either an electronic device or pen and paper. At the conclusion of each playtest, the player will be given a short questionnaire, about the game and their experience, to fill out. Additional resources can be brought at the choice of the tester, however the playtesting can be successfully completed using only those as a minimum.
The playtesting revolved around the three main goals of speed, how ethereal the ambience was and whether all of the mechanics worked as they were supposed to. The first two playtesting goals focused on determining if the player experience goals were being met in the gameplay. Originally the first goal referred to both speed and prediction, as stated in our player experience goals, however this was modified when it was discovered that the studio members’ prototypes did not thoroughly explore this particular element of the player experience.
Each of these goals was measured in practically the same way, observing the reactions and thinking of the player and collecting results from the questionnaire that they each filled out after completing the playtest. This allows us to gather data while the player is engrossed in the game, as well as after they have had some time to think about their experience.
After the data has been collected, it will be analysed for patterns and anomalies. These can be a variety of good and bad points that have been pointed out by the playtester. A major element that will be picked up in this is if all of the mechanics are working properly and are doing what the player expects, as well as picking up on thoughts that the players may not have verbalised.
Playtesting will be performed over the last week of the development process. While changes shouldn’t be made to the game in between playtests (for the sake of keeping the information consistent) this allows the studio members enough time to do minor updates to their prototypes depending on the feedback that they receive.
The playtesting plan and questionnaire can be found on the studio work post associated with this activity.