Feedback and testing in the final track

September 12, 2010

Getting some long posponed rest

So Dependant is wrapped up and available for sponsors at FGL here! It’s been a great week getting feedback from all over the place. I received a lot of overwhelmingly positive comments on the polish of the game wich was great, since one of the goals when I began the game was to have a product as polished as possible that would create an immersive experience around the core mechanics.

In just a few days, the game had over 100 plays of developers, previewers and friends. This left me with a lot of information to process from quick comments, extense reviews and usage metrics.

The main sources of information were:

  • FGL’s First Impressions system, wich is an awesome way of getting a deep analysis of first time players. I ordered 6 FIs when I uploaded the beta, and 5 more after a few days when I tweaked a few things. The experience was majorly good, it only took less than a day to get all the feedback and it was very thorough in most cases. Only in two cases the feedback was just a low score and a few monosyllabic comments.
  • Emails to early testers (developers and gamers) with a feedback form made with Google Docs, wich gave me more deep analysis of the experience the players had. The only thing is that they had played the game before, so this time the feedback was more centered in what improvements I had put since the last version. Some players played the entire game, wich was amazing.
  • In situ playtesting with non-player friends. This was good for seeing the first reaction people have to the game, but since they weren’t the type of people that plays a puzzle game, they would get frustrated easily and wouldn’t explore the mechanics.
  • In situ playtesting with other indie developers. The guys at HeavyBoat hosted an awesome local indies meetup. I had very valuable feedback on the design of the game visuals and mechanics. In this case, the testers would explore the mechanics and understand them relatively easily. The downside was that when the testing happened we had little time to try every game, so the feedback was on the first couple of minutes of play, wich is great to get a sense of the first impression but falls short on the details of every level. The best part, though, is seeing the reactions of the player in person, exactly what they do with each thing you present to them. This is invaluable and is a must for every game design process.

    Juan Pablo Bettini*, Daniel Benmergui and Martín Gonzalez as guinea pigs

  • Usage metrics. I used the awesome games analytics service Playtomic by Ben Lowry. I tracked each levels elapsed time, moves, retries, etc. to get a sense of what the players do in the game. What I took as valuable from this mostly is knowing wich levels were the most difficult and adjust them accordingly to make the progression better. But given that 100 plays is quite a low amount of usage information to get accurate results, I took the data with a grain of salt. I also used FGL’s GameTracker, wich presents the usage data for every play in a timeline form, and it was good for knowing the sequence the players did (wich levels they played first, second, if they skipped the tutorial entirely, etc.), specially the previewers of the First Impressions system.

At first all the feedback is quite overwhelming. Some people say the game is awesome and perfect, other say they would change a big amount of things, some give great ideas that would take a lot to build, etc. wich can leave you not knowing who to listen to.

One thing I heard Nick Fortugno say about this is that people will basically say a lot of pretty useless stuff about your game, and that you shouldn’t listen to what they are saying (e.g. “some levels are impossible, I hate you”) but try to pay attention at why they are saying that (e.g. maybe the difficulty isn’t the problem, perhaps he’s skipping levels without knowing because the screens aren’t intuitive).

So, I published the game and everyone was happy. The end. **

* I think
** I got lazy and hungry and didn’t know where this post was headed to, I promise a better ending next time.

2 Responses to “Feedback and testing in the final track”

  1. Shaun Says:

    I forgot to use your feedback form, after I played through the game the second time 😀

    It would have probably just have read: ❤

    Good job sir! Hope you find a worthy sponsor.

  2. Martin Gonzalez Says:

    I am the one on the right of the picture. Best of success with the published game.

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