In a new Gamasutra feature
, the first part in a series, veteran designer Pascal Luban observes what he calls a "silent revolution" in game development, a move toward managing the playtesting process by "near-scientific" protocols.
And it's profoundly affecting for game development, he says, explaining the overt reason playtesting is crucial:
We all have the opportunity to play games that display high production values but nonetheless suffer from obvious flaws: erratic difficulty curve early in the game, navigation issues, overly complex interface, and so on.
Such flaws could often have been easily avoided if they had been identified early enough.
One important factor in strong playtests is the selection of testers chosen:
Just as a peasant needs fertile ground in order to ultimately obtain the best yields, good playtests require a group of carefully-selected playtesters. I could never insist hard enough on the importance of the recruitment and evaluation of the playtest candidates.
What are the recruiting criteria? This depends, of course, on what kind of playtests we are planning. We may need hardened gamers, beginners, console-only gamers, multiplayer fans, and so on.
The candidate's gaming proficiency and overall game culture represent the first criteria. The second is the candidate's ability for analyzing and drawing conclusions from their gaming experience.
You can now read the first part
of Luban's new playtesting series that drills down essential points(no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).