Wherefore Art Thou: Playtesting and feedback

The feeling of having my game in a playable state with all placeholder assets and all of its features implemented felt amazing and it is exciting to get the game into the hands of my peers but so nerve-racking. What if everyone hated it (Which was a possibility due to my pitch situation talked about in this blog here), what if my project magically kept crashing, or I packaged the wrong version or no one could give me valid feedback. Thankfully, I thought ahead and prevented a lot of issues as well as received feedback that ultimately improved my project, I even found interesting things with the feedback that I received.

Screenshot from the survey results

I had 12 people test Missile Command: Sarah Morris Edition (MS:SS) and the feedback was usually positive. 84.6% found the game enjoyable on a scale from 1 to 5, only 15.4% of players found a bug and 7.7% of those were audio issues with the computer being used, everyone remembered their time and 61.5% of players found the controls good. Which is fantastic news to me as I now know that the weakest part of the MS:SS was the controls, even though 61.5% found the controls good, and 30.8% found them to be satisfactory.

I just vomited up a heap of numbers and by themselves, they may not be anything special in terms of providing me with information but with the table that was produced by the player survey, I can see what was submitted for each submission. I found that those who didn’t find the game enjoyable were also the ones who found bugs, scored low and felt the controls difficult. This correlation in information told me that the experience of an enjoyable game is sometimes severely broken by poor controls and bugs.

I was asked and provided with critical feedback by my peer, Joshua Bidwell during playtesting about my survey questions, where he essentially ask the following.

What are you getting out of some of your questions?

The question is a valid one because I have questions that don’t quite refer to how the game played, such as ‘Do you remember your score/time?’ and at first, Joshua was right, it wasn’t going to help me improve the game. However, I remembered why I originally put the question in their in the first place, I never really cared about the score the player received, I cared if they remembered their time playing as my game is based of a piece of art which ideally wouldn’t be forgotten right after it is consumed.

One thing that I found interesting particularly interesting was that during the first playtest, most of the feedback was on my in-game audio and as well as the game over screen is described as stale but the one thing that was described as really good was the menu button sounds. Fast forward a week once I’ve addressed the negative feedback, my changes were described as good and interesting but the one thing that was now described as lame was the thing that was described as really good a week beforehand. I assume that this is because by comparison, the menu sounds were then bad compared to the missile explosions and launching in-game.

The thing about playtesting is that it’s all fantastic but only if you know what to do with the information you receive from it. That also means that your questions have to mean something, I used a question that sounded useless to the game but it told me something that I wanted to know about the gameplay, if it was memorable, you can’t let a question go to waste.

Information mentioned in this post

Playtest Survey results: https://goo.gl/qPHg6z