By Graham Somers
Ahh yes, your friends and family. Those people that you share special holiday memories with from years gone by. Turkey, mistletoe, and presents under the tree. Oh yes, and coercing them to play the game that you’re working on and then grilling them for feedback so you can make it better.
Remember to treat your friends and family playtesters with respect. “How can you not make it through the tutorial! Are you blind? Can’t you read?” Take it easy! Your poor Aunty Jill doesn’t play too many games, relax. For us, this is a great time to get our Moms to play the game and get some honest feedback on just how well the tutorial explains things to people who aren’t really gamers. If Mom or Aunty Jill can make it through the tutorial then chances are good most gamers can too.
Then there is the whip cracking that must inevitably take place.
Cousin: “Yeah, I played it some on my new phone. It looks really good.”
Me: “Did you finish the tutorial?”
Cousin: “I didn’t get that far.”
Me: “That’s the first thing you do. Are you saying the main menu looks good and that you didn’t get beyond that?”
Cousin: “Oh, sorry I didn’t have time to play more.”
Me: “C’mon, loading the main menu isn’t playing the game!”
And so on, until you convince him to actually play the game. Then you usually have to rinse and repeat to get useful feedback as well.
The best parts about having a Friends and Family playtest? It’s generally free. You can get some critical and honest feedback without the general public getting involved. You can spot areas for improvement that you may have missed by getting some fresh eyes on your game. Finally, your friends and family will probably still love and support you after playing an early and potentially buggy version of your game.
We are reaching the Friends and Family playtest point with one of our current projects, code named Tango. Heck, we’re all getting together around this time of the year anyway! Many thanks to our friends and family members that have played the game and given us feedback so far and to those of you that will. Your love and support is always greatly appreciated and we know that our games are better because of you.
This will likely be my last blog post for the year, so Happy Holidays to you and yours from me and the Chieftain!