Hello there fellow developers and gamers!
In this article I hope to improve your understanding of how to 1, get the most out of playtesting as a developer and 2, be as helpful at playtesting as possible as a gamer. We’ve learnt most of this while developing our game Battle Siege Royale, an upcoming free to play (but no microtransactions) siege engine battling game taking place in medieval times. If this article turns out to be useful for you please consider wishlisting BSR on steam as it really helps. Without further ado let’s begin!
(TLDR) If you read nothing else in the article read this: Empower a player to express feedback w/o reservation. Make it easy for them to give feedback which is honest.
Our Playtesting so Far
So far we’ve given out roughly 75 keys for playtesters of our game Battle Siege Royale. The majority of our playtesters have found about us through regular discord announcements but we have also been reaching out to streamers and asking if they would be interested in livestreaming their playtest. Become a playtester for us on our discord. It’s very useful to get streamers to play test as not only get publicity but also get live reactions to game. We often therefore instantly give streamers keys when they follow us on social media/ join us on discord to make the process as frictionless as possible and avoiding unnecessary back and forth in emails.
Prefer offline to online.
Getting to see someone in real time to see how they react is so important. You can see a little bit with 30fps which is standard streaming speed but with facial expressions happening at 100s of fps in real time. Which is why you can get a better idea of someone IRL. Same for Online Dating, lots of subtle clues that you may not have noticed while texting.
Playtesting Strategies for Online Vs Offline
The key is to offer as little handholding as possible. I tend to watch and takes notes on where they get stuck and on which parts they enjoy. It needs to be easy for the average player to navigate situations in the game without assistance which is why playtesting is so important.
Since most of our playtesters come from our discord it’s usually relatively easy to hop into a call on discord and then start doing screenshare. Screen share allows you to watch them play in realtime- Realtime is key. For example if someone says “The Ballista should move faster” and they say this while moving uphill you don’t know unless you’re watching real time that what they really mean is that the Ballista specifically needs to move faster while going uphill.
What makes a good playtester?
Try to be really transparent, expressive and vocal while playing so the developer can better understand how you feel about their game. It’s also important to be happy to tell the developer things that they may not hope to hear. If all a developer hears is that “It’s Great” then they may be fooled into thinking a certain feature is popular when it’s really not.
Make sure that you actually want to play the game as you will be able to provide keener insights if it’s in a genre that you enjoy or are experienced in and if you don’t want to play let the developer know why– it may be a tell tale sign that something about the game needs to change if people don’t even want to playtest it.
As someone who has worked on gaming review sites it’s always important to let people review games they enjoy. This applies to playtesting too. Not only will they have a better time playing but if they play a lot of games in that genre then they will have experience and can use that to provide more relevant and useful feedback.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in our next update!
The images in this article are development screenshots from our upcoming game Battle Siege Royale. Wishlist it here.