SURPRISE, TRAVELLERS – A TECH THURSDAY! Brought to you by our favourite hooman – Tantan (aka Tania) – Insights Manager at Bossa Studios!

 

Possibly, you have already experienced something like this in your life or know someone who did:

You decided to bake a cake, you get the ingredients, you follow the recipe, you put the cake in the oven, remove, try a piece and think out loud ‘I love it, I’m a genius and I should be a chef’….but will other people love this cake too? (thinking face)

Well, now… replace the cake for a game, the ingredients for the resources, the oven for the process of creation and the ‘trying the cake moment’ for the own’s chef’s perspective of the product. If you are thinking if in this case the “chef” is the dev, you are right.

‘’OHHH! I see, so playtesting is when you take the cake to the middle of a room with your family and friends and ask, ‘what do you guys think of my cake?’’

Not exactly, that’s actually getting a biased opinion from people that love you enough to avoid hurting your feelings, and instead they might say “oh man I love this cake, this is the best cake ever, you should be a chef!’’ and then give the rest to the dog (poor dog!).

Big question now: If you were the cook/chef/what-have-you, would that be the quality of opinion you would be looking for to prove your cake is worth buying? For some, the answer would be yes, and they might risk money, time, and energy in something that was validated by people that were not honest to say the idea/cake tastes like a sweaty armpit. And yes, some people might even like the armpit cake, and yes the armpit cake might even become a thing, but the chances are slim.

Playtesting is actually when you take that cake not to your family and friends, but to a larger audience, to people that don’t know you, your tastes, or your dreams, and maybe don’t even know what a cake is! To ask real unbiased people “what do you think about my cake?”. And you don’t just ask questions, you observe the way they cut a piece, the way they eat, the amount they eat, if they add ketchup onto it (I hope not), if they smile after or what else do they do with the cake.

When it comes to games, these ‘random cake tasters’ are called playtesters and they are people like you, reading this, that might like to play games, have preferences, or not, that like to find bugs or not, but most importantly: people that really want to help with honest, open, unbiased feedback and be part of the development of a game. People that nobody talks about, but makes ALL the difference.

Playtests, however, are not the only way of collecting data. There are many other methods and the right ones are chosen by the researcher according to the objectives, resources and time availability to conduct the study. Check below which are the main stages of a research plan. Bear in mind this example refers to a recent focus group study for Worlds Adrift, so stages can vary according to the study.

Identify the Problem

For eg. Players were complaining of griefers in the starting areas.

Clarify the Problem

For eg. By checking with the data scientists if this is really happening in-game and possible reasons.

Possible Solution

For eg. The creation of a PvE Server.

Research Design

The preparation of a document with objectives, methods and questions to test this solution.

In this case the objective was: to identify players perception of the PvE Server.

Participants Recruitment

After defining the samples, players are contacted and scheduled.

Data Collection

In this case, three focus groups with different samples were conducted, via voice chat.

Data Analysis

In this case, players from all samples showed big interest in having a server dedicated to PvE. They also suggested a safe starting are for the PvP server.

Data Report & Presentation

Devs and other teams members decide what to do next. In this case…

PvE and PvP servers will be added to the game, with a safe starting area on the PvP one as well (Haven).

 

After some time, players will be contacted again to confirm (or not) if the initial problem was solved.

 

Fun Stuff!

 

Hope this post helped you to realise how important your feedback is to the game’s development. By taking part in focus groups, surveys and playtests (remote or on-site) we at Bossa get to learn what’s best for Worlds Adrift, and what’s not. And you get to shape the game, share ideas and leave your mark. Playtesters are important members of the devs team… and we love them for that! <3

Guess that’s all for now folks! If you are curious to know how it feels to be a playtester, check below a few testimonials written by official Bossa Studios Playtesters:

‘’Our focus group was very passionate about seeing the game succeed. There were targeted questions which led to upcoming possibilities which gave us a great amount of discussion regarding things we hadn’t thought about. It felt great to be a part of the developing game’’ 

 

‘’Good fun, it’s not hard to do at all, you arrive, get asked a few questions on background, then play a game and answer some further questions about your opinions and such, plus there’s free snacks’’ 

 

‘’My Experiences at Bossa Studio’s have been nothing but amazing.I first found out about playtesting from the Surgeon simulator Twitter account. I was in the process of moving to the UK in pursue of a career in the Games industry. When I arrived I was Greeted and asked to sign in. I was offered snacks and Drinks while I waited to start testing. It was great to see a Games Studio from the inside and really  motivated me to keep pursuing this Career path. A group of us were brought in to the playtest and were asked to complete a couple levels. Afterwards we were asked to offer feedback and ideas to improve the game. Everyone at Bossa is so friendly and it really gave a sense on how important our feedback meant to them.’’ 

 

Pic from: Black Mirror (just kidding…. we don’t do that to our players, nws – but would be fun

 

‘’Being asked to provide feedback in a group is a very different experience than just filling in a survey, there are conversations within the group and people build upon each other’s ideas. Without feedback, game devs don’t really have a good picture on whether they are doing good or bad in the eyes of the community. After giving feedback and seeing that the next week, they have taken some of my ideas and put them into the game is also very satisfying.” 

 

‘’After attending a recent Playtest at Bossa Studios I was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t ageist and that the devs graciously accepted critical feedback without flinching. I can’t say much about the proto-game as they cunningly headed the process with the name of a ‘Product Already in Existence’ – and the new mechanics appeared to have nothing to do with the latter. Also, I signed something called an NDA – which I didn’t have the time to read.’’

 

“I’ve been to Bossa a few times (first time as a playtester, though) and is always a great experience. Staff is friendly, developers do care about your opinion, and the vibe is cool, so you can share your feedback confidently. Also the other participants were friendly and we discovered game-dynamics and bugs in a collaborative way. I really want to see what happen with this and the other projects that you are doing, and hopefully be considered for future play-testing sessions”

 

‘’When sharing feedback I was able to be as open as possible about what I thought as well as give ideas and suggestions which seemed to be well received. It also helped to be with another tester as it gave me someone to bounce ideas from and help me get across the points I was trying to make.’’

 

“Playtesting at Bossa is a pleasure, it always feels like my feedback is taken on board and it is wonderful to work with like-minded people who share the same enthusiasm and respect for games as a creative medium.” 

 

To become a playtester or to learn more about players research, please join the BOSSA STUDIOS PLAYTESTS SERVER on Discord and poke me there! 

 

Be part of the Devs’ team.

Become a Bossa Playtester.

See you in the skies,

Tantan =)