[Mr. Jas’s lecture] The Importance of Playtesting in a Game

When we are downloading and installing a game, of course we want that game to be comfortable and smooth to be played, right? However sometimes there are some games in program is good, minimum in bug and error, there is still less people play it. So how is the solution? One of the solutions that can be offered by Mr. Jas in the lecture this time is the play testing. What is play testing? Let’s discuss it deeper.

Play testing is a way to test a game without thinking of about how interesting or not that game from coding or bug/error side of the game. Let’s call the play testing actor as play tester. Of course the play tester will play that game and try all features in the game with the exact same way with the gamer or end user. Usually, the game tester in the play testing term will use manual book and check some things, for example whether the game is installed based on what’s written in the manual book, or whether the game object and component respond based on the available instructions in manual book.

Play testing must be done without direction from game developer, so the play tester is free to play that game based on what s/he wants but it’s still in manual book’s path. Therefore if there are things unavailable in the manual book or help screen in game we don’t need to question them.

The main objective of Play testing is to test whether to game is exciting or there is still any problem with the game mechanism, such as there is no place that cannot be entered or the movement is not flexible. In depth, this testing is meant to balance in the game play, or the mechanism change so that the game flow is more interesting and particularly whether the play tester can understand the meaning of the game being tested without being told by the developer directly. In other words, what does this game want?

It needs to be remembered by the game developer, Play testing is not the same with debugging which is oriented to program codes. Game tester in this term has to hold the guide that it’s better to play smooth and exciting game although there is little bug here and there than game without bug but has boring game play. Developer also has to bring aside the ego if there is any concept in the game play that is considered boring or unpleasant and soon improve the game in the suggested direction.

If you want to choose game tester, we should pick one more person. At least 5-10 persons are fitted to do Play testing in the game we’re developing. What kind of people suitable as play tester for the game we’re developing?

  1. Representing sample for target players, so if the game is for children with 6-10 years old, at least there are some children who are involved as play tester. If the game is for thriller fans, so at least we involve the thriller fans.         
  2. Having various skills, ensure the play tester has various skills, from hardcore game players to those who rarely play game so it can cope all possibility to people who play the game we develop.
  3. Unfamiliar and not falling into game we develop, the play tester should be from those who have no idea about the game, or not waiting the game we develop so that they can be objective and good in the testing. Therefore if the game is not interesting they will not hesitate to say the truth.

The test done by play tester is clearly they will play that game so the play tester will give feedback or opinions which can be categorized as followed (this part can also be used as play tester’s reference in play testing):

  1. Do they love the game? If they do they need to explain why, and vice versa. It is also possible they will write down main strength and weakness in game features.
  2. In which part of the game that makes play tester feel frustrated? Is it because of a difficult area, complicated skill to learn or unbalanced? Undefeatable enemies?
  3. In which part the play tester starts to doze? Is it the boring story line, game play or mechanism that makes play tester bored because it’s too repetitive or difficult to understand?

Play testing which is done well can result many suggestions like when play tester cannot continue the game, the developer must redesign the game to know why the players fail to continue the game. If the game is too difficult, the game developers need to simplify the game. If play tester does unexpected things, the game developer needs to pay to attention to those things, maybe it can add entertainment side in the game.

That’s all for Mr. Jas’s lecture this time, Mr. Jas hopes that it will be useful for the game developer or to those who want to be play testers in a game. Don’t miss Mr. Jas’s lecture next time!


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Saya adalah seorang penggemar game sekaligus pembuat game. Sehari-hari bekerja sebagai dosen konsentrasi Pengembangan Game, Program Studi Desain Komunikasi Visual, Fakultas Teknologi Informasi di Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana. Saat ini mendirikan sebuah studio game indie yang bernama Enthrean. Karena saya penggemar JRPG, impian saya adalah membuat studio game yang bisa menyaingi ketenaran Square Enix.