As a game developer, testing your game with real Participants can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Don't worry though! In this guide, we'll outline some key factors to consider before launching a playtest that achieves your goals, and ensures the Particpant has a smooth testing experience.
Preparing Your Game and Participants for the Playtest
Before launching a playtest, it's important to consider the resources both you and your Participants have available. Through years of experience we've collated a list of common factors to consider in playtesting that can often be forgotten. Try to take the following into consideration for every test;
We have designed our apps to be as lightweight as possible, and they will only use the resources available on any given device to stream to the cloud. This means the Participant gets a quick, smooth experience in the vast majority of cases.
However, even with top-end devices, unoptimized games can sometimes cause issues, as the game takes up so much of the system resource that our apps have very little to work with. This, unfortunately, can lead to lower quality footage.
To counter balance this, It's essential to optimize the game as much as possible before the playtest. We do understand that optimization may be something you consider later in the development process, but we've found that this can have an impact on the quality of video in some circumstances.
In the same vein, it's also important to ensure/advise your participants that no other apps should be running, especially resource-intensive ones like game launchers, communication platforms or browsers.
We recommend a minimum of 3Mb/s upload speed to ensure the best possible experience for participants, and this is stated in the setup stage of every test.
We would also suggest that Participants minimize other factors such as other users on the same network, additional downloads or streaming in the background of the device itself or on other devices, and where they are in relation to their router if they are on Wi-Fi.
Participants should be in a quiet space to minimize background noise, and if they live with anyone, they should take time to advise that they should not be disturbed for the test session duration.
We also recommend that they don't have anything on in the background, such as TVs or other devices with speakers. Microphones are a very sensitive in a lot of devices, and something in the background playing audio can interfere with the feedback you receive.
Advising your Participants
These tips should be shared in an email or your invitation method. You may have a Discord server for the test, in which case we've seen success with a solid FAQ/Need to Know Channel there too.
Participant Journey QA
Performing a thorough Participant Journey QA ensures that the flow of the Playtest is smooth and that any additional steps are clear and easy to follow.
Why Participant Journey QA is Important
Participant Journey QA is a process that involves testing the flow of the playtest from the perspective of the Participant. This includes ensuring that the test doesn't have distractions or complications that might confuse the participants, and that any potential login or additional steps are clear and easy to follow.
It is important to note here that this is not actively looking for bugs in your product. This is conducting a check to see if the Participant is going to be able to finish the playtest and have a smooth experience overall.
Performing your own Participant Journey QA
The first step in performing Participant Journey QA is to submit a session yourself.
Invite yourself to the test (via whatever method you wish, Direct to Test will give you a link that you just need to open on the device, or you can go through the full screening process if applicable with the Test Screener link) then follow the prompts!
NOTE: If you want us to recruit for you (by selecting Go Testify Network), and you are based outside of the following countries, you will need to duplicate the test and change the recruit type to "My Own Participants" on the duplicate and complete your QA on that Duplicated Test.
Take notes of any issues or complications you encounter during the process then correct them if needed, a few ways to do this might be;
Adding Special Instructions to the test to inform the Participant of any issues, make sure the instructions are clear and easy to understand.
Iterating on the build, if possible, can remove blockers for the participants (perhaps including a prompt in a game menu could keep the Participant focused?)
We've been doing this for a while, and during our time, we've seen a number of potential complications that can impact the participant experience, including but not limited to;
Logging in - Will the Participant need any instructions to log into the game?
Dev Menu - Is the Dev Menu easily accessible in your title? Should the Participant access this?
Ads: Will ads cause focus/engagement issues for the Participant?
Cooldown Periods - Does the game have cooldown/waiting periods, and if so will this affect the Participant's ability to complete a full session?
Permissions: Will the title require any special permissions from Participant devices?
Survey - Ensure the survey loads, and all questions/follow-ups are appearing as expected.
We would always recommend giving the test a quick run through before launching, as when those Participants start coming in, it can often be too late to make changes!
Our Go Testify Consultants can also complete a full End to End Review of the test setup before distribution to Participants. If there is any key information that a Participant may require before beginning your test, please ensure you include it for our team!
Please Note that this service cannot be changed once a test is live, so try to cover all the bases, and if you need to update anything, let us know directly via the methods below.
Taking all of the above into consideration will ensure that you can launch a playtest with confidence and get valuable feedback from your participants!
If you have any questions or would like to chat with someone, feel free to reach out to us via the chat function at the bottom right of this page or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Luck with your playtest!