Testing your game is one of the most valuable things, you can do while making your game. Or to be exact, without it you basically let the luck decide, is your game interesting and/or does it even work!
Test early, often and with the right people
You're not supposed to make your game a polished diamond to start testing it. Testing should take place even at the prototype level. Since the sooner you start to get feedback, the sooner you're able to identify is the time you're about to use for the development even worth it. Game development takes time, it's rather sad to use it for something that has a hard time to acquire players.
"To make sure you're doing enough testing, you should book it to your calendar. "
To make sure you're doing enough testing, you should book it to your calendar. For every one to two weeks, you should have a build of your game which is playable. For a mobile game, place it as a closed beta release to Google Play or for PC games, get the closed test version to platforms like Itchio, Game Jolt or maybe even Steam. Once you've done this process once, it's easy for you to keep updating the game as often as possible, to provide new content for the growing player base of testers.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Remember, that knowing your target audience is crucial to understand when starting the tests. Your game is not for everyone, so because of that, you will get whole different feedback from a different type of players. Aim to understand, what other similar games do your players play. Once you have a clear vision, you can start listening only the players, who actually matter.
HOW TO GET TESTERS
At first, it's good to reach out to game development communities on Discord, Reddit, Twitter and/or Facebook. Please understand, that right now you're NOT looking to promote your game to gain revenue out from it, you are asking people politely to do "free work" for you. It's not a bad habit to offer some sort of compensation for the testers if you like.
Once you start to get some players, you can already start seeing does the player come back to your game and if you've added the analytics, you can already get a clear understanding how far does the player get, before quitting for good. The parts you can identify from the analytics, are the parts you should be focusing on with your coming updates.
"... Focus on the testing part, even when planning the development of your game."
After the update(s) you're ready to acquire more players from reaching out to actual player communities, or maybe even start spending actual money for 'User Acquisition'. Don't go too far with spending just yet, since you're only doing tests. The money you put in right now does not have any guarantee to come back later on the line.
KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TESTING
When on the early phase of development, the game is of course, not complete. It's rather an easy excuse for game developers to think, that it's not good to test the game right now because of it's missing parts. That's why you should focus on the testing part, even when planning the development of your game.
"When will we have the X version of our game ready, which has Y and Z features?"
Once that version is done, you're ready for the test with your audience. Always aim to keep the game in a condition, that the testers can play that "certain" part of it from start to finish. If the game is not in "testing condition", fixing that should be your top priority, always!
"Don't make excuses why you should not be testing yet... "
If your game is still heavily under development when the first testing starts, make sure to give the players guides, what they should focus on. Is it the movement controls of the character? Maybe the first boss fight? Or Is it the graphics of the game? This should be a notification when starting the game since you can't predict that all of the testers read your guides carefully before starting the game.
GIVE PLAYERS AN EASY WAY TO DROP FEEDBACK
Your testers have reserved time to play your game, that's a HUGE thing. Do not make them look for a place to give you feedback. Show the button within the game HUD, or put it at the start/end screen of the game. Just make sure that the player can not miss it!
- As a conclusion, here is a quick "cheat list" how to test your game.
- Plan your development around the testing cycles
- Put dates for your tests so you won't forget to do those even after months of development
- Always aim to have a "playable" version of your game to share
- Don't make excuses (for yourself) why you should not be testing yet
- Test early, often and with the right people!
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