City Tuesday progress August 9th

Play testing is not the same as market testing. I have heard people bemoan the overly-thorough play-testing of games that AAA companies like Valve inflict upon their games. “Tsk Tsk”, they say, “I want a game that captures the designer’s vision and hasn’t been mellowed out by generic review boards that soften games and polish out the individual humanity of the developer.” However, what they are complaining about is market testing in which a product, such as blockbuster movies, are shown to an audience and that audience’s reaction can determine whether the boy gets the girl or if he dies in the final scene. Yes that sucks. But it is not the same as play testing. The best analogy I have heard for game play testing is a standup comic who tests his jokes in front of a smaller audience (sometimes even on twitter). You need to do this because games, like jokes, have most of their impact in the audience’s mind. Similarly a game must be propelled by the audience.

I have been thinking about play testing because last Wednesday I went up to the monthly Phoenix International Game Developers Association meeting to show a build of City Tuesday. Boy was it a surprise. I was able to get two folks to try the game. In both cases I saw my game in a completely new way.

The controls were troubling in ways that I hadn’t seen before. One tester followed a vehicle that looked too similar to another vehicle. I got to see the confusion first hand. It was a really great experience. I wanted to feel mad and frustrated. However, I know that I would rather find these problems now than after I released the game. There will be more testing to come and more improvements.
Oh, by the way I went up to IGDA phoenix with a couple other Tucson developers. They are making a game that was just published to the itunes ap store named Baby Monkey (going backwards on a pig)

City Tuesday progress August 2nd

My progress on City Tuesday is still mired in the deep bowels of the game’s engine. Who would have thought that programming a time traveling world would take so much code. My current aim is to get a version of the code up that shows a cross-cut approximation of what the final version of the game will look like. It will have only 3 bombs to discover but will have the world in a nearly complete state. At that point I will be free of programming the “time physics” of the world and will be able to focus on story and new puzzles that dominate the bulk of the game.

This week I was so lucky to be featured on the “Just Press Start” podcast (episode 64). I love the podcast format because when it is executed well it can go off like a grad student defending their thesis. As the student, I was able to describe my influences, what I was hoping to achieve in the game, and argue in favor of some of the tougher bits (like the fact that the world is small and you spend a lot of time in it). Download it because it will tell you a lot more about my game than the ramblings I put out each week on this blog.

This week I am also heading up to Phoenix to show the game at the monthly International Game Developers Association meetings. There is a really great and diverse set of developers in Phoenix and I hope to get some good input on the game.

Well I gotta go get a build of it ready for test so it is time to go.