Swords & Soldiers
WiiWare developer Ronimo Games has told Gamasutra
about the importance of playtesting games of every size, as part of a new postmortem published today.
In it, the Dutch independent developer -- and original creator of the student version of IGF finalist and subsequent THQ console game De Blob
-- discusses what went right and wrong in creating critically acclaimed WiiWare side-scrolling console RTS.
A key point that went right during the game's development is headlined: 'Play Testing Gives More than Just Test Results', and Fabian Akker and Jasper Koning from Ronimo explain:
"One of the more important things we took away from our education was a strong emphasis on play testing as a great tool to improve your game, and we applied it to Swords & Soldiers in spades. During a few months at the end of 2008, we invited lots of people on Saturdays to come over and test our game.
We especially wanted them to check out our single player content. This was both make sure we had a proper difficulty curve, and also to verify that they understood the gameplay lessons we tried to convey to them through the game's dialog. It was also a great motivational tool, since as a developer, nothing feels better than seeing other people really enjoying your game."
However, the duo add, playtesting shouldn't be expected to fix all ills, as they noted:
"Later on, we also tried to use play testers to help us balance the game, but this was less successful. It just took them too long to reach the full strategic depth of each of the factions, making them a bit too unreliable to use as an indicator for faction strength.
But play testing gave us such an amount of eye-opening data about how players experienced our game, it wouldn't have been possible to make it this fun without them. A positive side effect was that our play testers started to post their experiences on the web, thus starting a fan community which helped with promoting the game."
The full Swords & Soldiers postmortem
is now available on Gamasutra, including lots more detail into the steps the team took to deliver a critically successful title.