What Does Playtesting Mean?
Playtesting is a method of quality control that takes place at many points during the video game design process. A selected group of users play unfinished versions of a game to work out flaws in gameplay, level design and other basic elements, as well as to discover and resolve bugs and glitches. In addition, the process mainly involves clarifying the vague points, adding fun elements or reducing boredom, balancing the victory situations, and so on.
Playtesting is very common among PC games and role-playing games. It has become an integral part of game design. The costs to produce a game have increased along with gamers' expectations. As such, designers have found that user feedback at every stage can help keep the user experience front and center. This focus on the user also helps to reduce the chances that the final version of the game will become an expensive flop when it hits the market.
Techopedia Explains Playtesting
Playtests are usually carried out at four points in the design process:
- Gross Playtesting: This is the initial playtest where the most basic running model is used. Users are primarily looking for problems in gameplay. Generally, the playtesting is carried out by the main design team working on the game.
- In-House Playtesting: This is a more comprehensive playtest carried out by people within the company and/or by contracted playtesters. The goal at this stage is to work out any remaining kinks in gameplay and prepare the game for wider testing.
- Blind Testing: Beta versions of the game are sent out to groups of playtesters who have no prior experience with the game. By approaching the game as regular users, playtesters at this phase will provide feedback that professionals with experience in game design may have overlooked.
- Final Playtesting: This is the last playtest before the game is launched. The game version will be as close to the final version as possible, and much of the feedback at this stage will be aesthetic rather than dealing with basic mechanics or level design.
Due to the importance of their role, playtesters (also known as video-game testers) may be paid for their work in improving the game - especially if they are involved in the earlier, more technical stages.