Game Development Reference
The downside is that you (and the rest of the project team) lose your ability to objec-
tively evaluate difficulty as the game approaches release. Nothing of what is supposed
to be fresh and new to a player seems fresh and new to you. That is why you need
another set of fresh eyes: outside gameplay testers.
External Gameplay Testing
External testing begins with resources outside of the test and development teams, but
still inside your company. These opinions and data can come from the marketing
department, as well as other business units. It's a good idea to have everyone who is
willing, from the CFO to the part-time receptionist, to play test the game if there are
questions that remain to be answered.
Here we must be careful to keep in mind Dr. Werner Heisenberg's warning that the act
of observing something changes the reality observed. Even small children are aware
they're participating in a focus group or play test. Because they (or their adult coun-
terparts) are often eager to please, they may tell you what they think you want to hear.
Entire topics have been written on how to manage this problem with consumer research.
For more information on managing problems with consumer research, see Sudman and Wansink,
Consumer Panels(South-Western, 2002).
Although outside gameplay testing and opinion gathering is an effort typically initiated
by the development or design teams, it is often implemented and managed by the test
Subject Matter Testing
If your game takes place in the real world, past or present, the development team may
wisely choose to have subject matter experts review the game for accuracy.
During the development of the PC jet fighter simulator Flanker , producers at the pub-
lisher, SSI, used the Internet to pull together a small group of American and Russian
fighter pilots who were given Beta builds of the game. Their feedback about the real-
ism of the game, from the feel of the planes to the Russian-language labels on the
cockpit dials, proved invaluable.
These experts posted their comments to a closed message board, and their feedback
was carefully recorded, verified, and passed on to the development team. The game
was released to very good reviews and was given high marks for its realistic creation
of Soviet-era fighter planes.