Design & Style, Sports & Gaming


Will Wright

Lesson time 19:54 min

Player feedback is your most valuable resource as a designer, and the playtest is your first chance to get inside your player’s mind. Will teaches you to use playtesting to identify your audience, interpret feedback, and more.

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Topics include: Challenge Your Assumptions • Try “Kleenex Testing” • The Playtesting Process • Early vs Late Testing • Decipher Underlying Problems • Separate Signal From Noise • Interpret Metrics • Playtesting SimEarth and The Sims • Determine the Best Demographic Fit • Playtesting vs Focus Group Testing • Beta Test at Scale


Well, as you work on a project, in early stages, you're going to want to just get a sense of what does this thing feel like for me to interact with, or the other people on my team, how do we feel about interacting with this very simple little system? Sometimes it might not even be a prototype that we made, or it might be a game we pulled off the shelf. What do we like about that game or this game? Those are the cheapest prototypes, really, if you can find some other game that has some aspect of what you want to include. Then, as you start building something, you start building not just the system, but also the interface, the player controls. Typically you'll want to bring in a few people who play games, but they've never seen this, just to figure out the interface. Can they understand the control scheme you've got? Does that make sense to them? Can they understand reading the topography, the landscape? Do they have some sense of what they're supposed to do? what occurs to them as you drop them into this environment? So it actually can become a fairly granular process. It's not like we build the game, build the game, now we start playtesting. It's really like we're building prototypes from the very beginning that we are testing ourselves, and then over time, starting to test little game parts with a few people, here and there. And eventually, we're bringing in larger groups and maybe even at some point hundreds of thousands, capturing metrics and building these fairly complex diagrams of them moving through the game space. This is the first time you really have a little bit of a peek into the player's mind about how they're going to interact with this thing that you've built. As a designer, you kind of had this idea all along that I'm going to give them this. They're going to be able to do A, B, and C. They're going to try to get to D, whatever. This is what you're imagining. And as I am a designer, I'm trying to imagine, what would I enjoy? How would I think about this? But I put it in front of somebody else, and right off the bat, you start learning things. That maybe that wasn't as easy as you thought. Or they're not even trying to get to D. They're trying to get to F, over there, for some reason. And you go back and revisit your assumptions or maybe ask them why. What did they see that caused them to think that way. Or maybe there was just something they thought of that you didn't that would be really cool to try. And then again, you're learning. So I think that this is where for the first time, the designers are taking this concept out of their head and trying to put it into other people's heads and seeing how it fits. It's frequently very hard to kind of imagine the way other people are going to see or understand what you've made in a game. And there's really no replacement for actually testing it. We did a lot of what we called Kleenex testing, where we'd bring people in who had never seen the game before, put them i...

About the Instructor

Learn the art and science of game design with Will Wright, the mind behind SimCity and The Sims. In this game design class, Will teaches you how to create games that empower players and unleash their imagination. You’ll develop a tool set for understanding player psychology, as well as learn Will’s approach to generating and pitching ideas, prototyping, playtesting, and building a community.

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Will Wright

Collaboration, prototyping, playtesting. The Sims creator Will Wright breaks down his process for designing games that unleash player creativity.

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