Beta testing is a nerve inducing time for any game developer. It often coincides with the first time people outside of the team interact with your game, and when your work is under the scrutiny of both potential target users and eagle eyed researchers, the risk of disruption to the game development becomes even greater.
While this was the first time the HIV GET mobile game (working title HIV: Battle in the Blood) was played by individuals outside of the project team, it was not the first time potential users have been involved in the development process. A total of 8 focus group discussions, 2 game testing sessions, along with 14 interviews and a national survey has enabled a user-led approach to the game design and messaging; the recent success of the beta testing could be evidence that this was the right approach to take.
That’s not to say we’re going to kick back and raise a glass to a job well done, there’s still a huge amount to do before the game release on the 1st of December 2017. The honest and in-depth advice provided by our wonderful beta testers has given us clear direction to improve the user experience. A list of game changes has been developed and is being implemented, some of these changes will be assessed during the next beta testing session in Davao, Philippines, with target users on the 9th of September 2017 to see if they were successful in resolving reported playability issues.
Our primary focus will be on improving the game’s onboarding and creating more variety in the levels. We will also explore ways to improve the storyline in the game and create a stronger connection between the gameplay and animations.
Below are just a few of our favorite quotes from our beta testers and some results from the playability questionnaire.
The game is beautiful. The interface is easy to use. It’s just that, like what he said, there’s no instruction as to what the power-ups are for, why some icons are glowing… there’s no instruction explaining that in the game.
My first comment is that I love that the avatar is gender-sensitive. It doesn’t have boy-girl gender. It’s all on how you dress your character. For me, that’s a positive. Although, as previously stated, that right after customizing your character, you won’t see much of it in the game.
And then, there’s also this impression that when you finish the level, the congratulations part, or the ‘stage cleared’ part, it looks like you’re inside the vagina. [laughs]
*1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree