Tuning the guitar

08 Jan
January 8, 2013

We’re entering a fun phase of development here at Rogue Moon Studios : Playtesting and balance.

Feature development is wrapping up, and bugfixing is coming up soon, but first I’m focusing on hammering on the gameplay balance for a couple of weeks before handing it over to alpha testers for feedback and further hammering. The gameplay mechanics are all in place but there is still a lot of tuning and tweaking of stats to be done before the gameplay feels ‘lean’, ‘tight’ and generally just satisfying.

Theorycrafting is all well and good, but that only takes you so far. At some point, you need to sit down and intensively play through the game, not just a few sessions but over and over, trying all the different permutations, building up a ‘feeling’ for the entire ‘play space’ in your mind. Sometimes you’ll find yourself surprised that something which works on paper really doesn’t when you play it. Other times, the mechanic isn’t completely broken, but it needs to be ‘tuned up’ relative to the other mechanics and numbers it interacts with.

Tuning a guitar is actually a great metaphor for what you do. Tighten a string, play a note, tweak it again, trying to find the perfect harmonic. Logic is involved, as you try to keep a mental model of the system and how it interacts in your head, but it’s more intuition and emotion than anything else.

So here I sit, playing the game over and over and over again, cup of tea in one hand, stats spreadsheet open on the other monitor. Luckily, it’s a fairly fun process! I’ll be writing more posts going into it in depth in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned!

2 replies
  1. GhanBuriGhan says:

    Cool, I was just gonna make a post on the ITS forums to aks whether you started testing yet. Just to keep the pressure on, heh! 😉
    Sounds great! Let us know if you need additional testers. I’d be pretty useless, but I can possibly fulfill the role of “doesn’t have a clue regarding CCG” customer 🙂

  2. gareth says:

    The ‘genre clueless’ tester types are actually quite useful, for showing you, the developer, what assumptions you have about what new players will understand, that you shouldn’t have had. Developers can be blind to their own biases and assumptions.


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