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40oz
Why don't I have a custom title by now?!


Posts: 7032
Registered: 08-07


The majority of my single maps released on the idgames archive were made without any external playtesting. I played them myself to indicate if there were any windows I could accidentally fall out of, inescapable pits, broken doors, switches or other actions, and if the ammo and health balance was doable.

With more serious projects, it's vital to have a good playtester or playtesting team to test out your stuff to make sure it's up to snuff and is actually high quality.

It's a little difficult for myself to adjust to that, as I have trouble asking feedback on something that isn't done, but at the same time, trying an experimental thing may lead to a map or an entire section of a map to be scrapped completely if it's inherently broken, offers a quirk that is easily exploited and too difficult to fix, so it could help not to pour my heart and soul into it before I share something.

Anybody have any stories about working alongside a playtester or group of playtesters? What was your process and what do you believe happened, or could have happened that would have made for the best maps? Do your maps generally go through major changes, or minor tweaks, and is either way for the best? What are some ways a mapper and a playtester can cooperate and deliver the best possible mapping experience, both for those involved and for the players?

Old Post 10-07-13 12:39 #
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Rayzik
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Posts: 382
Registered: 10-11


I'm not too familiar with having people playtest my maps outside of the slaughterfest series (for now), but I hold a very high standard for polishing and reliability of the map as a whole. I usually playtest the map step by step as I build it, and make notes of issue and fix them on the next editing session.

But, I have had a couple private playtesters play through my maps, and they always seem to find at least one thing I missed. I think it has to do mainly with the way someone plays the game. People approach things differently, use weapons in different fashion or are inaccurate, and there should be more ammo in certain parts of the map. They may break a trap by finding another route or way into it that wasn't properly accounted for since I tended to run that routes everytime I played myself.

I personally think it's very important to have at least one other person playtest a project or map, because nobody can catch everything or every little issue by themselves, just as I have experience.

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Old Post 10-07-13 23:53 #
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chesse20
Banned


Posts: 86
Registered: 06-13


yeah usually my maps only make sense to me

Old Post 10-08-13 04:03 #
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Squadallah
Green Marine


Posts: 38
Registered: 01-12


Well, an external (and hopefully experienced) eye to check out your work is imo absolutely essential and this, regardless of the kind of map you're making (I include there even jokewads obviously because a jokewad that you're the only one to understand why it is funny is not that great.).
I usually have always at least one friend to playtest my maps and he always finds out stuff I didn't think about or make me realise that such or such trick , secret etc was too/not enough obvious.

We barely can put ourselves 100% in the mind of a player having no idea of what the map has in store for him.

Old Post 10-10-13 12:08 #
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wesleyjohnson
Senior Member


Posts: 1068
Registered: 04-09


With DoomLegacy coding, I had one tester that at first offered to test my code, but then kept sending code changes that they expected to be immediately in the next version tested. With maps there could be the same problem, and I doubt anything short of a legal agreement would help much. Some tester is going to suggest something and will be upset if the same problem (for them) is still there next time.

I still offer up maps for examination. Often I do not get any attention. A few times I have gotten detailed responses.

I have identified several types of players, and I try to emulate them in my personal testing. If I include enough alternatives at each step of the map exploration, I figure that each type of player will find one that appeals to them the most.

That will be your best defense for aggressive suggestors, when you feel you must reject something they submit. Keeping alternatives open for other types of players is a useful response.

Last edited by wesleyjohnson on 10-10-13 at 23:13

Old Post 10-10-13 23:05 #
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Xaser
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Posts: 2695
Registered: 07-03


I've never run into a situation where having external playtesters has done anything other than make the map better. Even if I were to have produced a perfectly bug-free version before having other folks play it, they'd still inevitably come up with cool gameplay suggestions, useful style nitpicks, things I never would've caught with my own eyes... etc.

Old Post 10-11-13 01:15 #
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Ribbiks
Senior Member


Posts: 1318
Registered: 02-11


good playtesters extremely valuable for aforementioned reasons. Just having multiple sets of eyes, aesthetic/gameplay preferences and tactical approaches to various encounters leads to a more well rounded map: finer-tuned balance, ironed-out quirks/bugs, and overall hopefully a map that's more fun to play.

I've had playtesters assist in many ways: through FDAs, typed-up discussions, or live playthroughs, each are helpful in their own way. Demos and live playthroughs are perhaps the most valuable, the former because you get to witness first-hand where balance changes might be necessary, progressions that might be unintuitive, etc. The latter is great for getting lots of nitpicking, where the playtester can go pick out little things they like or dislike while playing. Written discussion is useful for fleshing out grievances, suggested improvements, and overall opinion of the map. So I'd say the best mapper (wrt this dynamic) is one who's very open to making changes (or at least considers each suggestion), and the best playtester is someone with patience (mostly for repeatedly dying, in the case of my maps :p) and a willingness to nitpick and argue.

Old Post 10-11-13 01:55 #
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40oz
Why don't I have a custom title by now?!


Posts: 7032
Registered: 08-07


I've been contemplating the idea of designing a level that is almost entirely external-playtester driven from the ground up.

i.e., starting a map off almost completely bare, monotone textured, with a very basic layout and some simple fights, and have them offer suggestions on how to amplify the difficulty or excitement of the fights, a visual theme given the style of the map and the basic architecture as is, and pass the map back and forth until it's evolved into something beautiful.

Is something like this very plausible?

Old Post 10-12-13 00:52 #
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Joshy
Senior Member


Posts: 1019
Registered: 07-08


I agree with with what Xaser and Ribbiks said. My maps almost always has some flaws I couldn't possibly have noticed. For instance, I may design a beserk orientated map, and I could find it interesting even though my gut instinct tells me it's a little iffy; but it's not certain enough to know what needs to be improved. External playtesters ensures there is no doubt what needs to be improved without having to rely wholly on my own instincts. Indeed the best relationship is between a mapper (open to critiques and ideas who can empathise and understand what the playtester is saying but doesn't necessarily follow everything the playtester says), and a playtester (whose playing style is versatile- able to play from quiet to slaughter maps), has a sound understanding of balance fundamentals, gameplay flow, etc). There are obviously exceptions, such as having playtesters who like playing on HMP or HNTR, whose feedback can be just as valuable, particularly in hard maps.


40oz said:
I've been contemplating the idea of designing a level that is almost entirely external-playtester driven from the ground up.

i.e., starting a map off almost completely bare, monotone textured, with a very basic layout and some simple fights, and have them offer suggestions on how to amplify the difficulty or excitement of the fights, a visual theme given the style of the map and the basic architecture as is, and pass the map back and forth until it's evolved into something beautiful.

Is something like this very plausible?


I'm not sure if I'm reading it right- either this is basically a typical mapping collaboration between 2 people, or a collaboration in the sense that the mapper creates the map bit by bit, sending the map over to the playtester after some progress each time to which the playtester gives feedback on what themes/gameplay designs can be done?

EDIT: Just re-read it, it's the latter, heh. That could be doable, except I think this would work more effectively when a first draft of a map is done first, and then recreate better drafts until both are satisfied? I know this probably happens with all mappers and playtesters; more specifically you could leave the design bare with rough gameplay, but the fundamental layout must be at least completed first IMO.

Last edited by Joshy on 10-12-13 at 01:44

Old Post 10-12-13 01:38 #
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Squadallah
Green Marine


Posts: 38
Registered: 01-12



40oz said:
I've been contemplating the idea of designing a level that is almost entirely external-playtester driven from the ground up.

i.e., starting a map off almost completely bare, monotone textured, with a very basic layout and some simple fights, and have them offer suggestions on how to amplify the difficulty or excitement of the fights, a visual theme given the style of the map and the basic architecture as is, and pass the map back and forth until it's evolved into something beautiful.

Is something like this very plausible?



I like the idea!
Would have to be really carefully planned though.

Old Post 10-12-13 01:52 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Posts: 2504
Registered: 03-09



40oz said:
I've been contemplating the idea of designing a level that is almost entirely external-playtester driven from the ground up.

i.e., starting a map off almost completely bare, monotone textured, with a very basic layout and some simple fights, and have them offer suggestions on how to amplify the difficulty or excitement of the fights, a visual theme given the style of the map and the basic architecture as is, and pass the map back and forth until it's evolved into something beautiful.

Is something like this very plausible?


I think this is a great idea, you should do it.

Old Post 10-12-13 01:57 #
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MFG38
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Posts: 513
Registered: 05-13


Problem is, when it comes to external playtesting, different people have different tastes, especially with a considerably large playtesting team. That's why I usually playtest my maps alone.

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Old Post 10-12-13 09:58 #
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Phml
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Posts: 3460
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Problem is, when it comes to external playtesting, different people have different tastes, especially with a considerably large playtesting team.


What you see as an issue is the entire point of the exercise. You want other people to get you out of your own inner loop. Then you take what fits into your vision and leave out what doesn't.

Edit: to be fair, I can see your point in that this filtering process can become hard, even downright stressful. Nonetheless it is an important step if you want your map to be as good as it can be.

Last edited by Phml on 10-12-13 at 11:25

Old Post 10-12-13 10:46 #
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