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Playesting talent?

So I was playing Stardate 20X6, and a completely unrelated question randomly popped into my mind: There are map designers, musicians and other artists that are talented and prolific in the game industry, but can a playtester's talent be measured? And if so, how?

Most of you are probably thinking "what's so talented about finding a bug?" Maybe there is talent in it after all.

Obviously there isn't a right answer to this question, but all more or less random thoughts will be appreciated.

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How thorough they are, how hard they try to break the game and replay, how much they want to play through everything 100% over and over. I know some really fantastic playtesters that will keep playing the same shitty, buggy games no matter what. Such as if a game bug is breaking the game, preventing something from happening or going further... they'll keep playing thinking its not a bug. He reports the bug, but keeps going even when there's no where to progress to.

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you might find this thread interesting. The consensus there was pretty much that a valuable playtester is one who approaches the map in a different (hopefully complementary) way as the author, as to ensure it plays well with different strategies and what have you. To more directly answer your question of what makes a good playtester, I'd have to go with:

- proficient/seasoned enough at the game such that their opinion on balance and what's fair/unfair is actually trustworthy.
- ability to detect common sequence breaks, unintended routes/bugs/glitches. Ex. hitting high switches from ground, AV jumping somewhere you shouldn't be, 32-wide openings that you can glide through, etc.
- willingness to tell you when and why they don't like something
- willingness to power through difficult or unejoyable (hopefully not too bad :p) sections of maps

as far as 'talent' goes it seems like good old fashioned experience is the trait to look for, a solid familiarity with doom and its quirks.


edit: not sure if you were talking about games in general or doom specifically -.-, but I went with the latter.

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I hold playtesters in really high regard, sometimes almost higher than the mapper. A garbage mapper can make something truly awesome if he has a strong playtesting team and the mapper is open to criticism and responds to what they say (in the form of editing his maps)

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Don't know about game testing in particular, though there's this interesting article about the importance of software testers, I expect the general principle applies to games just as much as any other software.

With testers, like programmers, the best ones are an order of magnitude better than the average ones. At Juno, we had one tester, Jill McFarlane, who found three times as many bugs as all four other testers, combined. I'm not exaggerating, I actually measured this. She was more than twelve times more productive than the average tester. When she quit, I sent an email to the CEO saying "I'd rather have Jill on Mondays and Tuesdays than the rest of the QA team put together".

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Anyone asking Kyka about playtesters for Devilution will get a detailed report on his main three, identifying and highlighting individual testing quirks and how we all combine to get really good feedback (which ive noticed; Map 1 and 2 are crazy polished now)

In particular, I'm the "automap specialist" and will generally find every messed up thing on the automap. In the TNT2 current demo, I tested the first two maps, the third map has a plethora of missing lines and broken map details, for example. I also play with a 360 controller, so I end up finding bits like jumps that are slightly too difficult without superhighultraprecision strafejumps that I could never do.

I know Megamur is the vanilla specialist of us, and probably the most important tester (this IS a vanilla megawad afterall), and I cant off the top of my head remember Hawkwind's designation, but I know he finds crazily detailed things that Megamur or I never find.

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