Paul Sztajer's Blog - How many players should you playtest with? Reposted from www.throwthelookingglass.comSo, you've started developing your game, and you've got your basic gameplay done. It's time to start playtesting*. The question occurs to you: how many people should be playtesting my game? *If you've got something you can playtest with, you should be playtesting. As soon as possible. Jakob Nielsen, usability king, says that you only need 5 users to test each iteration of a design, and in many ways, this philosophy applies directly to playtesting. Nielsen's basic argument is that testing is about improving a design rather than finding every single problem. There's a caviet to this: if you're just sending your game to 5 friends and asking them to 'tell you what they think', 3-5 probably isn't enough. There are ways of getting almost as much information from your testers in an online playtest. There are two exceptions to this rule of 3-5. So that's it.
8 guidelines for usability testing (WebCredible) In professional web design circles, the usability testing session has become an essential component of any major project. Similar to focus groups in brand development and product launches, usability testing offers a rare opportunity to receive feedback from the very people the website is aimed at - before it's too late to do anything about it. But how can you get the most from these usability testing sessions? 1. As with any market research project, the results will only be as good as the people you test. 2. As with everything in life, first impressions are vital. Provide clear instructions on how to get to the usability testing location, and if necessary meet the participants at local stations. After the initial greeting and welcoming drinks, there are always legal forms that must be signed. 3. Before diving into key tasks, get the user familiar with the environment. Next, let them look at the website they are testing. 4. Set tasks that are essential to the new site's success, such as:
Features - Practical Game Playtesting: A Wii-Based Case Study [Sidhe's Griffiths discusses in depth how the GripShift developer playtested, and then took that feedback to improve, their Wii version of the recent Speed Racer game, from Wiimote tweaks to difficulty changes.] Playtesting a game for the very first time is an incredibly daunting task. I'm not talking about all the preparation that goes into it; I'm talking about the abundance of negativity that is bound to be thrown your way. The first time players get their hands on the game always results in problems -- and when it comes time to write up the report, I realize with each soul-destroying point that it's my job to then present this information to the developers. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is that we can find and tackle these problems while the game is still in our hands. There is always the tendency, though (and I myself am guilty of this) to believe that your game is going to be perfect. Yet, we did get it out on time, and it actually received pretty good reviews.
Usability Testing (Web Design & Usability) - Constance J Petersen Home Articles We've Written Usability Testing By Constance J. Petersen for Borland's DevNews Copyright 1999 Inprise Corp. Help visitors navigate your Web site by removing stumbling blocks in advance. Shopping the other day on garden.com, I selected one item to purchase and continued browsing. I looked for a link labeled "check out," but there was no such link on the page. Obvious? Note: After this article was written, garden.com was acquired by Burpee seeds, and it now provides a standard shopping cart icon and text. I've noticed a strong new interest in usability testing, thanks to the growth of the Web. In its simplest form, usability testing requires only three ingredients: an application or Web site, a usability tester, and an observer. Note that usability testers are not the same as software testers whose job is to find bugs in the program. Be prepared Careful planning helps immensely in getting beneficial results from this kind of test. Trial run Time, cost, and videotape
Lennart Nacke's Blog - Biometrics, Game Evaluation and UX: Approach with caution The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company. My colleague Steve Fairclough recently posted an article on PhysiologicalComputing.net in which he discusses the potential pitfalls of biometric research and how it is currently being sold to the game industry. Steve outlines that "psychophysiological methods are combined with computer games in two types of context: applied psychology research and game evaluation in a commercial context. Similar to Mike Ambinder's presentation of user research and game design at Valve (PDF), he makes the point that games in this context are analysed using principles of experimental psychology. They are used as tasks or virtual worlds within which a research can study the behavior of players (you might recall John Hopson's Gamasutra article on behavioral game design).
WDVL: Usability Testing in Practice Design, Games, & Game Design (feat. SpyParty) - Chris Hecker's Website I gave a talk at UC Berkeley called Design, Games, & Game Design (feat. SpyParty). It was for the UC Berkeley School of Information's Design Futures Lecture Series, and I was invited by the excellent Elizabeth Goodman. The talk was a mix of general design stuff, game design stuff, and SpyParty design stuff. Among other things... I talked about the basic design → build → test loop, and how I don't think you can separate out the design and build steps if you're making something deep and new and (especially) interactive. I answered questions for longer than the actual lecture! And, I talked more about the Blizzard-inspired Depth-first, Accessibility-later development model I'm following, including forcing people to read the four-page instruction manual before they can play. Here are the synced audio and slides, with 40 minutes of Q&A at the end: Here are the raw ppt and mp3. Also, Tom Curtis was there and wrote about the lecture at Gamasutra.
Practical Usability Testing (Joshua Kaufman) The web professional's online magazine of choice. In: Columns > Information Architecture for the People By Joshua Kaufman Published on February 13, 2006 When I started this column, part of my motivation was to write about tools to empower Web designers—techniques they could take away and apply immediately. I’ve written an article on how information architecture can be a natural progression from Web design and two articles containing short lessons to help new information architects be more effective on the job. Usability testing should be an iterative practice, completed several times during the design and development life-cycle. The first article in this series is on one of my favorite practices: usability testing. Planning a Test The first thing to know about planning a usability test is that every test is different in scope, and results will vary a lot depending on the purpose and context of the test. Test with a reasonable number of participants—at least five and no more than 20. Short.