Home Front: Week Thirteen

The Work This Week:

Week Thirteen was a week of prepping for Soft Openings by playtesting.


Soft Opening is a two day period where students at the ETC show off their deliverables to the faculty. They were originally created as a chance for faculty to offer one last piece of advice, or suggest one last tweek, before students began preparing for final presentations. Because these notes are intended to be minor changes and suggest directions to go with polish, we’re expected to have our product “finished” by Softs.  Major changes not only mean that we’re behind in schedule, but also that we’d be making modifications without the benefit of expert feedback.

To make sure that we had our game as ready as it can be for Softs, we’ve been focusing on gathering data through playtesting. We have an idea of how our game works, but it’s important to make sure everyone else does as well. This week, we were able to playtest twice with groups of ETC faculty. This was doubly useful for us; as far as using them as players went, their lack of knowledge of the game meant we could treat them as naive guests, but when it came to notes, they could speak on the design as experts.

Taking those notes and implementing them early in the week, we were able to hold our first full playtest of the game this Friday. This is significant because a full playthrough of the game takes between two to three hours. Due to logistical constraints, any internal playtesters in the building could never dedicate that much time in one sitting. We had playtested multiple parts of the game multiple times, but never as a complete narrative. Bringing in students from the the School of Drama, and taking advantage of CMU canceling classes this Friday for their Spring Carnival, we were finally able to make it work. The knowledge we gained from watching the full two hours of gameplay was invaluable. And, more importantly, we got undeniable confirmation that our full game works how we designed it to.

Aside from a small amount of programming work to do on the app over the weekend, the team is feeling confident going into Softs. With only twenty minutes per group of faculty members, we’re excited to pitch our “finished” product, and see what advice they have on how we can improve it before we put it to bed.