EDIT/UPDATE: Just a quick note...I've been real bothered by folks assuming I am not greatful or appreciative of the play testers we use at Sony. I realize this is 100% my fault as I wanted to post without editing so you all could get a real sense of where my head is during focus tests...so no time to think or edit before I hit the PUBLISH button.
So please allow me to briefly explain:
Play tests are of key importance for all of the games we do in Santa Monica. They save our asses time and again and make our games better and a good play tester is worth his weight in free pizza (as well as the cash and free games they get paid for participating in our little play tests).
So for 95% of these guys/gals, I am thrilled and appreciative that they take time out to help us out. And to the poster- think his name was Brian- who felt that we are too arrogant to learn from these guys, and that we think we know it all, that could not be farther from the truth. We play test like crazy because we KNOW there is tons we do not know about how users will interact with our procuts.
anyone who has participated in focus groups knows two things:
1- you tend to get 1 to 2 real stinkers/play test group. Guys/Gals who show up only for the cash and to fuck with your results and who have no interest in doing their job- and it is a job, since we do pay for it. Plus 1-2 of the guys we had in this group were insulting to the guy who was running the group (calling him idiot, etc). and put answers on the questionaire that were totally useless (in an intentional way).
2- Watching folks play a game you have labored over is like watching the final seconds of a heated sports game...you are shouting at the screen, pulling out your hair, throwing you hands up in triumph when something you worked your ass on works...I was trying to share that with the readers of the blog...sorry if it came off as disrespectful of 95% of the tesers we had...that was not my intent.
So there ya go...
And for the self rightous fucks who are posting comments like: I would never run a focus test that way or 'in OUR focus test we respect EVERYONE'S ideas..."...please go FUCK yourself. I wish I was as perfect as you...I really, really do. Man, I've been doing this for 13 years and I KNOW the value of play tests, you ass. I KNOW how important the play testers are and hell, in the original blog post I said so! But that does not mean I'm gonna be all flowers and kisses to some stoned asshole who we are paying to help us out and who shows up and just fucks off.
Ok, back to the post :)
Take it easy ya'll!
prob. will post more tonite as my wife got a new laptop and we may head to the local coffe shop to play around with it...see ya'll!
Focus tests are starting for the game; prob. the last focus/play tests we will have. I will try to live blog it cause...well why not...maybe it will be interesting...or suck. This will be more stream of consciousness than usual...and the spelling lots worse as I'm gonna be focused on the test but trying to blog too...so here we go...
Here's me at 9:15 LA time:
We are waiting for the last player to show up...we are looking- for this first session- there are 3 today- at 30 to 40 year olds who are semi-hardcore gamers.
Sitting here with Scott Campbell and Kellan Hatch from Incognito and waiting to start...let you guys know when we are underway...
9:22- Still waiting for this motherfucker to show...that's the thing with focus tests...you pay these companies a good amount of cash to go out and find inbiased people to come play stuff, and they get paid, and you usually have like an 80% show rate...there's always a few who sign up to come but do not...one of these focus companies would do well to charge a bit more and then have back up testers to promise you get the number of people you want even if the first picks have a few no shows....fuck tards....and yeah, since I am typing fast, prep for lots more cursing cause I got not time to edit :)
9:27- Ok, we're gonna start without the fuck...whatever. Dammit! But yeah, here come the butterflies...will they like it, will they make fun of it, will they LOVE it?!? HATE IT?!?! Shit, here we go...they are all sitting down at the ps3's....here we go...
Oh, here's the sheet they fill out at the end...praying for 10's! But would be happy with 8's! :)
9:36- Jesus...this one guy on the right screen is so fucking stoned...he's like 40 and at a focus test on a wed morning....he prob is a stoner...cause he has NO CLUE how to play this game!
9:44- Going from single player to multiplayer....split screen first, then we go to online...we can see player's faces in a picture in picture window so we see when they smile, yawn, get mad...it's really nerve wracking when they make faces that look either like they don't dig your game or are taking a shit...hate to be so disrespectful sounding of these guys...I really do appreciate them giving us their time...I am just nervous....
Ok, multiplayer, here we come:
9:50- FUCK! The dev kits upstairs are not accepting 3rd player input...so we are going to switch from 3player split to 2 player split! FUCK! 3-4 player split is where it's at! Ah well, we'll see how it goes!
9:54- Scott just said: Stoner is prob. getting freaked out form all the sirens sound fx in the game...that makes me laugh :)
10:02- Watching some really fun 2 player games going...but you NEVER know...lots of times they look like they are fucking LOVING IT! And then they give you a score of like 4/10! In GOD OF WAR, we had guys who seemed to hate the game, kept dying all the time...and they gave us 10/10!!! So you never know...I've learned not to get my hopes up when watching this stuff.
10:10- Switching to net play....really cool to watch people play the game and understand what to do...that never gets old as 4 months ago at a focus test players had NO CLUE how to play this game and what to do...it was great watching people use all the weapons, steal the crim with magnet right as other players were about to score....shit, online looks like it's crashing...fuck! What is going on?
10:15- Upstairs machines crashing because they are not signed onto the Playstation Network! FUCK! You'd think that would be done already...ah well, Adam- one of the designers- is now setting up accounts on all the machines upstairs...so there will be a bit of a delay...which sucks as the scores we get from these guys will not be the result of an experience that has been broken in half by this delay....but ah well, prob. more a realistic representation of how many folks will play the game anyway...in spurts here and there....so what the hell....I feel bad for Adam as setting up the accounts will take him a bit...but I don't wanna go up and help as if these gamers recognize me from the net and interviews and stuff I don't want them to have any idea I am watching them play,etc...don't want to taint the thing...sorry Adam! I know it's a pain!
10:30- We're gonna have the guys start filling out paper work now....hope by the time they are done, we get the online issue solved...NEVER had an online issue before...it may be the way these dev kits are set up...sheesh! Ah well, at least we can get scores for singleplay and split screen....man, I am sitting here with an unopened bag of cookies and a diet coke...I am SO not hungry...just stressed...I can see it in my mind, I SO want to eat these to dull the stress....fuck it tho...I ain't gonna! Fuck stress eating! Ok, talk to ya sooN!
10:37-Ok, I had 2.5 cookies from a bag of Knott's Berry Farm BoysenBerry Coookies...and a SIP of diet coke...now I am done...I WAS looking for something sweet...but not gonna stress eat....so there :)
Still setting up the online shit...I think we are gonna send group #1 home without having played any online....shit man, I bet this shit never happens to Cliffy B!
11:16- Focus group #1 done; no multiplay :(.....
major feedback issue was turn rate of cars is too wide...so we've just gone and tweaked that and getting a new build sent from Utah...the hope is the next group will not have that issue to complain about :)
11:36- Talking to Kellan and he feels we need to announce to the players at the start that this game is a downloadable title on PS Store to sell between 5 and 10 bucks...otherwise, we are getting feedback from these folks where they go in feeling they are playing a game that can- in scope- be compared to HALO 3 and GOD OF WAR 2. And when they get CALLING ALL CARS, there's a knee jerk of like: this is too small a game to pay 60 bucks for. And when you tell them AT THE END it's a download game, they get it but they've already had that negative impulse....so I think- since the way the player will experience the actual title- via a download interface and tossing 5-10 bucks into the till- we SHOULD let them know that upfront so they know what they are getting into. Next group starts in 20 min...breaking for now...will be back online after...
12:40- Oh my God! We have 2o min till the next group...where is the FOOD?!?! We are so hungry :(
12:59- Za is here!
Ok, new group is here too! So now I get to eat, watch the test, and blog all at the same time! FUCK!!!!! Here we go! Gonna head up and tell the new group- casual and hardcore in 20's- that this is a download game...not full retail. I am dying to see what that does to the response...
1:30- there was a delay...about to start...Adam says these guys all look like testers and wanna be testers who are ready to tear the shit out of this game...he's says they are out in the lobby talking GEARS OF WAR...this was the one group I did not have timeto cherry pick to make sure we were not getting ultra hard core...turns out I shoulda made the time as these are looking to be the hard corest motherfuckers out there...ah well...
and fucking Adam is at it again:
1:34- Players are taking their seats...here we fucking go! Single player starting out in the city level...fingers crossed! And yes it is cheese pizza! And now it's gone! But Iwas actually hungry, not stress eating!
1:49- Moving to split screen...man tester #5 is a fucking dolt!!! What the hell?!?! He is just driving in circles...not even playing the game...is that fucking spit drooling out of his stupid fucking mouth!?!?! Ahem,well...anyway.... :)
1:56- IM comment from Adam on player #5...who seems to be unable to do anything but sit upright and not fall over:
adamorth (1:53:11 PM): should i put 5 into split next game or let him drive in circles on his own?
2:04- Online game starting...going to do 3 player online first...have to decide if 3 player is best default or 4 player is....4 player may be too chaotic for default mode....but we will see in a sec....lots of laughing and cursing going on upstairs....don't mean shit, they could still hate it...but it's always nice to see people smiling from something you've been involved with...
2:18- Network crash...trying to get them back into net play....it was clear something was odd when Player one had a score of 12 to 2 to 2 on his screen and the guys he was playing had a score of 3 to 9 to 7! Fucking internet! :)
2:28- Just had a great series of net games...doing a few more right now....some very close games, some that went to overtime....man I hope they give us a good score...
And Mike B, shit yeah, at least I THINK I recall...isn't that odd that I may not?!? So you are making games in BHAM?!?! THat is very cool! And shit yeah,I TOTALLY remember the computer being down...and EVERYTHING ELSE! Let's chat next week?
2:37- going into our last game with this group...and Arnoldo, it's not the code, it's the fact that these machines in the test room have been used to test PS3 games from Santa Monica and none of them till this one have had net play....so we're just not getting the machines set up in that room and there were a few mistakes in how they were hooked up....all seems well now...
2:53- Watching them on the monitors filling out score cards...man, they are taking a long, long time...writing alot....cool, one just finished.....now a second one....SHIT! I am nervous!!! What will they say? Sad I get so nervous, but MAN I do!
4:30- sorry for the delay. Needed a break! Going well! Last group coming in soon...12-17 year olds!!!
4:55- new group about to start....new IM from ADAM:
adamorth (4:52:36 PM): my prediction for the next group:adamorth (4:52:42 PM): #5 is an idiot.
5:02- last group of the day...12-17 year olds...they are starting now...hope it goes well...last group was great and the change we made from this morning (making cars turn sharper) seemed to really help...hope these new kids dig that as well...
5:28- Kellan watches the players thru our super sneaky tv...so we can hear them hootin, holleran, and bitchen about the game! :)
5:33- So fucking strange to watch kids play this game; a game inspired by games that were long since forgotten by many by the time these kids were fucking born!!!
5:41-The kids faces are so funny...they are either really focused or really bored...hard to tell...Kellan says they look like they are in math class :)
6:03- From IM between me and Adam:
adamorth (6:00:57 PM): GOD DAMMIOT!!!!!
spdrmn375 (6:01:06 PM): what?
adamorth (6:01:13 PM): not only is #4 stupid, but he's a fucking asshole
spdrmn375 (6:01:18 PM): y?
adamorth (6:01:23 PM): jesus!
adamorth (6:01:27 PM): what a fucking snot
spdrmn375 (6:01:29 PM): what?!?
adamorth (6:01:39 PM): no swag!
spdrmn375 (6:01:49 PM): lame
adamorth (6:01:55 PM): he called me an idiot
spdrmn375 (6:02:01 PM): why?!?
adamorth (6:02:18 PM): becuase i told him not to keep pressing the buttons
spdrmn375 (6:02:24 PM): for what reason?
adamorth (6:02:46 PM): because he kept rushing through the menu to create game ahead of the host
spdrmn375 (6:03:07 PM): ah...sweet! BLOG TIME!!!
6:30- tHAT'S A wrap! Thanks for sticking with me thru the day and keeping me company! I will be posting some of the best of the best comments later this week! Gotta catch a cab to head back to San Diego for now....talk to you guys soon!