Unlocking The Power of QA
The Reboot team is eleven strong now and making progress towards a finished game project (we're on Twitter!). This is the end of our second week as a full fledged production team and we're starting to find our footing as a group in terms of team dynamics and workflows. QA has been integral to the progress of our game and the growth of our team as well.
My own role on Reboot has changed over the past couple of weeks. I am able to focus much more on just coding thanks to our two producers. And while I have to perform the duties of a lead programmer, I have much more time to focus on ensuring the player movement in Reboot is sublime. And striving for that goal has meant even more iteration. The game has been to QA twice in the past two weeks. The control scheme has changed three times. The player has gone from being forced to look at the back of our TV protagonist to having control over the camera itself. At this point, I am intimately familiar with the code that governs the players movement and ability to control the player character.
The current iteration of the player control scheme has the acceleration mapped to the left trigger while turning is handled exclusively by the left stick. This is a drastic change from our two previous control schemes. One saw turning left and right placed on the right and left trigger respectively. Another placed turning and movement together on the left joystick. QA was invaluable for testing whether these control schemes worked and fit our vision for the game.
Through QA we discovered that player preferences for our first two control schemes resulted in a split decision. As a team, this meant some intense discussion about who the game is for and its ideal learning curve. Through our discussions we settled on the third, and hopefully final, movement scheme. All in all, the past couple of weeks have been one of not just working in isolation. I am becoming more and more comfortable with producing work and then reworking it. Listening has been just as important as coding during the past few weeks. I've really come to appreciate the benefits of QA as well, not only for finding what doesn't work but for helping bring our game closer to what does.
Across our early prototype and week one, our QA results helped our team find blind spots of our game that may not have been evident if we just produced the game without any kind of feedback. Through QA feedback, we realized the importance of giving the player the ability to control the movement of the camera, not just for aesthetic purposes but for gameplay ones as well. The QA results we gathered showed us that a feature we had considered more of a long term priority was in reality an feature that needed immediate attention.
Over the past few weeks I have come to really understand the power of QA for both testing and design feedback. While it's value is difficult to quantify without context, QA is a priceless tool in the production arsenal of any game developer.