Tips on remote playtesting

Январь 23rd, 2016

This video inspired me to share some tips on playtesting. I’ve been in playtesting stage for around 3 months and I can say that my game became at least two times better during that period. Here’s some playtesting tips that worked for me.

1. While I’m an introvert, I still prefer playtesting using Skype screen share feature, over recorded video. The reason is that I don’t believe that most people are natural let’s players and this will cause them to not speak as much, so I would not get a good insight in their mind. When there is a real person on the other side that is currently listening, it is easier for playtester to speak. This also me gives me an ability to remind them that they need to speak, ask them questions related to the specific scene or actions and give them a hint, when I see a problem in a game. And I do record video of the whole process on my side.

2. Maybe this is not the best approach for every game. But for my singleplayer, story-driven game, I use only virgin playtesters and virgin builds of a game. What I mean, is that I don’t reuse playtesters and almost every playtester sees new build. So my playtesting loop looks like this. Playtester plays latest build of my game -> I make changes to the game and make new build -> New playtester plays new build -> I make changes and make new build… As you see, I prefer quality over quantity.

3. Use everyone you can for playtesting. Even people who are not your target audience can provide a lot of valuable information. This approach might also make your game more appealing to a wider audience.

4. If you are making game for Steam and you’re already greenlit. Use steam keys to distribute test builds, this approach gives you a lot of advantages. Probably  the biggest advantage of using Steam for playtesting is that steam provides DRM that is easy to implement, it will help protect your builds from leaking to the world wide web.

5. Non disclosure agreement is not an easy problem to solve. I’ve made a compromise. I don’t require my playtesters to sign NDA, but I’ve use Steams custom EULA option to help me with NDA. When playtester launches a build of my game, he needs to accept my custom EULA and I’ve basically put text of NDA there. I will disable EULA before game release.

6. While I do prefer Skype screen sharing + Shadow Play recording on my side. There are some decent alternatives. If you’re asking playtester to a record video, I strongly recommend Nvidia Shadow Play or Ati build in video recording tool, because they are almost don’t affect frame rate of your game. For real time streaming, Steam streaming or services like Twitch are not that great, cause they have a huge video delay. If, for some reason, Skype screen sharing is not an option for you and your tester has decent Nvidia card and he’s not afraid to install extra software, I would advice to install GeForce Experience Share beta. It has ability to share screen to Google Chrome. It provides good quality and good frame rate, and it almost doesn’t affect game frame rate on playtesters PC.

7. While I know about the rule “test as early as possible”, I believe, that it is not applicable for every game. For example my game depends on content and atmosphere. So I do believe that starting playtest too early for my specific game, would be a waste of time and more importantly, waste of playtesters.

Overall I can’t overstate the importance of playtesting. As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly believe that it helped me to significantly improve quality of my game. I also enjoy this period as game designer, cause I enjoy to see how the quality of my game improves. I enjoy solving game design problems, cause it involves a lot of creativity and I have no problems with motivation, because when I see problems with my own eyes, I’m very motivated to solve them.


New Shadows Peak screenshots

Январь 10th, 2016

I’ve updated screenshots on Shadows Peak steam page, because previous screenshots were made a year ago and they didn’t reflect current state of a game.

I know that I need to make new trailer as well and I do have this task in my task manager, but I don’t know when will I do it.

I’m sure, that many of you wonder about Shadows Peak release date, unfortunately I don’t have a solid release date. Currently game is in playtesting stage and this stage revealed that there’s a lot of room for improvement. So that is my current focus, playtesting and polishing.


Rebranding (www.vintsevych.com)

Октябрь 21st, 2015

Some time ago I’ve started to move away from Creashock Studios brand, but I’ve noticed that people still refer to my work as a work created by Creashock Studios and not as projects created by Andrii Vintsevych. Today I’ve decided to erase all references to Creashock Studios from website and move website to new domain. As of today, this website is accessible from www.vintsevych.com url. For next 11 months www.creashock-studios.com url will also lead to this website, but after that time, this website will be only reachable using  www.vintsevych.com url.

There’s a lot of reasons why I’ve decided to move away from Creashock Studios brand, but the main reason is that Creashock Studios is a one man team. When people see Creashock Studios name, they expect a team of people, when in reality, there is only me. This might create false expectations and that is never a good thing.

Since there’s only me working on projects under Creashock Studios name, I don’t get attributed for my work, because all attribution goes to a mythical entity called Creashock Studios. I don’t think that this is right, so as a one man team I’ve decided to stick to my name instead of Creashock Studios brand. It might sound unprofessional in some circumstances, but I believe that it’s just a right thing to do.


Gynophobia released on Steam!

Август 1st, 2015

My horror shooter game about abnormal fear of women Gynophobia released on Steam. You can grab Gynophobia with a 50% discount. A lot of important features were added during early access period. Things like full controller support, advanced graphics options, rebindable keys, new languages etc. I want to thank everyone who helped me to make Gynophobia a better game by providing feedback during Early Access period.


Unity 5 vs Unreal 4

Июнь 22nd, 2015

Unity 5 vs Unreal 4: From a single developer perspective

I’m using Unity for two years and I’m happy with the engine, but it’s not perfect and when Unreal Engine 4 became free, I became interested in it. Currently I’m making games by myself, mostly for PC. When I’ve started to research Unity 5 vs Unreal 4 topic, I’ve noticed that those videos and articles often listed advantages and disadvantages of the engine that are completely irrelevant for me. Some people did pointed to the fact that those engines are similar, so I will only focus on differences that are relevant for me, as a single indie developer focused on 3d games for PC. I will ignore stuff that is not relevant to me, like 2d support, multiplatform support etc.

Unity 5

Advantages:

  • Has a lot of content in Asset Store. Including plugins that add functionality to the engine.
  • Unity Asset Store has a lot of content with low prices and lots of discounts.
  • Editor doesn’t need powerful PC to work smooth.
  • I like Unity pricing model. It’s much simpler and better.

Disadvantages:

  • When you dealing with editor functionality plugins. Most of them are not as polished and bug free as core engine functionality. There is also risk, that something will happen to the creator of the plugin and that plugin will not be updated to work with the latest version of Unity.

 

Unreal Engine 4

Advantages:

  • Has its own visual scripting language. I’m a big fan of visual scripting. This means visual scripting is properly supported and integrated into the engine. Probably most of game logic assets on UE4 marketplace will be build using it, so it’s easy to edit them.
  • Has a lot more build in tools including major stuff like proper tool set to build open world games.
  • Easier to make game look pretty?

Disadvantages:

  • UE4 marketplace is almost empty compared to the Unity Asset Store. I’m making games on my own and Unity Asset Store is a huge part of why it’s possible. That’s why for me it’s the biggest disadvantage of Unreal Engine.
  • Prices on UE4 marketplace are much higher compared to Unity Asset Store.
  • Needs powerful PC to run editor smoothly. Yesterday I’ve find out that on my laptop Unreal editor will show only 5 fps. Unity works smooth on it, with the appropriate project.

 

That’s why I’m interested in Unreal Engine and I will continue to look at it, but will still use Unity for the time being.


Gynophobia released on Steam!

Май 30th, 2015

My horror shooter about abnormal fear of woman called Gynophobia released on Steam as an Early Access title. Game is playable from start to finish and it was already tested by people. Current Steam version has been improved significantly compared to the version available on Desura. Also current steam version includes Steam Trading Cards. Game is available for Windows and OSX, although OSX version is a bit out of date compared to the Windows version. I plan to add Linux version a bit later. I’ve also updated all screenshots and trailer. Here’s couple profile backgrounds that you can get on Steam if you craft and trade cards from Gynophobia.


Gynophobia will be released May 29.

Май 24th, 2015

My horror shooter game about abnormal fear of women Gynophobia will be released 05/29/15 on Steam as Early Access title. Game was significantly updated and improved compared to the current version available on Desura. Gynophobia will also include Steam trading cards. New screenshots and trailer are available on Steam and on creashock website. Version for PC and Mac will be available on May 29, but I plan to add Linux version a bit later. Desura users will also receive updated version of a game. Here’a a list of changes compared to Gynophobia 1.2 on Desura.

  • New design for some enemies and characters
  • Graphical improvements
  • Partial Controller Support
  • Balance improvements
  • New GUI
  • Bug fixes
  • Localization to German
  • Localization to Polish
  • Localization to French
  • Localization to Ukrainian
  • Localization to Spanish
  • Localization to Brazilian Portuguese

and many more small changes and improvements.

Here’s new trailer for the game.


Gynophobia has been greenlit!

Апрель 17th, 2015

Just after finishing my blog post with tips on getting your game greenlit, my fourth game Gynophobia have been greenlit on Steam Greenlight. People who bought Gynophobia on Desura will also benefit from this, cause this means, that Gynophobia will receive more updates and support for more languages.

If someone wants to help me with localization please drop me mail at guaindie at gmail.com

Thank you for your amazing support!


Tips on getting your game greenlit on Steam Greenlight.

Апрель 14th, 2015

I guess you can say that I’m pretty experienced with Steam Greenlight. I have 3 greenlit projects and one in top 100. I also read everything I stumble upon about Steam Greenlight. One of my projects took 2 years to get greenlit. My last project called Shadows Peak was greenlit in two weeks, with almost no marketing effort. Shadows Peak greenlight page has no negative comments. The key takeaways from all that experience is:

1. It’s all about the game. Whether Steam audience will consider your game good, depends on a lot of factors. But I would say the best strategy is to find a undeserved niche with enough demand. It is not a trivial task, since you just like every other indie have limited skills, money and taste. By limited taste, I mean, that you probably don’t like every genre and every setting. Those factors limit range of projects you can tackle.

2. Your greenlight page is your most important marketing tool. If you have only X amount of time to spend on marketing, I would spend it all on making a great trailer, screenshots, Icon and description. Don’t go to Greenlight, when you can’t provide good quality trailer and screenshots. A lot of developers say, that even when big sites covered their greenlight campaign, more than 90% of people still came from Steam.

I can talk about about the fact you should probably support all Steam platforms and add localization for multiple languages in your game. But without good game and good greenlight page, those things will not make a difference.

If your greenlight gets low percentage of yes votes and you understand that getting greenlit may take more than year. You have to decide how to properly spend your game development time. You can spend it trying to market your current game to get some votes outside of Steam, or you can start new project. I would advice starting new project.

I believe, that low percentage of yes votes, is a good indicator of low sales. Let’s face it, your current game maybe just not good enough, not unique enough or not ambitious enough. With every new project, you will grow as developer and your games will become better. A year ago I couldn’t tackle project of Shadows Peak scale and quality. Even though I had Shadows Peak idea for years, before I was simply not there in terms of my skills and experience to deliver it.

The road to “success” maybe be different for some other folks, but those are key takeaways from my own experience and research.


Shadows Peak has been greenlit!

Март 18th, 2015

I’m happy to announce you that Shadows Peak has been Greenlit in just two weeks. This means that I can now release Shadows Peak on Steam.

Right now I’m transferring Shadows Peak to Unity 5 game engine. Since Unity 5 made almost all of it’s features available to personal license users, it means that Shadows Peak will have a much better graphics and optimization!

Thank you for your amazing support!