QA Makes the Game Too

The official role of QA (Quality Assurance) in software projects is to assure quality — that is, the software works as designed, and the design is reasonable. They find bugs.

But in a game, they do more. QA plays the game more than anyone, and has the best sense of how it works. Is it fun? Is it too hard or too easy? Does the UI work? What’s missing?

In King of Dragon Pass, the “heroic combat” concept came about because Rob Heinsoo felt something was lacking. (He ended up writing most of these scenes, too.)

I just finished implementing a suggestion from Liana Kerr:

I feel like there’s not a lot of connection between your opening questionnaire and your clan management. I have no emotional connection to the fact that we know the secrets of [redacted], because it’s never referenced again.

Well, it now is. And while a few questions don’t get an explicit mention later, I just made sure that every answer from two questions shows up in at least one scene. (The others are at least mentioned implicitly, like your ancestral enemy, or give bonuses in scenes.)

Earlier, she suggested

Raid adviceAdvice about raiding-related promises currently shows up in the War screen, but if you go to the Raid screen, it doesn’t. As a player I’d be more likely to expect to see it in the Raid screen and would entirely miss it in the War screen.

and

One problem I’ve always had with KoDP is that someone dies and I immediately forget who they were — that is, I just see the name and I don’t necessarily connect it with the face that I’ve been looking at for several years. It may be a little different with Six Ages, since the UI is a little different with the ring members’ names underneath their pictures … Two suggestions: …

and so on. More good ideas that got implemented.

For that matter, it’s not just QA that can influence the game. Much of the current combat feedback is based on a suggestion by Jan Pospíšil.

Not every team suggestion ends up in the game. Some are still on the backlog of possible tasks. But more input makes for a higher quality game.

Author: David

Creator of Six Ages and King of Dragon Pass

11 thoughts on “QA Makes the Game Too”

  1. It’s really heartening that the direction of the game seems to match up with what I loved/would have liked to see improved about KoDP. I’m excited.

  2. “And while a few questions don’t get an explicit mention later, I just made sure that every answer from two questions shows up in at least one scene. (The others are at least mentioned implicitly, like your ancestral enemy, or give bonuses in scenes.)”
    I wouldn’t mind if you did even more with this. I know it’s a lot of work, but I do love it when a game actually does something with my early game choices, gives me some clear consequences for them later on.

    Otherwise, sounds good. I’m really looking forward to this game.

    1. Yeah, it’s probably too late in development now, but it would be great to see, later in the game, a pack with like two or three events (and a handful of choices to other events) that are based on each of those early choices. That kind of thing can really help replayability, in addition to making your clan feel more “yours”.

      1. I get what you’re saying, but that would be branching content, which in general I try to avoid. KoDP has (for example) 8 famous events. That would mean creating content that only 1/8 of players will see (or that you have to replay the entire game 8 times to see).

        One of the questionnaire answers does have a pair of situations, but I doubt we’d go much further in that direction.

        1. That’s true but you should also think about what type of player is playing your game. KoDP is mostly a game for fans, the sort of people who know a lot about games and get deep into individual games. Six Ages will probably have a wider audience (because KoDP had and has marketing issues that are a result of when it was released) but I would be pretty surprised if the core audience isn’t still going to be the kind of folks who do multiple playthroughs. And core audience is definitely the main group who would go for future DLC, so I think that if you do something like that (and I fully expect Six Ages to be popular enough to merit it), then something like this would be appropriate. At that point, maximizing replayability helps bolster the game’s longevity and thus word-of-mouth spread — the things that kept KoDP relevant until now. Conversely, making content maximally available becomes less important, because most people will be playing through at least a few times anyway. And talking about the cool things that happened in your game is part of what spreads the word too.

          This kind of thing is why lots of people log more than 500 hours in Paradox’s games; they have varied play options and rare events so things feel just different enough on multiple playthroughs. That’s not to say that a game you play once is necessarily bad either, but I feel like this game has the potentially to be the sort people put countless hours into, even without a Paradox-level budget.

  3. I’m happy to see that so many of the original KoDP team have been able to reunite to work on Six Ages as well. In playing KoDP, it really seemed like the game was in some sense a labor of love that received a lot of thought and care from everyone involved, so it’s a great sign that many of the same team are similarly committed to this project 🙂

    That reminds me, a cool KoDP easter egg I think I learned about later from this blog was that the development team members actually served as inspiration for many of the clan ring portraits. IIRC think I can recognize David’s avatar from way back when.. I wonder if something similar is being planned for 6 Ages?

  4. iOS or steam release is fine for me! Playing this game in 4k on my desktop just for the art! Keep up the fine work! I’ll be getting this game day one for sure!

Comments are closed.