This post is a follow up to my previous post: Analog Testing - Finding your Essential Experience and Implementing Smoke Testing with Examples. If you haven't read that one, I recommend starting there.
Build your formula
Side note: If you are a software engineer (or in IT) your formula is your unit tests!
The game formula is the equation you come back to so you know that every atomic component of your game follows the same patterns you’ve established at the beginning of development. One thing to note, your formula is only going to be an assumption until you go and verify it through playtesting. But it’s still good to have one.
How do you build your formula? You start by identifying the atomic components of your game, these are each category of components that cannot be compared fairly to another component of your game. For Genesis these are Champions, Summons, Techniques & Spells, Alterations, and Skills. Then you need to determine a formula you want to start with for each of these atomic components to determine your idea of “balance”.
I’ll be honest, making the formula is really hard. Those who are good at pattern matching will find this really easy. But for others, this will be quite complicated. My suggestion is to just guess at the beginning, create one component to test out the formula, see if it works, then make the next component.
Here is an example of a formula that we use for making Champions in Genesis. This is not perfect, and I’ll explain why, but it’s still better to have than nothing at all.
When making a champion, you have 15 points to distribute to stats as you feel like. For stats like Health, Energy, Aura, and Awareness you have to spend at least 1 point. Every champion has to have an attack (this satisfies the “Always have options” question in the sanity test - and yes, even your formulas should go through your sanity tests).
One of the weakest points to this formula is the ability section. There was no way to clearly define every possible ability. We had to go with emotions, and emotions are subjective. This ranges from Detrimental to Great abilities. Detrimental and No Ability are objective. But the other 5 are purely subjective. Things that I would feel are “okay” someone else might thing is “good” or “great”. An example of this is Feng’s ability (sorry, we don’t have art for her yet). I thought it was “meh” but my friend thinks it is “good”. Where do we rest on it? That’s where some good ol’ exploratory testing comes in (stay tuned for our next blog post for examples of how to do that).
Don’t make the same mistake twice! (Regression Testing)
It is perfectly fine to make a mistake! That’s life. What you shouldn’t do is make the same mistake twice. This is what regression testing is for, to stop you from looking like a fool. These are just a series of mistakes you’ve made that you want to make sure you don’t do again. Here is the archive of stupid ideas we’ve had making Genesis:
Reset - a card that essentially makes it feel like you’re on round 1 again
1 chi cards - this was stupid because it made it too easy to make a broken deck
Cheap drain cards - this was a bad idea because life gain is really good in Genesis
Cheap card draw - essentially anything that replenishes resources is a bad idea
Summons with health > 6 - this wasn’t a really bad thing, but if a summon has more than 6 health then you need more than a single dice to keep track of their health
Between this post and the previous one, I really hope you have a stronger foundation on how to build out your sanity and regression testing (even your unit testing). Subscribe to our mailing list to get notifications for the next post which would be an example of playtesting/exploratory testing.
For now, what new types of tests do you plan to add to your game? How else do you think you can increase the quality of your game? How do you stop yourself from making the same mistake twice?
Follow Genesis on Facebook (FB.com/GenesisBoC) or join our newsletter to find out when we post our next blog and all our future articles!