"Did you see the 29-hour long playtest video?" Bridget, our community manager, turned to ask me a few weeks ago.
I replied that I hadn't – but I also wasn't sure that I'd heard her correctly: One playtest video lasting 29 hours far surpassed anything either of us had seen or heard of before, and it turned out that we weren't the only ones.
Over the next few days, this gargantuan playtest became a frequent topic of conversation around the office. The setup for the playtest was pretty standard: a longitudinal study requiring players to play 15 minutes per day and complete a daily survey over a period of seven days.
Now, we're no strangers to longer playtests, and playtesters often play games longer than required. Playtesters sometimes play for 45 minutes to an hour or more on a 15-minute requirement – which is great! It indicates the game was so much fun that they couldn't put it down. But 29 hours in less than a week was something new, and we wanted to know more about this person.
So early last week, I reached out to our "29 Hour Playtester" to learn more about what makes him tick.
The playtester's name is Josh – who was a pleasure to speak with. We chatted about everything from his view on the future of gaming, to his playing habits, and childhood favorites.
(Note: In compliance with our confidentiality and security policy, we won't reveal the player's identity beyond their first name nor any information about the game that was playtested in this text or elsewhere.)
Could you describe your typical gaming habits?
Josh: I always like to keep juggling between six to ten games. I like to chop and change. At the moment I'm playing a lot of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang – though it's a bit of a toxic environment. It's typical MOBA stuff – all about being a pro.
DC: Do you play exclusively on iOS, or do you also play on console or PC?
Josh: I don't have a PC. I've never really been a PC gamer. I think that the advancement of mobile devices means that the future of gaming is going to be mobile.
DC: The Nintendo Switch is showing in that too. People love it.
Josh: You know what... I don't keep up to date. I don't even know what the Nintendo Switch is. What is it?
DC: It's Nintendo's latest game console. For the first time, they've taken their mainstream home console and made it portable, as well. It actually has two modes.
Josh: If the gaming world were really smart, they would find a way to combine Bluetooth, or the equivalent of Bluetooth, and make it where you can have your virtual villages connected to your physical locations.
DC: Sounds like you're talking about augmented reality, which is built into the latest version of iOS.
DC: Yes, there are games now – if you have the hardware that supports it – that will actually put the map on your living room floor, for example, and then you walk around with your iPad or your iPhone and play the game that way.
MORE ON AR: ARKit and the evolution of mobile gaming.
So what makes a game really grab you?
Josh: I like level-ups and building up experience, where the more you play, the stronger you become. That's my preference, having something to aim at.
DC: So you like RPGs or games where you get to build up your character or build something over time?
Josh: Those I do like. I also like non-virtual games like backgammon and chess too...
The truth of it is, there is no one defining factor. I find that I swallow games whole like I did with the game test.
It seems like the only games with true longevity are games like MOBAs or racing games, or sports – something where there's a variable outcome, I suppose: Where it depends on the other person's skill levels.
Equally, I like games that reward you for investing time in them. I find that as rewarding as throwing money at it.
DC: I like that, too. I like when it feels like you're getting something for playing longer rather than only when you spend more money.
There was one update to Heroes of Order and Chaos, and it just threw me completely aside, and I didn't want to touch it after that.
I think games can be like that. Ultimately, we look for games that give us the least annoyance, because we all love to play.
That's one issue I have with Vainglory: You really have to keep up-to-date with the updates and what is good, what isn't good. It just keeps changing, and I like consistency.
What about all-time favorite games? Do you have any all-time favorite games?
Josh: The Bitmap Brothers produced some phenomenal games, back on the Amiga. You either had an Amiga or an Atari. They made Xenon 2, which was... You could lose hours in that game.
They also made a game, I think, called Gods. Gods had the most incredible soundtrack called "Into the Wonderful" which was an awesome soundtrack at the time. And, of course, Speedball and Speedball 2.
Speedball 2 was unreal.
Then, of course, you've got the grandfather of all the attack and base attack games, which was Populous by Bullfrog: The game where you upped and downed land. You tried to make the land as level as possible – the flatter the land, the better. The bigger the structure, the better the fighters that were produced that would then go out and raid.
We're getting back into the 80's here.
DC: So, really, the 80's was where a lot of your favorite games come from?
Josh: I think that our favorite games are the ones from our childhood. Things from our childhood are our favorite everything.
I never really got into the platformers like Mario or Sonic. I know that these are defining games, for sure. I also don't like first-person shooters, and I know that's quite against the grain.
Then mobile gaming came along with the Game Boy, and I think that just changed everything. We've come a long way.
DC: It sounds like mobile is your favorite way to play games right now. Is that true?
Josh: You know what? I've got an Xbox One with no games.
DC: What do you use it for? Netflix?
Josh: Yeah, and watching films.
DC: Did you plan on buying games for it?
Josh: When I bought it... There you go, favorite all-time game: Dynasty Warriors 5.
DC: Okay. We have a definitive answer. Which system was Dynasty Warriors 5 on?
Josh: I think it was on the PS2, but I really liked the [original] Xbox. I much prefer an Xbox to PlayStation. That's why I bought the Xbox [One], actually, for Dynasty Warriors 9 which was released last year in China, though they haven't brought it over here yet.
How long have you been a playtester with PlaytestCloud?
Josh: A while. I want to say maybe around 18 months.
I'll tell you what: It was back when emails were answered by Christian [PlaytestCloud Co-Founder].
Last question: Were you trying to set a record? Because you did!
Josh: I didn't even know there were records. I imagine that you guys had bets on what the number would be by the end of the final day [of playtesting]... I logged into play again this morning, and the game was gone.
To be honest, I just happened to be up all night got really into it. It was a nice game to sink my teeth into.
So yeah, I'd still like to play it a bit more.
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