Devs should be allocated time to fully play through all of the game

ZeroGravitas

Breaker of Games
Joined
Jun 29, 2017
Messages
3,295
Likes
4,227
Points
675
Age
36
Location
UK
Website
www.youtube.com
#1
I guess this is primarily a shout out to @Rob and @higekun, as Payload's bosses. Maybe the producers, @Jamie and @saiwun, if they also decide how dev time is to be scheduled.

By "all of the game" I mean the whole campaign progression (preferably to max levels), including the major optional aspects of crafting and (limited) AI use.



This notion stems from a (perhaps off-hand) remark from @Matt, during a console launch Stream on Mixer. When I asked how far through he'd got, I was a little shocked to hear that he'd only ever reached GeoCorp level 2 (barely the end of early game, by my book) and that his bosses would be the ones to ask about allotting him time to play through properly... So here we are (belatedly).

This case seems like a no-brainer: the community manager needs to understand the game he's supporting when answering questions from it's players, particularly for when getting more directly involved in the details of forum threads (if working at that level).

Time to play can also double up with live streaming - "noob dev plays campaign for the first time", or whatever. It would beat many of the launch streams, where the first hour of the game was played repeatedly. He just needs to make sure to backup his campaign save and snapshot directory after each session, ready to resume (if other things are happening on that machine, in between).



Similarly, the last time I'd heard Jamie talk about playing the game (as community manager at the time), I think he was celebrating having had the opportunity to 'play right through'... for an hour or so. The first hour is not the game. The meta changes so much by end-game, let alone having time to get into crafting, etc.

I think it's a little worrying, if there really is this lack of first hand familiarity for those producing the game. I mean, I felt that any crafting techs were always glossed over (or totally mangled) by the devs in Com Core streams, primarily due to their lack of familiarity with the system. And I wonder if a shallower perception of the game may be helping to foster a self fulfilling prophecy: that a negligible number of players will find these aspects compelling. By neglecting them (to the point they are almost unusable without a detailed bug guide) and avoiding promoting these aspects, it's failing to instil interest in the player base. Also failing to pique the interest of potential players who would be drawn in because of these aspects.

Perhaps this is unfair: but I'd felt that the launch trailer (which looked very cool, @Zeena - I see a couple more details each watch), hadn't shown any 'real' crafting at all. Actually there was a Fabricator popping out a block (with the base itself mostly hidden off camera). But I only remembered the two, decorative, refining-selling bases shown just before that. I guess the thinking is to avoid showing intimidating complexity, targeting a younger/more casual audience. But explicitly complex games like Factorio (and Minecraft factory mods, etc) are very popular too...



Final example: a little before 1.0 release, @zanzistar (excuse me for bringing this up again) realised that there was a substantial discrepancy between how he thought that game worked, and what it has actually been doing:
Oh Bum. I've just checked and you're right, I'll get it switched back to how it used to be. You're supposed to be able to craft Blocks from the grade above your current one.
... And it had been (wrong) like this for the whole time I've been playing (so at least a year). Having time to play through properly might spot issues like this earlier, in future.



Now, I don't know how this might look in implementation (1 hour/afternoon a week, 1 week per year, 'homework' where an option...?). And I expect that it's a laughable idea, really, given how super-busy everyone is; I don't think anybody here wants to stall the coding team for even an minute! But maybe they are over-worked and their productivity would benefit from the change of perspective...? Maybe they already have benefited, what to I know?:rolleyes: Just a thought.:)
 

Lost Ninja

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
1,208
Likes
859
Points
520
Age
43
Location
Yorkshire Dales under a rock.
#2
I'd say that they need to play through too, furthermore without running the game through the Unity/dev environment. A number of - to my mind fairly obvious bugs - don't seem to be present when the devs play/Q&A play, and I wonder if that is down to playing through Unity/dev environment.
He just needs to make sure to backup his campaign save and snapshot directory after each session, ready to resume (if other things are happening on that machine, in between).
That would be a fine use of the Profile system...
 

Nightblade Greyswandir

Nothing is good enough!
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
2,678
Likes
2,920
Points
575
Age
43
Location
Terraland
Website
ngttadventures.blogspot.se
#3
from my 20+years of engineering experience, knowing what your product is, is THE MOST important knowledge beside your general occupation (designer, coder, mechanical engineer, etc...) or you end up doing too much work that is not necessary or counterproductive.
Basically if I am boss in Payload, first week of employment foe new people would be to grind 40 hours of gameplay.
 

Sai Wun

PAYLOAD STUDIOS
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
1,160
Likes
990
Points
545
Age
30
#4
Am in complete agreement of the comments made above. All new starters spend their first few days playing TerraTech to familiarise themselves with the game we're making. And the team scheduling does include playtesting so the team continue to be familiar with the nuances of the game.

@Matt is still getting up to speed and working his way up to being as good as the dedicated players we have in the community so with a bit of encouragement and more playtime, he'll have the game maxed out.
 

ZeroGravitas

Breaker of Games
Joined
Jun 29, 2017
Messages
3,295
Likes
4,227
Points
675
Age
36
Location
UK
Website
www.youtube.com
#6
the team scheduling does include playtesting so the team continue to be familiar with the nuances of the game.
So all devs (including yourselves) already play the game, properly, on a regular basis? Or is this 'playtesting' directed at specific, topical areas? (Or do you mean the QA devs play to maintain the team's familiarity as a group?)

@Matt will be better than you @ZeroGravitas in a matter of months.
Saiwun almost had me believe you were taking this seriously, but you blew it there... :p;)
 

Soviet_Samuelson

On the path to becoming a grand-master idiot
Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
1,764
Likes
1,294
Points
325
Location
My box
Website
forum.terratechgame.com
#7
oof
So all devs (including yourselves) already play the game, properly, on a regular basis? Or is this 'playtesting' directed at specific, topical areas? (Or do you mean the QA devs play to maintain the team's familiarity as a group?)

Saiwun almost had me believe you were taking this seriously, but you blew it there... :p;)
 

Zeena

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2017
Messages
199
Likes
657
Points
505
Age
26
#8
So all devs (including yourselves) already play the game, properly, on a regular basis? Or is this 'playtesting' directed at specific, topical areas? (Or do you mean the QA devs play to maintain the team's familiarity as a group?)

Saiwun almost had me believe you were taking this seriously, but you blew it there... :p;)
One point I need to add to this... You've said this all because you play TerraTech out of pure passion. This, of course, is absolutely wonderful. However, I don't believe any of us should justify how hard we work and what we put into the game, and I think it was unfair of you to make the assumptions you did.
 

ZeroGravitas

Breaker of Games
Joined
Jun 29, 2017
Messages
3,295
Likes
4,227
Points
675
Age
36
Location
UK
Website
www.youtube.com
#9
I don't believe any of us should justify how hard we work and what we put into the game
Absolutely. I only intended to to ask after the overall development strategies at Payload, certainly not to cast any aspersions on individuals. I'm sorry if I have.:oops:

We get many little glimpses into the studio's inner workings, it fuels (my) curiosity and I'm prone to enquire for as much specific info as is available. Obviously the studio owes no explanation of it's practices either - it's all bonus insight. Interesting. :)

Saiwun almost had me believe you were taking this seriously, but you blew it there... :p;)
You get I'm trying to make a cheeky joke, about how I'm clearly an unbeatable fountain of game knowledge... (and self aggrandising blithering idiot :confused:). /sarcasm

I'm honestly sure that Matt'll get up to speed with the game, and his other responsibilities (many that we don't see), far faster than I would. That's for sure (so slow... :(). You can see he's getting to grips already. But with such deep gameplay and many possibilities, there'll probably always be niche knowledge and more to catch up with.:)

Anyway. Thanks for your replies, devs.:)
 

Sdarks

PAYLOAD STUDIOS
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
164
Likes
330
Points
170
Age
24
#16
For the record, despite my poor showing and many deaths on the stream yesterday I played a good 40+ hours of TerraTech (straight campaign playthrough) before touching a single bit of code. We also regularly play multiplayer and test parts of the game we're working on, try out new blocks etc.

Just remember us devs are never each going to know everything about the game, but we also have a huge community of people like yourself that know way more than we ever could about actually playing the game. If I need to work on a bit of the game I haven't played much of, I'll speak to the people that do know about it, play some of it, check the community thoughts on it, whatever is needed to understand.

As with players we each find areas of the game more interesting than others, I know myself and James are more interested in playing with the complex block interaction/crafting stuff than most because of our background playing with things like the heavy industrial Minecraft mods and similar. Others are more interested in other parts of the game, flight techs, specific corps etc.

Also just remember some people are new. You might have been playing the game for years but Matt has only been here a couple of months, it's not reasonable to expect him to know everything about the game yet :)
 

Nightblade Greyswandir

Nothing is good enough!
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
2,678
Likes
2,920
Points
575
Age
43
Location
Terraland
Website
ngttadventures.blogspot.se
#17
I know myself and James are more interested in playing with the complex block interaction/crafting stuff than most because of our background playing with things like the heavy industrial Minecraft mods and similar.
Please, please, please make complicated mechanisms possible in TT!!!!!
I would LOVE conductive blocks like redstone and command blocks and if then blocks and.... and... and ... aaaaaaa! JUDT DO IT!
 

ZeroGravitas

Breaker of Games
Joined
Jun 29, 2017
Messages
3,295
Likes
4,227
Points
675
Age
36
Location
UK
Website
www.youtube.com
#19
Also just remember some people are new. [...] Matt has only been here a couple of months, it's not reasonable to expect him to know everything about the game yet :)
That's absolutely the starting point for my suggestion - wanting to help ensure he is given full chance to get as caught up as possible, as soon as is reasonable.:) While I don't know what work time priorities are already given, beyond what we are shown/told about.


Just remember us devs are never each going to know everything about the game, [...] As with players we each find areas of the game more interesting than others, I know myself and James are more interested in playing with the complex block interaction/crafting stuff than most
Absolutely. Diversity of player and team interests is great/essential.

What I was trying to poke at with my second section is the potential common bias across the team, as a whole. I definitely don't think any devs would (or should) play the game they work on outside of work. But I guess I'd assumed that if each dev was/is allocated time, within work hours, specifically to play through a little of all parts of the game, that might broaden the overall view of the current (and potential) game experience for different segments of the player base.

If (and I don't know many aspects of this) those devs who set, or have the most influence over setting, the development plan are all less versed in, say, Crafting (seeing as that's my expert domain/crusade), then I'd expect fixing issues with it to be less likely as a priority. Or adding new content in that area, either.

And if all the comms team are also less versed, then this area of the game seems likely to be promoted less, and feedback about these areas not to resonate as much.

Just unintentional shaping of the game, certainly not any one's fault, that might not necessarily reflect what's truly wanted by players and potential players. If this is an effect, maybe it's unavoidable or quite possibly these thoughts are entirely wrong or just irrelevant compared to other issues... :)
 

Sdarks

PAYLOAD STUDIOS
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
164
Likes
330
Points
170
Age
24
#20
I definitely don't think any devs would (or should) play the game they work on outside of work.
Some of us do :D It's a fun game!

T
If (and I don't know many aspects of this) those devs who set, or have the most influence over setting, the development plan are all less versed in, say, Crafting (seeing as that's my expert domain/crusade), then I'd expect fixing issues with it to be less likely as a priority. Or adding new content in that area, either.

And if all the comms team are also less versed, then this area of the game seems likely to be promoted less, and feedback about these areas not to resonate as much.

Just unintentional shaping of the game, certainly not any one's fault, that might not necessarily reflect what's truly wanted by players and potential players. If this is an effect, maybe it's unavoidable or quite possibly these thoughts are entirely wrong or just irrelevant compared to other issues... :)
I can understand the concern but TerraTech is a very community driven game. While there are some things that we personally might want to see more or less of in game, we ultimately try and give you guys the community what you want as long as it's feasible. After all you're the ones that buy and play the game :) As far as internal decisions go there's definitely not just a small group of people deciding what we all work on, everyone has input into the design and planning process so there's plenty of opportunity for diverse ideas and play-styles to get some focus and also lots of opportunities for each of us to bring up things that we've seen or heard that the community wants.