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Testin’ and Tweakin’

That’s what we’re doin’!

As we mentioned before, the game has been roughed out in full, but it is not finished yet because it requires polishing. (Some aspects are more near-final than others.) This stage of development involves meticulous testing on the part of some very generous friends of ours. But it’s not just about finding bugs - its also about smoothing out the game play experience; removing unnecessary annoyances from the game, like issues with difficulty, getting the story across, motivating the player, etc. Once we get enough feedback that points to a hiccup in an area of the game, we can discuss the problem and then work on implementing a solution. Sometimes it’s adjusting the difficulty through stat values, but often we have to add completely new content and game play.

This is also a tediously painful process, as we have to throw out a lot of our perceptions of the game to hear how it actually works in practice. The game is also pretty big, so to bring every section to the same high level of quality is like combing a beach with a magnifying glass. Little loose ends that we’ve been saving for the end to tie up now must be tied up. The good news, however, is that the new changes are making big improvements, and the game should become a very smooth experience by the end.

Here’s a small example of one of the testers helping us out on our wiki page:

Aquaria Testing Day 4

That was just the intro to a big chunk of text, written by the amazing Guert, who is a tester extraordinaire. A few of our testers have written day-to-day journals on their playback experiences, jotting down their first impressions and conclusions about the game. Sometimes these are much different than what we intended, and it’s a fun and frustrating experience - you get good and bad surprises both! But, since we can’t always do “in-person” testing, it’s important that we get these impressions and try to figure out what common experiences are, and how to tweak them to make them better. And after so many months playing the game in a vacuum, it’s good to know that testers like Guert have got our back, and the game will be many times better due to all their feedback! :)

If you’re curious how long this rough version of the game is to play through, I think Guert’s spent about 20 hours, and he’s at the end of the next-to-final area. He’s also missed a couple secrets. ;)

Thanks for listening! We just wanted to keep you updated on what’s going on with Aquaria development. Things are a bit frantic, but looking good.

32 Responses to “Testin’ and Tweakin’”

  1. EGM92 Says:

    Great to hear everything is going well. I know this gets asked every time you guys post something new but is there an ETA for release?

  2. Bartimaeus Says:

    Can I test?

  3. Edwards Says:

    Nice to hear that things are progressing, and that the play-through time is nice and long. Now, for a slight spin on the usual question, any estimates on when Mac beta testing will open?

  4. Czechman Says:

    So it looks like they are still alive :-)

  5. Luciferin Says:

    Wow, it’s great to hear so in depth about what’s going on. This game just sounds like it’s going to be quite an experience to play through; I really can’t wait! Keep tweaking until you know every level will be a pleasure to play.

    Difficult gameplay is fine with me, so long as there’s a good pay off for it.

  6. matimusprime Says:

    Woohoo! Update! Glad to hear about the progress on the game

  7. Ice_Frog Says:

    I would love to see some of that diaries (bonus feature maybe?).

  8. shinygerbil Says:

    Guert is a legend. Also, the idea of releasing some of these diaries is pretty cool.

  9. p3ter_st0ry Says:

    Any idea on if you’re going to open it up to public testing? Maybe after it’s been polished up a bit more?

  10. Redemption Says:

    Thanks for listening, any sign of life is good news.

  11. Hiro Says:

    Yay, good news!
    Everytime you guys post something it always tells us fans what’s going on and how it is for you. You are great developers!
    Do your best!

  12. Dan MacDonald Says:

    I’m really glad to hear that you guys are doing this Derek, it’s such an important (but time consuming part) of game development but really the only way to make sure that users experience what you what you want them to experience. I’m sure the game will be much better because of this TLC. Keep up the good work!

  13. Alec Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, D-Mac! :)

    I should really change my name to Derek though, just to make things simpler for everyone. ;)

  14. koach Says:

    Yay, thanks for the heads-up on your progress, Alec. Keep the masses hungry by throwings bits at them ;)
    Is Guert currently the only tester? If not, by how many people os the game testet?
    Anyway, still looking forward like crazy to get my hands on this - keep up the great work!

  15. SBKT Says:

    I thought you died from working too hard.

    Don’t polish the thing to the bone, though. IT’d be kind of weird holding a shiny corpse box or something when we buy it.

  16. Dan MacDonald Says:

    Or form a new symbiont “der-alec” and call it good! :P

  17. Koach Says:

    Hrhr, I’d go for Derlec, or maybe even Arek… ^^

  18. Caleb Gray Says:

    I’m dying to play this game! I heard about it through Linux-Gamers.net, and ever since I’ve been checking every few days for news like this! Good luck developing one of the greatest games I’ve seen in a long time. :D

  19. Stefan Says:

    Things looking good. Think we could get a new video to see what it looks like? That would be awesome.

  20. D3stiny_Sm4sher Says:

    Heh, good to hear again from you guys! 20 hours, eh?
    Well, it sounds like it won’t just be atmospheric and artistic, but also packed with content, too!
    Can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one.
    I can just feel it — this game will join the ranks of Shadow of the Colossus, Odin Sphere, and Okami in that “artistic and atmospheric” category of games I’ll never forget.

  21. Redemption Says:

    A while ago, compatability with the Xbox 360 controller was mentioned.

    Any chance this could be extended to other windows based controllers, specifically the Logitech Rumblepad II?

    Not that I mind the mouse, its just that ever since I bought it two years ago, its been absolutely useless. Too bad since its a pretty nice gamepad.

  22. Stefan Says:

    I think this game would best be suited for the Wii and DS.

  23. hat cat Says:

    hey uhh how much does aquaria cost?

  24. Aaron Marsh Says:

    I do not want “difficult” gameplay, I want “challenging” gameplay…

    … and please don’t make it too “consistent” throughout the game in terms of difficulty. Go for balance.

    I would also like to make a comment about the blog: the blue has too little contrast with the light gray; maybe go for a brigter, more saturated orange?

  25. SBKT Says:

    @above post:

    Woah, that really contradicted itself, didn’t it? Let them be, I am sure they’re doing a kickass job if everyone is so psyched.

  26. Al King Says:

    Aaron: One would imagine, being both developers and players of games, they understand basic concepts like gameplay balance - though judging from Eternal Daughter, you could be forgiven for concerns about difficulty ;)

    And I quite like the colour scheme myself - it’s slick and understated, but distinctive. Besides, the blue goes with the logo and the water theme of Aquaria.

  27. Filet-O-Fish Says:

    I share Aaron’s concerns about a challenging game. Jet Force Gemini and Super Ghosts N Goblins both pop up in my head as insanely challenging games that started out (relatively) easily and progressed in difficulty.

    I’m not too sure what he means about “difficult”, though.

    AL King, what do you mean about ED in terms of difficulty?

  28. Stefan Says:

    I don’t remember Jet Force Gemini being difficult. Did you forget that you were supposed to play with a friend? Anyways, Ghosts N Goblins, now that is hard.

  29. D3stiny_Sm4sher Says:

    So, guys, any word on the progress?
    We’re starvin’ for info.
    How close is the project to closing?
    Maybe some new footage to whet our appetites?
    How about a price point?
    Will we be able to download it directly to our compys?
    Lots of questions, for sure, but this game looks to be deserving of all of the questioning.

  30. gizmomelb Says:

    hi, I just found out about this game from the IGF website and was very impressed by the ingame videos.

    If you’re after any help from an experienced videogame tester (4 years employment with Stromlo Entertainment, Torus Games and Bluetongue software) as well as general internet beta testing then please contact me - I’d love to help with balance and polish.


  31. armani76 Says:

    I would like to play Aquaria!!! Pleaze…Lets me play !

  32. Gearldine Says:

    Hi, its fastidious piece of writing about media print, we all be familiar with media is a enormous source of facts.

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