While at Sifteo, my title was Game Designer, however, I took on the role of leading playtesting for all the pack-in titles for the gen 2 New Sifteo Cube launch. Thus, Sifteo needed to test five titles all at once — Chroma Splash, Word Caravan (which I was also a level designer on), Cube Buddies, Code Cracker and Sandwich Kingdom. Furthermore, we were testing these games while the gen 2 platform was still in development. Testing on an emerging platform was not without challenges.
My approach was grassroots, manual and almost completely qualitative. The summer before the holiday launch, Sifteo had families in nearly all day playing through the games. One method used was a simple checklist to track difficulty ramp in puzzle games. It came in quite handy and allowed us to make fast iterations on puzzle order and mechanics that were posing confusing to the players.
By the end of my adventure with Sifteo, the games user research efforts had grown to more than just a playtest here and there. Reporting method standards, heuristics and a full team of researchers existed to support the growing number of titles in production. In part 2, I will discuss some of our reporting methods.