Monday, July 02, 2012

Gridiron Solitaire #12: Friends And Family

Not all the friends and family are in the beta test yet, but I think we're up to eight people now. That doesn't sound like much, but I've gone through all the development with basically two testers, so it's a big adjustment.

Here's one example of how beta testers can provide energy. Someone (don't know if they want to be outed) downloaded the game on Tuesday and had played through an entire season by Thursday night, qualifying for the playoffs with a 13-2 record.

The problem: none of the playoff-specific atmosphere was in the game yet. I had a detailed list, but that was all. But there's no way I was going to let the first F&F beta tester to make it that far play their playoff game without the fun things I planned on adding.

That gave me one day, roughly, to add them, because I didn't want to wait a week to play his playoff game, either.

The list:
--playoff logo overlay on Team Hub screen
--playoff logo on field
--reference to playoffs in pregame
--20 playoff-specific headlines
--"enhanced" crowd loop volume (yeah, that just means louder)

Fredrik whipped up some totally cool playoff logos, and even redid the league logo so that it was more visually dynamic. Here, take a look:

Now take a look at the playoff logo:

There's also a special logo if you make the championship game. I'm not showing that one--you can see it when you get there.

This is all part of the concept of making the GFL a brand inside the game. It reinforces the notion that there is a "real world" in which you're taking part.

So instead of taking a week to slowly put all those things in, I put them all in on Thursday night, then tested Friday morning. So that was a hugely positive effect on the schedule, thanks to the enthusiasm of a beta tester.

There's one fly in the ointment, though: that same tester uncovered an issue that no one else has ever seen and that I can't duplicate. What happens is that at some point after a Big Play card is dealt, the card slot becomes unselectable. There might have been successful matches using that slot already on the play, but at some point it freezes. Every other card in the layout can be selected, but not that one.

This condition is rare (I think he saw it five times in sixteen games), and it fixes itself when the play ends, but that could happen on the last play of the Gridiron Bowl and could cost someone a championship. Not acceptable. Without being able to duplicate it, though, it's slow going.

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