If you stop by our playtest lab, you’re likely to hear plenty of gasps, screams, and expletives. That’s because our testers are among the first to play The Evil Within — our new survival-horror game from the legendary Shinji Mikami and his team at Tango Gameworks.
The video above shows real reactions to players checking out the game in a dark room — the ideal setting for playing The Evil Within.
To learn more about the process, we checked with External Usability Manager Stephanie Puri.
Can you talk about the playtest setup? Do you try to maximize the scare factor with any external factors?
Stephanie Puri: We like to test with no more than 5-6 people at a time with a game like The Evil Within, though our lab accommodates more than that. There is a lot to talk about after playing so we try to keep the groups small so we have time to probe deeper when discussing the player’s experience. We turn the lights down when players start because scary games are best played alone, in a dark room. We can do dark but not alone since we have multiple people on site for each test.
Everything the player does and says is recorded so we can share reactions directly with the development team. Nothing more clearly conveys the player’s experience than seeing them jump or hearing them gasp. We also spend a good amount of time talking with players so we can hear directly from them what their experience was like, then share the discussion video with the development team. This way the team hears it directly from players when they talk about the most intense, scary moments as well as where the game could be improved.
What’s the absolute best reaction you’ve seen to someone playing The Evil Within?
Stephanie Puri: My favorite moment to watch is the first time players encounter the creature in the bloody room, the one from the trailers. Even the players that recognize the room and know what is coming have a reaction – we’ve seen everything from screams and jumps to a spectrum of foul language while running from it.
Does anyone ever tap the testers on the shoulder during gameplay accidentally and have a bad reaction from them?
Stephanie Puri: I wouldn’t call them bad reactions, but yes we startle players all the time. Players are very tense while playing and become focused on what they are doing. They forget they are in a room with other people and jump when they hear sounds in the room as well as when we tap their shoulder to get their attention. The only truly bad reaction we get is when we tell them it’s time to stop playing.
How can fans of Bethesda games participate in the playtest lab? Why should they participate?
Stephanie Puri: Play testers give the team valuable feedback and that has a huge impact on the final game. I often tell our testers that we make games, but their feedback makes our games better.
Testers that volunteer their time get a behind the scenes peek at what games in development are like. We pay our testers in games and swag. Some of it you can buy at the Bethesda store, some of it you can only get through play testing.
The Evil Within will now terrify players right in the thick of Halloween season – releasing on 23rd October in Australia, and throughout Europe on 24th October 24th, 2014. With your pre-order of the game, you’ll receive The Fighting Chance Pack, which includes:
- Medical Kit – A vital health enhancement to enable Sebastian to fight on.
- Green Gel – Used to upgrade Sebastian’s attributes.
- Double Barrel Shotgun and Three Shells – A larger and more formidable shotgun than the regular shotgun, it’s useful for tight situations with multiple encroaching enemies.
- An Incendiary Agony Bolt – Capable of showering nearby enemies with damaging fire sparks.
- A Poison Agony Bolt – Will draw enemies towards it and poison them, allowing Sebastian time for a quick escape.
Stay tuned for new updates on The Evil Within — coming to both PlayStation 3 and 4 – this October.