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As Christmas Eve is drawing ever closer, we are busy at testing EIC. Last few weeks have seen more test hours per day than in any previous part of the production.
There might still lurk occasional small bug or spelling mistake here and there, but mainly the testing at this point concentrates on gameplay. Outside testers who have had no contact to the game are extremely valuable at this point.
The thing is that you become blind to your own work. This effect is not limited only to games but many other fields as well. The more you look at something, the less you actually notice details.
Every person on our internal team has been living and breathing EIC for the past year. Testers that come from outside immediately see things that we do not notice anymore.
There have been a lot of discussions about the difficulty of the Campaign Missions for example. In these missions, you have certain amount of time to import required amount of specific trade items to your Home Port. We had previously had some feedback that they are nearly impossible to do. This seemed odd, as we were able to breeze through them in half the time given.
Only through test sessions we were finally convinced, that they are actually quite tough and players would anyways want to
have more time to just explore the world.
Another issue that can and should be tackled through testing is game balance. We want EIC to be playable with different approaches, which makes balancing those many aspects of the game all the more demanding.
Balancing requires a lot of playing with different tactics. Is frigate too powerful in combat? Is silk too expensive? Should commanders accumulate experience faster? You cannot find answers to these kinds of questions without hundreds or thousands hours of play time put into the testing by heterogenic group of testers with different backgrounds.
What kind of a gamer is good tester? I would say any kind. Hardcore gamers who understand the inner workings and logic of
games are invaluable. They can often make a living out of testing. However, there is also need for people who have more
casual relationship with games. They notice different things and also play differently.
This is not related to EIC. Not even to games in general. In Christmas time it is important for me as a finn to remind everyone of the fact Santa Claus lives here in Finland. In a hill called Korvatunturi.
He does not live in Greenland. Or in Sweden. He lives in Finland. Always has and always will. Check http://www.santaclauslive.com to see for yourself.
I hope Santa brings you something nice and wish you very merry Christmas and happy New Year. Until next time!