Tag Archive for: Playtesting

Ensemble Figures Out How to Go from Empires to Kings

06 Jun
6 June 2010

It was early May, 1998. nearly all of Ensemble Studio’s employees were in San Jose, aboard the Queen Mary. We had just been awarded a pair of Spotlight Awards from the Computer Game Developers’ Conference, including “Best of Show.” The statuettes looked like miniature Klieg lights, and someone had plugged them in on one of our tables. Sheets and sheets of stickers advertising an entertainment network called Berzerk littered the bar. We had taken to using them to replace the labels on our beer bottles and, as they became more numerous, to toasting “berzerk” and then just randomly yelling “berzerk.”

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The Catch 22 of Playtesting Games

27 Jan
27 January 2010

While the importance of playtest might seem obvious, the practice took time to catch on and gain acceptance.  In the late ’90s, it was still pretty routine to run into developers who didn’t playtest the games they were working on.

Luckily, I earned my bones at Ensemble, where there was never anything else.  As the only founder with much real experience making games, Bruce Shelley was often responsible for providing us with some clue as to what we should be doing.  Playtesting was the process he had seen work in the past.  (Apparently, the development loop for Civilization involved Sid Meier writing some code, then Bruce playing and making notes, then Sid writing some code, then….)  Ensemble started with it and we never questioned it.

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