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Beta power!

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Fri, 06 May 2011
Subject: Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint

Ste Pickford

Over the last few week's we've recruited some volunteer beta testers, via the Magnetic Billiards Facebook and Twitter pages, to play our almost-finished game and provide feedback, and it's been a really, really useful experience for us (one which I waffled about in my last blog post), and we're extremely gratfeul to all the people who've freely donated their time to play the game and give us their opinions and thoughts.

Here's a great little example of the power of our beta testers in action:

The game recognises when you build clusters of balls of certain shapes - triangles, diamonds, trapezoids, etc., and gives you extra rewards when these clusters are removed. When John and I were discussing which shapes to look out for he came up with the idea of a 'Jam Donut' - a cluster of 6 balls in a a circle, wrapped around a ball of a different colour in the middle. We thought this was a great idea, and would hopefully be a nice surprise to the player as it would be quite hard to build and unlikely to happen by accident.

I drew the matching cluster recognition card graphic straight away, and a while later John got round to adding all the shapes we'd discussed to the shape recognition code, including the Jam Donut. The problem was we couldn't make one. John spent ages trying, but the way the ball physics worked the balls pushed themselves apart slightly when the final ball was fired into place, and seemed impossible to join up the 6th ball without the whole structure coming apart.

Oh well, it was a nice little idea, but it couldn't happen, so he removed the code, and we took out the graphic.

John must have mentioned this on the Facebook page, and one of our beta testers - Russ (who's been absolutely battering our best scores) - took up the challenge and tried to make one himself. Sure enough, it was possible after all, and here's Russ's screenshot to prove it! So, the code and the graphic are going back in, and the Jam Donut will be re-instated in the game before release.

There are loads of other little bits of feedback that have allowed us to improve the game, so thanks again folks for all your help.

If you've missed out on this round of beta testing, make sure you 'Like' our Facebook page, or follow the Twitter feed, to join in the next time.


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