The Apocalypse Games: Gusmanak’s Beta Experiment

May

05, 2014

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


Archive

Apocalypse Games has just been released and is already taking the Games page by storm. The highly anticipated unofficial sequel to Gusmanak’s smash hit Apocalypse Rising isn’t quite what you’d expect — this is a much more goal oriented, fast paced zombie survival experience (that also pits you against your fellow humans). There’s an entire story to tell about the mechanics of the game itself, and perhaps we will tell this story at a later date. For now, the relevant and unique story to tell is the interesting way in which Gusmanak and his uber-team of seasoned ROBLOX developers tested the game in beta before releasing it.

ApocGames3

Charge in guns blazing. Trust no one.

Many games on ROBLOX are given the beta title — so much so that we sometimes feel that some of our users may have lost track of what this word actually means. A beta game is an incomplete work that is hungry for feedback — participating in a beta means you get to watch, first-hand, how a game develops into a fully finished, polished title. What’s more, participating in a beta means that your feedback went into the finished product, which can feel extremely rewarding.

Gusmanak takes the term at face value — when he put Apocalypse Games up for beta testing, he created some very explicit rules and regulations you had to follow if you wanted to help out. These stipulations fell more in line with what you’d come to expect from a legitimate, triple-A game development studio. First off, the cost to test: 100 ROBUX.

“We made it extremely clear, right upfront, that the tester was our lowest priority,” he explains to me. “Like, seriously. You won’t earn any special badges or gain any benefits for participating. Your data can and will be deleted at any time. We even put that on the thumbnail!”

Just because the games by faster doesn't mean there isn't plenty to explore in each map.

Just because the games go by faster doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to explore in each map.

“We never deceived anyone,” he continues. “We made no promises.”

The goal, basically, was to weed out those just looking to play a new Apoc game and find people who legitimately wanted to participate and contribute. The goal certainly wasn’t to earn any money — though as it happened, the week-long testing phase ended up earning the development team over 400,000 ROBUX. Turns out, users were either so excited to play the game that they bought access anyway — many just wanted to help shape the direction of the game. This beta cycle promoted rapid game development supplemented by a direct line to specific user feedback — this strategy allowed Gusmanak and team to finish the development of Apocalypse Games in just over a week.

“Because we were so upfront about it, anytime we had to wipe data or shut down servers, we did so immediately,” Gusmanak recalls. “We were purposely vague — testers weren’t informed about which updates were going through, and which were being considered. We just told them explicitly to post all bugs and suggestions in the comments, which was extremely helpful.”

There are so many small details to take in. We love that each bullet you fire kicks up dust from the surface.

There are so many small details to take in. We love that each bullet you fire kicks up dust from the surface. It’s a cool visual component that actually helps you aim better.

“I think people who bought access did it because they appreciated our honesty,” he adds.

The game is already a massive success, due mostly in part to the addicting quality of the gameplay. What Gusmanak and team have accomplished is ingenious in its simplicity — this is a fast paced deathmatch that exists within the Apocalypse Rising universe, but has its own unique gameplay mechanics that make it a much more repeatable experience. These gameplay dynamics were shaped by an iterative and rapid-moving testing system.

This reflects a broader game industry practice, and we’re glad to see it happening on our platform. When you’ve got a game that’s ready to be released, a short and intensive beta cycle is key to gathering feedback, patching bugs — all in an effort to please the fans of your work. Gusmanak and team get what it means to be fueled by ROBLOX, and we’re proud to cite his work as an example of how to push your next massive title to the masses.