19.08.2016 Testing games

Focus-Test No Man’s Sky

After the release, No Man’s Sky appeared to be a commercially successful project, though a contradictory game. And if media is quite undemonstrative with their evaluation, players have put their foot down. Ones claim this game a masterpiece, others consider it an overpriced shell, empty inside. Neither PS4, nor PC gamers stand aside. What’s curious is that critics valued the game a lot higher, than gamers, which is a rare occasion. Soon, we will publish PC version review, yet we present our focus-test of No Man’s Sky for PS4. Here and now, we’ve got two opposite opinions among the participants.

Focus-test

Members of focus-test

  • Participants: 10
  • Sex: 9 — male, 1 — female
  • Average age: 23 y.o.
  • Duration: 1,5 h for each participant

Participants of focus-test have been chosen according to next criteria:

  • People, waiting for the release of the game: 1
  • Console gamers: 2
  • PC-gamers
  • People with little game experience

Conditions of focus-testing

  • Briefing
  • Free exploration
  • Question answers
  • Feedback

General measurements: *

MeasurementsAverage value
General impression3,9
Hints3,5
Planet exploration3,9
Space traveling
4
Space fights3,75
Crafting and upgrade system4,13
Trade4,5
Controls3,6
Interface4,2
Visual part4,1
Sound part4,1
Replayability 4

* according to five-point grading scale.

The focus-group valued “No Man’s Sky” mostly positive. The most interesting function was procedure generation, which was supposed to create unique gameplay for each player. Disadvantages of the game were the sameness of game content and gameplay:

1. The game has a good potential, but there is nothing to do there currently. If The developers won’t limit themselves with performance patches, but will also fulfill the game or even let players do that for htem, it will be the best space sandbox ever. For now, it’s “No Game Sky”
2. The idea of procedure generation itself looks very interesting. But if this sandbox won’t have a social part, soon it will become extremely boring.

Another disadvantage of the game is it’s price tag.

1. I’ll probably by this game 50% off the price.
2. It’s not worth it’s money. Just another boring sandbox (solo though), that will be too boring for me in a couple days.
3. I see no point in paying this much money for an empty sandbox.
4. The game is definitely worth trying. I’ll buy it on a sale.

The system of hints created a small dissonance within our focus -group. One of our participants noted the necessity to improve crafting and upgrade system. Another two would like to see an interactive tutorial, helping players to learn gameplay and control basics.

The main part of the game was positively valued at first. Though later, players noted that there is no point in walking the planet, when it’s easier to fly between destination points on a spaceship.

All participants noted that adding auto-piloting system for space exploration would do great for the game. That would be useful in order to enjoy the beauty of space. One of participants didn’t reach the stage of space exploration.

Space fights appeared to be a rare event. 6 out of 10 participants couldn’t take part in it. Those four testers, who stumbled across pirates consider battels as a dinamic and interesting event.

The focus group didn’t face any problems learning crafting and upgrade system. People consider it a simple and easy-to-learn feature. One of the members of our focus-group claimed it uncomfortable, as upgrades demand a lot of resources, rare in his location, so he needed to buy them.

Just as much as crafting and upgrade system, trade was plain and easy to understand. All 8 out of 10 participants using this system, noticed that the ability to buy anything is a great decision.

Controls were unusual for our PC-gamers. It was caused by the fact that the focus-test was taken on PS4 with DualShock 4 gamepad. The system was plain and simple for our console gamers.

All testers liked the interface in the game. It was described as stylish, light and understandable.

The visual part was taken mostly positively. All testers liked rich endless universe.

Experimental rock-soundtrack of the game, recorded by british band 65dayofstatic wasn’t met too warmly by all participants. Though noone considered it bad either. Music was described as deep, light and fitting this lonely, cold endless space. Whole focus group liked sound effects.

The focus group noticed replayability and thrill. Three of our participants were worried about the fact that the game may be found boring after a couple evenings spent in it. Another two stated that it’s missing a deep stoymode. All members were interested in continuing the focus test in order to find out what secrets are hidden inside this universe.

 

Summing up, let’s say again that noone but one participant of our test has been waiting for No Man’s Sky. Of course, few people read all developers’ interviews, dreaming of endless space, variety of planets and other promisies. That’s why our test is so important. No one said anything about proken promises and all that stuff. We weren’t promised anything.

It makes sense that 1.5 hours isn’t enough four developing an opinion on any game. That’s what focus-test means. Finally, this time isn’t even enough to get tired of No Man’s Sky. That’s why we shouldn’t take these results as the only possible truth. The only thing we managed to agree on, is that the game is not worth its money.