Hey guys, AMP here. I’ve spent the spring stuck deep in the grottoes and tunnels of Cave Digger 2, but I finally found my way back to the surface for a while. Roughly 3/4 of the cave rooms of the Early Access version have been carved, decorated and populated with loot and monsters, but there’s still a ways to go before I can shed my troglodyte disguise and permanently return to the land of daylight. In the meantime, we’ve reached the point in the project where internal testing becomes important, and that’s what I’ll write about today.


Large game projects like this tend to start with a pre-production period, where the groundwork and key pillars are laid down. Then based on this foundation we design and implement all of the game’s mechanics and features. The first round of implementation is just about done now, and it’s time for some extensive internal testing.



This is a very exciting time for me, as I get to see how everything interacts (and whether anyone has actually read the game design document at all). Of course we do smaller feature tests all the time during development, but now that most of the bits are in the machine we get to see how everything combines and works together.


In every game project I’ve worked in, the programmers tend to be absolutely super skilled in the game, straight out of the gate. This makes sense, as they must spend time testing and polishing gameplay features constantly during development. They know just exactly how everything works because they built it. This can lead to unforeseen consequences, most commonly a certain bit of blindness towards difficulty creep and usability issues. And that’s where my incompetent ass becomes important!


I tend to try to avoid touching the game until most of the mechanical interactions have been implemented, just to keep my proverbial palate fresh. That means that I can go in and at least simulate a first-time-playing experience before we show the game to actually inexperienced players (usually, the marketing department). My bumbling foolishness tends to aggravate everyone else, but it does help in avoiding the above mentioned difficulty creep – if I can’t play it, we can expect that anyone completely new to the project would have a bad time trying as well. Between the super-elite skill of the programmers and my nigh-total lack of skill we can find some middle ground for the actual desired challenge level.


This sort of testing and searching is especially important with moment-to-moment gameplay features like combat. This week I took my pickaxe and my revolver to the caves, and spent a day just fighting nautiloids and plasma shrimp with the goal of optimizing their performance to eventually give the desired experience to our players. I’ve emerged victorious with a half-dozen pages of notes on my clipboard, and I’ll unleash them on the rest of the team today.


I am an inept gamer, and you should heed my words.




Random development quote: “Jos mää oisin tarpeeksi nälkänen nii kyl mää söisin kenet tahansa teistäki“.