Player interviews & live playtests 101

An end to end guide on running and managing interviews & live playtests

Rohan Joseph avatar
Written by Rohan Joseph
Updated over a week ago

Player interviews and live playtests are a great tool for understanding players better and taking control of the conversation. This guide will walk you through ordering, conducting, and analyzing player interviews.

Sections in this article:


Ordering a Player interviews / Live playtest

Step 2: Select the game you are running these interviews for in the Which game are you testing? section. This is mainly to organize the playtest better. Players will not play a game before the interview.

Live playtest only: Upload your game in the next section

Step 3: Select how many players and how long each interview will be in the Playtest configuration section. The interview length is not enforced, but we will use it to set expectations with the player and make sure they keep themselves available for at least the time you specified.

Step 4: Define who you would like to invite to the interview in the Specify your target audience section. The more details you provide, the better. You can also choose to interview your own players (BYOP) by selecting Use your own testers

Step 5: Specify when you would like to conduct the interviews in the Pick the dates and times for your interviews section. Two important points to remember:

  1. We require a few extra time slots to accommodate any modifications or cancellations that may be required. We will schedule players for all the time slots, but you will only need to conduct the number of interviews you have ordered

  2. We require 12 hours between the time you order the playtest and the first interview time slot. This gives us enough time to process your playtest and find the right players. If you include a custom target audience description or special request, the required gap between ordering and the first session is 2 business days. This allows us to respond to your request and setup your playtest correctly. We also require 2 business days for live playtests with APK builds so that we can test your build thoroughly before sharing it with players.

Step 6: Optional You can specify any instructions you want to share with the player in the Custom briefing section. If you would like the player to familiarize themselves with some content before the interview, you can share it here.

Managing your Player interviews / Live playtest

Once you have ordered the playtest, you will be able to access the playtest page to see its status. The time slots you specified while ordering along with the status of each time slot is visible here.

Understanding the different time slot statuses

  • Finding players: We are looking for players that match your targeting and are available at the times you specified

  • View profile & Add to Calendar / Join interview: A player has been confirmed for the time slot. The view profile & add to calendar options are replaced with the Join interview button when there is less 30 minutes left for the interview to start.

    • You can click on View profile / Join interview to open the interview interface. This link can be shared with your colleagues if they would like to join the interview. They will require PlaytestCloud accounts to participate in the interview.
      If you would like to invite colleagues that do not have PlaytestCloud accounts to the interview, please use the playtest share feature (Read more).
      The Start interview button on the interview interface will be enabled 10 minutes before the scheduled time.

    • Clicking on Add to Calendar downloads an .ICS file that can be added to your preferred calendar software. It contains the time slot details along with a link to the video call.

  • Time slot disabled: This status represents two scenarios:

    • The interview was conducted and an interviewer ended the call manually

    • You or a colleague asked us to cancel that time slot and not assign any players to it

  • No status message: This means the time slot has passed but the interview was not conducted

Managing the available time slots

To manage the time slots available in the playtest, click on the Reschedule / Cancel link next to the time slot you wish to modify or click on + New time slot button. The link will direct you to the Manage Time slots page.

Rescheduling a time slot:

You can select the Reschedule option to set a new interview time. Once rescheduled, the player will be notified about the change. If the new time isn't suitable for the player, they have the option to cancel. It's important to note that the new time must be scheduled at least 12 hours in advance.

Cancel time slot:

Click on the Cancel time slot button if you need to cancel a time slot. This action will notify the player about the cancellation.

Important: Please keep in mind that rescheduling is only available for time slots with an assigned player. If a time slot is unassigned, you can proceed with a cancellation.

Adding new time slots:

Feel free to add new time slots to your playtest, providing players with more options when reserving their interview times. Our system will automatically handle your playtest, ensuring that you only need to conduct the number of interviews you ordered. The only requirement is that any newly added time slots must be at least 12 hours into the future. This allows sufficient time to find a player for the interview.

Conducting the interview / live playtest

Player interviews & live playtests through PlaytestCloud are conducted through our in-house video call system. It is fairly similar to most video calling services out there with a few added features.

Once we have scheduled a player for your time slot, you will receive an email from the system that contains a link to start the interview and a calendar invite that you can save to your calendar. You can invite colleagues to the calendar event or simply share the interview video call link with them. If they do not have a PlaytestCloud account, use the playtest sharing feature (read more). Sharing the playtest will allow them to access the playtest and conduct/join interviews.


Important: All players including your own players, accept an NDA before joining the interview. Any information shared during the interview is confidential.

When you are ready to conduct the interview, click on the Start interview link on the playtest page to go to the interview interface, where you can start the interview up to 10 minutes before the scheduled time.

Important! macOS users should give their browser screen recording permissions before joining the interview. The browser needs to be relaunched after the permission is granted, so doing it after the interview has begun would require exiting the interview and rejoining.
➡️ Instructions from Apple on how to grant screen recording permissions

Admitting the player into the interview:

Players join a video call lobby when they are ready to join the interview. When you are ready to add them to the interview, click on Admit player.

Important:

  • All interviewers can admit the player to the interview including participants that are in observer mode.

  • if the player leaves and rejoins the interview, they will join the lobby again and you will need admit them to the interview. They will not automatically rejoin the interview

Options in the interview interface:

In the action bar at the bottom, you will find:

  1. Buttons to switch on/off your microphone and camera

  2. Start/stop screen sharing

  3. A three-dot menu with the following options:

    1. Switch the camera or microphone that is active

    2. Troubleshooting & help: that option links you to this article :)

    3. Enable/disable background blur

    4. Switch to observer mode: clicking on this enables the observer mode. The player will no longer see you as a participant in the interview

    5. Report an issue: report no-shows or any other issues

The different camera feeds:

  • Which camera feed is in the center? In the center of your screen, you will always see the player's camera feed. If the player has not joined, you will see your camera feed in the center. If you are sharing your screen, you will see what the other participants see in the center.

    Once the player has joined, you will see their camera feed in the center and their name in the top center of their camera feed. If the player turns off their camera, you will see their camera feed represented by this icon:

  • Which camera feeds are on the right?: Once the player has joined, you will see your camera feed on the right along with any of your colleagues that have joined the interview. If more than two colleagues have joined, you can use the up/down arrow buttons to scroll through the participants.

    • If a colleague has turned off their camera, you and the player will see their camera feed represented by this icon:

    • If a colleague is in observer mode, they will not be visible to the player as a participant in the interview, but you will see them represented by this icon:

Screen sharing:

You can share your screen during the interview, and it can be a great tool to gather feedback in person on concepts and artwork from your game.

Some pointers:

  • macOS users should give their browser (applies to all browsers) screen recording permissions before joining the interview. The browser needs to be relaunched after the permission is granted, so doing it after the interview has begun would require exiting the interview and rejoining.
    ➡️ Instructions from Apple on how to grant screen recording permissions

  • Always select a particular window or tab rather than the entire screen: When you click on the start screen sharing button, your browser gives you the option to share just a window or tab or your entire screen. It is best practice to always select a specific window or tab. This ensures you don't inadvertently share unintended material with the player and prevents your interview interface from looking like an infinity mirror.

  • Sharing audio along with the screen is only available while sharing a Chrome Tab

Screen share by player:

Ask the player to start screen sharing to watch them play. For interview playtests, the player will not be asked to install any game before the interview. In live playtests, they will be asked to download the game you shared before joining. You can also ask the player to share their device audio along with their screen.

This is what the screen looks like for the player when they start sharing their screen:

  1. Start/Stop Screen Sharing for Players: The button highlighted in the image, similar to the one in the interviewer's interface, is how the player can start/stop screen sharing. You will be able to see their entire screen when this option is enabled.

  2. Share Device Audio: Ask the player to enable this option if hearing the in-game audio is important for your interview/live playtest.

  3. Switch to Game: This button is only shown for live playtests where you shared a game while setting up the playtest. Clicking on this automatically redirects the player to your game.

  4. Game/Interview Volume Sliders: These sliders control what the player hears while they are screen sharing. If the game volume is too loud for the player to hear you, you can ask them to adjust the volumes from this screen. This is especially useful if the game doesn't have built-in volume control.

Understanding observer mode

Too many interviewers can be intimidating for players, so if you are joining the interview only to take notes and observe, you should enable observer mode. In observer mode, your microphone and camera are switched off, and players do not see you as a participant in the interview.

Some things to remember:

  • Observer mode is only available if there are two or more interviewers in the interview. You cannot go into observer mode if you are the only interviewer.

  • If you join the interview after another interviewer has already joined, you will join in observer mode by default and can choose to make yourself visible to the player when you are ready.

  • Other interviewers (not the player) can still see you as a participant in the interview when you are in observer mode.

  • When you disable observer mode, you are made visible to the player as a participant in the interview, but your camera and microphone remain disabled. You need to enable them manually.

  • If all the other interviewers leave the interview and you are already in observer mode, you will NOT automatically become visible to the player until you disable observer mode.

How to enable observer mode:

There are two ways to enable observer mode:

  1. When you join an interview after another interviewer has already joined, you initially join in observer mode

  2. If you are currently not in observer mode, click on the three-dot menu in the action bar, and then click on Switch to observer mode to activate it

How to disable observer mode:

Click on the Join button in the action bar at the bottom of the screen.

What if the player does not show up or I face issues during the interview?

We do our best to remind the player to show up for the interview, but sometimes we can have no-shows. We recommend waiting at least 10 minutes past the scheduled time in case the player is running late.

Once it seems unlikely that the player will join, click on the three dot menu in the interview interface and click on Report an issue.

In the box that pops up, select Player didn't show up or use the text box to tell us what went wrong. If there are any backup slots available, we will use one of them to make up for the interview with the issue.

If you did not report the issue while on the interview screen, you can email us at hello@playtestcloud.com and let us know what went wrong. We will do our best to find a solution and get back to you.

Analyzing your interview recordings

All interviews are automatically recorded and made available for analysis after the interview is done. The system takes a few minutes to process the video, and once it is ready, you can access it on the playtest overview page.

You get access to PlaytestCloud's analysis tools on the video page. We automatically generate a transcript for the recording; you can add annotations with hashtags and create clips and reels.

Want to know more?

Read more about Player Interviews and Live playtests on our blog.

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