VR Playtesting from the Concept to Launch

How ARVORE tested Pixel Ripped 1978 throughout the whole development cycle, from the concept validation to evaluating comprehension, value, replayability, and unique features.

About ARVORE and Pixel Ripped 1978

ARVORE is an award-winning Brazilian studio based in São Paulo, that creates and develops profound interactive narrative experiences using the latest immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality.

ARVORE is famous for their interactive narrative experiences and games to transport people into immersive story worlds and expand the limits of storytelling. Among their awards are Emmy Awards, Cannes XR, and many more.

PixelRipped 1978 is the newest game in the Pixel Ripped series created by the game developer Ana Ribeiro and ARVORE.

VR Playtesting Challenge

ARVORE embarked on testing Pixel Ripped 1978 from its early stages to ensure an enjoyable experience for both long-term fans of the series and newcomers. The game's narrative represents a unique aspect, making it essential to validate the story and progression through early testing. Gathering feedback from potential players was crucial to iterate on the narrative, mechanics, and overall gameplay. 

The initial test aimed to determine if the game appealed to players from the Pixel Ripped target audience and if they were entertained regardless of potential bugs and the early stage of the game. Next, the goal was to discover if players understood their mission within the game and measure fun per each level. Additionally, ARVORE sought to investigate specific details unique to Pixel Ripped 1978 gameplay, such as player preferences regarding in-game distractions.

As the game progressed, the process and deliverables for subsequent test rounds were adjusted accordingly. The goal to conduct a 3-hour test with video recordings of the whole gameplay for every tester within a specific time frame was challenging. Various obstacles may get in the way, such as testers forgetting to start the video recording or restart it after the break, or setting the wrong settings (all of this with no option to rerecord because only the first user experience was accepted), difficulties in transferring large video files, and the potential for bugs and confusion in the early alpha stage.

Solution and Outcome

ARVORE partnered with VR Oxygen and executed multiple test rounds throughout the whole development cycle of Pixel Ripped 1978.

ARVORE defined the profiles for Pixel Ripped 1978 and wanted to have a ratio of users who already played games from the Pixel Ripped franchise and new users who’ve never played a Pixel Ripped game.

The deliverables for each test round included gameplay recordings, initially starting with shorter video recordings and gradually transitioning to full 3-hour recordings as the testing progressed, a post-play survey, and a test analysis and report. Each tester was required to sign an NDA before participating in the process. The flexibility and adaptability of each step allowed to meet the unique needs of the game and each development cycle.

Prior to the launch, ARVORE added a new player profile and completed tests with players who had participated in previous test rounds for Pixel Ripped 1978—to evaluate the latest improvements.

“We did multiple test rounds throughout the whole development cycle of Pixel Ripped 1978, and my favorite outcome was the A/B testing we did to discover the best interaction for our control system. It was really useful to get data from two groups of testers to decide which design was best to use as default in the game.
- Ana Ribeiro, Game Director

Throughout the entire development cycle, VR Oxygen enabled the following:

  1. Matching with specific Target Audience.
    VR Oxygen matched ARVORE with requested player profiles and helped manage the whole process including scheduling, custom notifications, and timely replacements which enabled more strict adherence to deadlines. Both parties, ARVORE and testers, remained informed at every stage of the process and during every test round.
  2. Adherence to requirements and consistency across all deliverables from all testers.
    Each tester was required to play for a certain number of hours within the specific time frame. The playtime varied per test round but the most common was playing for 3 hours within a week and recording the entire gameplay, starting from the designated location or from the start, depending on the test round goals.

    This also included managing video recordings—from the guided recording process, and reminders—to video transfers, storage, and other related logistics until the files were delivered to ARVORE, and maintaining consistent video file management and confidentiality for every tester and test round. ARVORE created their own post-play survey, which was modified for each test round.

Receiving consistent results from every tester and every test round allowed to create detailed test reports and analyze the data to see lifetime improvements.

Image credits: ARVORE and Pixel Ripped 1978