Lessons from our closed beta

Many of you may have heard about our closed beta release at the beginning of this year. Over a whirlwind few months with intense days and little sleep we developed three playable chapters, bug tested like crazy and released our closed beta to over 6000 testers from 30+ countries.

It was our biggest milestone to date. And we did it. Cue a huge sigh of relief.

Now that the dust has settled and we are slowly recovering from our crunch period, we wanted to send an update to let you guys know how it all went.

Who played our closed beta

The closed beta was organized for BUK, a Christian youth association with members around the world. Units of 4-7 people met for several gaming sessions over six weeks, playing through a new chapter every two weeks. After each chapter, a livestream was broadcast for the members of BUK, with interviews from guests and additional content like cutscenes and deep-dives into the themes that were explored in the game.

From the studio during a livestream

The goal

The goal of the closed beta for BUK was to test our game’s story, design and concepts with our target audience. At the same time, we wanted to provide the youth testers with an engaging and interactive way to explore content from the Bible that they could use for further discussion.

One key aspect we were very curious about was whether the concept of “social gaming” – where members of a unit could participate in co-op elements using their mobile phones – would be well-received. We designed this to include both gamers and non-gamers in the experience, and we wanted to know if it successfully reached everyone.

Members of the same unit could participate in co-op elements using their mobile phones

The result

After months of pouring our time, energy and passion into this project, our efforts were really put to the test. It really warmed our hearts to see how enthusiastic the playtesters were as their valuable feedback, suggestions and bug reports started streaming in faster than we could respond to them.

A bug caused Max to see himself in the same cutscene. Never mess with the space-time continuum, boy and girls!

Overall, the impression was that the beta was better than expected. The graphics were impressive which made exploring Jerusalem feel realistic, and gaming together in a group was a lot of fun. There were however still many bugs to be fixed and the overall gaming experience could be improved with more NPCs and interactions, varied mobile games and side quests.

There were also great suggestions for including RPG elements, making the game more open-world, adding transportation by animals, character customization, etc. Many also suggested including a single-player mode, and several suggested an online multiplayer mode. We have been considering many of these elements already and are planning to explore the possibilities even more!

Some playtesters found a collision bug in the temple and used their chance to sneak into the restricted area – how cheeky!

Quotes from playtesters

“Was very impressed with how it worked with the phones, that the PC and phones could follow each other on the map live etc. and that everyone gets to participate in that way. I was very pleasantly surprised by the graphics and the whole scenery of Jerusalem!”

“It has amazing potential. Naturally because this is the beta version there’s a lot that can be worked on. I understand that there will be a way for people to play without needing the whole unit there when it is finally released. I hope that is true as I wanted to go back and explore more and work on the messages personally. But being able to play only as a group has done wonders for our youth.”

“Loved the game. I don’t like video games. I was unmotivated in the beginning and thought that it was not for me. My opinion changed immediately when we started playing and now I am excited for Bible X.”

Bible X brought both gamers and non-gamers together

What’s next?

We understand that the development journey of our game is quite unique. We created a playable game and released it to 6000 testers early in development. We localized our game in 12 languages because understanding the content is just as important if you don’t speak English. We are ready to rethink the design and mechanics and even consider exploring an additional genre because we want to create something that resonates with you.

So right now, we are working through all the feedback you guys have given, doing even more testing, and being open to making bold decisions to improve the overall experience.

After all, the possibility of being able to convey the most powerful message in the history of the world is not something we take lightly.

Catch a glimpse of what the closed beta testers experienced

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