One of the features in the latest update (version 2.0.4) is a new advisor. Like many in the game, the art is based on a real person. In this case, it’s one of our beta testers, Liana Kerr.
We’ve been blessed by a number of helpful and perceptive testers, willing to spoil their potential fun by playing a buggy copy of the game. Since they’re all volunteers, I added to the pool of beta testers as the game got closer to release. Even a game as repayable as King of Dragon Pass will eventually become jaded, and I wanted fresh eyes. (I did however take a number of testers who had played the game before, figuring that a gap of 10 years would make a difference. And these players could tell me if it was still true to the spirit of the original.)
Unfortunately, something went wrong with our bug tracking system, and I can’t get exact counts of how many bugs each beta tester sent. But even without exact statistics, I know it’s Liana. Although she was an old hand, she dove in, and played seemingly endless games, trying out different approaches, and sending all sorts of reports.
Her enthusiasm was remarkable for someone who had already played the game a lot. Here in her own words is her introduction to the game:
“Back in 2001, when my boyfriend and I were at college, he gave me King of Dragon Pass for Valentine’s Day. (Reader, I married him.) I would have enjoyed it well enough if it had just been a clan simulation based around cattle management, exploration and battles, but the sheer amount of random events and notifications, the focus on mythology, the gorgeous artwork and exceptional writing kept me playing it for years, until I thought I had quite played it to death. Even then, every so often I’d still have the urge to build up a happy little Peace clan swimming in cattle and trade goods!”Once the game was released, I began working on VoiceOver support, so that blind players could enjoy the game too. There were a few bug fixes in that build too, so I sent it to my stable of testers (plus some blind players). You can imagine my surprise when Liana decided to try the game using VoiceOver! Not only that, but she continued sending insightful feedback that helped make the game more accessible.
This was so over the top that I wanted to do something special to say thank you. I asked our iOS artist, Jani Lintunen, if he could create one more set of advisor faces, and he graciously agreed. Since this was to be a surprise, Jani had little to work with. (By contrast, when Stefano Gaudiano did associate producer Elise Bowditch and myself, we gave him photos of our parents.) But he nailed it. Liana says, “The picture of her when she’s old looks very much like my mom, but older (and my husband thinks it looks like my mom’s sister). It’s really eerie!”
Many testers helped make this game more fun and less buggy. I was lucky to get their help. And lucky Liana was willing to play yet again. Thanks again, Liana, and maybe some day I can arrange a visit from Cragspider…