Abstract

Iterative user-centred design has become a standard approach for developing interactive products. This process relies on prototyping and usertesting as early as possible to deliver a positive user experience and ensure that final products align with designers' intentions. The video game industry has benefited greatly from this design approach, with games user researchers adapting and introducing various evaluation techniques. However, repeatedly creating game builds suitable for usertesting (i.e., high-fidelity prototypes) is time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, recruiting users and conducting evaluation sessions are labour-intensive tasks. These challenges are especially pressing in the evaluation of game level and world design, where designers may wish to evaluate many alternatives or rapidly measure the impact of many small design changes on a game's ability to deliver the intended experience. To support developers grappling with these challenges, we have developed PathOS, a novel tool for simulating testing sessions with agents that model player navigation. This paper reports on our development objectives, implementation, and a user study with professional game developers to assess PathOS' application in a level design context. Our results demonstrate the ability of an automated testing tool to enhance the workflow of practicing developers.

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