Valve’s Gabe Newell recently wrote an article for Edge that dealt with procedural narrative (dynamic AI that can handle level scripting by itself), and how it’s used for both a story and a gameplay device in Left 4 Dead. As a result of procedural narrative a lot of traditionally human play testing isn’t necessarily needed anymore.
But that isn’t going to stop Valve. In fact, human play testing may enter into the realm of crazy weird. According to Newell, Valve could start wiring “players up with EEGs” to catch the physical reactions players have in response to action in games. In short, Valve could monitor stuff like heart rates and brain waves to see if the decisions that they are making in level design are properly impactful.
It’s not scary in a Terminator way, but I’m not exactly sure if machines need to be the deciding factor in terms of level progression and freaky stuff like monster closets. I’m just fine with how nervous I am while playing Dead Space. I don’t need to actually get to the point where I feel like I’m about to experience a heart attack to have a good time.