Thursday, 21 November 2013

Play Test (Alpha)

Yesterday was a cool day.

After weeks of working on our own games, we all went around and playtested each others'.

One thing that really stood out was the diversity of the games. The fact that I could go from game-to-game-to-game and not see one pirate or zombie, or whatever, was such a delight. So I really hope the feedback I gave to the few games I actually managed to play will be helpful.

As for Role, I was happy that, although the game was praised, the other developers were being critical and clearly wanted to help make our game better.

Critical/Negative Feedback.

- How did I get the points?
- Was stuck at the dominoes for a while. Although that's not really a complaint
- Not much gameplay
- Didn't quite understand why I failed at the house/elevator part.
- The final part of the level drags on.

Things to note.
- Over-tapping often.
- Focus on the moon means people don't notice the lanterns which lay in the grass.

So I'll just quickly address these points.

- How did I get the points?

This is an obvious problem straight away when you start the (alpha) game. This all comes down to the polish of the player reward system. The placement of the lanterns is another reason. At the moment the lantern positions are very punishing in the way that you either get no points if you don't understand what's going on, 10 points occasionally, 20 points if you're a natural, and, well, I've had 30/30 points twice.

We're currently adding in new lanterns, and polishing the reward system. At the moment the score system works (which is all we really needed for alpha) and so we just need to make it clearer than some small number in the top corner. We're certain that after these improvements have been implemented the objectives will become much clearer.

- I Was stuck at the dominoes for a while.

This was something I loved watching. One of the developers tried and tried to get past the windmill launch part, and kept falling short because they were out of sync with the windmill blades. After about 4-5 tries he clicked going up the elevator and realised he could time the collision. This was a total thrill to watch, as he managed it first time upon realising this. Because time is supposed to be a crucial element in this game, it was just great to see someone understand this and go on to complete the challenge.

- Not much gameplay & The final part of the level drags on.

With great game design, comes great gameplay. This one came as no surprise, although it was less frequently mentioned than I had predicted. We're going to cut out the long rolling sequence towards the end of the level very soon. Because this section leads up to the (likely) drop into the ditch, which is already horseplay, it's like a double whammy of "Seriously..?" It also comes straight after the difficult lantern/catapult section which people can miss first play through. So this awkward gap in gameplay becomes overt. Although I think it should be noted that I don't think this would be an issue if the moon was say a character you controlled. There are many long running sequences in Limbo which totally fit with the whole exploration side of the game. But the input makes it acceptable. Because our moon rolls independently it's a drag.

- Didn't quite understand why I failed at the house/elevator part.

Same issue at the dominoes one above.

In summary, I'm optimistic about the currently trajectory of the game, and looking forward to addressing the issues my fellow devs had. At the same time though, we don't want to make the game too obvious or patronising; and so we won't pander too much to the players' first few tries - great games rarely do; and we can hopefully make something that stands out by remembering this.

(Some of the) Positive feedback. 

- Awesome art style. (I can sleep easy)
- Paces well. 
- Music & atmosphere immersed me in the experience

I guess I don't have too much to say about this. I love that people are getting into the game, and enjoying it for the reasons we are aiming for. For now we'll just keep our heads down.

Cheers for now

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