For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on the game Gravitas Magi, as project manager and level designer, as part of the team ‘The Segway Army’. We recently completed a prototype build (see Part 1) which was play-tested by various members of the public. Feedback was also collected from all participants to be used in refining the game further (See Part II). Now, I’m going to take the next several hundred words to ramble on about this whole process. You’re welcome. Oh, and on a side note: for those of you wondering, the title of this blog entry means “Gravity Magicians – Opinion of The People Part 2″.
So, the prototype was finished and then we moved into the play-testing phase. From this play-testing we did get useful feedback, not quite as useful as we had hoped, but useful nonetheless. The key problem with the feedback we got was due to a major bug in the game. Players could very easily fall through the floors and walls (which are kind of also floors) and whatnot. Clearly, ensuring that the game is free of all major bugs before play-testing is critical to preventing this from happening again. Yet it has happened, and because of this a large portion of the feedback was focused on this issue, rather than the gameplay itself.
However, we did manage to get some useful feedback thanks to some carefully constructed questions, so not everything is terrible. These questions directed the player’s attention to specific aspects of the game (such as gravity) or if their experience was at all confusing and why. One important thing we learned is that our game was confusing as hell, and we needed a hell of a lot more feedback and instructions so people will actually know what’s going on. We also learned that spells were as confusing as they were useless.
Furthermore, we found that a number of players felt that the action of the game was either spread out too much or not enough, as getting closer or further away from other players was difficult. Finally, we found a number of people that struggled to determine where the other players in the game were, which hampered their ability to play.
Each of these have been addressed accordingly. We are adding clear instructions to the game start, as well as button prompts to the game itself to make things clearer. We have also removed spells entirely, because the best way to solve a problem is to take that problem and remove it from existence entirely. By reducing the level size as well as adding a new ability that allows players to launch themselves into the air, we have allowed the action to shift across the map more dynamically to prevent things from becoming too compact.
Finally, reducing the level and increasing the field of view has significantly increased visibility and general playability. The addition of a ‘tagged player warning’ that alerts any given player to when the tagged player is within a certain distance of them will also not only improve the players’ ability to know where the other players are, but the overall clarity of the game as a whole.
So this is where we’re taking the game and why. It’s brief and somewhat vague, but you get the idea. Hopefully…