Week 9, Tuesday. Last week – Playtests, final art and story!

World Two art finished

As mentioned last week, Calle finished up the art for World Two. The amount of transitions actually came down to the same amount as World One, but with less effort without sacrificing results. In World One bigger parts of the background would had to be redrawn per transition, whereas World Two was more flexible and did not need things to be redrawn, just drawn upon. Below is a screenshot of the three first transitions (the ones during gameplay).


Applying juice

Apart from finishing up World Two, a lot of time was spent on particle effects. The game was not quite clear with what happened, for example one piece destroying another by touching it. The particle effects clear these things up, by actually showing the piece being destroyed. This also adds to the games “juicyness”, which we value quite highly as mentioned in a past post.

By the weeks end Calle also started work on sound effects, which Michael implemented into the game with a solid system. Once again, sound effects gives the game a better feeling clicking around on the board, having things collide and react. Right now the sound effects hold quite low quality, but are easy to replace. As the time is drawing near to this productions end, art will be hard to implement. Therefore, Calle can use this time to update the sound effects for the game, amping up the juice even more.


Testing new story

Quite a few people playtested the game last week, and one problem stuck out. The players had a hard time understanding the story, and missed the connections Michael tried to make with the text. An entirely new version of the text was made, showing the perspective of a young girl writing in her diary about her arguing parents and an understanding teacher.

This new story was tested on new players, but a new problem arose. The story explained what was going on more clearly, and it became too obvious. Even though the players understood what was trying to be said, they did it so well that there was not much left to be discussed. This does not fall in line with what the game tries to achieve; to affect the player. It also does not resonate with the otherwise surreal and abstract gameplay and graphic.

Michael decided to go back to the first version of the story, although this time with slight modifications. Some parts of the story was removed, as it did not contribute enough to its core. With a pretty much finished game, more playtests were had.


Playtest session

Three questions:

  1. What morals can you derive from the game?
  2. What was the game about?
  3. Could you see a connection between the games gameplay/graphics/story?

The further you get into a discussion like this, the clearer things will be for the player. Once the player has thought about and answered one question, the next one will be easier. Therefore, asking the questions in this order felt important, as we would get the initial though from the player about the games core (the games moral and what it’s trying to teach). The questions themselves focus on the things we have worked towards accomplishing, like the games gameplay, art and story being in synch. They are also open enough for other discussions to arise.

With this modified version of the text, players found the moral of the game to be clear. Generally, the answers where how one should look at things from different perspectives. One should combine the different sides’ opinions to reach a conclusion, and share this conclusion. It was quite obvious for some, but not bothersome nonetheless.

When asked what the game was about, most looked back at the games story. They talked about the two persons (representing the christian and the secular humanist) whom looked at things in different ways, and how the player was someone neutral in between the two. When not talking about the story, the description of the game was close to the first answer; how it is about looking at things from different perspectives. Some made connections to one side being religious, some made connections to debate vs dialogue in the different worlds.

There were mixed reactions to our third question. Some thought all three parts worked well together, and understood how what they all meant in both worlds. How the first world showed two clashing sides with fire and ice, with pieces destroying one another in gameplay, and how the story describes the two differentiating sides. Same goes for World Two, where they start to combine. Others were too focused on the actual gameplay with solving puzzles to think about the parts around it, about the background and the text and the meaning of the gameplay. Others realized the connection between the art and the story in World One, and the connection between story and gameplay in World Two, but could not see any other.

Some problems arose during the early parts of the game, where the games logic was quite difficult to grasp. When being faced with two different pieces, one destroying the other when touch, misunderstandings where had. One of the pieces is a blue ball with stars, which some described as a black hole. These players either thought this piece “sucked up” the other pieces, carrying them along. Some thought this piece could not be moved, as they only had past experience with the other piece. This problem was however quite minor, as they realized how the game worked in the upcoming level(s).

Another is what the pieces represent. Not one saw them as arguments, they rather saw them as different views of life. Some saw them as the three characters in the game, two showing the two different sides represented in the story, and the other the players neutral view. They had a hard time seeing a connection to this and the rest of the game, but it was the most logical one when they did not see the game as debate vs. dialogue. This is not necessarily a big problem, as it brings up a discussion, and their answer is not downright wrong, but it is worth noting.

Very few also noticed the games HUD, showing what will happen when two pieces collide. Most found it confusing at first, and then ignored it. They instead stuck to memorizing what piece destroys which and which combination does what. When the HUD was used, however, it filled its purpose. We are doubtful of using a help menu, as it would disconnect from the rest of the game and slow down the pace, there is however obviously room for improvement.







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