Cycle 3: Activity 7 – Play Test Report

Raw feedback can be found here

The play test results revealed some useful information about the game and what was done effectively and what wasn’t so effective in achieving our team’s PX goals, there were also some bugs exposed in these sessions too.

Firstly the play tests showed a lack of polish in some regards of the game, with testers noting that the game felt it was “lacking something” and other commenting on the level design being quite basic and unimaginative. Of course many aspects of the game concept were not implemented due to poor time management on my part, however taking that into consideration there is still room for improvement. Players would have liked to see more creative level design, more enemy types and different movement patterns for spotlights.

Given these criticisms there were a number of things that players enjoyed, for instance, the look and feel of the game with several testers commenting on the pixel art and the contrast of the light on the darkened sprites gave an effect similar to the concept described to them. Players also quite liked the concept described however they wished it were better implemented like getting the glowstick mechanic fully functioning and implemented.

To address these comments it is recommended to implement these steps:

  • Create additional more challenging levels
  • Create additional enemy types
  • Add different spotlight patterns
  • Complete glowstick and darkness mechanic
  • Produce a more intuitive AI
  • Fix bugs
    • Player animation
    • Rigid body issues
    • Spotlight script issues
    • UI scaling

Cycle 3: Reflection

Looking back upon the semester of IGB100 I’ve noticed as significant improvement in my abilities to use Unity and other programs associated with game development. Initially it started out as a daunting task having had minimal experience with these pieces of software, however the “trial by fire” as it were, was a good way to get introduced to the development process. Additionally being encouraged to experiment with blender and other programs to produce our own assets was an interesting learning experience as well and regardless of improvements made to my skills it also gave me an appreciation for that aspect of the design process.

While I had group members that were more than happy to assist me with any issues I may have had I found that this unit and unity especially encouraged me to seek out the answers to my own problems. Either through documentation or online forums and overall I feel that my ability to operate independently improved greatly throughout this semester. However, despite this independence, I also learned the value of discussing and collaborating with my peers and group members. Because even though it wasn’t completely necessary to work as a group it helped to discuss with them to flesh out concepts, seek constructive criticism and exchange ideas and insights.

Throughout each cycle I attempted to learn something new and implement this knowledge somehow in my project. In the first cycle I focused on my understanding of gameplay and design to try and make the prototype feel balanced and challenging like an arcade game. In the second cycle, I attempted a less traditional concept that encouraged me to focus on my abilities as a programmer to implement relatively complex systems compared to any of my previous projects, as well as attempting to learn 3D modelling tools like MAYA and Blender. Finally, in the third cycle I wanted to see how the Unity 2D engine worked and tried to see how the look and feel of a game affects its overall impact I did so by creating 2D pixel sprite characters and animations.

I felt that these experiments gave me a better overall understanding of the industry I wish to enter, however it also highlighted that there is still a lot for me to learn continuing with my degree and that I would like to expand upon this knowledge in my fee time over the holidays.

While I noticed a lot of self-improvements over the course of the semester I also noted several problems that need addressing if I hope to work as effectively as possible in groups and individual projects moving on. I found that I worked more effectively and managed my time much better at the start of the semester compared to the end which lead to major sacrifices in my projects especially the final cycle, which I was not particularly happy with in some aspects.

While I could argue that this was due to other assignments and my attempt at doing an additional subject for the semester, ultimately it came down to my own organisational skills and my underestimation of the time required to produce a project of quality. Furthermore, it is this kind of attitude that could significantly impact the performance of a group project and given my aspirations to lead teams in game design it’s important that I demonstrate a sound work ethic. This is something I hope to improve as proper time management and organisation is vital to producing quality work that I can be content with, on time.

As well as this my team skills did see an improvement, however a majority of what I will take away from this unit is a number of things for me to work on in the future. Communication with my team outside of class was good but could see improvements as well as participating more in discussions in class and not reserving constructive criticism for fear of upsetting members of my team because criticism is something I personally try to grow from and my group members felt the same way. The ability to discuss things freely in a group and voice opinions is highly important in the design process and I plan on improving this greatly if I wish to be a leader in future projects, personal or professional.

Overall this unit has taught me a lot about myself and my behaviours as a designer and team member, I’ve been encouraged to challenge my own behaviours and analyse the way I function regarding projects. This analysis has been extremely helpful in growing as an effective game developer.

Cycle 3: Activity 5 – Interactivity and Choice

Task 1 – Key goals and Hierarchy 

Heirachy


Task 2 – 5 Goals and Player Stories 

Physical Coordination

Goal: Traverse the level and reach the cell door to escape.
Challenge: Navigating through obstacles and using the environment to avoid enemies.

Pattern Recognition

Goal: Avoid enemy/spotlight patrols.
Challenge: Recognise patrol routes and spotlight patterns of movement.

Conflict

Goal: Reduce enemy numbers.
Challenge: Sneak up on enemies to attack them.

Goal: Escape enemies if you get spotted.
Challenge: Break line of sight and hide from enemies.

Exploration

Goal: Find the key to the exit door
Challenge: Search the level to find the key and unlock the door


Task 3 – Challenges and Choice 

Avoid enemies and spotlights:

Choices available for the player are to kill the enemies or to get past them by using the glow sticks to distract them. These choices are conveyed to the player by showing them examples of this previously in gameplay. To distract the enemies the player can use glowsticks whereas they can attack enemies to kill them.

Escape Enemies when Spotted:

Choices available to the player are to either attempt to fight the enemies or to escape them. Based on these choices the player can run and hide from the enemies until they go back to patrolling the area or they can attack them. These choices can be shown to the player through UI elements and previous experience. Feedback is provide to the player by UI alerts and changes.

 


Task 4 – Storyboard 

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Cycle 3: Activity 1 – PX Goals

Task 1 – Initial PX goals:

“Players will have to coordinate themselves and plan out their actions to win.”

“Players will face enemies stronger than themselves so they have to strategize to win.”

“Players will have a limited resource they must use sparingly, however it is necessary to complete the game.”


Task 2 – Favourite Game Ideas:

Game ideas that the team felt fit the player experience goals:

  • An Artillery Strategy Game similar to “Worms” where the player has to manage a number of playable characters and resources (ammunition) to win a team fight against a similarly structured team. We believed this would satiate the desire for some level of strategy that target audience “Bob” shows in his gaming choices as well as being the kind of game he could play for a short time on his iPad.
  • Our other idea was a Stealth platformer focused around the use of light to navigate the level with the limited resource being a set of glowsticks the player character carries with them which helps them see more of the level but also draws the attention of enemies. We felt “Bob” might appreciate a game like this when he’s not playing FIFA and exploring indie games for something different. Additionally we felt that this encapsulated more of a big idea/concept that would stay relevant and consistent throughout gameplay.

Task 3 – Final PX Goal:

Our studio’s final PX goal is as following:

“Players will need to use a limited resource sparingly to strategize and outsmart stronger and deadlier enemies.”


Task 4 – Reasoning:

We decided on our PX goal and the Stealth platformer, because we believe as a team that this is the kind of game our target audience “Bob” would play when he’s not playing FIFA 16 and experimenting with indie games. It’s the kind of game that would fit his short play sessions and would possibly be an option for him to play on his iPad given its relative simplicity. We also felt this idea allowed for the implementation of the concept throughout the game and make these concepts present throughout the game without it being “drowned out” by other concepts and mechanics to deliver a fun and “easy-to-pickup” kind of game.


Task 5 – Type(s) of PX goals:

Cognitive
Cognitive processes regarding visually processing and analysing the level and enemy/hazard movements to predict where they will be next. This adds to the gameplay aspects of effectively using limited resources due to identifying situations to use these scarce items.

Physical
Physical player experiences regarding speed and agility to navigate the level as well as accuracy to throw glow sticks in the right location as defined by the player. As this adds to the second aspect of strategy by effectively executing the strategy though player skill.


Task 6 – PX Nature Importance:

A Player experience of this nature is important regarding the two game ideas as some  form of strategy and managing resources make up key mechanics of these types of games despite their different overall genres. In regards to the target audience “Bob” he has shown a favouring for games with some level of strategic gameplay of varying intensity and a PX goal like ours focuses more on this rather than just player skill.

Cycle 2: Reflection

Professional Development and practice:

Considering the demands of Cycle 2 I found a struggled a little more than usual due to my personal decision from the beginning the make my own 3d assets as well as scripts. This is mostly due to my limited experience with 3d modelling and animation, it was interesting learning how to produce my own assets and it gave me an idea of what it takes to be a 3d artist. Overall Cycle 2 has given me an opportunity to learn new skills and understand a whole new aspect of the game development cycle. Additionally, it has given me an understanding of a different genre of games and what it takes to make a first-person game that feels “complete.”

Working in a team:

Working in a team for Cycle 2 was partly effective in terms of managing team activities and sharing resources and knowledge however for this cycle there was less communication due to unforeseen circumstances e.g. floods, people being sick. This impacted the Thursday workshops which exposed the group’s dependence on these workshops to collaborate, solve problems and share ideas in person. As usual team members were always happy to share snippets of code and help each other in areas that others might be less knowledgeable in. However, in the next cycle it would be beneficial to the group to engage more outside of normal contact ours considering there was major disruptions to the Thursday workshops this cycle.

Working Independently:

Working independently for this task was difficult due to deciding to learn more about 3d modelling and animation so time had to be taken to learn the software required. Additionally, due to the nature of first person games, they can take more hours to produce a prototype of reasonable quality therefore it required more motivation to continue working on the prototype. For future projects, it would be much more efficient to breakdown the workload into section to be worked on over the course of the cycle. However, I was not this organised and it began to show towards the end of production.

Ethical considerations:

Considering the ethical consideration of the game there is the possibility for offence since you do attack and kill snakes in game. However, these depictions are kept as basic and non-gratuitous as possible so as not to make it into anything more than an innocent tower defence. Additionally, there could be inferences made by players that the game could be offensive commentary on immigration however this is simply not true as every model is basic and just depicting one character or model with no sub-context implied. Overall there’s a minimal societal impact with the mini-game, this too can be said about how the product created might affect quality of life as it is only a small-scale game and can at most only have a small-scale impact if any at all.

Cycle 2: Game Concept

In the Snake Defence game, your role as the player is to defend the end point; be it a town, country or other important structure or feature from incoming waves of snakes that hope to deplete your lives by reaching the end point. As the player, your capacity to stop the snakes is determined by your ability to chase them down and attack them with your shovel weapon. Additionally, the player can set up defences to assist in their efforts to stop the snakes from reaching the end point.

As the player, I will chase down snakes to hit them with my shovel.

As the player, I will use my shovel to hit the snakes in order to kill them.

As the player, I want to kill snakes to stop them from reaching the end point.

As the player, I want to stop snakes reaching the end point to preserve my lives.

As the player, I want to avoid coming in contact with the snakes so I don’t get damaged.

As the player, I will build defences to assist me in stopping the snakes.

As the player, I will track my resources to build more defences.

As the player, I will position my defences to best deal with the snakes.

As the player, I want to kill snakes to gain score and resources.

As the player, I want to survive the waves of snakes to win the game.