Here is the raw word document playtest notes.
Following the playtesting, the results revealed some very useful information and potential improvements on the game. Including the relation to the PX goals and bugs.
The most common comments from the playtesters were “dark” even though that’s the main theme of the game, the playtesters didn’t know this beforehand. The playtest version of the game felt “incomplete” as some playtesters mentioned. The playtesters mentioned a lot about different enemy types to make the game more challenging as it already is moving around in the dark. Aside the general gameplay experience, common bugs such as getting stuck on objects and enemies have also been identified. A playtester who is considered “game development expert” noticed that the enemy’s aggro movement seems to be off as it moves in one constant direction. All of the playtesters find the general concept very creative with the light and dark elements. Majority of them were commenting about the clunky mechanic of battery recharging flash light.
Considering that this is only the prototpye equivalent of the game, these comments were very helpful. They made the steps of improvements much more vivid and organised. Based on the feedback, the bugs that require attention the most are the enemy’s aggro distance and movement and damage application. General gameplay experience include more enemy types, more level’s quantity and creativity and better flash light battery system.
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
The playtesters for this report were not all experienced gamers and some struggled with the game being first person at first. They all gave relatively good feedback but also pointed out a few bugs and things that they had issues with. I got them to think out-loud and recorded their thought process throughout the 2-4 minute sessions. I then got them to fill out a small, anonymous google doc while I wasn’t in the room in an attempt to get their honest feedback.
On the first run through the players were a bit overwhelmed by the number of enemies coming towards them. The inexperienced players lost fairly quickly and the experienced players managed to get about a quarter of the way through the game before they got bitten and overwhelmed. On the second attempt the players all had some kind of plan of attack for eliminating the enemies. They all started with a similar plan of attacking the snake closest to the objective but soon started attacking the nearest snakes to them and letting snakes through when they knew it was a lost cause instead of chasing them and wasting time.
Each player reported that getting bitten by the red snake that changes the movement controls around was extremely difficult to deal with and often cost them the game. None of the players had much difficulty with the other two kinds of snakes and one player didn’t even notice getting bitten. They all reported that the game was difficult but not impossible and gave it an average of _/10 for fun. Most players put anxious or stressed as the feeling that they experienced while playing, which was the goal. A few players didn’t realize that there was any difference between snakes or that their effects were determined by their pattern and color.
The first player wasn’t supplied the controls and wasn’t aware that the character could sprint in their initial run but did far better in the following attempts. The players gave the game an average of _/10 for difficulty. Players all pointed out that there was a bug on the game over page that caused the mouse to be disabled and required the game to be force quit.
The playtesting was very useful in understanding the players thoughts and why the game will need to be changed in the future. The difficulty level difference between the snake bites was considerable even though they all seemed balanced while creating them. I believe this was because as the programmer, I knew the pattern to the bites and how to work around them while the player had to figure it out on their own. The testers assisted in locating bugs and warned me that the shovel hit box was quite small. I believe that the prototype was good enough at showing where I intend to take the game.
The raw results for the survey are here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TdJwQJ2StGKUt8w0AsAhjwgpWHfixOD7PIFEF60DTQw/edit?usp=sharing
For the cycle two play-testing sessions our focus continued to be the player’s overall enjoyment of the game however due to the nature of first person games we also concerned ourselves with potential bugs that we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed as well as the success of our player experience goals. The team highly values player comments and found them to be vital to providing useful information for later analysis to improve our individual prototypes. Raw player comments can be found here.
When play-testing the cycle 2 prototype, the player experience roughly fit the original goals set at the beginning of production. Players where encouraged to think aloud and that honest feedback is greatly appreciated and vital to understand how they interacted with the game. After each 5-minute play-testing sessions some noteworthy feedback regarding the prototype included:
- Players found they weren’t sure of their objective from the very beginning of the game
- Players liked the tower defence aspect of the game and liked the freedom it gave them as well as adding a reasonable level of strategy. Some players commented that this made the game a little too easy but added this could easily be fixed by adding more enemies or tweaking enemy stats.
Regarding the Mechanics of the game some players exposed bugs that had not been noticed in earlier testing phases such as UI elements not being exposed or the mouse not being unlocked in the main/pause menu. Additionally, sometimes the placement of the turrets wasn’t as precise as the players would have liked so after these issues were solved the players expressed that they quite liked the idea of the game. More feedback included:
- They liked all the UI elements and that it gave them a lot of information to play
- After difficulty tweaks they found that the game was challenging enough to be enjoyable but not too difficult
- It was hard to tell sometimes if the player hit the enemies when using the shovel weapon
To conclude these play-testing sessions revealed key aspects of the game that needed fixing and modifications as well as reflecting how the real player experiences compared to the goals determined at the beginning of production. Play-testing such as this is essential to the production process as it provides valuable insights into the game that developers otherwise would not have noticed.
The playtesting was conducted on 5 different playtesters to produce the playtest report. Each one was asked to speak aloud their feeling and thoughts while playing the prototype. The prototype had a known issue that I still couldn’t find a solution to, the problem was informed to the playtesters before they start. The problem was that current score counters won’t reset when game is replayed without restarting first. While this is an issue, it didn’t affect the core mechanics in anyway. At the end of every playtest, playtesters were asked to give a fun score, scaling 1 – 10, 10 being the most enjoyable. The results were recorded electronically on Microsoft Word. Here is the link to the file.
The most occurring comment was the hit box not being sized properly. However this problem can easily be solved by playtestings and improve on it each time. There were also many comments and recommendations regarding the selection of range weapons as well as the behaviour of the snakes. Unfortunately I cannot implement the weapon switching mechanic but snakes can somewhat be improved regarding their movement, especially the green snakes. I was considering another scene in Unity for a new mode but seeing how limited time combined with my limited ability, I doubt it would be done by the playtesting dateline. Coincidentally, a few playtesters mentioned something similar to this mode in question as well.
By the conclusion of the testing, many aspects of the game that needed improvements and been pointed out. This is the major reason why playtesting was conducted. As well as seeing how much the playtesters enjoy the game in the prototype state; averaging the fun score results resulted 6.6/10. In my opinion, it didn’t do as bad I thought it would for a prototype.
For playtesting, I got each of my players to play the game and speak their feelings and thoughts out loud while they played. After they lost the game the first time, I asked them to explain what they thought went wrong and then got them to play again. I repeated this until the player fully understood the rules of the game and could play for a long period of time without dying. I then asked them what they thought of the game and if they could rank it between 1 and 10 on a scale of how fun they personally thought it was.
Most players were confused by all of the mechanics of the game at first but quickly figured out what was going on in their second attempt and said that they enjoyed how different the concept was from the standard shoot ‘em up. After the first 3 playtesters complained about not being able to shift between dimensions as soon as the game started, I decided to change it for the last 2 testers and they understood how to use it far faster than the first group. Players all said the game was difficult during their first few attempts but most of them then said the game felt slow after they’d mastered the mechanics. The fifth playtester also mentioned that it was very slow compared to your standard shoot ‘em up, but it made sense because it was it had a lot of strategic elements that players needed to plan their actions around that most shoot ‘em ups don’t have.
All of the playtesters said that the game was ‘complicated’ or ‘required concentration’ and that it was ‘stressful’ or ‘intense’. They all mentioned that they had to ‘balance’ or ‘manage’ their resources to progress into the game which was one of our PX goals
Below are the playtesters scores for how fun they thought the game was:
Tester 1: 5/10
Tester 2: 6.5/10
Tester 3: 6/10
Tester 4: 6.5/10
Tester 5: 6.5/10
Testers 2, 4 and 5 all gave the highest scores and all said that they were surprised by and really enjoyed the core game mechanics while the other 2 testers seemed fairly indifferent to the ideas.
As part of the play-testing plan created by the team to test our individual games we aimed to get feedback from players on the overall enjoyment of the game as well as comments on the function and ease of use of core game mechanics. These goals combined in conjunction with additional player comments would also help to determine if the team’s player experience goals stacked up with the real player experiences.
In the early stages of playtesting the incomplete prototype, the player experience was generally as intended from the beginning of production. Players were encouraged to think aloud to assist in understanding how they interacted with the game and after a 5-minute session some noteworthy feedback regarding the look and feel of the game included:
- Players found the colour-coding of enemies and their outlines when their colliders were disabled to be helpful and intuitive
- The game felt strategic but relatively fast paced therefore inducing a feeling of intensity and pressure that players commented made the game feel more fun/less fun depending on preferences
Regarding the actual mechanics of the game including the “Shift” ability some players revealed bugs that had not been picked up on in previous testing such as colliders not being reset and UI elements not reacting to value changes properly. However once these minor issues were fixed and a more complete prototype was presented players found that the “Shift” function was a unique and fun addition to the Shoot ‘Em Up style of play that added a level of complexity and strategy when combined with the linked ammo and health values. In addition to the positive comments made the players were encouraged to voice their criticisms, some of these included:
- It occasionally felt like the player could avoid enemies completely and there was a lack of encouragement to shoot and destroy them.
- Energy pickups spawned in large quantities in the obstacle dimension making things a little bit unbalanced
- Enemy projectiles travelled quite quickly making it too difficult for some players to destroy enemies and survive
- Some players did not like that ammo and health values were linked (preferences)
Overall these play-testing sessions revealed key aspects of the game that needed fixing and modifications as well as confirming that the real player experience reflected the player experience goals. Play-testing such as this is essential to the production process as it provides valuable insights into the game that developers otherwise would not have noticed.