For this post I would like to cover the state of the prototype and what I have in mind for the next months.
My previous goal was to get a fully playable prototype, something that conveyed the core concepts of the game and allowed you to play the full story from start to finish. Once this was complete I decided to do my first public sharing of the game with RPS.
Over the past weeks I’ve been gathering all the feedback from the testers and this is a list of what I see as the current issues that need to be addressed.
Sorry for some of the vagueness in the steps but I want to keep this dev log spoiler free.
1. Understand the strengths of the core concept. “Player gets knowledge from repetitions”
There are a couple of actions that players are trying to do that aren’t possible right now, and some of these go against the core concept.
If you say something like “I would eventually be able to do this if I had unlimited attempts in real life” then you have to be able to do it.
It’s unfeasible to believe that I will be able to create all the combinations players think about BUT I should provide the means to achieve the goals of those combinations or, if I don’t want them to have those goals, change the environment so it doesn’t lead them in that direction.
2. Clearly show the rules and limitations of the game world.
As most adventure games, its not perfectly clear for the player what you can and cannot interact with. I don’t want to have a over the top UI that breaks the immersion but I need to carefully decide how things look in order for the player to easily read what is interactive.
The current controls are nice and intuitive but also ambiguous and you end up making random guesses on what certain interactions will do.
This makes it hard for the player to be able to create a plan of action and execute on it. (as well as learn why it didn’t work) and leads too frustration when you are trying to achieve a complicated series of actions/consequences.
3. Don’t waste players time.
The loop can get repetitive after a few cycles. This is the nature of the game and part of the experience BUT the player has to be able to understand he has has achieved something, the game has to acknowledge it and make it faster for the next replays. This will create a sense of progression and help with the pacing.
I’ve already done some work on this area and it really makes a difference!
4. Provide a good “Negative Feedback”.
When the player tries the wrong combinations or doesn’t know what to do, the game should provide a clear feedback of why it’s not working.
Also, since the game never tells you what to do, the goals that you define for yourself have to work and be clearly recognized by the environment. (I know this sounds too vague).
Failing should be rewarded by having interesting results from combinations and exploration, enriching the overall story and characters.
5. Pick your battles.
It’s hard to avoid the inherent flaws of “Adventure Games”, mostly the “Guess what the designer wants you to do here.” issue. I’m also realizing that dialogs can be a bottomless pit since its impossible to cover all the options the player has in mind (unless you are Façade).
But I’ve also learned that I need to pick my battles if I want to ever release this game.I need to understand what are the concepts that I want to solve and what are the issues I’m able to live with.
That’s it for now. Big thanks to all the testers, its making a huge difference!