Playtest Report

Participant Demographics

Our group was running late with our prototypes, so we were unable to conduct play testing during Week 4’s workshop. We were also unable to meet up and complete play testing due to our busy schedules, but we were continuously providing feedback and constructive criticism to each other during the prototype development process. So, instead, I conducted play testing with three friends instead of two studio members and a single friends. All of the people I conducted testing with have experience with game development and programming, and also have never played my game before.

Playtest Overview

Each session lasted around 15 minutes each, of which they played through the two minute demo of my game a couple of times and answered questions I provided after each play through. These tests were done in-person, and the answers were recorded in a word document.

I used questions that allowed for more open ended responses, instead of opting for a more simple rating system or yes/no answer response because I find the information to be much more valuable and also a much more accurate representation of what an individual thought of the game. The questions I provided can be separated into three categories that were goals the studio set for our playtesting. The testing covered General Gameplay Mechanics, The Balance/Difficulty of the game, and the overall Game Aesthetic.

Test Data

Participants

  • Lachlan Ritchie
  • Chris Mooney
  • Matthew Grant

Gameplay

For a SCHMUP, did you find the gameplay enjoyable?

  • I found the game enjoyable and calm.
  • Yeah I thought the game was pretty fun.
  • The game was entertaining, I felt that the demo was a little short though.

Was it clear that the number of sides the shape had symbolised how strong/tough it was?

  • Originally I believed that the size of the shape determined how much health it had, not the number of sides.
  • I just assumed that each colour had different amounts of health.
  • I had no idea that this was a thing, but looking back now it makes sense as to why the square and hexagon took more damage.

Was it clear that each colour represented a different playstyle/movement pattern/attack mechanic?

  • Yes.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah, definitely.

Balance/Difficulty

Do you think the difficulty of the demo level is too high?

  • I think the difficulty level was perfect. It wasn’t too stressful, but wasn’t too laid back.
  • Nah it wasn’t too difficult, but it offered some challenge.
  • I found that it offered a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t particularly difficult.

Do you think the level was unbeatable?

  • No, I think the level was beatable.
  • Not at all.
  • Nope.

At any point did you think that the enemies were dealing too much damage, or very little?

  • The only problem I had with the damage being dealt to me was that the first time I played, the amount of damage I could take was not clear.
  • The game seemed fairly balanced in terms of damage, although I couldn’t tell if i had taken any or not.
  • I found it hard to tell if I’d already taken damage from the square’s or not because there wasn’t an visual feedback or HUD to tell me how much health I had left. Otherwise, the game seemed fairly balanced with the current enemy types.

Game Aesthetic

Do you feel as if the music fit the style of the game?

  • I think that the music did fit the style of the game, however it would fit better with more sound effects.
  • The music fit fairly well.
  • The music was nice to listen too, added a lot to the game’s ambience.

What are your thoughts on the game’s minimalistic art style?

  • I think the minimalistic art style looked good.
  • The art style was very basic and it was easy to look at. Nothing too exciting but it was nice.
  • Fairly generic shapes and colours, but it was nice to look at.

Any other feedback/criticisms?

  • I think that there should be one more simple game mechanic, just so there is a little bit more to think about, and allow for deeper strategies.
  • Would be nice if there was more variety in enemies and weapons that the player could use.
  • More sound effects and visual feedback. Like showing how much damage the players and enemies have taken, and sound effects for firing projectiles and stuff.

Key Findings/Improvement Recommendations

Gameplay

  • Make the game a little more challenging
  • Make it clear that the number of sides a shape has symbolises how large it’s health pool is.
  • More visual feedback, so it’s easier to tell how damaged the player and enemies are

Balance

  • More enemy and weapon variety

Aesthetic

  • Sound effects for firing projectiles

Overall, it seemed like that testers enjoyed the game, but it’s very clear that there is much improvement needed. The game shows promise, but it is distinctly lacking in content.

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Reflection

Student name: Chi Yan Chau

Student number: N9316311

  1. Professional development and practice

In the completion of the game prototype of this shoot ’em up, initially I do not think that my skills match the tasks required. I am studying game design major but have not engaged in any kind of digital game production, as a result, I am a novice in terms of usage of game design software such as Unity. This will be my desired additional skills and knowledges as well in order to fill in the identified gaps.

However, a designer will provide ideas of how the game actually works as well as creating and designing some detailed gameplay mechanics,  for example, proposing an upgrade menu for this shoot ’em up game for brainstorming. This is also an example of how my game design skills match the tasks required.

In describing about the approach of learning new things or informations, I fully utilised the video given by the unit and exploring official tutorial video of Unity in order to achieve some gameplay experiences that the unit’s videos have not been told.

2. Working in a team

In order to work more effective as a team, we have created several communication methods as to exchange informations. For example, Facebook group chat is the most common communication method we used together. On the other hand, we also created shared document for the draft of blog post in Google Drive so that when an individual team member update his content, every member will be able to read and provide comment on it as to work in a more effective team work.

3. Working independently

In this unit, every team member is required to submit an individual prototype. As a result, individual will need to be effective in working out the documentation and prototype. This lead to creating a scheduled timetable for doing the work in this unit. In my case, I used a day to work on the prototype and documents each week as to not putting all the works at the very last minute. This made me a more comfortable and more effective working environment.

4. Ethical considerations

Personally, the development process of the shoot ’em up prototype enhanced my skills in producing an actual digital gameplay experience, while designing game in the future, I would also be able to work together with technical engineer, in a nutshell this development process has a huge impact to me. On the other hand, I do not think that this prototype would impact the society in any degree, the prototype is realistically not a final product and it consists of only very basic shoot ’em up functions, many features required higher technique, furthermore the game has not delivered to public in any kind of ways. In conclusion, this prototype does not have impact in the society.

Reflection

Professional Development and Practice

This unit introduced me to working inside a game engine. I haven’t had any experience working with any programs like Unity before, so these four weeks were quite the learning experience. I have had experience with programming before though, having completed both units IFB104 and CAB201 that respectively worked with the languages Python and C#. This meant that the concepts covered in the Practicals were not completely foreign to me. In my prototype, I mainly just expanded on the stuff covered through the videos. The concepts/ideas were all pretty much planned out in my mind, I just needed to do some minor research to understand what method/function calls I needed to get certain things running. (i.e. Restarting the game/ending the game after a certain time limit, etc.)

 

Working in a Team

I do enjoy teaming up with new people and trying to tackle a challenge with them. It not only forces me to see different perspectives on a certain topic at hand, but it also allows me to meet new people that may share similar interests. The first week was fairly rocky since our third team member was unable to make it, but after the second week we had everything under control and everyone was doing their part. However, an inherent problem with working in groups of complete strangers, when it comes to game design compromises must be made to make everybody happy. Luckily, I believe we ended up with a game concept that would work very well, and I’m fairly certain the others seem to like it as well.

 

Working with this group so far has been very enjoyable, and we’ve had constant communication through Facebook. We’ve been helping each other with blog posts and prototype development, and it’s been  much more pleasant than some other units that do require group work.

 

Working Independently

Lack of motivation is something that I suffer from greatly when it comes to uni-work. However, with game development, it seems like it has done a complete 180-degree turn. The ability to see results almost instantly in Unity after changing a few lines of code is really refreshing compared to just writing paragraph on top of paragraph of text in a report, or even programming a very simple calculator in the command prompt. Actually having a visual representation of your work right there is a massive motivation booster. In terms of what I do when things start to get challenging? I find that after a bit of research most of my problems, in regards to programming/game development, can be solved. Otherwise, I try and experiment with what I know so far and see what I can get to work. If worst came to worst, I’d ask the tutor in the practical classes to assist me.

 

Ethical Considerations

I do not believe that the game I have developed will make much of a societal or personal impact at all. The SCHMUP genre has been explored greatly in the past, and there’s only so much that can be done with it. At the end of the day, they all really offer the same core gameplay. If anything, I hope that my product gives players the opportunity to escape from reality and just enjoy themselves, since I believe that is the draw of any video game at the end of the day.

Prototype Submission & Contribution Statement

Prototype Download Link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bz_zcnnHHhAwcWplbFNIa1ZpMGs?usp=sharing

Contains two compressed folders. One containing the final prototype build of the game, which has the data file and executable, and the other being the Unity Project Folder of the game.

Specifications:

  • Start the game in 1280×720, Windowed
  • WASD – movement
  • SPACE – shoot
  • ENTER – restart at any time
  • ESC – pause
  • Can quit any time with the X at the top right corner.
  • Survive for 2 minutes.

 

Contribution:

Playtest Report – Jim

Participants Demographics.

As I was running quite late with my prototype, it has been hard to arrange a session with the studio, so I got some continuous feedback with them while developing, but I also conducted the playtesting with 3 friends instead of 2 studio members and 1 friend. They all had experience in video games as well as programming, but never heard about my game before. They can thus be considered as confidants as well as naïve play testers. All of them are PC gamers so they are familiar with controls, and one of them is fan of shoot em’ up like Touhou (See reflections). The session lasted for approximately 5 minutes of gameplay + the time to do a little “Question and answer” after the gaming session.

Playtesting findings

I tried with the playtesting to get a general idea about what was good and wrong with the game. I found it hard to express this with numbers, probably because I can’t do it so I preferred to ask them for opinions rather than numerical judgements.

I divided my questions around the 3 areas we were trying to gather information on: Gameplay responsiveness / General gameplay // Balance and difficulty // Aesthetic aspect of the game.

 

1: Gameplay

As everyone had more or less experience in shoot em’ up and since the theme was imposed, my first question was: For a shoot em’ up, did you find the gameplay enjoyable?

I got several criticisms on this point. In general, the view in SHMUP is a vertical view rather than a horizontal one. Although it didn’t seem shocking to me, it did destabilize them a bit at the beginning. This could be changed in the future, as it is more about the position of the camera rather than the playstyle.

I also had complained about the lack of HUD as well as the need to quit et re launch the game to replay. This is already a planned upgrade of the game, so I didn’t really argue about it.

The second important thing was reported to me by the 2 players with a medium experience in SHMUP. They thought that the player should be able to aim instead of just shooting in front of them. This aim mechanics is probably more common in recent SHMUPS and I personally think that it is more a bias rather than something to change. I decided to keep the vertical shooting rather than a 360° shooting angle. This aspect was however important as it seemed to impact how they enjoyed the game.

Overall, they liked the gameplay, even if they thought that these elements could use some improvements. I got “nicer” feedback from the experienced SHMUP player, probably because my game is playing on a similar scheme than the Touhou series.

 

2: Balance and difficulty

Because the game is a prototype, I tried to show how the evolution of the difficulty could go throughout the game. I asked them 2 questions: Do you think the difficulty of the level is too high // Do you think the level was unbeatable.

To begin, when they started the game, I said that if they survived 3 minutes, they would win the level. None of them (and I didn’t either) survived that long. However, I got nearly the same answer from all of the 3 players. It is too hard for a first level, but as an end game level or high difficulty setting, this is acceptable. As said above, I tried to show a panel of level in 1 gaming experience, so this is fine. I just got some reflexions about that the screen (playable zone) might be a bit too small or the player hitbox might be too big for a high number of enemies. I can agree on that and I was especially expecting feedback about that point. Maybe the player should’ve a smaller hitbox, smaller than its actual mesh. For example, a core at its centre, and only the core could take damages. That would make the game simpler when it comes to dodge and slaloming between enemies.

Finally, 2 of the 3 said that this level might be unbeatable due to the constraint said above, whereas the last one said that with a perfect timing it is probably achievable.

As of now, the answer for the second question don’t really matter anymore until a real level is made, since the goal is the have a completable level which isn’t theorically impossible.

 

3: Game Aesthetic

 

In games, unless the work is really messed up, the aesthetic is a subjective matter. I tried to focus on general aspects rather than precise elements of the game. I asked them questions about the music, art style and atmosphere.

They all found the concept of evolution of power symbolized by the number of sides quite interesting, and I even got a suggestion about combining shapes to creates bosses.

The music was also approved by the testers but unveiled some comments about the colours. In fact, one of them said that with this music, some “blue” colours could be added to the game. As I said above, the black and white atmosphere is a bias. However, to what extent can we stray from it and maybe add colourful elements to the game? In any case, a music without a piano, with more drums could have been more suited to the game / level.

Finally, the atmosphere was deemed simple and non-oppressive. Because the player doesn’t make any sound while shooting, they can enjoy the music while playing, and the minimalist art style make it easy to look at.

 

Improvement and Recommendations:

  • Make the camera vertical
  • Add the HUD
  • 360° shooting angle
  • Make the playing space bigger
  • Make the player’s hitbox smaller
  • Combine shapes to create bosses
  • Add colours to the game (Select another music)

Notes :

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