What have I done this week?
This week there has been a hell of a lot of refining the game and changing certain mechanics and dynamics so that the game feels “good” and is “fun” for the players. I have made heavy changes to the HCD and pretty much finalised it, the scheduling has been updated to fit the new tasks that need to be done, the questionnaire has been changed a lot now that we are making an app next week, and new cards have been made for both the Emperor and the two Gladiators.
High Concept Document Overhaul
I started off the week by taking a lot of junk out of the HCD that belonged in the GDD instead. The HCD was then rewritten to fit the new gameplay mechanics and dynamics, all sections but the Player Story were completed.
Preparation for Playtest
I needed to sort out what needed to be organised for the external playtest on Monday. This organising included finalising and printing out the new map, and overwriting most of the player cards with updated information, also adding basic images for aesthetic pleasure (kind of).
In the time between group discussions on Skype when having meals and the free time we set on occasions, I created a new method of auto-filling out who worked on components in a section (new complex formula). Later in the week, I updated the schedule to also include all the scheduling requirements for making the app. Also, the timings for each section overview are now auto-filled out depending on the min and max date range for each section. This also means the GANTT chart can be created faster and more accurately, as it does not depend on the student entering the correct starting and ending dates for the whole of each section. Lastly, this update included a fix for the ‘Duration’ column, where any 1 hour sections now say ‘1 hour x mins’ or ‘1 hour’ if it is exactly 60 mins, instead of the broken method where it used to be ‘1 hours x min’ and ‘1 hours’.
As with the internal playtest on Wednesday last week, we learnt heaps about what doesn’t work quite right and what can be done to fix these holes. Our playtesters wrote good feedback for the questions we had in the questionnaire, we just asked the wrong questions in the questionnaire, so the feedback we got wasn’t the best in terms of what we wanted the responses to be focused on. That is okay though, as we still got great feedback about what the playtesters thought about our game and what parts they didn’t understand etc.
From what feedback we did get, there was a hell of a lot of confusion as to what the Emperor actually does, as to all, it seemed like the Emperor didn’t do much, which is true. There were a lot of comments on how the mechanics also felt a little clunky and were not easy to play with. The players felt that the weapons were not that well integrated into the game, as much as they could be anyway. In one playthrough, both Gladiators were standing in the middle, on top of a weapon, punching each other to death. The fact that not one of them picked up the weapon right at their feet, stated something very important, that weapon pickups were possibly not needed at all, and combat could work a totally different way that didn’t include picking up weapons. We also had the problem as hinted in the previous problem, that Gladiators would not move once they were at each other, attacking. There was no point in movement at all. We need to change this, as there is this nice board that we created, and it was made with a lot of traversing in mind.
Ashe, from Studio 2, actually drew up a mockup on the whiteboard of a map, very similar to ours, that had three different tiers which represented different variable excitement bonus values, so that the players would move around more to get more crowd excitement. This is a great idea that has already formed more ideas and I know will continue to sprout stronger ideas in the coming days.
As for the length of the games, none of the players in the playthrough sessions could finish the game in the timeframe set by our limitations. Of the 20 minutes each group of playtesters had, the first playthrough finished their first round in 14 minutes, and by the last playthrough group, they had completed the first round of play after 7 minutes. That is a great improvement but still needs to be majorly improved on. I would like if that 7 minutes were to be cut in half, as a 16 minute play time would be around the right amount of time to complete our game as it currently stands.
It looks like we will be refining the game and improving on the mechanics and dynamics more this week coming.
A More Relevant Questionnaire
Removed some questions, added some questions, and edited other. The questions are now more tailored towards the specifics of the game, and are not so much generalised. Included in the questionnaire is a question related to the app, asking for player’s thoughts on the app’s ability to explain and help with gameplay and what needs were not satisfied by the app. I also split the questionnaire into sections, having 1 section that only the Emperor can answer (about their interaction with the app, since they are the ones who will be interacting with the app).
Next week is Study Week, so it will be a tiny bit more relaxed, hopefully, as well as the Weekly Roundup, there will be a little something else for you that is just as invigorating as the Weekly Roundups are, I just don’t exactly know what that will be yet.
This is Daniel Jochem, signing out.