You Are Here is an Arts Festival held in Canberra now in it's fifth year. It's an annul event that celebrates Arts of all forms, collaboration, and experimentation. This year they opened up to the local indie game devs and held the event "Generate: Indie Games Showcase".
Even though we are still in early development, we decided to take this opportunity to see what the general public though of our game. We wanted to see if people liked the idea, if the controls were easy enough to figure out, and if it was even fun! So we put together a demo which was a vertical slice of some ideas we have for the game, and joined other Canberra devs for a great day of gaming.
Here is what we learnt:
First of all, the positives:
People really liked the idea. There was an "Oh!" moment when the ship flipped over and the controls swapped. It made lots of people smile and even laugh a little, which was pretty cool to watch.
This was also the first time we had seen children play the game. At first we were worried it might be a hard concept for the younger audience to grasp, but it turns out, most of them liked the challenge. Some even came back several times to try and get to the end of the level. One kid even said "This is really hard.... but really fun".
Another positive was, people really liked the look of the game. There is still a lot of work to be done with the art, but at least we know we're heading in the right direction with the style.
Now to the problems:
- Pretty much right away, people wanted to shoot at things, they wanted to get into the action! When we designed this demo, we thought people might need time to get used to flying around a bit before we introduced anything... but it seems we needed something in there from the moment the game begins.
- We need to give the players more feedback on who's controlling what, along with letting the player know when the ship has flipped. People would often get confused about which half of the ship they were controlling and when the controls had swapped. So this is something we really need to address right away.
- Some people wanted to finish the level as fast as they could, so they ignored the enemies and flew straight past them. This made the game seem less fun and took away the challenge of working together to defeat the monsters. We need to find a way to stop people rushing through the level and ignoring the elements we created.
- The camera in the game became jerky and messier with every game and it was getting hard for the player to follow what was going on.
- We need to teach players about how to play the game. Most people took a little while to realise the bullet colours change with each player, and that those bullets affect the monsters differently.
- The first thing we need to address is giving feedback to the player about who is in control and which half of the ship they are controlling. Ways we could do this could include character selection before the game starts, that way the player will have a connection with their colour. We could implement controller rumble when the ship flips. We could use particles to create a stronger visual indicator when the ship flips. There are a lot of ways to address this problem, we just need to experiment ans test to see what works best.
- With our next build we are going to make a tutorial area. A quick way to teach the players how the colour of their bullets match the colour of the enemies.
- We need to get into the action right away!
- Craig needs to fix the camera :)
We had a great time at the event. We met new people, played lost of fun Canberra games and we learnt a LOT about our game. We are excited to get back to work and fix these problems and build a really good demo for Gammacon coming up in May.