Week 4 – Playtest Report: Joshua Crowley

Student number: n9719024

Student name: Joshua Crowley

Playtest Goals

Towards the end of the first cycle of game development in the IGB100 unit, a set of playtest goals were created to derive a set of results that reflected the overall player experience.

Goal 1

“How easy is it for the player to comprehend the game’s controls, mechanics, and challenges?”

What to measure: Level of comprehension of game controls and mechanics, and challenges presented to the player.

How to test: When the allotted gameplay time is up, the player will be presented with three questions that relate to the controls and mechanics such as:

  • Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?
  • Did the mechanics work as you expected?

Feedback provided from the questions asked such as the ones above will be used in addition to note taking of particular events where the player seems to be unable to progress or perform a certain action.

How to analyse: Time how long it takes for the player to get to grasp of the controls, can be derived visually as well as via questions/feedback.

Goal 2

“How well players are able to react to the challenges presented to them”

What to measure: How the player controls the character and uses abilities to dodge/shoot.

How to test: Observing/listening to the player’s reaction to on-screen events unfolding.

How to analyse: Take note of how many times/how well a player performs a certain action, or fails to utilise game mechanics presented to the player. Listen to audible feedback and take note also.

Goal 3

“Investigating player’s pain points”

What to measure: How often a player gets stuck of feels frustrated.

How to test: Follow up questions/feedback will be answered after the playtest session. Take notes of particular sequences of events that happen in game where players are unable to progress/frustrated.

How to analyse: Looking for pain points during the gameplay experience by audio/visual feedback. Time how long it takes for the player to perform a certain action or rectify their mistakes.

Playtest Setup

The playtest plan for this particular cycle is to be conducted by myself (Joshua Crowley), with 5 other voluntary participants. Each participant has not been informed about any aspect of the game prior to the playtest session, and is experiencing the game for the first time. As the playtest moderator, it is important to ensure that the results are a true representation of the player’s experiences. This was performed by the following playtest setup, prior to each player starting the game:

  • Due to the low fidelity of the game build, players were presented with the current state of the game which featured movement, shooting, and enemies that chase, with various text fields that would indicate where various elements of the HUD would be displayed (DNA, Life, Score). In addition, the player was then presented with the Game Objects and Rules blog entry from Week 2, as well as the Look and Feel entry from Week 3. These entries would explain what the roles of each enemy/collectable does, along with presenting the player the intended theme of the final game.
  • Each player was set up in front of a laptop running the game, with a controller in hand.
  • Each player was then briefed as to what their role as the playtester is, and was instructed to think aloud and explain what they are trying to do while playing the game.
  • Each test’s findings were recorded on a secondary device for note taking purposes, whilst observing and listening to the player’s game experience.
  • Each player had around 5 minutes playtime
  • Once the playtime is up, the player was then presented with a set of questions to reflect upon their time with the game, along with questions asked by the playtester.

Each playtester was asked a series of questions that aims to find out how well our final game fulfilled our studio’s initial player experience goals. The questions asked are as follows:

  1. How engaging was the overall gameplay experience? (Out of 5)
  2. How well do you think the game’s suits an abstract theme and a minimalist approach?
  3. Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?
  4. Did the mechanics work as you expected? If not, what did you think they were going to do?
  5. Any further improvements that should be made to the game?

Playtest Results

Playtester 1

Q1. How engaging was the overall gameplay experience? (Out of 5)

A1. 3/5

Q2. How well do you think the game’s suits an abstract theme and a minimalist approach?

A2. The background of the game is cool, liked the 2.5D look of the game. The aesthetics of the player and background conflicted with the enemies though.

Q3. Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?

A3. The goal of the game is to get as many points as possible and to not die. I felt the movement and shooting were easy, but the enemy patterns and behaviour took some getting used to.

Q4. Did the mechanics work as you expected? If not, what did you think they were going to do?

A4. The collecting of DNA was not clear from the prototype, I didn’t even notice there was a DNA meter at the top of the screen. I imagine the enemies would spurt out the DNA and you’d need to collect them to win after reading the blog.

Q5. Any further improvements that should be made to the game?

A5. It’s a good concept, but needs to be more polished by making it obvious as to what each element of the game does.

Player notes:

  • Player seemed to shoot everything at first, but was then reluctant as enemies came closer towards the player.
  • Died often
  • Plans to collect as many DNA orbs as possible, seemed like a danger when first heard of the term

Playtester 2

Q1. How engaging was the overall gameplay experience? (Out of 5)

A1. 2/5

Q2. How well do you think the game’s suits an abstract theme and a minimalist approach?

A2. The scrolling background worked well, as well as playing as an origami crane. Not sure what the origami crane has to do with the enemies though. The game concept was minimalist I suppose.

Q3. Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?

A3. I got confused when orbs came out of enemies when I shot them, not sure what enemies do what. I just thought the goal of the game was to shoot all the things haha.

Q4. Did the mechanics work as you expected? If not, what did you think they were going to do?

A4. I thought the orbs that came from the enemies were sort of power ups, but they don’t seem to do that. I thought you’d press a button and you would evolve with the DNA you’d collect.

Q5. Any further improvements that should be made to the game?

A5. I like how the enemy patterns are somewhat random and unpredictable, but needs to be clear as to what the orbs do and how they affect the player. The enemies in the blog seem to be a bit too difficult for newbies.

Player notes:

  • They imagine they would die a lot from collecting the DNA orbs, as they are close to where the enemies are
  • Successfully collected life orbs
  • Shot at all enemies without hesitance

Playtester 3

Q1. How engaging was the overall gameplay experience? (Out of 5)

A1. 3/5

Q2. How well do you think the game’s suits an abstract theme and a minimalist approach?

I thought it was pretty cool to play as a crane, could’ve gone further  with an oriental theme or maybe even papercraft.

Q3. Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?

A3. It was simple enough to shoot and move around, and saw that the player has a DNA and life meter at the top of the screen. Maybe you need to collect enough of the DNA things and you win? A bit challenging with the life meter depleting constantly, guess it adds to the challenge.

Q4. Did the mechanics work as you expected? If not, what did you think they were going to do?

A4. When I shot enemies nothing came out of them. I imagine they would spurt out the DNA orbs and when I go to collect them it increases the DNA count. So yeah I’d say it did what I expected.

Q5. Any further improvements that should be made to the game?

A5. The explosions for the enemies are bad, try to incorporate the theming of the game a bit better. But good so far! Liking the variety of enemies.

Player notes:

  • Player seemed to comprehend the goal of the game immediately
  • Observed the DNA and life meter on screen and thought it was self explanatory
  • Very critical of the game

Playtester 4

Q1. How engaging was the overall gameplay experience? (Out of 5)

A1. 1.5/5

Q2. How well do you think the game’s suits an abstract theme and a minimalist approach?

The explosions of the enemies didn’t exactly make sense with the player controlling a paper bird. I thought it would make enemies burst into bits of paper when they died. A minimalist game would have only a few colours and things going on at once I feel.

Q3. Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?

A3. My goal was to shoot the enemies coming towards me with my projectile, and some objects would come out of them on occasion. I would collect them but not sure what is my drive to do so. Found it hard to press both the arrow keys and WSAD keys while shooting at the same time.

Q4. Did the mechanics work as you expected? If not, what did you think they were going to do?

A4. I’m not sure what collecting the DNA does, with the amount of enemies in the final game I expect to die frequently and as a result I lose all the DNA I have collected so far and would get frustrated.

Q5. Any further improvements that should be made to the game?

A5. It would be cool to play once the game is finished, as it reminds me of something like Nano Assault Neo. The little collectibles and various HUD elements need to be made a bit more obvious as to what they do.

Player notes:

  • Player didn’t seem to know the results of collecting DNA orbs
  • Died often whilst playing prototype
  • Kept avoiding enemies and ran out of life from not collecting life orbs

Playtester 5

Q1. How engaging was the overall gameplay experience? (Out of 5)

A1. 3/5

Q2. How well do you think the game’s suits an abstract theme and a minimalist approach?

The background and character you played as go well together, but there is a lot of things going on at once on screen. So no, not very minimalist.

Q3. Were the game’s mechanics easy to understand? Was the goal of the game clear?

A3. Easy concept to understand, basically shoot the enemies and collect the white things.

Q4. Did the mechanics work as you expected? If not, what did you think they were going to do?

A4. The white things that come from the enemies seemed like they were going to do something, its probably the goal to collect them.

Q5. Any further improvements that should be made to the game?

A5. Improve the explosion effect as it covers some of the enemies at times. Enemies should come in different directions, doesn’t give me the chance to dodge them as they follow me too closely.

Player notes:

  • Player seemed to have trouble moving around to screen with certain enemies moving towards the player.
  • Died often in prototype
  • Took some time to realise DNA orbs helped the player once reading blog entry

Summary of Findings and Improvements

The general response from playtesters in this particular cycle is that the game was poor at conveying as to exactly what the particular sub-goals for the players are, e.g. life bar, DNA bar. This issue was apparent with each, with the exception of Playtester 3, who was able to comprehend the role of collectibles for the player. Each participant managed get a good grasp of the controls when explained to them prior to the game starting, although Playtester 5 had some trouble navigating around enemies due to the nature of the spawn rate and their behaviour, and died as a consequence. Each player did manage to die numerous times, primarily due to physical contact with an enemy. Some players found that the various elements such as explosions and following enemies were a bit too much to handle at a consistent rate, with no breaks in between. As for player engagement, 3 out of 5 players felt that that they were moderately engaged, with two participants being somewhat unengaged due to a lack of in-game feedback and drive to play better.

As for improvements to the game, I would ideally like to emphasise the role of both the DNA and life orbs as they are a major goal of the game, in terms of player progression as well as survival. I would do this by including a tutorial or set of instructions for the player to follow, prior to starting the game for the first time.  The enemy spawns at the top of the screen were too frequent for inexperienced players and should be reduced so that players are able to keep up with the challenges presented. In addition, I would like to interrelate the thematics of the game a bit more as both the visual and behavioural aspects of the enemies were a bit much for players at times. The consensus amongst playtesters of the proposed game mechanics from the blog entry is that the proposed enemies will add a bit too much challenge to the game. Might have to just select two enemies with distinctively different behaviours to allow players to gather themselves in-between killing enemies.

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