Week 13 – Playtest Report

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PLAYTEST SETUP

4 participants were selected to participate in individual play test sessions, each without prior knowledge of the game or development process. 2 participants are knowledgeable in games and mechanics, while the other 2 participants are targeting the audience of the “Sally” persona, as previously discussed on the blog. The play test setup is as follows:

  • Each player was set up in front of a laptop running the game, using keyboard controls.
  • Play testers were briefed on what their role was as a play tester, and were instructed to speak their thoughts out aloud.
  • 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 was instructed to explore the level and explain as to what their actions would be to complete the level.
  • After the first play through, the play tester was asked to give general feedback about their experience with the game. Additionally, two questions were asked of the player that aim to investigate the fulfilment of our initial player experience goals. These questions are:
  1. Did the colour coded elements of each puzzle help you to figure out what to do? What was your thought process
  2. Did you feel that coordinating two characters to solve puzzles helped immerse you in the game world? Did the switching mechanics make sense in the context in each of the puzzles?

The PX goals for our game are:

  1. Players will face dilemmas that are designed to make them combine multiple game elements.
  2. The player must interpret the game environment by questioning and experimenting with game mechanics and objects contained within in order to achieve the goal.
  3. Players will feel satisfied after multitasking and coordinating multiple game elements.

At the end of each playtest, each session will be evaluated as to whether it satisfies the goals set according to the playtesting plan, for both experts and the target audience. The goals are as follows:

Goals of the playtesting session for Experts:

Goal 1: Is the goal of the game clear?

Goal 2: Are the interactions between puzzle elements clear?

Goal 3: Is the level or puzzle design confusing?

Goals for playtesting target audience:

Goal 1: Is the gameplay smooth and/or enjoyable?

Goal 2: Is the goal of the game clear?

Goal 3: Do the controls and mechanics feel natural?

Note: Due to a lack of time, the puzzles in each level currently do not function. Each level aims to show how the character switching mechanics could be harnessed in a final game release. The player can choose to progress to the next level by walking into a green square towards the left of each level. Each playtester was briefed about the functionality of the game prior to starting the session.

PLAYTEST RESULTS

Playtester 1 – Expert

General Feedback

  • The controls feel a bit floaty
  • The camera panning when switching characters is pretty cool
  • The colour coding of puzzle elements seems straight forward, pressing on a button should trigger an item of the same colour.
  • The level design needs to be further refined, but interesting concepts nonetheless.
  • Keeps getting teleported back to main menu

Q1. Did the colour coded elements of each puzzle help you to figure out what to do? What was your thought process

A1. Approaching each puzzle seemed pretty straightforward, I looked to see where each switch would activate a certain element.

Q2. Did you feel that coordinating two characters to solve puzzles helped immerse you in the game world? Did the switching mechanics make sense in the context in each of the puzzles?

A2. I’ve played games where you control two characters before, this feels more or less the same. It did make sense in the context of the puzzles, however.

Goals Achieved

  • Goal 1 (Not achieved): To solve the puzzles?
  • Goal 2 (Achieved): Yes, just had to switch characters to see more of the environment.
  • Goal 3 (Partial): Somewhat, as I had to keep switching characters to see what I had to do in advance

 

Playtester 2 – Expert

General Feedback

  • Bounce sound is loud
  • Jumping on the green slimes a lot
  • Jumping on the switches opens doors
  • Accidentally switching levels by bumping into green cube
  • Thought he could wall jump in second level
  • Character got stuck between blue and yellow tiles on second level
  • No restart button is a pain

Q1. Did the colour coded elements of each puzzle help you to figure out what to do? What was your thought process?

A1. Yes, Jump on the corresponding coloured pad to activate a door or platform.

Q2. Did you feel that coordinating two characters to solve puzzles helped immerse you in the game world? Did the switching mechanics make sense in the context in each of the puzzles?

A2. It was a bit confusing at first, but is a cool feature of the game. The mechanics suited the puzzles well.

Goals Achieved

  • Goal 1 (Achieved): Yes, to reunite the two brothers.
  • Goal 2 (Partial): Somewhat, as I wasn’t able to play the game fully.
  • Goal 3 (Achieved): No the puzzles are simple

Playtester 3 – Target Audience

General Feedback

  • Enemies are easy to defeat
  • “But they kill me after a while if I stand on the spot, not very intimidating”.
  • Not too sure as how to progress in the majority of the puzzles
  • Tried stepping on switches but noticed they don’t do anything
  • When asked as to what each switch may do, the playtester suggested the panels matching the switch would disappear in all levels.
  • Had trouble jumping up the walls in the second level
  • Didn’t really know what the end goal was

Q1. Did the colour coded elements of each puzzle help you to figure out what to do? What was your thought process

A1. In some ways yes, but I didn’t really know where else I could go as nothing changed when I stepped on switches.

Q2. Did you feel that coordinating two characters to solve puzzles helped immerse you in the game world? Did the switching mechanics make sense in the context in each of the puzzles?

A2. It was fun being able to control two people, but having to switch between them all the time would seem a bit repetitive and annoying after a while.

Goals Achieved

  • Goal 1 (Achieved): The game is smooth, somewhat enjoyable
  • Goal 2 (Partial): Yes, but is not easily noticeable on the main menu
  • Goal 3 (Achieved): Yes, but a bit floaty

Playtester 4 – Target Audience

General Feedback

  • The main menu is a bit cluttered, but tells me what I need to do I guess.
  • Was a bit annoyed with the puzzles not functioning
  • Tried to explore each level as much as possible, jumping on things to see what they do.
  • Got killed by slimes twice, had to restart.
  • The walls seemed to be hard to climb up in the second level, didn’t make it up.
  • Understood the majority of the puzzles, except for the third level. Suggests putting goal marker of some sort.

Q1. Did the colour coded elements of each puzzle help you to figure out what to do? What was your thought process

A1. It would be helpful if there was hints in the game telling me what to do next. The colour coded switches and stuff helped a bit I guess.

Q2. Did you feel that coordinating two characters to solve puzzles helped immerse you in the game world? Did the switching mechanics make sense in the context in each of the puzzles?

A2. It was annoying more than anything, I like to control only one character so I don’t have to worry about the other.

Goals Achieved

  • Goal 1 (Achieved): Controls as intended
  • Goal 2 (Not Achieved): No, needs some sort of hint system
  • Goal 3 (Not Achieved): Switching between characters is annoying

 

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND IMPROVEMENTS

As a whole, the majority of playtesters found the puzzles presented to them pretty self-explanatory due to the colour coded nature of the puzzles themselves. Between the two groups of playtesters, the Experts tried mechanics that they thought would have been already implemented into the game, as Playtester 2 tried wall jumping in the second level of the game. They also expected an easy way to restart the level, as they were able to exploit or glitch certain portions of the level and were unable to progress further in their current state. Both Experts seemed to understand the end goal of the game, and had some fair criticism about the polish and logic of the puzzles as being a bit simple, although effective in demonstrating the switching mechanic. As for the Target Audience playtesters, they tended to explore the levels more freely and tried to get the puzzles to work. Both of them suggested that a hint system should be implemented in the final release, as the colour coding on its own isn’t enough for those who aren’t as experienced with platformer and puzzle games.

PX goals that were set earlier in the cycle were partly achieved, where it was a mixed response to the switching mechanic, where some feared it may become tedious after constant switching. The game environment subtly hints to what is expected of the player when it comes to puzzles, and the majority of players agree also. The puzzles and switching mechanic seem to make sense to players also, but may not be challenging enough for those who are experienced.

Improvements to the game in the future would especially include fully functioning puzzles that are more detailed and that flow logically from one puzzle to the next. Additionally, an optional hint system would be implemented into an options menu for those that wish for additional assistance. The animations and sounds of the characters and enemies would also be further refined, as the current animation cycle for the player is very jittery, and the jump sound is a bit loud. The goal of the game must also be made clear to the player through visual cues, such as a light trail connecting the two knights to represent their connection, and encourage the player to bring them together.

In respect to the persona of “Sally”, I feel that this style of game after playtesting amongst two different audiences, is not well suited to this particular persona. Her previous experience with games such as Warcraft and Sims is more focused around the use of a mouse, whilst platformers rely heavily on either a keyboard or a controller. Additionally, the dexterity required of a player when jumping across platforms or timing enemy attacks is slightly different compared to clicking directly onto enemies using a mouse as it is more direct. To cater to this particular audience further, it would be suggested that the controls be simplified by having keys close together, and having an optional click to control method of movement, like in point and click adventure games.

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