Hey hey! Hold on to your butts, here comes a huge workbook entry!

First off, let’s summarize today’s work on the project. I got a couple more people to test Chamber 2 and started looking through the feedback I’ve gotten. With the feedback in mind, I adjusted a couple of things in Chamber 2.

  • Made the color of the blue light in the last room of the “maze” more saturated, so it would be a little bit easier to spot.
  • Changed the duration for the doors movement in the last room as well. This way, if the player walks backwards, it won’t look like the door ‘pops’ down when teleported to the next room.
  • Made a new material for the rotating sphere at the Interval.

Not a whole lot of changes, since judging from the feedback I’ve received, the level worked as intended. A few people commented that it was hard to spot the light in the last room of the maze, so I increased the saturation a fair bit, in order to make it stand out more.

Now, prepare for a fairly large wall of text, where I discuss the end results of these past weeks of studying and level designing!

Result Discussion

The question that I formulated at the beggining of the block, which I later altered just slightly, ended up being:
“How well do (some of) the guidance methods work within a level?”
The (some of)-parenthesis was added so that I could still motivate that I had a sufficient answer for my question even I if I didn’t find the time or resources to implement and try all of the methods out.

The methods that I have used throughout these two levels are, in no particular order:

  • “Light the way” has been used extensively throughout both Chambers/levels. It has been used as the single means of direction, as a light highlighting an item/objective and in conjunction with Color coding. Some instances of this method are even used as colored highlights, a combination of the latter two mentioned.
  • As such, the cases where an objective, usually a button in Mortal Spire‘s case, is highlighted, it’s also an employment of the “Objective/Item Highlighting” method.
  • Color coding” has been used more or less throughout both levels. The most apparent example however is, of course, the red/green colored split paths in Chamber 1.
  • The Door is Open” is used to a small extent in the very first room of Chamber 1. The door in front of the player is slightly raised/open, as to indicate that there might be something behind it.
  • Arrows and Signs” and “Subtle Arrows” have been used in the second Chamber. The arrow example would be the second room in the “maze”, where some ceiling bricks pop out slightly to form an arrow-like shape pointing towards the right door. The more subtle example is in the third room, where lines of sand lead towards the correct door.
  • It could also be argued that the lines of sand is an example of the “All Roads” method, which was the method I originally had in mind. The lines of sand form a slight path towards the door, sort of like sidewalks or the lines at the side of the roads.
  • Lastly, “Landmark as Destination/Foreshadowing” was planned to be used in the game in the form of a towering spire as a landmark. However, I unfortunately didn’t have the time to design, model and implement this iconic landmark.

If I find I have a bit of time over before turning in the result tomorrow, I might try to add the spire into the game. It’s not really a necessary element, but it would make the game more closely resemble what I have written for it, in its very short game design document.

With these things in mind, I’d say that I have tested and evaluated enough methods to answer my question. The methods that I have tested have proven to be effective. In some cases, some instances of these methods or their presentation within the room have been less effective than expected. Although they did work, some testers commented that it took a while for them to find it at first. From the feedback gathered, I have improved upon them to be slightly clearer to the player. These alterations have been dependent on the intended difficulty level of the rooms as well, of course.

Before I wrap this post up, there are a few more areas/questions that I’d like to discuss, as to clear up any possible conundrums.

  • Some of the methods that I wrote down during the last block have some prerequisites/demands that I couldn’t fulfil given the limited time of this block. This is why I have left some of my documented methods untouched. For instance, the “Skill impasse” method demands that there are special skills or abilities in order to employ in such a fashion that it may be regarded as an employment of the method. Scripting such special powers in the game would take far more time than I deemed it would be worth, so I decided to spend more time testing the methods that I could employ without scripting complex gameplay or interfaces.
  • I’ve taken into account the more scientific studies/theories that I conducted during the last block. The tones of the colors in the lighting and texturing, the scaling of some objects, the contrast between the flat, bright walls and the dark, reflective buttons and the placement of the light sources are all very aware design decisions. More or less all aspects of the design were made with the intention of establishing a visual irregularity that would call upon the player’s attention. Of course, these patterns or breaking of patterns are not the sole reason why the methods have proven successful. The methods themselves are what dictates what sort of elements that are used to establish these patterns.
  • Lastly, I’d like to address one last question that might pop up; why haven’t I joined forces with someone in this project? While on the one hand it might’ve been an opportunity to, like with previous, larger projects, exercise in cooperation, communication and working towards a common goal, I felt that it wasn’t the focal point of my studies and goals. Working with someone would’ve meant that I’d have significantly less time to spend practically working towards my goals and an answer to my question formulation. I felt that I could still establish an aesthetic and some sort of visual consistency without having a full library of detailed 3D models and with the limited time there wouldn’t be much room for any complex scripting/programming. A simple style and gameplay were a lot more efficient time wise, enabling me to spend more time implementing the guidance methods.

That’s all for this entry, hope it didn’t overwhelm y’all too much! There’ll be another entry tomorrow, compiling and discussing the results of the second playtest, so look forward to that!

Until next time!

Marcus out.