Howdy! Time for one last post for this last block and thus for the whole course, for that matter.

For this last post, I’ll be discussing the results of the past two playtests I conducted. There’s some things I should mention first and that is that the first test was for the first level only. I got as far as receiving four filled forms before I realised that the second Chamber would be ready for testing earlier than I had expected. So instead of running the test further, I decided to build a demo of both the levels combined, so that I could ask the testers about their impression of them both. As a result, the section about the first test in this post might be a bit shorter than the second one. Anyway, let’s get to it!

Test 1 – First Chamber Only

For the very first question, the testers were asked how they thought the new elements of the levels contributed to them. The answer was a scalar one, ranging from one to five, where one meant that they thought it had a negative impact, three meant their impression was unchanged and five meant that they thought the new stuff contributed to the levels positively. The answers to this one were positive overall, as 50% chose a 4 on the scale whilst the rest chose a 5 on the scale. So, as far as the first level, the implementation of subtle storytelling objects/elements had a positive impact overall.

For the second question, players were asked to say why their impression was changed positively/negatively/not at all. These comments were very positive, all of them commenting that they felt the environment was less sterile and felt a lot more detailed with the new elements.

For the third question, the testers were asked what they thought was happening in the game and what they thought would happen next. There were some interesting theories; that the player was lobotomized and the Chambers were a form of therapy to get the character back on its feet, that the Chambers were a form of research centre, but my favourite is the theory that the player is a giant baby. Of course, I won’t reveal if any of these are more true than the others, since that would be spoiling the story a bit. I will say that there was one theory that was pretty much spot-on, at least for the first planned part of the game.

For the fourth question, I asked if the testers thought the details in the level were understandable or too abstract. Of the responses, 75% though that the details were understandable (in relation to their theory of what was going on in the level), the remaining 25% thought the details were a little too abstract.

For the fifth question, the testers were asked to guess what would happen in the game, as an eventual full game. This question was optional and pretty much a repeat of parts of the third question, so those that did respond to it pretty much summarized the theories they had mentioned in the third question.

For the final question, which was also optional, I let the testers leave any general feedback that they might have that didn’t relate to the other questions. There were a couple of responses that commented that they thought the addition of sounds and music would probably do a great deal in enhancing the mood of the game, and I do agree! There actually are a couple of music tracks in the game since yesterday, but I’ll get to that later!

Test 2 – Both Chambers

As with the previous test, the testers were first asked to respond, on a scale of one to five, how they thought that the new elements contributed to the levels (both of them this time.) The response was again overall positive, with all except one response being within the positive range of 4-5. The one other response was a value of 3, so it’s not exactly a bad result either. After all, I’m conducting these tests to make sure that the storytelling elements I’ve implemented work overall well with the audience, the players.

The second question again asked why their impressions of the levels were positive/negative/unchanged. The responses were very positive, with a couple of testers commenting that they thought that the details contributed to the levels very well and that they provided an incentive for them, as players, to want to further explore the complex that they were in.

The third question asked what the players thought was going on in the game and what would happen further in the story. This time, there were a couple of detailed responses that were very close, if not even spot-on, with what was happening in the story. There was also another interesting new theory, that the game as a whole would be about a person whose parents were going through a divorce. With these varied theories, it goes to show that the interpretative nature that I aimed to create did work to an extent, which I think is very exciting!

The fourth question was the same as last time, asking if the details in the levels were understandable or too abstract. The results were similar to the first test, with 80% thinking the details were understandable and the remaining 20% thinking that the details were too abstract.

The fifth question asked what the testers thought that the message/theme of the game was. This was an optional question, but most still filled it out. Of these, three of them got it pretty much right, though with different wordings for each responder.

The sixth question asked about performance overall in the demo, which seems to have been overall stable for everyone testing the game. There was one comment pointing out that the framerate dropped a bit during the fade out’s, which I’ll look into. Otherwise, it seems that the optimizations I did to keep the framerate steady did pay off. Either that, or everyone’s running beastly computers that wouldn’t get any slowdown from anything.

Finally, the testers were again given an optional paragraph to fill out with any general feedback. There were a couple of things pointed out in the responses that I’ll look into, one being that the slopes were a bit annoying and the other being that the solution to the final maze room didn’t make as much sense, with it being more decorated now and all.

One last thing

That’s all for these past playtests. I could argue that it would’ve been better to just run one test with both levels, but as I mentioned before, I didn’t know that the second Chamber would be ready earlier than I had anticipated. Even though I didn’t get as many testers for each test as I did last time, I felt that the results were varied and detailed enough to make up for it. After all, the results themselves are most important, not the amount of them.

Anyway, as I mentioned briefly before, we (me and Anders) implemented the music tracks that he had made for each level yesterday. There were a few issues along the road, some of them being just me being clumsy and some being that it was a bit tricky to implement fade outs for the tracks in a satisfactory manner. We got it all working well in the end, so now there’s music in the demo too! I might post a link to that version of the demo later this week, we’ll see!

That’s all for these blocks of the past course, I hope any readers enjoyed reading these posts as much as I enjoyed documenting the whole process. It has been a road filled with gaining new, very useful knowledge about a lot of things and I think that I’ll have use for pretty much all of it further down my path as a game designer. I’ve still got the presentation to do on Friday. After that, it’s just the degree project/course left before I end my three years at college/uni. It feels almost unreal in a way. At the same time, I’m very much looking forward to the project we have planned for this last term. As a certain Reggie would say; my body is ready.

Until next time!

Marcus out.