Friday 2.9 | Playtesting
Having my classmates test the prototype and end up with a lot of great feedback. Sharing thoughts about the process as well as the future of this project. On my blog
Expectations vs reality
Developing the prototype for 3 months without playtesting or much feedback made me ready for some big surprises that might come up. I didn't come up with any questions beforehand, instead I just wanted to interfere as little as possible and then plot down every time I had to comment (and oh boy did I end up doing that). I thought there would be only a small part of the interfering caused by technical bugs and most by lack of clear instructions. The split ended up being more of a 50/50, which might have been caused by testing the build on Thursday and doing changes after without testing them in the build.
The lack of feedback probably showed most in the difficulty of the sections early on. I've been going through them like a speedrunner using the fastest path forgetting the alternatives completely. This caused one route to be a total deadend. In the figure below, route #1 is the one I have been going through, which looks impossible for a new player (and for good reason as it requires a good double jump and gliding). Route #2 is the one that the players took and found a deadend because the last platform is way too high.
Lots of other issues were with unclear instructions as expected. Then there were things that were missed because of poor integration (players not needing them or having no instructions for them). For example critical strikes, "shopping" or combat overall hadn't been forced at any point so they weren't really tested naturally, this might've been up to the preferred playstyle too though.
The conditions for playtesting weren't optimal as this was a "demo friday" for our class so almost everybody has something to show which ends up cutting the time for testing a lot. This makes everyone a little antsy and I also didn't have headphones which could be crucial for immersion and of course the stealth element. These are good to know for next time but I still got a lot of great feedback.
Productive session to end the day
I got my classmate Mikk to test it when the dust had settled. He had played platformers and also had the patience/interest/goodwill to go through the whole level. He knew what to expect and had great critiques as well as tips on what could be added or modified. For example I had totally neglected the need for health refills of some kind, which he was looking for. I jotted everything down and ended up with a list 23 items long that I can now go through (not just from this session).
I will be going through the list for fixes and then releasing a build for download, on which you can give feedback if you so desire. After that, development will probably be slowing down as I will have to start focusing on some school projects. I will be creating a presentation for uni about the lessons learned during development (which allows me to use this project towards the degree). Of course later I might pick this back up, maybe with a vision for a different kind of platformer or trying new things with the current mechanics based on the feedback.