A week ago we put out RescueNauts to the public. The project was initially developed as an entry to the Edge 'Get In To Games' competition, but regardless of how it does in that, we're very pleased with the response so far.
We've had some unexpected success, made some observations, watched over an hour of YouTube videos and done a few updates which we've outlined below.
Sure, it's not world beating stats, plays and figures, but we've gained a small audience and a some interesting data that determined a few decisions we made this week. So here's what they were, and what they made us think about.
Some nice things people have said.
People playing your game is the best thing ever. Especially when you have no idea who they are and they have no personal connection to you or your game. People saying nice things about your game is absolutely incredible. There have been a few highlights this week...
GameJolt Featured Game.
It came as a surprise, but as a good one. We were (and at the time of writing) the featured game on GameJolt.
A good rating!
Outisde of people playing the game, they also seem to be liking it! We currently have an average of 4.5 out of 5 on GameJolt after 30 ratings.
PC Gamer 'free web games of the week'
This was a real surprise. It got featured in/on PC Gamer (website!).
Sure, it was alongside some other games and not a dedicated article, but wow! Here's what they had to say:
A clever endless runner type thing that puts you in the role of two characters rather than just one. The A and D keys control a guy on a futuristic bike, shifting it left and right to collect power-ups or dodge obstacles. The mouse, meanwhile, controls a dude on a moving platform, whose gun will make short work of computer terminals, laser beams, and many other things that stand in Bike Guy’s way. On your own, Rescuenauts offers an enjoyably tough challenge, but perhaps not one you’ll be able to make too much headway in – unless you’re adept at rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. Thankfully, you can offload control of the other character to a friend, coworker, acquaintance or aimless drifter, which should make survival quite a bit easier in the long run.
Read the rest here.
Among other things, there have been a load of YouTube videos and I've noticed that DestinyHub forum is running a competition.
Some stats and thoughts about players / portals.
I'll be honest, I had only heard of GameJolt about a week before we submitted RescueNauts. It looked cool, so I figured we'd put it up there as an alternative to Kongregate. We've had greater success on GameJolt than Kongregate by far.
GameJolt then went and added us as a featured game, which came out of the blue, but was completely amazing.
Here's some stats about the plays to date on Kongregate and GameJolt.
Kongregate - 87.
GameJolt - 141 (uploaded 5 hours after Kongregate).
Kongregate - 120.
GameJolt - 329.
Kongregate - 130.
GameJolt - 954 (featured)
Kongregate - 197
GameJolt - 3,183.
GameJolt has definitely been a better portal for our game. I don't know what it is about Kongregate (and honestly, I don't know enough about Kongregate, or game portals overall), but I've found the experience to be very 'website from 2003' sort of feel, whereas GameJolt has a very direct connection with the community, and a greater emphasis on 'indie'.
The interesting thing about GameJolt though, is that despite it's traditional 'indie' focus, it doesn't seem to translate over to the community, or what is the most 'vocal' community.
It's definitely not the 'super indie, hipster' scene I thought initially it would be populated by, but more of the mass-populist 'minecraft' indie scene for 12-19 year olds. There's a huge amount of Slenderman and requests for 'scary games' in the chats.
This isn't a bad thing, it's fine. I don't think it's 'wrong' or against what 'indie really means', because frankly I'm not interested in that, but my perception of what it would be, and what it is are slightly different. Regardless of who plays, enjoys / hates the games I make, or the reasons they form their opinions, I'm grateful regardless.
The popularity of the game on GameJolt led us to make sure we go in an intended feature ASAP, which leads us nicely on to...
RescueNauts is an arcade game, so the fact it didn't have leaderboards built in to it is a bit of a shame. We didn't have time to get it in the 'Edge' build, but intended to do it as soon as possible after that. The feature on GameJolt meant we had to do it ASAP.
Luckily, GameJolt has some great APIs for that. Even luckier, some example code is provided on how to access that through Unity. Between the feature going live on Wednesday afternoon and 10pm that very night, we had leaderboards in the game.
The current high-score sits around 14k.
In regards to what a 'good score' is in RescueNauts... well, in the first initial 10 runs I would like to see people sitting around 2k as their best score / average. By the time you get to 10k it's pretty much at it's hardest. So now that people have put some good time in to it, I'm glad to see it's hitting around 14k. If people get to 20k I'd be surprised; outside of a few unique players able to achieve that.
Tweaks and adjustments / watching you play on youtube is the best thing ever.
We tried to play test RescueNauts as much as possible during development. It's the only way to really tell of something works or not. One of the important parts in 'good' testing, is getting people to play who haven't played it before / don't know you / don't know the game. The blind play test results are incredibly insightful. So what happens when we only had 4 weeks to do actual development and submission? You try and get people to be as objective as possible, and try to extrapolate the really important bits.
Luckily, we know a fair few game designers who gave us some good feedback. Unfortunately, we know a fair few game designers who concentrated on the wrong thing and we didn't get the exact raw gameplay feedback we'd want at this point in time :)
Good job we're in the days that 'fire and forget' releases are pretty much non-existent. A quick search of 'RescueNauts' on YouTube brings up a nice bunch of videos that provided a massive insight in to how people play the game.
We learnt that our 'just on more go' feeling we wanted to elicit in players was there. Every time. We also learnt that the balance for new players was too harsh. Every time.
Once the leaderboards were implemented we also did some extra changes to visual feedback for the pickups and added an extended tutorial section. As we're tracking plays in the game we also forced the tutorial on new players so they didn't get confused. Due to the nature of how the tutorial worked, new players would transition directly in to the game, with the intro being pre-determined, whereas the next time they play it, it would just be the raw content.
Some adjustments were also made to the accuracy required for shooting as some of the fears I had behind 'shooting the wrong thing' never really came up, but instead people claimed that they were sure they shot things but it didn't work... We made colliders bigger and adjusted the frequency of some times. It seems to have helped.
Well, we're going to keep up with the feedback and community and continue to asses where the best direction is to take RescueNauts to. We both have full-time jobs so anything other than part-time commitment is impossible. There's a huge amount we'd like to do with it in terms of adding extra content, so some of those things might creep in over time... :)
That's about it.
Jeez, that was a long one...oh, is this still on?