DePaul Midyear Showcase

Hey guys, Sam here to go over the most recent showcase that occurred at DePaul. Last week was spring break, and with that comes the half way point of development for our games. Therefore, a showcase was held at DePaul in order for teams to show off the games they were working on. It largely followed the same format that the end of the year capstone showcase takes, but was a great opportunity for an en masse playtest, as we got more than 30 people to play our game within the span of just a few hours. It was not just the quantity of the people that was great, but also the diversity of playtesters that really helped us come to terms with elements of the game that were and were not working. For example, players really enjoyed the intro of the observatory and many cited the sense of accomplishment of escaping the observatory and viewing the beautiful forest as one of the highlights of the game. This was great news to hear and meant that the tutorial of the game was working quite well. The mass amount of playtesters also helped to solidify elements of the game that we needed to focus on, such as the need for some sort of checkpoint system to help player’s keep track of their stars and to help eliminate frustration in the game. The showcase was very informative and also served as a great reality check for our game as well, forcing us to confront issues that we hadn’t thought about. Below are some pictures taken from the showcase.

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World of Tanks – Studio Visit

Hey everyone, Sam here to tell everyone about our recent visit that we had at the Chicago branch of Wargaming. For those unfamiliar with the studio, Wargaming is the company in charge of the popular World of Tanks series. They have studios across the world and the studio we visited, the Chicago branch, is primarily in charge of the console version of World of Tanks. While not all of the team was able to make it to the studio visit, the majority of us were able to make it and the experience was a great learning experience for us all. It was very interesting to see, especially since I am a producer for the team, how Wargaming is able to successfully manage such an ambitious title and large team. The biggest takeaway from our meetings with many of the team members as that you should not rely on any one given style or tool to manage (for example, you can’t just expect waterfall agile development to work in any given circumstance) and that you should create a unique style of sprint that works best for the needs of your team. This is something that I definitely should focus on doing especially for our next quarter of capstone. It was also interesting to see the advancements Wargaming has in terms of playtesting, as they have motion tracking cameras in order to better see and understand the emotions of their playtesters to collect better data. Obviously, we don’t have access to that type of tech, but it’s always great to see what other tools developers are using to maximize playtests. All in all, the studio visit was very insightful and the information we learned we will try to apply to our own team.

Playtest Session #4

Hey everyone, Sam back again to tell you about the progress we made with our current build. We recently did a quick playtest in our capstone class and got a bunch of great feedback. For this iteration of the game, we wanted to test how successful we were at guiding the player to their objective using the environment (in essence, we were testing our level and environmental design). In our previous playtest, we realized that while many players praised the art in the game, the placement of said art left a lot to be desired and served to confuse the player on their objective. Thus, when designing the layout of the level, we decided to use tress in the forest as a natural barrier that guides players to a central location (i.e. the puzzles we want players to solve). Below is an example of this:

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As you see, areas with a lot grass and a lack of tress highlight the 3 main puzzles, so the player will naturally be guided to them. It’s a subtle process the players go through, but an important one. Although no player’s mentioned it (which is actually a good thing because this means it is effective), the fact that players have little to no trouble figuring out what to next is a testament to the effectiveness of the level layout in guiding the player. Obviously, more iteration needs to be done, but it is a step up from our previous build. In terms of moving forward, there are two things we really need to address: reducing the penalty for failing a puzzle and improving the controls. These two elements are where most of the negative feedback came from and it is certainly valid. While you never can do in our game, often making a mistake means the player has to restart an entire puzzle again, which creates too much frustration when the intended mood is that of tranquility. Furthermore, the controls serve mostly in making the player make mistakes, so these both need to be addressed and are what we are going to focus on for the next iteration of the game.