Video Games

Diary of a Game Developer: Episode 7 – Playtesting

Diary of a Game Developer: Episode 7 |

Diary of a Game Developer: Episode 7 | This post is part 7 in an on-going series about my adventures as a first time game developer. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here and part 6 here.

In my last update I said that I was aiming to have the first draft of the game finished by the end of September so that I could present it at the next MRGS Demo Night, which was supposed to be tonight. However, due to some scheduling issues the date of the next demo night was pushed to next week, so it looks like I have a bit more time to finish things.

Which is good, because I have been slacking off like nobody’s business.

Since my last update I haven’t finished the game like I’d hoped, but I did get Rick to play through what I did have to see if he had any suggestions for how to continue the story and get me ‘unstuck’ in my development process. It was hard for him to give many notes considering the game wasn’t finished, and while none of his comments actually had to do with how the story was developing, they were very helpful in drawing my attention to the ‘game’ part of my game.

There are a lot of people that wouldn’t necessarily consider interactive fiction the same thing as a video game, and I’m inclined to agree depending on the project. That said, I realized after talking with Rick that I really was just making a choose your own adventure story. Games have rules that the player needs to learn in order to progress and complete the game. However, many of the choices I had the player make, especially at the start of the game, where completely arbitrary and having them lead to ‘bad’ ending and a shorter game experience felt unfair to him.

Somehow, I had never considered this. Which I suppose is why playtesting is so important. As creators, we’ve usually got our noses pressed so close to our precious babies that we never think to consider how people other than us will approach our creations. Rick made me realize that the experience would be more enjoyable, even if multiple playthroughs were intended, if the logic of the ‘game’ was consistent. When I went back to what I had with Rick’s notes in mind I realized that I needed to make the outcomes of certain choices a little more obvious from the outset so that players wouldn’t feel cheated when similar choices led to completely different outcomes depending on where they were in the story.

I also realized that there were still some issues with how certain parts of the story looped back on each other, meaning that certain choices could make players replay parts of the game they’d already dealt with, which was super confusing. So I fixed that up and smoothed of the logic of the game… but I really need to finish the darned thing. Especially since I’m going to be starting a full time job next week. Guess I know what I’ll be up to this weekend. 😉

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  • Reply
    October 6, 2016 at 4:04 am

    I totally get being super attached to a project and then (for me) when someone offers feedback to at first not fully hear it (or want to!) but then taking it all in and realising it will make the project stronger in the end 🙂 I think it’s important as a creative to listen to others and it really sounds like Rick was helpful + your game sounds amazing Mariko! *fingers and toes crossed for it’s success* 🙂 🙂

    • Reply
      October 6, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks, Fee. To be honest, a success for me would just be to finish the darned thing. I know it’s going to be really short and probably not that interesting to most people, but I’m still really enjoying the process and I feel like I’m learning a lot.

  • Reply
    October 6, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Completely agree with what you said about creators being so close (maybe too close) to projects sometimes. It can definitely cause the blinders to go on a bit! But it sounds like you’re making great process and revisions – best of luck with finishing it up!

    • Reply
      October 6, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks so much, Kay. I know I’m going to need to keep playtesting even once I’m done the main story, but I’m actually really glad I started the process early since it really brought up things I wouldn’t have considered on my own.

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