Cycle 2: Playtest Report

The goals of this playtest following the studio’s playtest plan are to identify the difficulties the player faces in figuring out how to solve the puzzles, the ability of the player to pass the actual puzzles to complete the game, and if the player meets the second aspect of our player experience goal, which is feeling the sense of adventurous throughout playing the prototype.

Data Collection

The playtest was conducted to five participants, including one playtester from studio member, for around 15 to 20 minutes for each participant. The session began with filling the questionnaire form to filter the player demographic. It is then followed by briefing about thinking out loud before the playtester plays the prototype. Around 15 to 18 minutes were spent for the player to play the prototype and speak out what they were thinking, while I took notes. After the completion of the game, the playtester were instructed to fill the survey form.

The playtester participants are all confidants in video games. In average, all the participants play games for 3 hours a day. Two participants play more than around 5 hours a day, while the other three play around one to two hours. All participants are familiar with keyboard controls since they are all computer gamers. Their preferences are ranging from casual players to intense players, but all of them are already familiar with the movement controls of the prototype.

Please refer to appendix A for the complete player playtesting note, questionnaire, and survey form results.

Key Findings

Session Goal 1

Check if the players are able to figure out how to solve the puzzles.

The collected quantitative data from player survey forms:

Question Player Response Score
1 2 3 4 5
The game was easy to learn how to play 5 3 5 5 5 92%
I always understood what I should do next to solve the puzzles 4 3 4 4 4 60%

Player observation and note reviews:

Generally, all participants managed to figure out how to solve all the four puzzles. The time needed to solve each puzzles differ between each participant. All players immediately knew what they have to do to pass the fallen tree. Some players took time to find the stone buttons. They understood what they have to do with the stone buttons, but many of them spent a lot of time locating for the objects to press, especially the coconut. They tried different things make the coconut drop. Many participants did not perceive well if all stone buttons should stay being pressed to keep the gates open. All participants were surprised when the crates sank after they put in the river, but then quickly realised what they have to do. Participants seemed suspicious with the weight measurement of the crates to float. All participants also figured out how to pass the double gate puzzle after a short time playing with the rock.

Based on the relevant data mentioned above, there are some standing out key findings:

  • All the puzzles in the prototype were generally solvable by common players’ creative thinking.
  • The first puzzle (fallen tree) was easy to figure out how to solve it.
  • Players could understand how to solve the second puzzle (gate and stone buttons), yet they were not clear with the mechanic of the stone buttons and the gate – “will the gate open if all the stone buttons have been pressed?” or “should the stone buttons stay being pressed to keep the gate open?”
  • The coconut was not visible to players to locate.
  • Players tended to solve the coconut puzzle by experimenting rather than thinking.
  • Players could understand how to pass the third puzzle (the river) given three crates nearby.
  • The weight limit of the crates to float was not clear.
  • The mechanic of the fourth puzzle (double gates) was clear enough.
  • Player could figure out the solution to pass the double gates mostly after experimenting with the rock and the stone buttons.

Session Goal 2

Check if the players are able to complete the game with current difficulties.

The collected quantitative data from player survey forms:

Question Player Response Score
1 2 3 4 5
The game’s controls made it easy to do what I wanted 4 5 5 5 3 88%
The game was frustratingly difficult 2 3 1 1 1 88%
Time needed to complete the game (minutes) 11 15 14 15 16

Player observation and note reviews:

Every participants managed to pass every puzzles and complete the prototype. The total time spent for each participants to complete the prototype differ slightly. Many playtesters had no problems with solving the first puzzle, where they could correctly place the rocks next to the fallen tree and perform a double jump easily. The players mostly tried to locate the stone buttons near the gate, and did not notice the actual path to the stone buttons. Few errors were found when players attempted to place the rock, crate or coconut to the stone buttons. They tended to misplace it to the ground instead of the button’s surface, which made them reposition the objects a few times for the button to get clicked. The real difficulties were found in the third stage (the river). Many playtester found it really hard to jump over the floating boxes. They tended to fall to the river instead, which made them spent the most time in this puzzle. All of them tended to alleviate the crates into 0Kg, which were not heavy enough to carry the players across the river. They seemed confused when the character fell through the river eventhough they have made the right jump to the floating crate. The fourth puzzle was easily done by all participants with a few errors in rock placement and the shooting range.

Based on the relevant data mentioned above, there are some standing out key findings:

  • The character’s controls were generally easy enough to perform necessary movements to solve the puzzles, such as jump over the crates to cross the river, altering and carrying rocks, etc.
  • The overall prototype were generally in the right level of difficulty.
  • The prototype could successfully be completed by all participants for on average 15 minutes.
  • The double jumps for the first puzzle (the fallen tree) was easy to perform.
  • The location of the second puzzle’s stone buttons were quite unnoticeable.
  • Carrying and placing the objects to the stone buttons precisely were a bit challenging, so players tended to reposition them many times.
  • Jumping over the boxes from one to another to cross the river was very challenging.
  • Bringing 0Kg crate case where players will still fall through it even after a correct landing brought much confusion.
  • Altering the rock’s weight from between the gates was easy to perform.

Session Goal 3

Check if the players feel the sense of adventurous throughout playing the prototype.

The collected quantitative data from player survey forms:

Question Player Response Score
1 2 3 4 5
The game’s background and world was adventurous to look at 5 5 4 3 5 88%
The game was adventurous 3 2 3 4 3 60%

Note reviews:

During playtesting, the participants were prompted with questions relating to “Do you feel a sense of adventurousness?” and “What makes you think that way?”

“Not really, I can say that I am being lost than being adventurous. Especially, when there is no puzzles on the way, for example on my way from the gates to the river, I would feel bored.”

“You can say that. However, I prefer if there’re some other living NPCs, such as deers or tigers to make the game feel more real adventurous”

“Yes probably, but I think the game is more into fantasy and futuristic since you are holding a gravity gun and you move objects around with imaginative effects”

“Yes, the game world looks really well set up for giving adventurous senses, but I would expect the game to be more sci-fi adventurous as you are playing with gravity gun”

“Looking at the environment, yes, but when you play the game I personally did not feel 100% adventurous. Even the background music is a bit relaxing and not relevant to adventurous in a sense”

Based on the relevant data mentioned above, there are some standing out key findings:

  • Testers did not find the game really adventurous from its gameplay and stories.
  • The game world has been appropriately designed to look adventurous.
  • The gravity gun concept did not support the atmosphere of adventurous.
  • Non-existent of wild animal NPCs reduced the sense of adventurousness.
  • The background music was too relaxing rather than bringing the spirit of adventurous feelings.
  • The gap long distances between puzzles make the players feel bored.

Recommendations

Based on key findings and playtester feedbacks, some potential changes and improvements to the game need to be considered. These includes:

  • Increase the height of the fallen tree and add another bigger-size rock which prompt player to perform a triple jump instead of double jump.
  • Give a clearer indirect instructions, such as by direct pop-up messages or additional tutorial points, to explain the mechanic of the stone buttons that tells players how heavy the objects should be to be able to press the stone buttons.
  • Prompt clearer feedbacks that indicate the gate has been successfully opened, such as sound effects and pop-up messages, only when all the stone buttons are pressed by interactible objects for the second puzzle to prevent the dilemmas.
  • Implement radiance effect to the coconut and make the model bigger to be much more noticeable in the game.
  • Give clearer indirect explanations to the exact weight of the crates to be able to float on the river to bring more sense to players.
  • Remove the 0Kg crate edge case in the third puzzle (the river) to prevent confusion.
  • Shorten the paths between the gates to the stone buttons in the second puzzle, as well as between the second puzzle to the third puzzle.
  • Slightly increase the player movement speed.
  • Implement a linearly vertical shadows to interactible objects to allow players identify the location point the object will drop.
  • Increase the size of the surface of the crates in the third puzzle, and increase friction to help players jump to each crates more easily.
  • Redesign the path to the second puzzle’s stone buttons to make it much more noticeable.
  • Modify the gravity gun’s model, visual effect, sound effect, as well as the game background music to be more adventurous rather than fantasy.
  • Add wild animal NPCs to help increasing adventurousness.
  • Bring wilder varieties of nature to the game world, such as wild grass, chasm, giant rocks, etc.

Appendix

Playtest questionnaires, notes, and surveys.

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