GDC Playtest Takeaways

Hi, everyone.  J.D. here.

As I promised in my last post, here’s what we learned from Playtest Night at GDC and how we’re going forward with it.  If you didn’t get to check it out at GDC, you can play our demo right in your browser or check out the video below.

We received a lot of positive feedback.  People who got far enough and figured out how things worked really liked our gameplay especially the Push and Pull Gloves.  They also seemed to really enjoy the humor which I thought might fall flat because I wrote some of it fairly quickly and worried it might consist of too many things only I found funny.

For a while, Rose and I have received a lot of feedback about the controls.  I designed them based around how I play so for keyboard, I put movement on the Arrow Keys and items and interaction on Z, X and C.  After all the feedback, I’ve moved movement to WASD for movement and mapping the items to the left and right mouse buttons.  As for interaction, it’s still on the Z key but I intend to move it to the mouse and having our main character Elwynn move closer adventure game style if she’s too far away.

We also received a lot of feedback on our items and level design.  One of the things that seemed most frustrating to our players was trying to move around blocks with the Push and Pull Gloves and ended up moving themselves because they had to use the arrow keys to aim.  This one was easy to fix.  I just froze the player’s movement while they’re using the gloves.  This was actually how it used to be.  I thought it might allow for more complicated tricks and puzzles if the player could move around but if it makes things to frustrating for the average player, I’ll think of other ways to make clever puzzles.

The Reflect Cape and the introductory level where Elwynn receives it also received a lot of feedback.   Most of it dealt with how we teach the players to use the various functions of the cape.  Unlike the Gloves, the Cape has two completely unrelated powers.  It reflects projectiles while the player holds down the item button to which it is assigned and it also gives the player expanded jumps by allowing them to float a short distance.  At some point, my reasoning was something like “It’s reflecting the force of gravity”.  This seemed to confuse a lot of players especially since the flames that they have to put out with the dropping water look like they can be jumped over instead of having to reflect the water into the fire.

Right now, we’re considering two ways to fix this: Separating the two functions Float and Reflect into two separate items like the Cape and a new Shield or reworking the level design to teach the two aspects separately.  At the moment, we start out teaching reflect, then we teach float for a while before immediately expecting the player to know both buttons, switches and higher level reflection at the end of the level.  Given those problems, we’ll probably end up doing the latter in some manner whether or not we separate the functions.

Well, those are our major takeaways from the playtest.  I could probably go on for ages about what we got but I’ve got to get back to work implementing these changes.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *