This week was exciting. We debuted our BSC Twitch Interface this week! As we are students at the Entertainment Technology Center grad school program, it was only fitting that we hold an ETC Faculty vs. Students Match.
JD and Mike Christel, a professor at ETC, were on camera running the match, with King Kong and I leading the students.
I am happy to say it was a success! The game was fun to play and challenging, the broadcast was entertaining, and we found out about our professor’s latent abilities for trolling and trash talking. It was a win for everyone – except, maybe, JD, who, as a result of the students losing the match, had to eat spicy pickled okra. Bleh!
We did receive some feedback about adjustments to make, particularly in the values of some of the assets during Input Phase (as it was hard to tell rocks from barrels). We also have some technical Cross Domain issues in safari. But overall, it was a resounding success.
This is exciting, because we are going to be going into our marketing campaign here soon. More on that soon!
After our last Twitch Playlets and work on polishing the main game experience, we returned this week to the Twitch experience.
We’ve done a few tweaks already: we doubled the Input phase time to reduce conflicting input / output phases, and made the in chat messages clearer.
Another thing we noticed is that the game was fun – when we were on the chat directing players. When players wandered into the chat to play, they would leave quickly. So while we have decided to keep our Twitch v. Twitch model, we are moving to a more event based, broadcaster hosted game.
Finally, after much discussion, we’ve decided to pursue a new avenue for allowing users to play: a web App that provides Real Time Feedback, similar to what Streamline is doing.
We are building the App in NodeJS. The page embeds the Twitch Video and Chat. The app connects to IRC and uses messages to determine the state of the game. Then using the Twitch API’s latency property, we can calculate the amount of delay the video has, and update text in the app accordingly.
In addition, the web app will allow users to input the commands into the app according to
Admittingly, this is an ambitious piece to take on this late, but we realized how important improving the usability of the Twitch gameplay is.
I talked before about the problems we needed to solve with Game UI. We’ve come a long way since then!
One of the biggest things we did was add an Input Now signal during Input Phase. When players miss an input, it flashes to them the next round to input. This way novice players learn when input takes place, and more advanced players will never see the cue.
Other things we did:
Added a blinking cursor during input phase – similar to a word application
Remove the frame during output phase, to take away the feeling that the input is something to be modified.
Animated the commands to disappear as they are played.
So how did these changes work? Great! This week we ran a playtest with people from different background. We had them play the game, and gave no instructions on how to play. Everyone – from young kids, to experience gamers, to moms – could eventually figure out how to play the game, and had a great time doing it.
The one thing we still need to address is giving indication as to how long input phase lasts. Many people – presumably those with musical experience – can tell just by the music, but many cannot. Since playing to the beat is actually not a necessary skill, but more of an aesthetic, we want to give a bit of a visual indicator as well.
This week, Beatstep Cowboys has officially entered Indiecade! We’ve been concentrating much of our work the last two weeks on polishing the two player game. Work included:
- Balancing skills
- Finalizing levels
- Designing Level and Character Select UIs
- Doing Character art for each of our four characters
- Creating a gameplay How To
Check out our progress!
We are halfway through our work on this game! We’ve officially hit feature lock for the main game, and are now focusing on polishing and play testing. The game we are going to have going into green light will consist of:
2 playable classes and four characters
five levels with different pieces of music
Twitch Play integration
That’s not to say that we don’t have more we want to accomplish with the game, but we feel very proud of the base game we have created.
Our next major milestone is submitting to Indiecade. More on that next week!
Last week we had our game on display at GDC. What an amazing experience!
We prepped for the experience by making these cute cards with our characters on them to hand out to people.
We had people come by from places like Rockstar, Harmonix, and Hasbro. It was amazing to have these professionals play and give positive feedback for our game!
In addition we spent a lot of time meeting and making contact with other developers. One in particular, Soma Games, will be running a Beatstep Cowboys tournament soon on Twitch! Go check out their stuff and watch them play!