Week 14 – Soft Opening
Soft Opening was this week. Softs is a time for faculty to come and experience the project in a “more or less” finished state. They can provide their thoughts on the experience as it is, allowing us another couple weeks to tighten some screws before the project is actually final.
Because of Covid, we had to do things a little differently this semester, with regards to Softs. Usually the faculty will rotate in small groups so that each project can entertain a significant number. This process was changed such that a single group of four faculty met with us to play through our session. We sent the invitation to check it out to the ETC staff as well, to hopefully get some more data and higher viewer numbers.
Thanks to our work on the few things mentioned in last week’s post – increasing exemplary community member’s power, bug stomping, and hotkey rearrangement – this was easily our smoothest playtest to date. No major technical difficulties got in the way of the experience, which allowed us to collect some proper helpful criticism from the faculty.
Things Felt Rushed
We got some consistent feedback that the experience felt rushed. The faculty were having trouble keeping up with the interface, playing, and absorbing everything the MC was saying in the presentation. This feedback did not come entirely as a surprise to us. We had some trouble getting started early on due to some confusion about how the faculty were supposed to meet us and how exactly to use Twitch’s interface. This caused the presentation to move at a more accelerated pace than we are used to or planned for. This did, however, highlight that we should be mindful of the possibility that our audience won’t be ready to use whatever streaming platform we end up on.
Player Contribution Feedback
The other large piece of advice we got from the faculty was the need for more player feedback. They had a hard time connecting their actions with the results of the simulation. Suggestions for some sort of quantifiable feedback were common. With this in mind, we are implementing the report card system.
Report Cards – Communal & Individual
We are putting in ‘report cards’ after each round of play. Every individual with receive their own personalized report card indicating their contribution, and each communal team will be given an overall report card on the performance and status of the community as a whole. Individual report cards will be delivered to the player’s phone, while the communal card while be displayed alongside the others in the streaming window. We hope that this provides the players some more satisfaction in their work.
Pop & Tox Displays
A rather minor, but somewhat related addition is these little status displays at the top of the phone interface. It lists off the current values of the Population and Toxicity for the player’s community, updated every second. This is to reduce the tension of constantly looking between phone and stream for information.
The final iteration for this week is the happiness shockwave. It is both a visual / auditory cue that an exemplary community member has spawned as well as a literal shockwave of happiness. Every other actor that was touched by the wave has their positivity increased from the experience, strengthening education’s power.