Week 12 – Learning from our playtests

Apr 3 – 9

We spent the week analyzing the playtest data we got from the ETC Playtest Day and fixing the interface bugs we found. Here are a few of our main learning points, and our solutions:

  1. We need our website to be hosted in the States instead of in Hong Kong! There was significant lag time, and at one point during our afternoon playtest, the servers went down and our website was not accessible.
  2. Guests were really confused when their questions disappeared from the website and didn’t understand what was happening. There are 2 reasons why a question will disappear – when it gets pushed up to the projector screen for the actors, and after the question has been unasked for a certain period of time (expiry time). Will probably add animations in future.
  3. People who came in late were really confused. Even though we had instructions on the flier which they received, none of the late comers actually bothered reading it. They also disrupted the experience of the other guests who came on time if and when they asked for help. We considered not allowing guests to come in after the experience has started, but our client says that isnt’t feasible so we’re not too sure what to do now.
  4. Guests may miss important if they are looking at their phones during key story moments. Will probably add a feature to disable entering of questions, or at least send an alert to the mobile website, and have the website direct the guest’s attention to the stage.
  5. We controlled the questions on the backend too much. For this playtest, we only pushed questions which were both relevant and would push the story forward. Number of votes didn’t really matter that much, and the guests could feel it and didn’t like it. Moving forward, we want the backend team to be as invisible as possible, and the questions get pushed up to the projector based solely on audience voting. This also supports our goal of letting the audience be able to lose the game, instead of forcing them down the winning path.

We also got a really good piece of news this week: the actors for our experience have been confirmed! They are Karen Baum and Tressa Glover, two professional actors who have in the industry for many years. We had our first meeting with them on Friday to get them up to speed with our experience and what we needed from them, as well as other administrative stuff. It’s really nice to have fresh new people in our project, not the least because they brought with them a very healthy dose of enthusiasm!

Now that we have our actors, everything is starting to fall into place. Another piece of good news is that the actors feel more comfortable to just improv everything, with points for the key parts, instead of a detailed script. This took a huge load of our shoulders! We’ll be starting rehearsals with them next week, so stay tuned to see  how they turn out!