Week 14 – Soft Opening

Apr 17 – 23

At the start of this week, on Sunday, we had our first playtest with the actors. The fact that this was only our second rehearsal with the actors showed – we had to pause the performance a few times to clarify things with the actors and vice versa. In addition, we realized we really needed to rehearse the backend roles too, as the questions were being moderated and pushed to the projector screen / actors’ phones and the achievements unlocked manually.

On the other hand, we did get a good idea of how the game flow would be like, and realized that the best rehearsal would be a playtest. However, our experience requires a crowd (we don’t know the exact minimum, but we’re pegging it at 10 for now), and it wasn’t feasible to get so many playtesters on a regular basis.

Our solution? Create a crowd simulation bot! This was done in a couple of days by Tao, using data from Sunday’s playtest. We had previously dumped all the questions into a file, which the bot now read from and posted according to the questions’ timestamps. Though not completely accurate, it still gave us a chance to rehearse the backend flow without actors and a crowd. We also used the bot to rehearse early in the morning, just before Softs.

Softs itself went ok, not too bad but not fantastic either. Because it was so early in the morning, there were only a few faculty present, while the rest were watching / participating over the live stream. Some of the feedback we were given included how Linda, the anti-gun control character who voices the questions of the audience, sounds slightly hysterical and unreasonable with her relentless questions.

Our story was also lacking in that it wasn’t very believable. There was also a jump between the first and second achievements (or key story facts), while the second, third and fourth achievements were all relatively similar.

The biggest problem, however, was the lack of agency. The faculty did not feel like they were controlling what was unfolding on stage, except for Mike Christel who saw that his question unlocked an achievement. Some even thought we were entering our own questions to push the game forward, even though we weren’t! We’re not too sure how to solve this though ):

Next week is the ETC Showcase Day, and we’ve lots of stuff to fix / polish, and so little time. Looks like we’ll be crunching all the way till then to get our game ready for all the industry people who will be attending the event! Till next week.