The team made great progress with mapping out and narrowing down the specifics of scripted case scenarios in the battle portion of the game. Programming included real time drop shadows and basic animations for the player’s bot, which went a long way towards visually grounding the bot to the floor through the eyes of the user, and was well received.
As we add new features and refine/balance the movement, control, and physics systems, playtesters spend more and more time with the iPad before they decide they’re done with it. More than ever, I am seeing the real potential for us to make something great.
The most limiting constraint that we face is time… 14 total weeks of development, six of which have past already. Moving forward and for next week, we will be challenged by scoping back our idea in a manner that retains its core identity and purpose.
This week we are still working on prototyping. For Wednesday, we made out a demo that uses the new version of control. We reduced the controller from 2 to 1 which allows us to put enough space to place attack UI. In the new control, we move and rotate bot in a more intuitive way. We let the bot to always move in the direction that player is facing. The reason why we made this is we found when player use the previous control they usually get lost if the camera’s facing direction is changed. This time we change the moving coordinate system from global to local so that your bot is always move in front of you. We let the EA visitors to try the two version and everyone who tried it out prefer the later one which means we are in the right track.
On Friday, we have another updated version which includes the wheel animation and realtime shadow. The wheel animation is based on the real physics, if you turn right, the right wheel will rotate backward while the left one rotate forward. And the shadow enhance the feeling that the bot is in the real world.
As a team, we decided to focus on the “Re-Design” (Phase 2) part of our game to be playtested in week 6.
The goal of this playtest was to figure out:
- how players react to problems presented to them
- how creative their solutions can get
- their understanding of a bot’s weaknesses and strengths
- which bot would they like to play as
As a part of our playtest, we presented players with 3 scenarios:
- How would you redesign the robot with the hammer to make it more stable?
2) How would you redesign the silver and red robot to deal damage more effectively?
3) How would you change the two-wheeled robot so that you could recover after being flipped?
For each of these scenarios, we further asked them the following questions:
- For every problem stated, we asked them if it was something worth fixing?
- What are each bot’s weaknesses according to you? Is this something you want to make an effort fixing?
- Which one do you prefer, offence or defence?
- Which bot would you like to play as?
This playtest was conducted in two separate ways,
- We had half of our playtesters fill this survey at home to understand how much of the problem the playtesters at home were able to comprehend.
- We had the rest of them engage in an open discussion with us to encourage them to talk about feedback that we were not necessarily looking for/didn’t foresee.
- We were able to narrow down some of the most common but incorrect solutions for the first two scenarios.
- We found out that players were thinking more when they reached the third scenario.
- This could be because of their practice with the first two scenarios
- Their ability to better understand the battle after going through two scenarios
- The problem being interesting and easy enough to encourage players to find creative solutions
- A much easier understanding of the problem without having to explain what was clearly wrong with the bot that was immobilized
- Most of our players preferred to pursue an offensive approach when it came to choosing the type of bot they would like to play as. This mostly was based on the liking of the weapon the bot had. For example, players did not realise how powerful a drum bot would be because it’s impact is not visually clear.
- We need to have feedback system that highlights the impact and has more clarity in terms of how effective or damaging the weapon is.
- A passive weapon can be a bad decision as players were constantly preferring weapons that they could trigger/activate a weapon at their own will.
- We need to choose a scenario that is easy for a player too grasp in terms of what the current problem is. For example, players did not know what was wrong with the hammer bot unless it was explicitly mentioned to them. Whereas, a scenario like getting immobilized conveys the problem without further explanation.
- Players loved the horizontal spinner and this is a weapon that will be introduced during customization after phase 2.
Our next playtest will be based on scenario 3 (being immobilized). We will be presenting players with options that they can choose from to fix this problem. Each option will have a weight and a cost associated with it.
This playtest will help us in the following way:
- further tune/balance weight vs cost
- it will give us an idea about how hard or easy is it for the players to figure out the right solution to the problem
- how many right vs wrong solutions should exists
- What are some of the aspects the player liked/hated when doing this exercise
- how to further make this scenario interesting
In this week, we finished the 3D models concept for our final project. We made two battlebots based on the shapes of two real famous battlebots in the show.
After the Art and Design meeting, we figured out our basic restraint relationship among different weapons. For the art, we will start to build weapon components for the game such as hammer and flipper. So in the next week, we will start to make the models of several weapons. In addition, we will begin texturing some models by Substance.
In this week, we had our first formal playtest on ‘Redesign’ part which could help designers in the team to ideate more options of redesigning bots and also playtest the prototypes we made in last few weeks. We got lots of valuable input from people inside and outside ETC building. I collected the feedback of prototype playtest and delivered them to our programmer. For now, we were trying to solve the problems of control system.
As a part a design work, we try to review the game design we had from last week and modify a little bit to fit with our time and resource constraints and client feedback. We also generate a idea about bot gallery at the end of the whole experience to satisfy our client requirements from last client meeting that we probably need to make manufacture get more involved into the whole process.
I and Trisha has a clearer work division about design after faculty meeting in the middle. After the team deciding our basic flow, we will take responsibility for different parts work. I will take care of the design to user end and Trisha will take care of game level design.
To help the team have a better understanding of our game flow, I made the wireframes of battle phase. I believe visual elements could help our team on the same page and also help to move forward. I’m still in the process of experiments and comparison different layouts of battle phase with people’s critique around me.