Another eventful and productive week at the DAM office has concluded. For those that have been following along, we have really been struggling with a few things that we added to the game in the past month. The main culprit is the thermometer which was creating very confusing and mixed messages about the player’s health in the game. We implemented a vignette earlier in the semester to close around the player the more that their health ran out. This was always effective and clear. Through FMOD Studio we also implemented strong feedback that stripped back the instrumentation and applied a filter effect to filter out low or high frequencies as the player lost health.
The clarity problem was primarily created when we decided to also link thermometer to player health. The thermometer became a way to reward the player for progression in the level with extra reserves that would kick in if their health ran out at any given moment. While it wasn’t exactly the same as your health, it created very mixed messages for our playtesters. The moment where your vignette shrunk down and you needed to quickly find a new flammable object was really tense and fun for us, but at what cost? Rather than designing more elaborate UI which we simply could not afford with the time remaining, we decided to sacrifice and simplify. We removed any connection between the player’s health and the thermometer this past week and are really happy with the change. Playtesters, while still not immediately grasping the thermometer bar, found things to be much clearer.
We also changed the art from colorful to more monochromatic to make the flammable objects more clear and also highlight negative objects like water as something you should avoid. This was also a sacrifice of sorts as a lot of people (us included) really liked the aesthetics of the world, but a lot of the time true creativity is about simplifying and sacrificing.
The images above are a small bonus for the NEIF fans out there, showing the very beginnings of the game from the January Global Game Jam. You can see the name already fully formed in the first list of potential game ideas. Then you can see a lot of the elements that made it into our prototype and a lot of ones that have made it into our newer iteration in the second picture. There is a certain lesson in that as well, that sometimes you shouldn’t stray too far from your original idea and intuition. Instead molding that idea into it’s clearest and most fun representation is the way to go.
Just a few weeks to go until the semester is over and we get geared up for our release. Remember to email us at email@example.com if you are interested in participating in our beta test!