Week 13 – Playtests Paying Off
We’ve made a good number of updates to our experience since the last playtest and it is really starting to take shape. I’ll go through the updates we made for this week’s playtest on Wednesday, and the updates we’ve got planned before next week’s Soft Opening on Monday.
We’ve added some effects happen whenever an actor is being good or bad. Hopefully these help players distinguish what’s going on a bit more in the large frothing masses that are our communities.
Wheel of Upgrades
We’ve moved away from the voting system. Not only was it cumbersome technically, but it did not work out as we wanted in practice. We want to split the upgrades evenly between the four communities, but most players will overwhelmingly vote for Empathy Training as their desired upgrade if given a choice. The obvious reason for this is just that when told to choose between robots and feelings, feelings feels like the “good” option.
We have moved a simple lottery. We play the above animation for a random amount of time to determine which community gets which upgrade. It is always guaranteed to produce two AI communities and two Empathy communities. This way it still has a hint of excitement and we get to talk about both upgrades.
We are using my (Parker Ramsey’s) Android phone as a webcam for picture-in-picture streaming. My phone is being used because webcams are on extreme back-order right now due to Covid. The reason that we are trying out picture-in-picture is to hopefully give players the feeling that they can more directly engage the MC in conversation and spark discussion. It is also one more thing to look at while the MC is reading through a bunch of slides.
The presentation now has a nice cap to it with our Debrief section. That’s where we walk through the ideas presented during the experience and discuss exactly where we got them in the research. Hopefully this helps players feel like the whole experience wasn’t just a dog-and-pony show.
We now have a stream deck that simplifies the work on the MC’s side. Everything is available at just the click of a button, maybe two. It also lets us send pre-written messages in chat, such as links to our survey or login instructions.
Updates Planned for Softs
Make Education More Powerful
This week’s playtest has shown us what it looks like to run through the whole experience, upgrades and all. One thing that was very noticeable was that education was not quite strong enough. Things remained fairly dour, even when we had all upgrades turned on. That felt incongruous with what we wanted to say, so we’ll need to up the ante as far as the upgrades go.
People were getting stuck on certain screens mobile-side. They wouldn’t be able to click on reports or their phone never returned from the pause screen to the inbox in the first place, that sort of thing. We’re hoping to eliminate those as best we can, but they are a bit hard to pin down to one specific issue other than the all-encompassing “network problems”.
Don’t Close the Game By Accident
One rather embarrassing issue we ran into during the playtest was the discovery that one of our hotkeys bound on the stream deck also happened to be Unity’s hotkey for closing the game. This will be a quick-fix, but here’s just a friendly reminder from DTOX to test out all your hotkeys ahead of time.