The day has finally arrived! Soft Opening was this week, and while we definitely can breathe easy for Thanksgiving break, we still have some work to do before Festival next week.
The Work this Week
Our week was primarily dominated by softs this week, especially since the project room was empty most of the week due to our (much needed) Thanksgiving Break!
The above videos are the two versions of our prototype we developed before softs! Playtesters seemed to like our second version better, but it’s a great deal harder than our first version.
Before softs this week, we managed to make a couple of quality of life changes to improve the game overall:
- We changed our face blending so that the division between the two players faces wasn’t so harsh and was a bit more “smooth.” This effect turned out really well, and actually helped us eliminate a lot of the matching-up faces awkwardness that had plagued our previous builds.
- We created two versions of the beatmap (which you can see above), due to playtesting feedback that the game was either a) didn’t maintain a good difficulty curve and b) wasn’t as collaborative as we hoped. The difference can be seen in Version 2, which is both harder and is centered around players making movements together.
Aside from our game, we printed out the latest version of our documentation for faculty to evaluate (as well as our documentation presentation).
Armed with these changes and documentation in hand, we went into softs feeling nervous but mostly prepared for the critiques from faculty to come!
Softs Evaluations: The Good
For the most part, it seemed like faculty liked and understood our game and were satisfied with the level of documentation we provided (though a few key parts were still missing at the time, like a more formal write-up of our playtest results). We were told that we not only were able to communicate the context in which our client planned to use our game, but it was fortunately clear to our faculty about what our game was trying to do from a transformational lens.
Softs Evaluations: The Bad
However, we did receive a couple of critiques from faculty that we plan on addressing in the time we have left before Final Presentations (which are coming up faster than we had anticipated!).
A few faculty members raised concerns about a problem that has been identified in AR systems in the past, particularly those used in webcams, about the camera being able to recognize people of color as effectively as white individuals. While ARKit does not function the same way as these webcams, due to its utilization of a depth camera, and we felt as though this would not be a problem due to our admittedly small sample size of people of color who had playtested our game in the past, we did not have a formal response to this critique in a way that felt satisfying. Therefore, even if we are unable to rigorously test this ourselves, we definitely plan to do a lot more research in order to address this particular concern from the faculty.
Other than this, many of the other comments had to do with particular parts of the game itself. Many faculty members commented on the lack of visual feedback from hitting a note correctly, feeling that the only way they knew that they had successfully hit a note was if the score changed. This was a concern we found from playtesting the previous weekend, but we had not had time to fix before softs. As such, we definitely plan on addressing it at least before Festival next week!
Another comment raised was that the overall timing of the tutorial felt like it was tuned a bit too fast, and was the equivalent of diving head first into a pool of cold water. Faculty also felt a bit mixed about how we are handling beat matching; they understood that we couldn’t really get players to react faster than they already were, but at the same time the sfx could feel a bit off if the player hit the note at the tail end of the light. We are planning on addressing both of these concerns before Finals as well, and are hoping to speak with a couple members of the ETC team Jam Session, who have specialized in building rhythm games all semester, to figure out what we can improve in a short amount of time!
We had a few other minor comments about our UI as well, mostly that people preferred that we make our record player a bit less abstract, and that we change and adjust the text in our game so that it was a bit more readable overall.
Plans for Next Week
Based on our Softs feedback, we’re going to try to address or add the following into our project when we return from break next week:
- slow down our tutorial overall
- adjust our “beat” recognition in the game so that it feel like people are hitting notes more on time to the beat
- adjust the background so that it looks more like a record player
- make it look a bit more physical, more stylized, without making the visual a bit too busy
- add some visual feedback
- change the color of the text
Aside from this, we’re hoping to also add in our picture function into the game so that we can leave players with funny pics of themselves playing the game after they go through one session, as well as possibly adding in audio that acts as redundant communication to the player in our tutorial (in other words, playing an audio file that says “move your eyebrow when it’s highlighted!” when the text that says the same thing also appears).