11. Important Playtest & Visit

A week where a lot of features had to be cut off and expectations had to be kept realistic. We realized that we had too many features and wouldn’t have enough time to put them all in with just 3 weeks left until Softs. Over multiple team meetings through the week, we cut out many of them. We considered each feature that we planned to put it into the game and asked ourselves if it was really contributing to our primary goals of the project – Making the player feel safe and comfortable in the environment and giving them a fun experience that they want to replay. If it wasn’t, it got cut. We ended up with a much clearer experience, with a very stripped down story line.


We had one of our most important playtests on Thursday. We were counting on it to answer a lot of our design questions as we closed in on the final feature freeze. For the most part, we got all the answers we were looking for. One of the most striking things was that people were having a lot of difficulty understanding and navigating through the introduction scene. They either tripped off the pocket watch unintentionally without realising what they did, or, if it didn’t spawn immediately, just waited looking for something to happen and for them to be instructed to do something. So we made the hard decision to do away with the intro scene and use the actual game scene to teach users the basic interactions.We also got rid of the portals completely. So instead of multiple worlds that the player journeys through, we will have just one world and put all the emphasis on getting players to move around and explore the space.


Finally, we made a quick visit on Friday to a silicon valley startup – Occipital. Occipital makes a 3-D sensor that works much the same as Google Tango’s Sensors. Except that it works far better! Their sensor (called Structure Sensor) provides far better resolution with very high frame-rates that allows them to scan complete objects in a matter of seconds. A scan of similar quality would take a few hours of back-and-forth scanning with a Tango. So to say the least, we were all very impressed by their work. They were pretty excited to see what we had created too! Despite the superior hardware, they hadn’t actually got around to building voxel worlds using the depth information and then putting in a game layer on top of it, so they were very interested in our work and the progress we had made.


With our new, stripped down story and clear direction, we are in a good position to crunch through the next two weeks and have a solid experience in time for Softs. And then it’s two more weeks of polish and we’re done! Things are definitely moving pretty fast around here.