Level Up: Aftermath

Hello!

I am writing this after commuting home from the Level Up convention/award ceremony/event.

It was truly a great and interesting event for a number of reasons.  I did not plan on going until I saw that our Game Design class was cancelled at night.  At this point the only thing stopping me from going was my own laziness.  I tried to grab my other group members to join me, but I only managed to get Kevin.  Probably the best one to bring anyway.

While we never had any intention of showing of our game, or worked on it exclusively for Level Up, as soon as we got there we began debugging.

At this point out game had no sounds, no HUD and an imbalanced game system.  We did not have our blacksmith master menu system that would allow the player to level up their items and complete side quests.  We just had several battles linked by using a little rotating exclamation mark.

We had left with Gary’s group and managed to get to the convention by 3pm, from then till 5pm Kevin and I were debugging.  I was fixing the shader lighting and Kevin was balancing the game to showcase.

We essentially prepared for a huge Q/A session to gather a whole bunch of data.  I wish we had put more effort into getting a HUD into the game. Regardless of the HUD I learned a lot of stuff about the game that I would not have been able to find out through normal testing.

What needed to be fixed

Aside from the obvious points of making the game look prettier by adding higher resolution textures, HUD/GUI and the rest of the shaders.  We noticed that the collision system was a bit wonky and people were having issues with depth perception.  There needed to be a greater collision response for the player since most of the time people were asking “am I even killing this monster?”  Also the AI were updating way to fast and were very difficult.  People were getting cornered and died fairly quickly.  We need to allow the players to exit the battle and upgrade their equipment rather then re-spawning them in the same level.

The great thing was that there were a lot of artsy girls and male programmers along with some gamers who tested our game.  I noticed that some guys were very aggressive and tried to parry and dodge while moving back an attacking.  Many inexperienced gamers just stood there, got surrounded and managed to die.  Granted when Dr. Nacke and Dr. Hogue tested our game they both had issues with the HUD and the obvious problems.

I also noticed that some people were having issues with the camera movement.  We need to slow down the intensity of the camera movement since some people ended up staring down into the ground because the camera acceleration was to fast for people with slower reflexes.  It would be good to have the player adjust the camera acceleration to their preference in the final version.

When people were in the forest area, they would walk around aimlessly and end up having a horde of enemies chase them while they ran backwards and attacked.  The forest area should have regions where only some beasts spawn and they patrol that area.  Many times people spawned and were surprised that a wolf began chasing them.  We need to have better and smoother transitions between levels that give players a safe zone that they can chill back in.  Players need to make the decision to enter a dangerous area and provoke an enemy attack.  Rather then having the AI walk towards you in a line, they should recognise that they are colliding with each other and push away to corner the player.  The AI need more behaviour that will allow for a more robust battle system then just the player running backwards and attacking.

Overall, we need to give the player more and better feedback during gameplay.  We need to place our HUD into the game to tell the player how much stamina and health they have left.  We need sounds to show the location of the enemy, and tell if they are hitting an enemy.  We need to add more AI behaviour instead of endless seeking.

Lessons Learned

We went there with a 2 man team from a group of 6 people.  We went in unprepared with little expectations.  By this time next year, we should have our game completed and use this event to test our game out with a different crowd and have several different versions to test different things.  There were different types of people that played our game and it was evident in the way they played it.

For example:

  • Experienced gamers adapted very easily to the WASD controls and managed to survive for a while
  • In-experienced gamers got completely destroyed and would have preferred a controller layout with simpler buttons
  • Players had to bend down or kneel on the floor and were in a very uncomfortable position playing the game, giving a negative feel to the game already

Next time we should prepare a variety of versions of our game with different control layouts and a proper chair and screen for them to play it on.  Also polish.  Our game needs to be very polished.  By this time everything should be implemented, and we are just performing balance and fun testing.

Is this level to hard? Do we need to increase our collision response? Should you be sprinting faster? Do you need more stamina?  We should be finding the answers to these questions in preparation for the final GameCon.

Final Notes

Overall it was a good event and I did learn a lot.  I got to bond with some fellow classmates from all years of the program.  We debugged and found errors in our game and code.

Some of the attendees offered awesome advice and seeing them play the game and enjoy it regardless of the state it was in really made me happy.  Considering this was an unfinished game, I just wondered how much better it could have been and I deeply regret not preparing a better version for this day.

People were really impressed with just the fact that we built out game from the ground up not using anything.  Some people even had a hard time believing us that we were not outsourcing anything by using external programs like Havok for physics.  This probably made me the most proud to be apart of UOIT Game Development.  That and the fact that one group that was using Unity Toon shading had several members who had no idea how to do edge detection and did not know what the Sobel Operator was.

I am looking forward to going to more of these events in the future and creating better polished games in the near future.  Time to get some sleep. GOOD NIGHT!

Thank your for reading,
– Moose

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