Cycle 3 playtesting was completed in two stages which involved experienced testers with game design background and people who where within the target audience of the game. Sam was our target audience persona.
- Age: 12
- Gaming Background:
- First game – Wii sports and Mario Carts
- Is a long time fan of Minecraft
- Loves to make his own games using simple tools
- All G/PG games (no others are allowed in the house)
- Spent a lot of time catching Pokémon in the park with his parents
- Gameplay experience – His parents are early adopters of technology (e.g., the first to buy a Wii, and are now into VR headsets) – Has been playing games since he can remember – Plays approximately 30 minutes per day, but always gets a bit more time on weekends.
Two play testing plans were designed to maximise the quality of the results for play testing.
One plan was centred around the testing of experts and the second involved the target audience. Each plan focused on 3 goals. These were then focused on in the playtest sessions and questionnaire responses.
Session 1 of playtesting was conducted with experts and involved goals focusing on problem solving being challenging enough for the player, coordination of the player in gameplay and issues with any of the mechanics of the game.
Player testers found problem solving to be fairly simple as it only revolved around navigation of the level and finding all the coins. Some suggested the game should involve environmental problem solving challenges as well. Coordination was mentioned by players who were not feeling comfortable with jump and run mechanics, finding they were sometimes struggling on certain steps, jump across ravines or getting stuck on top of slime monsters. Some of the playtesters found jumping mechanics funny and added to play while other said it did not feel refined. Playtesters found the controls were easy to master after a short period and did not find the coordination issues to be critical to their game play. Overall players found the mechanics to be working well but some refinement would be beneficial, such as better synchronising of the character and enemy animations, and fixing some of the issues with some sections of the stairs.
Session 2 of playtesting was conducted with playtesters representing the target audience. Playtest goals for the second session involved problem solving being challenging enough for the player, the feeling of being determined to finish the game and ambience of the environment in the game.
Problem solving again was shown to be simple by the playtesters. One playtester wanted to know how many coins to find in the level and thought it should be shown at the beginning of the level. Determination was not considered by most playtesters as they found the challenge of the game simple but enjoyable and were not driven to complete the game by determination, rather by the casual experience and enjoyment of playing. No playtester struggled in the game to the point where they wanted to stop playing due to gameplay being too difficult. Players found the environment to be lush and tropical and pleasing to play through. Some thought it reminded them some games they had played such as Donkey Kong Country or Rayman. One player commented that it was good that vegetation growth hid some of the level, coins and enemies.
Playtester 1 -expert.
Playtester 1 enjoyed the game but found it easy and moved through the level skipping sections only to realise at the end of the level they had to kill all the enemies. They then had to go back. The playtester suggested the level should have clear instructions before you begin. The playtester liked collecting coins but wanted to see more problem solving variety in the level layout, such as moving platforms. The playtester’s coordination was not challenged by the game due to the limited variety of challenges and problems to solve. The playtester found the mechanics to function satisfactorily but could use some refining such as the slime monsters sometimes appearing to duplicate when stuck in a position and also getting stuck slightly on some steps in the level. Playtester 1 finished the level but took about 50% damage.
Player pop up tip at end of level to kill all enemies
Playtester 2 – expert
Playtester 2 found the game enjoyable, and was mildly challenged by the problem solving aspects of the game. Navigating the level to find coins was a little testing but proved to be no struggle for playtester 2. Coordination proved to be testing due to some issues with the jump and run mechanics. The player learned to overcome these issues and had no problems completing the game. Some of the mechanics caused issues for the playtester’s ability to play well, the playtester found the mechanics worked but needed some adjustments, such as the knight’s animation sequence. Playtester 2 completed the level easily and played level again.
Playtester 3 – expert
Playtester 3 found the game simple but fun, whilst finding problem solving challenges to be not very challenging but still fun. The playtester found gameplay coordination easy but took their time being cautious with enemies. The playtester found the jumping mechanics caused some issues with some of the steps as they got stuck for a fraction of a second and fell back and had to jump again to get to the next step up. Playtester 3 completed the level.
Playtester 4 – target audience
Playtester 4 completed the level easily and played it again. The playtester found the problem solving in the level enjoyable due to the terrain changes. Combat was not very interesting due to enemies being the same so required little coordination. The playtester found the game enjoyable as they don’t have think much about the challenges, they were not deterred by any enemy or environmental challenges to complete the game. The playtester finished the level. The playtester wanted to complete the game for enjoyment, not because they felt challenged to do so. The playtester found the challenge of climbing the terrain enjoyable and felt the terrain and environment was definitely lush and tropical.
Playtester 5 – target audience
Playtester 5 liked the level layout finding the problem-solving aspects of the terrain navigation to be enjoyable. The playtester found the game was not overly difficult and completed the level. They did not feel determined to finish the game due to any challenges as they did not struggle with the gameplay challenges. The playtester thought the game setting was lush and tropical, and felt the bright and colourful environment was good for theme and style of game.
Playtester 6 – target audience
Playtester 6 found the game was ok but needed types of challenges, they found the problem solving challenges were limited. The player did die during game play and had to restart the game, but they did not think the game was difficult. They felt there was no challenge for them to complete the game, player would have completed game but ran out of time. The Playtester enjoyed the game but felt challenges need to be ramped up.
Conclusions from playtesting and recommendations for improvements.
Overall consensus among the testers was the game is enjoyable but not very challenging. The level of challenge can be adjusted by adding a greater variety of enemies and different styles of attack. More environmental challenges that test players problem solving abilities such as moving platforms, spike pits, rope swing sections, having to drop boulders or trees into ravines to make bridges to cross the terrain need to be added. Additional attack options for the player should be added, such as the ability to throw a weapon, grappling hook or bomb. Playtesters did enjoy the problem solving challenges of level navigation when they were searching for coins. This could be built upon further by adding some hidden treasures or idols.
The addition of the above suggestions will increase the challenge to players coordination and provide more player fun challenge variety and player satisfaction. Adjustments in player animation sequence for the walk, run and sword swing cycles will make the game play feel more syncronised. Refining the physics mechanics for walking and jumping will give players more of a satisfying gameplay experience as the annoying issues such as jumping up steps and falling off can be removed. Some adjustments to the level set up will also help to remove the buggy or glitching aspects that currently players experience. Refining the layout of steps and the height they change will stop players having to jump twice. Tougher environment and enemy challenges will push the player harder so they are more determined when they fail, and want to try again. Currently the game has a very small number of hazards that cause death for players and so provides no challenge for them to want to move further into the game. The fun aspect of game play is the only reason they move forward and want to get to the end. Failures that cause too much frustration could be mitigated through addition of a health or life system.
Stuck on steps
The visuals of the environment received positive feedback from playtesters, moving forward this can be increased by adding more variety and removing annoying obstacles in the terrain such as the small section in the bottom of the forest where the player finds it difficult to get in and engage the slime monster that patrols there.
Player on top of enemy glitch
Adjusting the damage mechanics such as the slimemonsters causing no damage when you sit on top of them will improve gameplay. Correcting the issue of them having a twitching in their animation will provide more of a polished look to the game.
Play testing notes from sessions.
Cycle 3 Playtesting completed by Justin Johnstone. N9428127. darknstormy777.