Dev Diary - Week 3: Playtesting

So today in class we were doing playtesting. I had a pretty solid build down, with a functioning game and win state. I had a few people play it and overall they enjoyed the game, they said that it was well polished, yet with everything else there were a few problems.

One thing that I knew was going to come up was the level generator. It's not fully flushed out yet, so there can be potholes that spawn in gas stations and some gas stations are impossible to get to. This was brought up in the playtesting.

Another thing was the car controller itself. At the moment I am getting input directly from the up and down arrow keys. A playtester suggested that I should instead get the vertical axis as that would allow for the W/S keys, as well as controllers. I tried it out yet as I suspected, it felt "floaty". There was a short time it took from pressing down a button to the car to move up or down at the full speed. The small speed up time didn't feel right, as the layout of the game is set up for quick tactile movement. A "floaty" controller would probably be more realistic, yet for a quick, challenging game such as Barnstorming, that isn't necessary.

On final thing that I think is pretty necessary and which is part of the project, is to convey the artists message in the game. For my one, I'm telling the message of getting out a big, lonely city and going to a comfortable country town/farmhouse.

At the moment, there's not much conveying that but for a quick sentence at the start of the game, a paragraph in the help screen and the farmhouse at the end of each level. I've thought about it and ways the message could be conveyed are:

  • Starting the player of in a city and after like 10 seconds have it transition to the country.
  • Have more and more people at the roadside or at the gas stations as the player goes through more of them.
  • Have the sound of people talking on the train increase as the player goes through gas stations.
  • Maybe, have the amount of gas stations increase, the closer the player is to ending.

For this playtest session, I didn't have a questionnaire. Next week though, I will certainly have one so that I can narrow down problems. Some questions I've been thinking about that I would like to know from playtesting are:

  • How easy was it to control the car?
  • What do you think the game was trying to convey?
  • How easy did you find it to avoid the obstacles?

That's all for now, hopefully next week's playtesting goes well.