During the playtest, the major issue was with the "Planning Phase". Our idea was that when the phase starts, the player can observe guard movements and draw out a route for the accomplice. When the player finishes the route on the exit tile and lifts their finger, the "Execution Phase" triggers instantly.
What we found in playtesting was that finishing the route and instantly switching phases, disorientates the player. The accomplice is already moving by the time they even begin to lift their finger away from the screen. This instant change is what we don't want. It creates the experience of not being in total control of the accomplice and its path, as you should be.
A way to fix this, would be to make the "Planning Phase" truly a planning phase. When the player draws the route and it connects to the exit tile, it doesn't instantly start the next phase. A button pops up saying "EXECUTE". Pressing it will start the "Execution Phase". This gives the player time to still plan. They don't need to awkwardly hold their finger 1 tile away from the exit, waiting for the guards to get into position. Having a dedicated button to then start the next phase, allows the player to time the execution more precisely. As after all, it is a stealth/strategy game and giving the player time to observe the play-field is necessary.
Also, during the playtest, drawing the actual route was a challenge in itself. If you let go before getting to the exit tile, the route would disappear. If you hit a wall, the route would disappear. The route also couldn't overlap itself. This was a massive problem and the main point of feedback from testers.
In having the route drawing like that, it takes away from the experience yet again. Drawing the route shouldn't be hard. It should be something you can do in the back of your mind while observing guard patrols and figuring out the best places to move to. Focusing on drawing the line, not hitting walls removes that aspect of observation. So a way to fix it, which is already underway is...
- Allowing the player to let go of the path and continue on with it, allowing them to let go of the screen.
- This will allow more time for the player to observe the level.
- Overlapping the route.
- This allows for more possible paths, more solutions to the puzzle.