Jordon and I were lucky enough to have some wonderful people play test Ball Ball on two separate occasions and provide some interesting feedback about their thoughts on the game.
Some of the feedback from the first session provided us with specific details that needed attention before the second play test began. Such as the line renderer from the balls position to the mouse’s position when launching to give a better visual representation of which way the ball will be launched. We were able to iterate over and improve on the existing design before the second play test. It was important to help players understand what was already in the game rather than add more content.
The questionnaire looked like this:
Some of the answers were predictable but very understandable. And by that I mean that as a developer, I always try to think as if I was playing this as a ‘Player’ and not a developer, what is the game missing? Or what doesn’t feel right? Some answers highlighted details to what have should have been in the game but unfortunately didn’t make it into the prototype, or certain aspects that could have made the play experience less frustrating.
Specifically like interacting with the ball – Sometimes it was particularly hard to launch. Some of the answer’s for “What did you feel could be improved?”:
- Prediction for where my ball is going
- The feedback of where the ball was going to launch?
- The visual feed back in terms of how you are going to be launching the ball
- The pull back before firing is sometimes unresponsive
- the pull back mechanic is a little buggy, doesn’t always activate when you click or when you let go, and has a limited range it can register how far it is pulled back.
Looking at these answer’s from both a developers perspective and a players perspective, I completely agree. It would have made all of the difference for players to see where the ball would have been launched.
But like I mentioned previously in the “What went wrong”, unfortunately not everything we had planned made it in. While we were also thinking that this was something that needed to be added, the responses concreted this.
What elements did you find hard to understand? Why?
- the level design was quite effective at teaching me about the different pickups.
- very few. the most issues I had with the game revolved the lack of feedback for where my shots are going, and the lack of accuracy that resulted.
- Trying to understand how the much force is required before releasing the ball. Each pull is different when using the status effects.
- none. all good
- I didn’t read the wall of text in your instructions screen. There was too many words.
- Nothing really. was mostly well communicated what the objectives of each level were.
- It was all pretty straight forward. The generic green blocks were a bit unclear though.
- None. Game was simple and fun to play.
- Not sure what the green blobs do. Not sure why TNT sometimes knocks me off screen and sometimes doesn’t.
- In the begging it was if I actually finished the level.
- Everything seemed pretty strait forward
The responses that are in orange bold letters make me warm and fuzzy as a designer. Their responses clarify that my intent as a designer for this game has been accurately applied. The intent that the player shouldn’t feel lost and that the level teaches the player with what they need to do. The response in red bold letters is how I felt about the instructions too. If we had more time on this prototype I would have loved to make imagery instructions. People are able to interpret, understand and relate to images much faster than they ever will to a block of text. A little instructions pamphlet full of gifs of how to launch the ball or how the ball interacts with objects would make understanding the game so much easier.
While I could go on to mention every response people had to every question, I’m only going to mention two more specific things that I’ve learnt/found very useful.
- One of the answers to the ‘Any other feedback?’ was – Consistent HCI
- Facial expressions and body language watching people play games.
HCI? I don’t know what HCI is. What is HCI?
So my interpretation from the response is: “This game has a consistent human brain activity and interactions between the visual representations and systems in place of Ball Ball”. I hope that’s right. Thank you kind play tester.
Facial Expressions and body language – Play testers were being audio and video recorded. I watched every play test video (in this case because there’s less than 15) and payed close attention to how they interacted with the game, their facial expression.
Some people have no particular body language or facial expressions at all. And while watching the people that have no expressions at all, I ask myself, “are they enjoying it? What do they like? What don’t they like? What’s running through their head?” They are giving no sign of how the game is making them feel. Even though this is unhelpful to know their player experience is, I can still watch how they interact with the game and see what processes they go through. Is this how it was intended to be interacted with? Have they found a more useful way to interact with an objects that could be utilized in our game to create more interesting dynamics or player experiences?
But then there’s people who do. Watching these people react and how drastically they react to different situations, helps understand what is going on through their head.
The people who play and have facial expressions and visual emotion provide a much greater opportunity to try and understand what’s going through their minds.
- Why they feel angry or frustrated.
- What aspects are bringing a smile to their face.
- What caused them to think they broke the game.
- Why are they finding particular aspects hard to figure out.
- They did or didn’t notice something that they should have.
The play testing recordings and questionnaire help to understand what is going right, what is going wrong and what the path to the next destination should include.
After all – What are games without players?
Until next time –