My latest game is called ‘Feeding The Forgotten’. It’s a first person walking sim where the player walks in a city engaging in conversation with some less fortunate people and providing them with things that they might need.
For play testing I think it’s extremely important to have a questionnaire and ask if there was any particular dialogue that players found offensive and why. Although ‘Feeding The Forgotten’ might bring to attention thing’s that aren’t appealing to think about or might not have even crossed your mind, I want to know IF and WHERE I crossed the line for your particular play experience. When discussing a topic that doesn’t make it into every day general conversation, it’s not a matter of if I’ve offended no-one, it’s a matter of when. To me that’s important. If the general consensus is that one specific topic offends a very small proportion of the audience, I’d gladly revise the topic at hand and review if I’m portraying it incorrectly (based on the mass consensus of my research).
A small sample of responses – if any inappropriate dialogue?
Because this was my first time ever writing any form of narrative or story within a game, I wanted to see If what I was trying to portray (without bluntly stating it) was easily interpret-able to players. So I asked the question if anyone was able to describe any of the situations of my seven characters.
And while not everyone commented on every character, for what information I did receive seemed to be pretty accurate to what I was trying to portray. The exception was Liz though, one person stated struggling with addiction which is 100% true. While another person said drug addiction. Within the game itself, Liz’s dialogue does imply that she is/was struggling with addiction but not specific as to which. It’s left open for interpretation, although the intent behind it was alcohol addiction.
I also recorded player movement within the game scene and exported coordinates each frame and drew a line to an SVG file.
Some of the player tracks were a little off where I intended for them to walk. Which must mean they’re not exactly sure of where to go. These player tracking images weren’t the only times that I got to see players play Feeding The Forgotten, also at an art exhibition like earlier on in the year at another “Brass Razoo” event. The characters that I wanted the players to speak to had a “?” above their head with a shader that can make the mesh visible through objects.
Having the mesh of the question mark visible through walls was to interest the player and guide them to the people of interest. However when at a distance the markers didn’t exactly stand out because of their small size in comparison to the city landscape. Especially because to actually notice the ones flying above the person of interest head, the player had to look to the skies. As Ben Droste mentioned in one of the public lectures that I attended, player’s never look up. At first the floating question mark particle’s start size was rather small and gradually increased to a larger size over its life time, then to shrink at back into nothing. The size that I was increasing it to still wasn’t enough to grab the player’s attention. I didn’t want to over do it and make the proportions ridiculously out of whack. But that changed. I started the scaling up the size of the question marker earlier (and in total size) to make it visible for players to see without having to look up, and to grab their attention.
Another player guidance issue was trying to find the first person. The one that the shop keeper is initially introducing to the player.
But when he said left, people might have taken it a little more literally than I was hoping for. When the players started to wander in the world, they happened to stumble right past him.
In addition to making the question marks substantially bigger and in the players line of sight sooner, I moved the first person to interact with directly out the front of the store.
Also in addition to that, changing the position of the first person of interest – Curt, I wanted to make sure that even if player’s did so happen to follow the “I think he went left”, I changed the dialogue of the shopkeeper to specifically state that he’s outside the store underneath a tree.
Changing those three elements helped the players to understand more specifically where they should go. Then once they reached Curt, realize that the question mark is a guidance system for the people to speak to. Once they’ve spoken to curt that the next place to look for is someone with a question mark. And with the newly sized markers, it made the new direction to travel easily visible.
Until next time –