During week 12, everyone had their user play-testing session at the gallery, and we got a chance to have some of our peers to play-test our game. During this time, we received a lot of critique on the possibilities and problems with our game that we should be addressing. To start off with some mechanics issues, our game first introduces users to whistle into the microphone in order to move the boat onto the island. This caused issues to players who did not know how to whistle, as they cannot even start the game without this first step. We also need to lower the threshold for holding down and swiping up to grow the flowers, or change the mechanic completely as some users do not know when the flowers are done growing. During playtesting, our program chair, Nick Puckett, mentioned that with the view that we have, the further we go into the forest, everything will become a trigger. He suggests that to fix this, we play more with the zooming of the camera, to allow more focus on a single plant. We could also increase the amount of cinematic effects to enhance our camera effects.
Some rising concerns with our research revolved around if games can illicit emotion. Our associate chair mentioned that emotion is a difficult thing to transfer and verify with people. How will we be able to make someone feel something, and confirm that they are feeling that specific emotion while playing? At this moment, we would have to make assumptions when user-testing to verify this fact. We would also need to somehow communicate emotion to the user through the game, which is different than actually feeling emotion. Would our game cause our users to think, and how does it relate to feeling? To solve all of these issues, an approach to our research that we can take includes questioning the assumptions we are making about players feeling specific emotions in order to properly understand how to transfer feeling and how emotions can be affected through other platforms. We received a suggestion from our professors to look into affect theory, and to branch our research outsides of the games realm. We should also be able to find readings where we can prove that transfering emotion from another content is possible, which would help us find an answer to our research questions.
After our research, our next steps of the game in terms of research is to take up our professors’ suggestions and to start looking into these affect theories. We also plan to go back into the game and to revise all of the mechanic bugs we had during the game, including lowering the threshold for holding and swiping flowers, and blowing(whistling) to move the boat. During the break, we intend to start planning our first level, figure out how to incorporate gestures into the mechanics, complete the concept art, and start thinking about our companion system. A suggestion we received is that it would be interesting if our companion can walk and start affecting the environment from its actions. This brings back one of our previous concepts, where we have a bear companion that would angrily walk behind the character that causes broken trees to fall with its heavy stomping. We also need to consider if we want to keep the game at a third person view, or a first person view. Removing the character can potentially remove the relationship and narrative of the game. However, a first-person game view can make players relate more with the scenery. We are hoping to answer most of these questions by the next semester.
In terms of schedule, our schedule has not changed since the last update. During the break, we will continue to polish the demo. Along side with the polishing, we intend to do some literature review to add to our papers, and start level design by the end of the month. Since we are uncertain what the finalized syllabus will be for the next semester, we intend to keep our schedule the same for now.
Below are some user testing images and peer evaluation notes we received from our classmate, Chris Jadoo.