Jul 7, 2017

Suzy Cube Update: June 7, 2017

#SuzyCube #gamedev #indiedev #madewithunity 
This week was all about tester feedback and lots of small improvements.

My wife and I spent Monday cleaning up after a party we had the weekend. You see, Monday was a holiday for embassy folks thanks to Canada Day being on Saturday. That, of course, means my week really started on Tuesday eating into my work time a bit.

I spent so much of that time watching gameplay videos from testers and noting changes and fixes that I hardly had any left over to actually do stuff! Thankfully, a lot of my notes from the videos and feedback involved small fixes which I was able to chew through in a couple of focused sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

So Special!

But first, one victim of this evaporated time was the previously promised addition of a new Special Level. Unfortunately, that did not come to pass. I was, however, able to finish Level 2-S last Tuesday.


Ain't she a beauty!? The level is quick and challenging. Exactly what I want out of these special stages. I sincerely hope folks will appreciate the break from regular levels.

Fixer Upper

Though it might not seem as glamorous as designing whole new levels, the small tweaks I'm now implementing based on playtests are really what make the difference between fine and good, good and great. They are the attention to detail which players should never notice but appreciate on a subliminal level. Many of these tweaks and fixes are about subtlely removing points of friction or frustration from levels to give players an overall better experience.

With that being said, I want to give you all some examples of the sorts of fixes I've been implementing based on feedback from this latest round of playtesting.

Let's start with the screenshot from the top of the post. This side path has been part of Level 1-1 for a long time, and when it was first added, almost no one ever took it. Since then I added the guard rails with the split and the leading patch of stonework and in this latest set of playtest, EVERYBODY took the side path!

Gutsy move!

The change I made was to cut off what used to be a connected bridge so players can't see where the gap leads and use proximity triggered platforms to fill the gap. This way, only brave players who are ready to take a blind leap will be rewarded with the extra coins and (newly added) 1up which await up top! As I write this, though, I'm realizing that many of my future testers will probably see this blog post and thus end up taking the side path as a result and I'll never truly know if this change had the intended effect of causing more players to stick to the main path... Whoah! Mind blow!

Next up, we have a super subtle change made to Level 2-2. 

Hot stuff!

After noticing a couple players who seemed to have a hard time noticing the gaps between certain platforms, I decided to go ahead and try adding a red glow seemingly emanating from the lava below. Hopefully this will call attention to the fact there is a gap which must be jumped over.

How about another before and after. This time on Level 4-1. The level includes two sets of bridges which must be activated using Ground-Pound switches. The bridge sections flip closed but then reopen after a delay.

Straight shot

In addition to lengthening the delay before the bridge opens back up under the player's feet, I also decided to centrally align the coins floating above the first bridge. I did this after noticing many players falling to their deaths because swerving to collect all the coins was slowing them down just enough to give the bridge time to open back up. The misaligned coins were essentially trolling players into attempting a feat they barely had time to complete. Heck, even I was rarely able to collect all the coins in time without falling.

And, finally we have one of those incredibly simple additions which can make a world of difference.

Check it out!
In the screenshot above, from Level 5-1, I've highlighted three checkpoints, A, B and C. In the test build, only checkpoints A and C were present, meaning I had to watch a number of player contend with two Skull Bullies, sinking platforms, a cannon, more platforms, two shockwave blasters, three fire spitting Flying Skulls, two Rusher Skulls and three Chaser Fireballs before hitting another checkpoint. It was so painful to watch players die after getting so close to checkpoint C and I can only imagine what it must have been like for those who were playing. By adding checkpoint B roughly halfway between A and B, I'm hoping to keep player frustration from mounting to quit inducing levels.

And Many More

These are just a handful of examples of the kinds of tweaks and fixes I've been doing based on tester feedback and videos. I hope they give you all an idea of the type of little tweaks which go into the late stages of level design, those details which take the game from fine to good or good to great.

On that note, I apologize for the late update and hope to catch you all here next week when I will, likely, be sharing more tweaks and fixes as new tester feedback continues to pour in. See you then!

No comments:

Post a Comment