I attended the monthly International Game Developers Association meeting last night. The theme of the session was playtesting in which anyone can bring a game and get feedback from the many developers in the area. It is a humbling experience. However, the feeling I get after is not unlike a vigorous workout. It is as if everything is tested and when I am done the game is strong than ever. Here are the notes I took with my own suggestions afterward:

– Tooltips didn’t stay up long enough for people to notice them or to read them.
– There was no way for users to start the tool tipagain if they missed them.
– There was no indication if the information was decoration or was critical to solving a puzzle.
– They wondered why there were tool tips for some people and not others.
– The trigger for the tooltip was unclear. They didn’t know if some people didn’t get them or whether there was some button they had to push.
– People like the tooltips and find them funny.

Solutions: Color code the tooltip. Blue or Red for vital or possibly some icon like important. Use black for neutral.
Solution: Press X to pop up the latest tooltip again.
Solution: Everyone gets a tooltip.

– Users were confused by which bombs related to which area:
Solution: The bombs are aligned sequentially so that the bomb found in zone 1 is next to the bomb found in zone 3.
– Users were confused when they collected a bomb how that was reflected in their total bomb count. When you collect a bomb show an animation that moves up into the top row to show that it was collected.

Maps and charts:
– Encourage people to explore the whole map. Show screens fading if users have not been there in a while. It shows that you have never been there at the 2min mark. Or that you have never been there at the 5 minute mark.
– Users didn’t know right away that you could go to the next screen. In screens 0-4 make a lot of people come and go through the edges.
– Show which levels you have been to and which you have not.
– Users spent a lot of time in world 1-4 and did not find too much. Put a very easy bomb here.
– Then users ran through 5-12 because there was not much there.
– Show a chart of all the people in the city. Show a partially filled person if you know some of their facts. Show a fully filled person if you have read all of them. select the person and all their tooltips are shown and the unread ones are shown as “???”

Time spedup
– Set the time increment to 1, 2, 8.
– Make a visual indication that time is moving faster, like VHS fast forward lines, sound effects, blurring, or a vignetting effect
– Suggestion to make you run faster when you speed up time.
– Every screen should have something that shows time is speeding up. Like some background animation that goes faster. Teetertotter goes faster too.

Interactions with environment
– People keep trying to go into doors. Which they can never do. Maybe make a sound when they try “use” button on the door. Like bum-bum. Or nah-nah.
– People kept trying to get into the tunnel. Make the color of the tunnel dimmer and possibly add an icon idicating that it is for the train and not you.
– Make a standard tooltip icon if you can interact with something. Like an X button that pops up.

Unclear when hit agro guard what happened
– When user ran into the guard with the asteriks it was hard for them to understand what happened and why.
Solution: Code a unique death screen for each encounter. In this case pop one up that says do not harass security. You will always lose.
– They were also unclear whether you could jump over the guard or not.
Solution: Maybe nothing. THey eventually gave up. Possibly write: Please do not harras or attempt to jump over the security.

Bad Guys:
– Users didn’t see the bad guys and think, he is bad. Solution: Show tooltips that say “shadow Thorn Initiate #1258”, also in the training sessions show that he is bad and is connected to playing the bombs.
– Users tried to attack the guy after he planted the bomb. Solution: either make them run away so fast you could never possibly catch them. Make them grey or fade away. Keep the bad guys visible because they are a clue as to where a bomb has been placed. Also when you see a bad guy running you know that something has been placed and a direction.

Training Sessions
– This game needs a separate area just for showing you how to interact with the world
– THings to teach: tooltips can be just background information. Or they could be important. So important informaion is in blue or something and just background is black. This would help in like a combination for a lock or an indication of which door to pick.
– Show that you can scare off bad guys and that you cannot possibly kill them.
– Have small one screen puzzles that rely on a 30 second loop. This shows how you can learn what happens.
– This loop would show interactions of the environment like putting trash on benches or people being agro.

Suggestions for bank heist
– For the bank have the guy carrying the bombs turn agro when carying money so you stay away.Some people tried to harras the guy as he wasy carrying money and bombs to the truck.
– Show early on the interaction of the bank guard and women who pass. Show that if a woman passes he drops the bag and attempts to talk.
– Allow for user action: Make is so that the user has to do something to get the guard to drop the bag.

Maybe there are two benches. If you put something on one bench she wont sit there and will instead sit on the bench that is in his path. Somehow try to get the woman to sit in his path. Maybe you can grab trash from the trash can and spread it on the bench so no one will sit there.
– Some guys accidentally figured out the bank heist. Again make player initiative on this one.