2020/04/05 Status Update
What a big week! We applied to our first game showcase. We shared with our newsletter subscribers a playable demo of the game. In turn, we've received a lot of great feedback and we are revving up to take the next steps in developing this project. In this post, I go over some of my takeaway from what our players reported.
Showcase the game
Apply to GameScape (Deadline: March 31st, 2020)
- We submitted for this last Tuesday. We expect to hear back during April
- Demo at CCBC Tech and Gaming Expo (Event: April 25th, 2020)
A rising concern with this goal is the COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences for large group gatherings and school closures. We are keeping a close eye on this developing situation and understand if some events end up postponing or canceling as a result.
We ran our first playtest last week! We plan to continue having the game available for newsletter subscribers, new and existing, to try out. We will figure out the cadence for release new updates and how we are digesting the feedback from playtests.
I really cannot thank all of our playtesters enough. We have so much more feedback to address as well as so much info to digest. With the number of people that played, we don't expect to get any quantitative measures, e.g 50% more people follow game series X over Y. Instead, this information helps to give us a qualitative measurement for some key theories about the game. I'd like to share and run through some of my own high level takeaways from the pre- and post- playtest surveys
Since we development the idea of our audience, we thought that releasing this game on PC, then Switch and Mobile platforms would be the best approach. We asked players in our pre-playtest survey "What gaming platforms do you use?" and then we asked in our post-playtest survey "If you got to pick just one platform, which one would you want to play this game on?"
From the results, I still feel confident that release the game first on PC, and then rolling it out on the Switch and Mobile devices is the best choice and that coincides with how similar games like Dream Daddy rolled out their game.
Player Platform Preference
PC, Mobile and the PS4 were some of the most favorable platforms for gaming on, with the Mobile platform standing out the most, for Frequent and Infrequent usage.
Game Platform Preference
Players reported that they would prefer to see this game on the PC platform the most. This may be biased because the game demo was on PC, but it is consistent with the Player Platform Preferences.
Play Session Length
We only had a sense of how long our personal play times were, which took about 10 minutes. For episodes, we wanted to aim for about 20-30 minutes of content, like a short TV show length.
From the data, we have reporting of a bunch of different session lengths. I think this number is a harder number to pin down for players on general because I observed, some people have multiple interruptions that can happen in the middle of their play session. So while they may perceive a 20 minute play session, the overall session could have taken longer.
On the flip side, faster sessions can happen if players are more comfortable and quicker with the controls and reading. Personally, I am a rather slow reader.
All in all, I think session time is an interesting metric, and while we initially thought of tying amount of player choice to be proportional to session time, I think we will have to come up with a new approach for divvying up choices, as you'll read below.
We asked a couple of questions about player choice in games. In our pre-playtest survey, we asked "How important is player choice to you in a narrative game?". In the post-survey, we asked what was the "Amount of player choices in scenes". We theorized for the narrative game genre, player choices, even if not impactful in the long-term, were important. For the episode the we constructed, we weren't sure how long most players would take to play the episode, so we weren't sure if we had enough player choice in scenes. But now we have some data to work with.
Player Choice Amount Preference
Players find choice important. I think we can drill into what specific kinds of choices player prefer.
Game Amount of Choice
Most players did not find that we had enough choice in the episode. We currently have 5 choices that appear in the episode. Assuming the average play session length of 12 minutes, that's about a choice a bit over every 2 minutes if they were perfectly spaced out. I think we can increase the number of choices players are presented with as well as making them more memorable choices to help player feel like they are making important choices.
In our pre-survey we asked players about their experience with 25 games that we think are in the same market as our game.
Some games had middling familiarity, some games lots of players knew about, and some games nobody or few had ever heard about.
We had a theory that there were some very niche visual novel games that mostly hardcore visual novel game fans would have heard about. All of the games that we found had nobody or few surveyors experience it were part of that niche visual novel games group. My takeaway is that most of our surveyors are not hardcore visual novel players.
For games with middling, across the board player experiences, many of these were what I'd call visual novel hits. These included Dream Daddy, Phoenix Wright, Danganropa, Doki Doki Literature Club, etc. I think these games are some of the most popular in their niche and break out a bit from just visual novel fans into a broader player base.
In the same category were also some more 3D spacial exploration narrative games, like Stanley's Parable, Gone Home, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Telltale Games. What's interesting to me is that some of these games are narrative mixed with simulation and that the combination seems to help them stand out to players.
Lots of players knew about the big AAA games, which makes sense. AAA games are much more widely know and talked about because of the marketing and development budgets that some of those companies have.
With all the feedback and information we attained from the playtest, we are going to figure out our next steps and major milestones that we want to hit next. There are some bugs to fix, gameplay and UI to improve and much more that we can do. Additionally, we will be deciding whether we add more to this episode or start tackling a brand new episode.
If you have any questions, comments, feedback for me, you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like this post, you can see more in the Devlog section or check out last week's post
Once again, if you are interested in playtesting builds of the game or future updates, you can click the button below! You will immediately be able to participate in our current playtest.