The focus of my playtesting was to gain feedback about whether my game had succeeded with what I had set out to create – a therapeutic shoot em up game where the player is a fiery Will o Wisp in a dark forest infested with evil, in the style of Celtic mythology. It should be noted here that the final iteration of my Wisp game that was used for testing was very rudimentary as this was my first experience with the Unity program. Despite this I attempted to succeed in three main areas for my game. These subsequently became the goals for playtesting. In the spirit of good testing and reporting I also created expectations relating to these goals:
||With my current framework given to us through course content and my knowledge, I found it quite difficult to create a game which (in my opinion) captured a therapeutic feel. I expect unfavorable responses to my game’s function with many suggestions for improvement.|
||As mentioned with my previous expectation, with the knowledge I had while making this game I was confined to a static play area. This made it difficult for me to integrate any open-ended aspects in my game outside of giving the player free movement around the area. I expect this will not be enough for testers to consider my game an ‘open-ended experience’.|
||This was the area in which I felt the least limited during development. Course content gave me the skills to create and modify assets to create a distinguished theme of my Wisp Game. I expect testers will somewhat appreciate the effort I put into capturing the intended theme.|
Five participants were acquired for playtesting. These players varied in ages and background. Consisted of my friends and fellow students. Did not have strict conditions for participants other than that they must have had previous experience with video games. This experience was required to act as a baseline for them to gauge the function and quality of my game.
See Playtest Plan for detailed explanations of my approach to playtesting each of the session goals.
|Session Goal||Interview Responses||Summary|
|Game Function||1. Did the game work? Yes, No? Explain…
“Not really, it’s not a game it feels more like a demo. Needs more to be considered a game.”
|No consensus on whether the game worked. Even split between testers saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ with one undecided. Through explanation all testers agreed that the game functioned at a basic level but required more depth to be considered a proper game.|
|2. How engaging was the play experience? (scale: 1 not at all-5 very engaging)||Testers did not find the game engaging. Observation during play sessions showed players found the game interesting during the first 10 seconds but lost interest when they figured out that the same enemies were just continually spawning ahead of them with no screen movement.|
|3. How would you rate the game’s therapeutic ability? (scale: 1 not at all -5 very therapeutic)||Testers did not find the game therapeutic. Observations during play sessions showed many players saying how quick and stressful the gameplay was. One tester noted that
“Enemies were constantly rushing me with no escape.”
These results were in line with the expectations. The game was opposite to that of a therapeutic experience.
|Session Goal||Observational Notes||Summary|
|Creating an Open-Ended Experience||Examples:
“Shocked at how quickly everything is happening. Tries to run away but gets stuck in corner. Dies and figures out how to shoot. Doesn’t like that they can only shoot straight ahead.”
“Shoots enemies. Tries to explore the play area, moves forward and gets stuck in the top corner. Enemies kill from behind. Likes the characters.”
|Consensus that the game was not an open-ended experience overall. Many testers commented on the confined space that they were “stuck” in. Observations of their playstyles did reveal some variation. Some players would quickly adapt to the controls and fight the enemies while others would flee until they got the hang of it.
These results were somewhat in line with expectations. It was interesting to see that even in a basic game like this, individual players will still find ways to play it in their own way. T
|Session Goal||Interview Responses||Summary|
|Capturing a Theme||How would you rate the game’s ability to capture the Celtic, Dark Forest, Fantasy Theme? (scale: 1 not appropriate at all-5 very appropriate)||Most positive responses to this session goal compared to the others. Players understood the intended theme and felt that it was adequately appropriate overall. Some comments were made about how the models were not consistent and needed refinement.|
|What about the game did you like/dislike?
“Shooting animations were nice. Fire on the character was interesting.”
“The character and enemies were cute. Very basic game, not enough to it to be interesting.”
|Consensus amongst testers that the game had a pleasing art style. They liked the way the Wisp character looked and the enemies seemed appropriate to the dark forest, Celtic theme.
These results were in line with expectations. Testers could recognize the theme for what it was through the visuals of the Wisp Game.
Recommendations for Improvement
The final question of the interview asked how testers would improve the Wisp Game. Responses to this mostly included comments on how I should “finish it”, “make more enemy types” and make it so players can “move forward through the level”. To successfully create a therapeutic shoot em up style game in future I need to extend my knowledge of:
- Character modelling – To improve appropriateness to the overall theme.
- Environment/ Enemy Modelling – To make the game more engaging and fun I need more variation in my enemy types and environment visuals.
- Level Creation and Pacing – To make a game that has cohesive functionality and appropriate ‘open-endedness’ to fit with development intentions.
- Audio integration – A vital aspect of therapeutic game development. By integrating appropriate sounds into my game to compliment the visuals a more calming and coherent experience will be created.
I feel as though the Wisp Game lacked cohesive integration of all these components hence why my playtesting results were unfavorable overall.
Full Interview Questions and Response Transcript: