Activity 1 : Player Experience Goals
Player Experience Goals for a Shoot Em’ Up Game
While brainstorming potential player experience goal we focused on two initial ideas for our studio’s shoot em’ up game. The main idea we wanted to focus on was to creating a therapeutic emotional experience for the player. This was because most shoot em up’s base their gameplay around intense violence and action we thought it would be an interesting challenge to create shoot em up’s more similar to that of Solace, a chill, neon, flow like SHMUP game. Our shoot em’ up’s will not focus on trying to kill as many enemies in a quick time, but instead we wanted to create a game where players could explore different locations that reflect many different emotions through the visuals and music.
The second idea was for us to create a open-ended experience that allows for experimentation. The problem with most shoot em’ ups is that the player is either locked into a small area and forced to shoot enemies coming at them or forced to continuously move and shoot/avoid enemies. With our games we wanted to allow the player to move into various areas and shoot enemies to experience the game in various different ways and not to be locked into a forced area.
The main player experience goal we ended up with was for our shoot em’ up games was to create a therapeutic experience. This refers to the fact that most shoot em’ ups are designed to be fast pace and therefore players tend to rush through them and don’t think of the message they are trying to say. With our game experience we will be hoping to use visuals and music to allow for players to reflect on what is going on in the game. The reason we chose this player experience goal was because we wanted to break the norm and create a shoot em’ up that wasn’t designed on being the best dodger or fastest shooter, but rather designed to be a visual and audio experience that will be therapeutic for the player.
The main type of player experience where trying to tap into is emotional. This is as the game will be designed to tap into the emotional feel of therapeutic, in particularly with the design of the visual, audio and musical aspects of the game. A secondary player experience aspect we wanted to focus on for our shoot em’ up was physical, mainly focusing on accuracy, agility and speed. These three aspects were chosen as they are important skills players need for most traditional shoot em’ ups and we believe that there is no need changing that for our game. The other secondary player experience aspect we are focusing on is creative, which will be utilised with construction of the visuals in the game, to help draw out the emotion with the player.
By Thomas Priest
Activity 5: Game Look and Feel
The mood of our game as represented in the mood board bellow is calming. This is because we wanted to make a game that gives the player a therapeutic experience, and through using calming visuals, gameplay and sounds we believe this could be achieved. Another mood our game captures as represented in the mood board bellow is warmth. This is because our main character is meant to be that of a fire based creature which represents warmth, which can also be seen as a symbol of calmness. The final mood our game captures as displayed on the mood board is darkness. This is because the main enemy in our game “the Corruption” have brought eternal darkness to the forest, and it is up to our character to re-light and warm the forest, to calm it again. The style of our game uses NATURAL/HIGH CONTRAST. Our game further uses a style of warm tones to represent the light and fire in our game which is used to defeat the darkness of the corruption. Finally, the primary base colour of our game is represented with forest greens, as a way to show the natural, forest feel of our game. This colour is further darkened to represent the corruption that has taken over the forest.
Our game is a 2 Dimensional up-scrolling Shoot em’ Up. The scale of our game is ‘Fairy Scale,’ or from the perspective of Will o’ Wisps. Will o’ the Wisps (also known as Ignis Fatuus or Foolish Fire) are mythical balls of light, generally found at night (reference). Mythology of the Will o’ Wisps can be found in many cultures, but for the purpose of our game we are inspired by Wisps in British and Irish mythology. In British and Irish mythology, Wisps were spirits of the dead that helped lost travelers find their way through marshes using their light. Wisps could also be tricksters who lead people into dangerous situations, but for our game we will ignore this part of the mythology (reference).
Example of Will o’ Wisps
The main setting of our game has no specific historical period, but is geographically located in forests in the Scottish Highlands, similar to that of the Disney movie Brave, a big inspiration for the location of our game. The current forest of our game has been corrupted by a so called ‘darkness,’ which the Wisps are trying to fix the corruption, through activating the four totems in the forest, based on the elements of earth, wind, fire and water. The Wisps and the enemies (corrupted versions of the wisps), move around on the forest floor, dwarfed by the large overbearing trees of the forest. The players move through open areas of the forest, as the rest of the forest is too thick to penetrate, due to the so called corruption in the forest. Our game takes place outside, with no present civilisation, but evidence of ancient relics and totems. The forest where the game is located, is designed to be very dark, with little light peering through, not just due to the corruption, but also impacted through natural means, such as tall trees and overbearing canopy.
Example landscape of our game
There are four levels to our game, focusing on four specific elements, earth, with rock formations located every, wind, which features a windstorm through that level, water, with puddles abundant and darkness, where the final boss battle against the corruption will be hosted. Our game uses various sounds to reflect the visual style of our game. We use ambient, quiet, peaceful sound to reflect the relaxing, therapeutic style of our game, and try to avoid loud, obnoxious sounds. The wisps utilise sounds based off their element, for instance, the fire wisp uses a fireplace crackle sound to it, whereas the wind wisp utilises a calming howling/whistling sound. The darkness on the other hand, hisses at the player, and is accompanied with ominous, deep, eerie sounds.
By Thomas Priest
For the playtesting report, 5 participants were chosen to play the game for 30 seconds and speak allowed on what they were doing in the game and how they felt about the game. From there, the participants were asked a series of questions based about our three main player experience goals of the game, as well as a basic sub goal of does the game function correctly. Finally, the players were asked about any improvements they would make to the game. The raw notes of each play tester, as well as full completed questionnaires can be found bellow.
Our first goal of the game was to give the player a therapeutic experience, and to have a game that was less stressful for the player. On a scale of one to five (one being not very, five being very) 60% of participants rated the therapeutic experience a 2 and 40% of participants rated it a 3, giving and average therapeutic rating of 2.4/5. Many play testers gave the game a lower therapeutic feel not because it was stressful but because they didn’t understand that it was meant to be a therapeutic experience, and the game didn’t offer any aspects that would make it therapeutic. Others didn’t know what was going on with the game, and were too busy trying to figure out what was going on, rather than experience the emotional feel of the game.
Our second goal was to create a game that was an opened-ended experience, where players could complete the game in many different ways, whilst the game simultaneously being engaging. The participants were asked to rate on a scale of one to five (one being not very, five being very), how engaging the gameplay experience was. Out of the 5 participants 40% rated the engagement of the gameplay a 1, 40% rated it a 2, and 20% rated it a 3, giving the average rating of the gameplay experience’s engagement ability 1.8/5. This is because many of the participants didn’t understand what the goal of the game was and so spent the game trying to figure out what was going on. Furthermore, many of the players were surprised to find out that they had completed the game, and many of them felt that the game was too short, making players generally not have enough knowledge or time to try various different methods to complete the game. Further issues with the opened-ended experience of the game was that some players felt that the game needed more enemy types to give the players variety in the game, rather than the same enemy, whilst others believed that the enemy and obstacle needed to be differentiated better so the players better understood how to interact with them.
Our final goal, was to find out whether our game captured the Celtic mythological, dark forest, fantasy theme, correctly, based upon the mood board (See Activity 5). To find this out we simply asked the players whether the game captured the theme correctly, and whether they knew what the theme was. On a scale of one to five (one being not very, five being very), 20% of participants rated the games ability to capture the Celtic mythological theme a 2, 40% rated it a 3, and 40% rated it a 4, giving the games average rating on ability to capture the Celtic mythological, dark forest theme a 3.2/5. Though this rating is a lot better than our other goals, many players still add issues with the fact that the characters, enemies and obstacles, looked out of place compared to the background, with one player even saying that the Wisps and puddles looked more like planets, and did not fit with the natural forest environment.
Finally for our sub goals, we asked players whether or not the game worked for them. This question confused many participants, but overall most said that the game functioned like it should of, part from one participant who did not understand that the obstacles could be shot. However, most participants did complain that the fact they didn’t have any instructions and no understanding of what was going on, they didn’t fully know if the game was working as it should be. Finally, another problem people had was that the fact there was no restart when the player died, once again confusing the players if the game was broken.
Players were also asked if they would want to see any improvements to the game. A list of recommendations based of that feedback have been compiled below.
- Add a goal to the game. Just something else to do other than reaching the totem, as due to the game having an unclear goal, many players were too busy trying to figure out what to do, rather than experiencing the feel of the game, the theme of the game, and trying out various ways to complete the game.
- Give the game instructions. Explain what each enemy/obstacle does, how to complete the game, and the goals of the game. Once again implementing this will help the player know what is going on, rather than them spending the game trying to figure that out, and consequently missing out on the feel of the game and the theme of the game.
- Make the game longer. Players felt that due to the shortness of the game they weren’t able to experiment with different game mechanics, and different ways to complete the game.
- Introduce a variety of enemies and obstacles, and make the game more challenging. This will give the player more options to explore and try out different mechanics in the game, and ultimately different ways of completing it. The increase challenge, will further make the game more engaging for the player, whilst not making the game too challenging will still create that calming, chill vibe of the game.
- Make the enemies, obstacles and character look more like the theme. Through making the Wisps look more fantasy like and less robotic, we can display that more natural theme, were going for. As well as making the puddles of water, look more like puddles of water to also keep up with that natural theme.
- Add various relaxing sounds and music to the game. Many players did not understand the game was designed to be therapeutic and relaxing, so adding music and sounds that are calming and tranquil will help the players feel therapeutic.
- Add a way to restart the game. Many players believed that it was a bug, when the player died and the game didn’t restart, and thought that the game was broken. Adding an ability to restart will help fix this issue.
Observer Notes on Play Session (does the game function as intended? Are the participants playing as expected? etc.)
What is that (obstacle), why destory (enemy), how did i won, confusing don’t know what to do, don’t know what obstacle is. Didn’t see anything in the forest (win).
Ohh, died against blue hazard, interesting, not sure of controls. space shoot. stronger enemies, run in to blue gonna die, can’t shoot hazard, no indication, are they planets, world
How do the controls work asks player, what is this blue thing, player gets destroyed by hazard after trying to shoot it, I guess I dodge those blue things, enemies are not that challenging, Oh did i win?
Ok what do i do, I can’t shoot these blue enemies, so maybe you avoid them? dodge mechanic nice, enemies are easy. this game is easy. what is the goal? oh did i win? was it that I had to reach the end or something, was quite short.
Pretty simple controls, is this some kinda shmup, seems pretty slow for a shmup, maybe it speeds up later, oh I died, what that blue thing one shot me? Do I have to avoid it is it an insta-kill? How do I restart the game? ok now i know how to avoid the blue things game seems fairly easy, oh it’s over, was that it?
Did the game work? Yes, No? Explain…
- No, i shoot hazzard doesn’t destroy.
- Yes, start, pressed wrong buttons,but they worked, error on player part
- Um I think it did, it ran well but i didn’t know what to do and what everything did
- It did work, it just didn’t have a goal to it, would of liked to scene a clear goal.
- Uh I think it did? It didn’t crash, maybe the restart thing was broken when i died?
How Engaging was the play experience? (scale)
What about the game did you like/ dislike?
- Liked the look, doesn’t understand how it works
- Died no feedback, liked look of objects, shape, don’t understand objects, don’t understand forest to characters, like controls, just didn’t understand hazard, playing game wasn’t that calming
- Not knowing what the goal is and what everything did, liked background but found characters seemed out of place, game was quite easy
- The lack of goal, lack of explanation of what things did, how easy it was, how short it was, liked the variety in enemy mechanics
- I liked the forest background and simple controls. Didn’t like that i didn’t know what was going on, what to do and what everything did. also the fact it was quite short and that when I died the game didn’t give me an option to restart it
How would you rate the game’s therapeutic ability? (scale)
How would you rate the game’s ability to capture the Celtic, Dark Forest, Fantasy Theme? (show mood board)
Suggestions for improvement?
- Make enemies, obstacles different, instructions, change image of enemies and obstacles, show difference.
- Add some sound, calming goal, no goal, sudden finish, objects look more like theme.
- Give the game instructions so people know what to do. make characters and obstacles look more mythological so they blend nicely with the environment, maybe add some music to make it more therapeutic, add some challenge, though if you are going therapeutic maybe not.
- Little bit more to show the theme off, a clear goal for the player, instructions on what everything is and what everything does, make it a little bit more challenging, make it longer as well.
- Some instructions will tell me what to do and what everything does. Also give me a goal to do, add more enemy types and make the game longer. Finally, add a way to restart the game if you die.
By Thomas Priest