Sunday, February 10, 2013

Magnetic By Nature Post #13: Not A Fine Time To Be An Indie Game

So this past week Microsoft decided to stop supporting XNA.  It's been a good run, and many great games have come form the Xbox Live Indie Arcade Market, but Microsoft decided to step away and stop releasing future versions of the XNA dev toolsets.  This being said, our game is still planned to be released around May on the Xbox Live Indie Market.

This past week we demoed our game to the master game's studio graduate students here at the University of Utah.  We created a demo tutorial level that had all of our features in it, including all of the magnets and the removing the head function.  However, during the playtesting we discovered that many people found our tutorial level to be extremely boring.  We quickly switched all the demo stations to play a different level than our tutorial, and the grad students had a much better reaction to it than we did the tutorial level.  Just as we did at the EAE Open House, we passed around surveys to all the participants who played our game and asked them questions about how hard our game was, how fun it was, what they liked and didn't like, ect.  About 50% of the playtesters said they enjoyed the head mechanic and 50% said they hated it.  The half that said they hated it mentioned how it was a confusing function, that the situations that required the head were boring, and that the function itself seemed to distract from the core gameplay of our game.  Also, they said that the controls were confusing to maneuver the head around the level.  We quickly had a group meeting after hearing the responses, and decided to switch the function of the head mechanic.  The head will now act as a sticky magnet, able to stick on some surfaces but will bounce off others.  This way it will be used in unique ways throughout each level while adding to the core gameplay of the game.  We spoke to some grad students about the idea of this new function and they agreed it would help the gameplay tremendously.

This weekend we all sat down and created on paper the first "Act" of the game.  The game will consist of 5 Acts in total, and the first Act is set to be located in an underground cave.  The benefit of doing the levels on graph paper is that we have a hard draft of the level just in case something in our level editor breaks.  We then can simply go into the level editor, match each unit on our graph paper to a unit in our editor, and create the level within just a few minutes!  Our art team is also tasked to finalize all the foreground assets this week, and have set the color schemes for all the backgrounds for each Act.  Moreover, we have created our Kickstarter page, and are getting ready to make it live within within the next couple weeks, (we decided to delay our launch because we want feedback from friends and family about if the page looks good, and so that we can get more finalized art assets onto the page).  All in all, it's been a very informative and productive week.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Finished editing our Kickstarter video
  • Created a title animation for the start of our Kickstarter video
  • Reviewed an Xbox Indie Game

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