W3 S2: Testing, Testing, Testing! (18th Feb – 24th Feb)

Weekly Goal:

  1. Create an essay draft for the reflective journal,
  2. Finalise card list & start creation,
  3. Test everything! 
  4. Create a Rule Book for players (related to testing).

Contents:

Reflective Journal

  • Skeleton draft (Monday & Friday).

Games Development

  • Totem Model – Mesh Recreation with Images (Monday),
    • Analysing mesh problems. ✔
  • Overarching Graphical Theme and Layout of Cards is Established (Tuesday),
    • First Supporter Card draft (Images Included) ✔
    • Rule book is loosely drafted. ✔
  • 72 Cards Fully Drafted (without illustrations – Wednesday),
    • Cards are ready to be printed & laminated, ✔
  • 72 Cards are Printed & Laminated (Thursday),
    • More content for Rule Book, ✔
    • Play-testing, reflection and strategies for improvement. ✔
    • Cards need to be changed and new mechanics implemented by Monday. ✔
  • Review & Refine Cards (Friday). ✔

Games Development

Monday

In order to start off the week I wanted to revisit a project from the Monday prior – this effort saw me taking a closer look at my mesh and it’s potential problems. I knew that initially when sculpting my mesh in Sculptris that I would run into problems when trying to convert this file into GCode – in an attempt to correct this problem before it occurred I imported the sculpt into 3Ds Max and edited some of it’s topology. Even after these changes my 3D printer struggled to read the GCode correctly and printed some seriously odd looking things (as seen below).

img_6277.jpg

In an attempt to further try and understand the issue being faced I decided to re-create the mesh entirely with Low-Poly Quads. I really like how the mesh looks and it’s functionality has been increased greatly with the implementation of a rotating stand (to simulate damage taken) and a clip on body to test customisation possibilities. Printing again was a failure, despite separating each of the components and making them more suitable for print. I am thinking at this point that perhaps I need to look further into the wall density of the mesh and perhaps try and print my model on the University printers – hopefully this will help me to understand what’s going wrong.

It is not vital at this stage that this model is complete, however, for visual reasons it would be ideal to have a symbolic version of this model ready for testing so that users can understand better the purpose of this feature and it’s functionality in game.

Below shows a progressive image showing the beginning of concept up until my most recent mesh build; to illustrate where I have taken steps to change and improve certain features.

voll

Tuesday

Today I focused primarily on establishing a concrete UI for the cards so that implementing features would be an efficient process of simply changing text variables – the outcome of one of the card types can be seen below:

Using my research from the past few weeks and last semester I have created an interface that has the user at it’s heart, it is easy to hold and read and has appropriate composition for user handling. Text is positioned on the left to make sure text is readable when a thumb is in the way of the bottom right corner (adapted to a majority of right handed users) additionally information is formed into separate groups (gestalt) in order to inform users of the significance of each individual piece of information – such as attacks being grouped together, health and names at the top and additional – less relevant – information being kept in the bottom right corner – hopefully this should make the cards more straight forward and easy to understand; user testing will be vital for substantiating this assumption.

Another consideration came out through this process, that being the rarity indicator and the set indicator, the relevance of such being to illustrate to users different information, as follows:

No./No.: This number indicates, out of 100, where an individual card should be placed in a collectors folder. This ensures that players are always aware what cards they have in their collection.

New Dawn: this name signifies the set in which the cards belong, this ensures players know that a New Dawn card belongs to a different set than a Pilgrimage card and should be kept in a separate folder IF that player wishes to keep their sets organised. This allow helps players to know if their cards are legal – as with time – old sets may become obsolete as new features and mechanics are added.

1-5: this number (as explored in my last blog) indicates the rarity of the individual card – this signifies it’s worth and power in play.

I wanted to create a simple illustration to explain this in my rule book, here is the graphic so far (it is not yet complete):

rarityindicator

Wednesday

Wednesday saw the creation of all 72 current cards into separate files ready to be illustrated – this process took a day to complete and will save me time in the future as this work has already been done. It is easy to go back and revise the files as they are in an editable PSD format, meaning that all layer information has been retained and can be edited inline with the current style.

I plan on using these early concepts as playable cards in my prototyping efforts this Thurs, Fri and next Monday. Prototyping will allow me to see in person how others interpret the game, how they play and what is and isn’t useful in the game. Testing will provide me with the insight necessary to validate my concept as a fun and worthy game for market.

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Below are examples of some early concept illustrations I will use these primarily for promotional purposes at this time and as well as a template for future designs.

I have played around with textures and layer types to create different styles, these styles will be in line with other cards of that type and will also be used to create ‘shinnies’ of normal cards to provide collectors with exciting opportunities to find rares.

The blue hallowed look of the two cards below illustrate how rares of normal types may look – I believe this visual effect is exciting and different enough from the regular format for players to see them as distinct and separate from the normal cards. I was influenced by ********* (find link).

The four cards below show an early concept for Stamina cards – used in game to charge attacks and movement on the board – the more significantly powerful the card the more exciting the visuals are to indicate this immediately to players.

Thursday

Thursday has been a day to really get some good preparation work done, I’ve printed all 72 cards 3 times to make sure I have enough cards for deck building on Mondays Play-testing session – hopefully – this will be enough for players but it will certainly be a learning experience for sure; I’m hoping to gain a much better understanding on Monday of what is needed by players to have a great playing experience.

The images below follow my progress throughout the day, from this initial image of the cards all cut out and the blank mat ready to be pencilled in to the fully ‘rendered’ mat with playing cards ready and a questionnaire to gather useful feedback from players.

img_6415.jpg

While I was mapping out the card placement I had a small idea to change the location of the attacking cards from the back position to the front, this seems to visually illustrate their purpose better – in my opinion- and makes it easier for players to slide their cards towards the opponents.

Another issues comes out of this concept of placement – that being with the idea of the defence position being a vital part of the design – I have positioned these cards in-front of the Totem in order to create a blockage preventing direct attacks.

Discussion:

“Attack Position VS Defense Position

Cards in either of these positions serve different functions.

Defence cards prevent attacks directly to the Totem and are unable to attack while in this placement.

Attack cards are unable to defend the Totem but are able to freely attack opponents Characters.”

“Is there any purpose to removing the defending cards ability to attack while in the defense position – they currently gain no boost to defense by doing this and ultimately the position makes these cards useless other than for the purpose of them simply being a shield. Should I consider either boosting defense in this position or allowing both cards to attack as normal with no boost to defense for either?”

I hope through play-testing I will be able to answer this question in collaboration with the players experiencing this affect first hand.

img_6419.jpg

The finished mocked up playing mat (pictured below)

Questions I need to answer through play-testing:

  • Is the layout appropriate, easy to understand and easy to navigate around?
  • Does the placement of each component aid in game-play or hinder it in your opinion?
  • Could the design be improved in anyway?

img_6424.jpg

The finished mat with playing cards set up to illustrate game-play (pictured below).

img_6425

Further reflection

An immediate issue with some of the cards is that some indicators, such as: backlash and movement, are not immediately recognisable as concepts and are confusing in regards to strategy planning.

It is important to understand whether this is an issue of familiarity with the game itself or an issue of exclusion and therefore does this feature need to be changed in hopes to prevent isolating new players?

img_6421.jpg

This process has allowed me to reflect on important mechanics, concepts and rules that need to be explained to players in order to experience the game fully. I have documented these in the following pages, I will bring these to the play-testing event in order to help explain these concepts to new players. Through this process I will be able to see better whether or not my game makes sense, is easy to understand and learn and can be understood and therefore lead to excitement in new players?

I have provided a survey questionnaire in order to gain some better insight into user opinions and thoughts of this process, I will use this feedback to refine my approaches and mechanics to make the game a more enjoyable experience for players.


Testing Thursday Night

img_6435

Notes from todays play-testing session

Key takeaway = Not fully working (see notes for potential strategy)

Character cards

  • IF too many cards are in the deck it’s too easy to maintain defenses,

Potential solution: in order to prevent this I suggest limiting the amount of Character Cards that can be placed per turn. This will hopefully slow down this process and allow for more strategic planning by both players.

Attacks per turn

  • How many is too many – should there be a limit to prevent someone gaining an extreme advantage?
  • If all characters can attack the game ends too quickly (assumption based on testing),
  • When only one character could attack the game went too slow and it was too easy for the opponent to re-defend themselves when their turn started (verified through testing).

Conclusion: a consenus needs to be established to provide the most balanced attacks per turn for optimal play.

Potential solution: two attacks per turn seems like a good number as it correlates directly to the mat layout (2 attack slots per person, 1 on either side) – this allows defenses to be broken down at a good speed – preventing but not removing the possibility of building defenses up again.

Attack damage issues

  • Some attacks were far too overpowered, in example 50(x) made it so that more than 100 damage per turn was possible to any one of the opponents characters – this perhaps is too overpowered, however, the dice roll system seems to prevent a decent amount of attacks to negate this issue.
  • (+) or (x) might have to be decided as this made calculations confusing.

Potential solution: implement either (+) or (x) and see how this plays out,

IF the (x) system is implemented than it is essential to lower the basic attack damage of all characters to remove unfair advantages OR I could make it harder to use these attacks by increasing the stamina cost of the card.

IF the (+) system is implemented than no changes need to be made at this time (further testing should be done).

Stamina issues

  • Not enough stamina cards can be accumulated during play – as there is too few in the decks,
  • Totals do not always add up properly so it’s hard to track how much stamina is left after an attack,
  • Too much Stamina is needed on some cards too attack (needs balancing)

Conclusion: the current system just isn’t working.

Potential solution: at the beginning of each turn, each player rolls two dice to calculate Stamina gain – they may apply this to their cards in any way they like using green tokens (these tokens will come in sequences of 10s, 20s, 50s, 70s, 100s) – health is likely to be managed this way as well using red tokens instead of green to show obviously the difference between the two.

I am not yet sure what the dice rolls will signifiy – whether two dice will be added as 10s or whether one die is in 100s and the other in 10s – this needs further testing. So far the current testing indicates that the two 10s works okay and isn’t too overpowered.

Stamina further

Is Stamina retained or removed after a successfull attack or move is completed?

  • No testing has been done on the new system – however – on the old system it meant that Stamina was lost too fast and too often to make the game enjoyable.

A Stamina transfer card should be implemented.

Totem health

  • Initially tried 200 – this was too little when a weapon was used as they are quite overpowered currently – if they are destroyed after each turn this helps balance, however, it doesn’t prevent another weapon being added next turn and the attack repeated.
  • 300 would be more appropriate if weapons are kept in their current state, otherwise no damage was dealt to the Totem by regular player attacks due to unrefined attacking rules.
  • This feature needs to be tested further.

Totem Attacks

  • When a Totem is equiped with a weapon it seems appropriate that the Totem can ONLY attack the opposing Totem – is this statement still true through further testing?

Card Playing

How many cards of each type should be played each turn?

  • 1 character a turn made it harder to gain an immediate advantage – good solution,
  • 1 item a turn made gaining stamina very hard – this may be solved by removing the stamina cards and replacing this mechanic (as explained above) – if this helps than 1 item a turn seems a reasonable balance.
  • 1 weapon a turn (needs further testing)
  • 1 movement seemed adequate,
  • 1 support seems adequate too.

Defenses

  • IS there a definable purpose to this position?
  • Should they be allowed single use weapons in order to attack?
  • How easy is it to break through the defense?

Conclusion: needs much more testing.

Ergonomics

  • white text is hard to read due to printing (perhaps re-sizing and editing may help – or this may not be an issue at all with professional printing and laminating),
  • bottom left corner is hard to read due to the same issues.

Strategy for improvement:

  • A consenus needs to be established to provide the most balanced attacks per turn for optimal play.
  • Implement either a (+) or (x) system and see how this plays out,
  • Change Stamina system (at the beginning of each turn, each player rolls two dice to calculate Stamina gain – they may apply this to their cards in any way they like using green tokens),
    • Need green and red tokens to symbolise stamina and health (left-over vs damage),
  • A Stamina transfer card should be implemented.
  • Totem health and damage needs to be tested and refined,
  • How many cards of each type should be played each turn? (implement 1 card of each type per turn and see what happens),
  • Defenses need further testing (are they relevant?),
  • Make white text more visable,
  • 2 Dice are needed for Stamina generation per turn.

Friday

Progress on card changes

Attacks have been changed to fit the following rule, I’m hoping this will make the characters more balanced and playable. A similar rule has been established for Supports as well. I’m planning on adding magnitism to all supports in order to create more useability.

Rarity 1: Stamina (20), Health (60), Attack (10),

Rarity 2: Stamina (50), Health (70-80), Attack (20-30),

Rarity 3: Stamina (70), Health (80-90), Attack (30-40),

Rarity 4: Stamina (90), Health (90-100), Attack (40-50),

Rarity 5: Stamina (110), Health (100-130), Attack (50+).

I plan on conducting research based on the balancing techniques of other similar games. I will be making an excell data-sheet to analyse this data and look for possitive solutions. (below is a post showing an example of what sort of information I need).

Pokemon Card research damage per energy.png

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Some new artwork added (just a placeholder for now):

46

Counters crafted (to test concept):

Counters1

Notes from todays planning on: rules, structure, strategy for balancing and discussions about the defense cards purpose:


Output Total

  • Total list of cards (updated and refined through play-testing)
  • Counters have been drafted, printed and created as prototypes,
  • Rules have been drafted and scripted for the play-testing session Monday,
  • 1 Testing session has been completed,
  • New artwork has been added.

Not Done

  • Rule book not finished (needs further testing).

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