So last Thursday we had our second beta testing evening, and this time we were fully prepared! Builds installed, equipment set up and food & drinks ready before our first tester even set foot into the building.
Our mission for this week was not so much rating the user experience, but rather looking at the more technical stuff. Analyzing gameplay, looking at the balance of levels, difficulty modes and the comparison between single player and 2 to 4 player coop mode.
We’ll give you a quick overview.
First thing we looked at was how people played through the different levels. How fast do they pick up on the controls, enemy mechanics and the different paths they can take? All of these were very dependent on the player. Some more experienced gamers went into the controls menu because they wanted to know their options straight away, whereas the more casual testers opted for a more on-the-go approach. As for enemy mechanics, everyone seemed to have their own learning curve. How many bullets will you take to the face before you start hitting that crouch button?
After analyzing the basic gameplay, we started looking more specifically at how our testers were going through the different levels. So we had a peek over their shoulders in order to find out whether our level design was a fun and challenging as we hoped it would be (spoiler: it was).
A combination of jumping puzzles, heights to climb and depths to explore proved to be a working combination to both entertain and challenge our testers.
Finding a good balance between difficulty settings is a tricky thing. Easy mode can’t equal god mode and ‘impossible’ can’t actually be impossible. But before we could go into modifying these, there first had to be a solid version of normal mode. This is where both testing evenings really helped us.
After establishing said build, we could start working on easy, hard and impossible. Now there’s a lot of stuff that goes into balancing a difficulty mode, we’ll give you a rough idea on how that goes:
Step 1: pick a topic. This can be anything from health and damage modification to spawns.
Step 2: have a huge brainstorming session/discussion and decide on the best idea.
Step 3: stare at our programmer until he implemented said feature.
Step 4: testing time!
Step 5: approve/disprove, repeat.
Single Player vs Local Coop
Last but not least, we’ve analyzed the differences between coop and single player. The way both modes were played differentiated a lot: single players were generally focused, concentrating on making the right moves and making progress fast, while in coop people were taking a lot more casual approach, stressing fun and laughs over accomplishment.
Finding a good balance between the two is something we’re working on very actively at the moment. It’s something that requires a lot of time and testing of multiple developers, but we are making good progress!
To close up we thank you for reading, and as always: keep an eye on the website, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/gunsgorecannoli ) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/crazymonkeystu ) to stay up to date with the state of the game!