Designed and Collaborated by
Nest went through several hiccups along production, in the end, a playable game was released but it did not meet its potential. This game was meant to be an explorational game where the player is guided through tasks that did not seem tedious or boring but went with the flow of the story. Narrations were implemented to help achieve this.
What went bad?
As mentioned Nest went through several hiccups. Early on in the project, there were some conflicts between designers and the project split. I continued on with the game and had a shot at keeping it true to the original scope. While the scope was still achievable it has a part to play in the next issue that Nest faced, me. While I feel proud of the work I did, I know that things could have gone better. I could have invested more time, research and effort. Being the only Game Designer meant that I had to keep working hard and not loose focus, which I didn’t. I learnt from this that even if I am working on something by myself, it is still very important to keep motivated and stay on top of a schedule. For the most part, issues faced within Nest was people related and the idea was solid and in terms of design.
Two of the biggest mistake was the absence of play testing and in turn the layout/level design. By having no play testing done before realise, there was next to no feedback on important changes. Come presentation day, it became clear that the controls were more difficult to learn than expected. The level was more difficult to navigate as well. From the feedback given, these two things could have easily been rectified.
The controls them self did not fail, it was the lack of communication to the player. No dialogue or controls menu was provided, it was left up to the player to explore the controls and that’s what failed. This was intentional but if play testing was present, then feedback would have been to change this. The design of the level was thought of but missed a few important design decisions. Large landmarks were placed in the level to help give a sense of direction, but these were not thought out well enough. The waterfall was only visible from certain parts of the level, mountains were almost always out of sight, and the trees were massively placed that they blocked allot of the levels detail.
What went well?
Although I mentioned that the controls were a fail, this was due to the lack of communication between the game and the player. Feedback was positive when it came to the idea and it was a key feature in making Nest a unique game. Once the player learnt what the controls were the game became more enjoyable and after learning the first animal movement the next two came allot easier. There is a game called Snake Pass which utilises a similar mechanic method for their snake moment. When looking at the reaction of play testers on YouTube, I noticed that there was allot of enjoyment when figuring out the movement mechanic. Surprising the player with something new generates more interest in the game. If I was to break down issues with Nest; the tasks were monotonous, the level was confusing, the dialog recording quality was bad, and the controls were confusing to learn. So what made most people finish the game? It could have been out kindness, or the visual aspect. Though I think the controls had a part to play in this. For a short project I knew there would be limitations to what could be implemented to make this game work well. Having more than one animal meant it was possible to break down the journey into smaller, more simpler tasks which could be focused on the animal. If only one animal was incorporated then there would be a greater amount of work when designing interactions, exploration, tasks etc that would make playing the animal fun. So the idea of having the player learn unique movement controls worked well with having extra animals. There was a new one to learn each time and it helped bring the player closer to the animal. The movement controls were not random, they were tailored to the how the animal would move. As this game is themed for and potentially played by a child, it was important to think of something that they would enjoy and interact well with. To a child, making the action to hop by flicking the joystick would be more engaging than just pressing forward.
Like I said before, visually the game was pleasing. For a uni game this looked quite nice. I was fortunate enough to find resources online, mostly free, and only end up spending $12 to make the game. Two of the biggest helps was the low-poly forest pack, and the terrain mod. Without the terrain mod, the visual aspect would have been less appealing. One thing that was important in Nest was keeping the visual side close to that of a drawing or a kids game, as this is themed in a children’s picture book. There was lots of feedback on the visual side of the games such as, cute, pretty etc.
Having an experienced person help with the audio dialog helped allot. The person helping on this project has previously performed on stage and knows how to put on a voice. Trying to do this myself would have sounded like just another phone call. It was a shame that the quality did not come out as well as it could have, but I guess that comes with experience and I have gained some knowledge on some recording techniques. And fortunately there were many resources online that help me do some post processing to improve the files.
In conclusion, I am happy with the game. This is something that I could re-open later and improve on greatly. Key things I will take from this; play testing is a must that cannot be avoided, in conjunction with that it is important to focus on the level design and to make sure the player can recognise were they are in a scene, and personal reflection.