Norwich Games Festival

 

Image courtesy of Adam Procter 

 

Bobbie, Adam and I all went up to the Norwich Games Festival to exhibit Hurry Hurry Heal Me.

The exhibition was a free event and something Bobbie and I had planned to go to with the help of Adam.

The festival was within The Forum, an glass fronted open building in the centre of Norwich.

I was unsure what to expect at the festival, as I had never been there before. I had imagined it to be about 4 games in the middle of the building with a small amount of traffic and very little organisation. However I was pleasantly surprised when we got there, everything was set up in advance for us, we had a table and power, which was great. All we had to go was set up the television and the pop up banner and we were ready. There was a large indie area with around 10 games, as well a concept art section, VR room, retro area and varies shops and competitions going on. There was a lot going on, much more than I had imagined, and it certainly drew in the crowds.

 

The exhibition ran from 10 -4 with an hour to set up in the morning. When setting up the game was initially lagging on the screen, which we put down to Bobbie’s computer struggling to run it. Moving to Adam’s computer the game ran a lot smoother and everything was set for the day.

 

During the exhibition, Bobbie, Adam and I needed to be the tutorial screens and would explain the game to anyone who wanted to play. It took us a while to get into the flow of explaining, with players in the first hour of the festival more confused as how to play than ones later on. I learnt that we needed to tell player to look and remember what the shape under their character was. Too often people would just look at the colour and then become very lost when it changed. This is something we may need to work out how to make clearer in the game-play or in a lobby screen. Though at the festival we couldn’t do this so I just had to make it clear to players that their colour would change and that it was best to look at their shape.

Also I learnt it was best to do a short introduction and then get players into the game and explain the game more within the game-play. Here I could then ensure everyone knew which shape they were by asking and reassuring people. Also I could physically point out and demonstrate where players collect colours and how they would heal someone. So I found having those visual ques was a lot easier to explain how the game worked rather than explaining in words, which people forgot due to the information overload.

 

Images courtesy of Adam Procter 

For the Winchester and London shows, neither Bobbie nor I want to have to constantly be playing and explaining the game to people, like we did at Norwich. It is mentally exhausting and we want players to experience it like they would at home (without our help). Therefore we definitely need to form a set of tutorial screens, that are at the start of the game, to explain it to players. But like us explaining it, we need to use visuals from the game-play to explain the game, so when they come to playing the environment looks familiar and players should be become less confused. Sometime before the next shows Bobbie and I need to sit down and design and implement the tutorial screens into the game, so the game is easier to pick up and understand during the shows.

 

Throughout the day there was a constant but steady flow of people wanting to play the game. This was a good balance of people interested to play and us being able to mentally recharge. We had a surprising amount of interest throughout the day, I feel this was mainly due to the Nintendo Switch drawing kids in who wanted to play with the new console. However is wasn’t a bad thing as it was that instant hook that got people interested and got them excited and wanting to play. So I feel definitively developing for a new console is a great way to get more people excited about your game. Though it is scary and challenging to do, I feel it certainly pays off once you get it out to the public, as it helps in part to advertise the game for you and get people excited by it, even though they know nothing about it. I would recommend others utilising new technology as a way of helping to build excitement for a product.

 

I found the day to be a great testing session, we gained a lot of feedback (listed below) from people who have to connection to Bobbie or I and also no prior knowledge of the game, therefore it was honest unbiased opinions from people.

 

Images courtesy of Adam Procter

 

The day was filled with families and it was a great chance to get a range of age groups playing the game, as previously it was prominently tested using other students our age. With Hurry Hurry Heal Me being a family friendly game, the game needed to be tested on families, to show that the audience can all understand it and enjoy playing it. So I found the day to be super useful in helping us see how younger children and older adults interact with the game. There were several families that we had play the game where the kids became very animated and would start shouting at their parents to heal them or stop moving. This is what I wanted to happen when I came up with the idea of the game. Its so satisfying to see that Bobbie and I have managed to evoke these reactions from people, that I had planned months ago. I feel this has solidified in my mind that as a team we have successfully create a prototype that shows the concept of the game, with players interacting and responding with it other as planned. Achievement complete!

The game definitely worked best with families, when mum and dad were playing or when there was a group of people who knew each other. Players were more comfortable to tell people they knew what to do rather than strangers. Reactions and responses to the game were greater with families, which makes sense as this is a key part of our target audience. Like I’ve explained above, it shows that the game is enjoyable for that demographic, which is what we were aiming, so we have developed the game successfully.

 

Overall I feel the day was a success, we got people who had no knowledge of the game to understand it, get into it, and shout at each other – like we had designed. The event was well organised and so easy to get ourselves sorted and set up, allowing us to just focus on the getting the public to play the game. I would highly recommend this to other developers and students to exhibit their games here, as it is a very relaxed atmosphere and there are all manor of indie games to player – they don’t need to be polished. Its a great place for testing on players and gaining useful feedback from the public to improve the game and truly understand how people will interact with it. The festival was also a great networking opportunity, as we got to meet some developers from Jagex who were exhibiting a side project there, as well as other students from the games course at Norwich. Which will certainly be useful in the future in terms of jobs or getting help with projects. Get out there and show your work!

 

Feedback

  • Smoother animations
  • Fix bug when two players die at once, multiple player names come up saying who’s died – Fix this bug to select one player to blame
  • Different builds – Accessible with Xbox controllers
  • Make it more obvious who needs healing – ? above someones head
  • Make UI diamond larger to see
  • UI health blends into background – Make clearer

“I would buy it if I had a Nintendo Switch”

 

What Next?

For the Shows

  • Create a set of tutorial screens that explain as concisely and clear as possible – Use visuals
  • Fix the bug where multiple players are shown to have died – Players have someone to blame – Or possibly even change it to a shape as players are more likely to know their shape rather than there player number, as the player number is not shown anywhere in the game.
  • Increase size of UI – Help to make it easier for players to see what colour and how much health they have left – Helps make the game easier to play.

 

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