I conducted the first playtest by simply inviting members of the Games Design and Art course to play the game. I recorded their gameplay and reactions with my laptop. Unfortunately the quality of the audio was ruined by my laptop’s fan. The sound it makes is so loud that you can hardly hear what anyone is saying. However, the video quality is good and I made sure to take notes during each tester’s playthrough. In future, I will make sure to record the audio using an external microphone so that I can capture everything during the playtest. Nethertheless, I have uploaded the playtests, so if you can put up with the audio you can watch them below. Each playtest also includes a brief conversation about the game at the end, because the game isn’t playing you can hear what is going on better. Below I have also recorded the time it took each tester to complete each puzzle and also any noteworthy information about their playthrough, I will be using this data to compare the results of this playtest with subsequent playtests. At the bottom of this page is a section detailing the changes I’ve made to the game based on this first playtest session.
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:23
- Puzzle 1-2: 01:38
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:33
- Puzzle 1-4: 01:38
Liam explored the easy section and solved it the easy way without exploring the harder section at all.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:43
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:08
After Liam broke the spikes he continued to push the block into the next puzzle. Breaking the spikes seemed confusing.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:20
- Puzzle 2-4: 05:11
Liam noticed the broken chain link as a clue that he had to break the block off of the chain. However, trying to push the block into the door was quite fiddly.
- Total Play Time: 15:32
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:28
- Puzzle 1-2: 04:00
Tutorial was unclear, causing multiple deaths. Jess wasn’t aware that you needed to run and jump off of the companion.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:29
- Puzzle 1-4: 02:21
Solved the hard way first but didn’t use the block on the switch. Then solved the puzzle the easy way.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:17
- Puzzle 2-2: 01:02
A poor checkpoint put Jess at the beginning of the puzzle. Jess tried to use the block as a bridge instead of using it to destroy the spikes. I tested whether you could use the block in this way to solve the puzzle and it is possible.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:13
- Puzzle 2-4: 01:44
- Total Play Time: 16:37 (Including Restart)
Restarted because the companion was tilted sideways at the beginning of the game. This is likely an animation bug of some kind, although I wasn’t able to recreate this since.
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:11
Accidentally skipped the tutorial which explained that calling the companion when it is close will tell it to wait. Figured this out quickly anyway.
- Puzzle 1-2: 02:03
Claudia also found the tutorial unclear.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:14
- Puzzle 1-4: 02:44
Claudia went to the easy section first and then explored the harder section after. Eventually solving the puzzle the easy way.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:50
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:38
Claudia left when the keeper told her to leave and the camera stayed with the keeper and zoomed out until the player was not longer visible on the screen. She then tried to use the block as a bridge like Jess.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:06
Claudia died at the end of this puzzle, but triggered the checkpoint which meant she respawned on the other side of the puzzle.
- Puzzle 2-4: 04:11
Again, like Liam, Claudia found trying to put the block inside the door was quite awkward.
- Total Play Time: 17:41 (Including Restart)
Restarted because the companion wouldn’t follow the player over the slope between puzzle 1-3 and 1-4. This was a bug with the companion’s slope detection code.
- Puzzle 1-1: 01:19
- Puzzle 1-2: 04:06
Bobbie found the tutorial unclear and died multiple times.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:39
- Puzzle 1-4: 02:26
Bobbie went to the harder solution first and solved it.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:06
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:09
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:30
Bobbie found it difficult to see the pins falling down and also managed to die and reach the checkpoint like Claudia.
- Puzzle 2-4: 01:24
Because Bobbie solved this puzzle the hard way the first time, she had to redo it.
- Total Play Time: 16:24 (Including Restart)
Restarted because of the same bug Claudia experienced. Bobbie felt the movement speed was too slow, but was the only one to give me this feedback. I’m hesitant to re-examine the movement speed until I get more feedback.
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:11
- Puzzle 1-2: 00:48
Millie didn’t find the tutorial particularly confusing and solved the puzzle with only one death.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:16
- Puzzle 1-4: 02:15
Millie went towards the easy solution first and then explored the harder section, eventually solving it the easy way.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:31
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:12
Mille tried to use the block as a bridge, but accidentally broke the spikes.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:45
Died and hit the checkpoint like Claudia and Bobbie.
- Puzzle 2-4: 04:00
Millie tried to put the block on the elevator and then tried to snap the block off the chain with the door.
- Total Play Time: 14:06
James (Year 3)
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:10
- Puzzle 1-2: 00:37
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:13
- Puzzle 1-4: 01:09
James went straight to the harder solution first, although he had played this puzzle before. He solved the puzzle the easy way, but remembered solving it the harder way the first time he tested the puzzle. He couldn’t figure out how to open the door at the bottom of the puzzle. Otherwise, I think he would have solved it the harder way.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:35
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:11
Like Claudia, Jess and Millie, James also tried to use the block as a bridge, but then accidentally broke the spikes after pushing the block too far. This is an unforseen way to solve this puzzle, but I quite like it. Like Liam, James also pushed the block into the next puzzle.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:19
As most testers did, James died on this puzzle but hit the checkpoint.
- Puzzle 2-4: 01:43
Once James remembered he could open the door, it was just a case of doing the puzzle.
- Total Play Time: 10:06
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:32
- Puzzle 1-2: 01:24
Sam found the tutorial a bit unclear, but managed well.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:54
Sam had some difficulty with running and jumping on this section, but finished with only two deaths.
- Puzzle 1-4: 01:57
Sam went to the easy solution first and solved it. After solving it, she explored the harder section and then moved on.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:28
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:39
Like Claudia, when the Keeper told Sam to leave she explored left until the camera zoomed out too far. She then tried to use the block as a bridge and accidentally pushed it into the spikes like the majority of testers did.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:05
Sam solved this by holding right and jumping no matter what, luck was on her side.
- Puzzle 2-4: 07:07
Sam noticed the clue with the broken chain link, but originally thought that she had to sway the block to break it off. Like others, she also found that getting the block in the door was quite awkward.
- Total Play Time: 19:51
James (Year 2)
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:53
James got a little bit stuck here and took longer than others to grasp the controls, I think he accidentally opened the gate.
- Puzzle 1-2: 02:50
James also found this tutorial unclear, like others, James was using the companion’s lift ability without moving beforehand. Instead, like Jess, James was trying to jump and then move.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:28
- Puzzle 1-4: 03:03
James explored the easy section first and then the harder section. He then solved the puzzle the easy way.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:38
- Puzzle 2-2: 01:11
James first tried to jump over the gap, the checkpoint then placed him at the beginning of the level which meant that he had to do 2-1 again. He then tried to use the block as a bridge and accidentally pushed it into the spikes.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:16
Like almost everyone, James died on the last jump but hit the check point.
- Puzzle 2-4: 04:23
James was the only tester who needed help to solve this puzzle. Although he was really close to solving it himself. I think this is because of how awkward it is to get the block inside the door. James felt like it was the correct approach, but couldn’t quite manage it. With a little prompting he was able to complete the puzzle.
- Total Play Time: 20:20
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:10
- Puzzle 1-2: 03:02
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:29
- Puzzle 1-4: 04:05
James explored the hard section first and attempted to get the block inside the door. He eventually gave up and solved it the easy way.
- Puzzle 2-1: 01:16
James pushed the block almost all the way to the beginning of the level and then had to go back and push it all the way onto the switch.
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:24
James also attempted to use the block as a bridge and accidentally broke the spikes in the process.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:09
Died, but reached the final checkpoint like almost everyone.
- Puzzle 2-4: 01:30
- Total Play Time: 15:14
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:37
- Puzzle 1-2: 00:56
The tutorial that confused other testers didn’t seem to confuse Adam, although he has played the game before.
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:19
Adam felt like a landing animation would be good when the companion lands from a high fall.
- Puzzle 1-4: 01:56
Adam explored the harder section first and then solve the puzzle the easy way. He felt that the camera suggested to players that they should explore this section first.
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:34
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:55
Like Jess and James (Year 2), Adam tried to jump over the gap the first time, the poor checkpoint made him redo the first puzzle. He then tried to use the block as a bridge and broke the spikes by accident.
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:16
- Puzzle 2-4: 01:39
- Total Play Time: 13:12
- Puzzle 1-1: 00:30
- Puzzle 1-2: 02:08
- Puzzle 1-3: 00:27
- Puzzle 1-4: 02:21
- Puzzle 2-1: 00:36
- Puzzle 2-2: 00:33
- Puzzle 2-3: 00:18
- Puzzle 2-4: 03:17
- Total Play Time: 15:55
- Added a pit underneath the spikes on puzzle 2-2 to prevent players from pushing the block into the next puzzle.
- Increased the length of the chain on puzzle 4 and also increased the width of the room.
Most testers found that positioning the block inside the door was awkward and one tester even gave up because it wasn’t clear that this was possible.
- Expanded the tutorial at 1-2 to better explain the jumping mechanics.
Based on the average playthrough above I can see that puzzle 1-2 takes far too long to solve. From tester feedback I know this is because of the poor tutorial. Some testers were unaware that they needed to run and jump. I have re-written the tutorial to make it clearer.
- Removed the checkpoint at the end of puzzle 2-3.
During puzzle 2-3 most testers died on the final jump, but managed to reach the checkpoint at the same time. This is probably why 2-3 has a lower average completion time than 1-3 despite the companion not being able to help.
- Changed camera focus on puzzle 2-4.
The camera no longer shows as much of the harder section until the player tries to explore that area. Five out of the ten testers explored the hard section first and two managed to solve it the hard way the first time around. However, only one realised they actually solved it.
- Fixed the poor checkpoint at 2-2 which caused Jess, James (Year 2) and Adam to redo 2-1.
- Fixed a bug with the camera which kept focus on the Keeper at 2-2 even when players left the puzzle area.
- Fixed a bug with the companion’s slope detection code which caused the companion to stop following the player.
Along with these bigger changes are many other smaller changes based on these playtests, the majority of those are to fix visual bugs. In general, testers were really positive about the game and gave me great feedback. Player’s connected with the companion and appreciated the puzzle designs. Now that my first playtest is completed, I want to test a further ten players so that I can see if the changes I’ve made have had a positive impact on the game.