This week was perhaps my most rewarding week working on Denizen, it was also one of my most productive. I began the week by finishing the design for my NPC characters, adding controller support and testing a Mac build. I ended the week by conducting playtests of Denizen with ten players.
Adding controller support was quite frustrating, Unity’s built in input manager can be quite rigid and unwieldy. Detecting controllers can sometimes be a pain and the whole process just feels more difficult than it should be. Thankfully, Unity is in the process of redeveloping their input manager, so in the future this shouldn’t be such a nightmare.
The Mac build also had numerous issue, one of the stranger problems was that some of the joystick axis were inverted by default. My save manager script also failed to save sometimes and other times would be fine. My code for detecting controllers and updating UI based on whether a controller was connected also didn’t work. I couldn’t fix any of the issues because I don’t own a Mac and the available Macs in our studio had an older version of Unity installed. Apparently, you can’t open a Unity project in an older version of Unity, which makes sense. Thankfully the Macs have been updated and so I should be able to fix the issues, unfortunately this might take a while depending on how difficult these issues are to solve. I’d rather not have to build a Mac version at all, but we will be using Macs at our events in Winchester and London. Windows just isn’t cool enough.
I ended the week by conducting playtests of the first and second level with ten people on the course. This was by far the most rewarding part of developing Denizen so far. It was an amazing feeling to see players interacting with my designs in ways I had predicted and some I had not. Some attempted to solve puzzles in ways I hadn’t even imagined and others solved them exactly as I had designed. Observing someone else play my game and seeing them make completely different decisions than I would have provided me with a huge amount of feedback. Based on this, I could implement numerous changes to the puzzle designs and tutorials which I think make Denizen so much better. I ended the week by redesigning most of the game’s puzzles based on playtesters feedback and my observations. It was a huge validation of the work I have been doing.
Next week I’m planning to begin working on Denizen’s sound design by creating music and sound effects. I also need to create my NPC character assets at some point and get them in game, but audio will be my priority. There is an external playtest scheduled for Friday in which I will be able to playtest Denizen again with people outside of the Games Design and Art course. I’m looking forward to seeing if the changes I made from the first playtest will fix any issues players had.