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Game On #GO423

This past weekend I attended Brisbane’s annual #GO423 symposium, also known as Game On.

Both days were packed full of talks, panels, and interviews with local and interstate developers. There were some wonderful stories to heard and great insights to be had from Brisbane’s (and by extension Australia’s) vibrant gave dev community, tackling everything from self publishing and changing tech to mental health and quality of life issues.

On the Sunday I was not able to attend any of the seminars as I was presenting a demo of The Eyes of Ara at the Locally Made Games Exhibition. It was wonderful to be able to show the game to the public and hear the feedback, which I’m pleased to say was extremely positive.

Witnessing how different players took to the game was incredibly valuable. Everyone from experienced developers to the general public had a go, ranging from veteran adventure game fans through to people who had never heard the term “point and click” before. From a design perspective, this is invaluable in understanding how players interact with your game. Watching this range of players I was able to glean a better understanding of how different people approach the game, how effective the design is in communicating important information to the player, and how intuitive the gameplay is to pick up with little explanation (I am pleased to report that even though most people skipped past the demo’s tutorial screen they had no trouble playing the game).

I admit I was a little bit concerned about how effectively the game would exhibit. It is after all a slower, more contemplative game that generally requires a bit of time (and quiet) to play. Vastly more difficult to experience at a noisy, crowded exhibition where people are darting from one game to another, than say a fast action game better suited to the quick, jump-in-and-play environment. Yet I was thrilled to see that The Eyes of Ara had no shortage of players lined up to have go.

I like to think that some of this had to do with the demo’s design. Knowing that exhibition environment would be fast and noisy, I tried to account for this. The demo consisted of three rooms and a small sample collection of simple puzzles from the second Chapter of the game, strung together in a custom sequence. The goal was to present a quick taste of what the final game would include in terms of atmosphere, level structure, storytelling, and puzzle design, but be easy and straightforward enough to get through in five to ten minutes.

I am pleased to say that all but one person who sat down to play the demo saw it through to the end, and a few obsessive gamers even managed to find all 10 hidden coins scattered through the rooms.

So thank you to everyone that came along, played the demo, and commented on the game. The feedback was wonderful to hear and I was up early this morning excited to jump straight back into development.

I’m looking forward to next year’s symposium already!

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Ben

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