OddBall Screenshot Saturday #6

11:49 AM June 9, 2012
Here is Screenshot Saturday number six! I've done quite a bit of work on OddBall this week, but most of it has not been in the graphics department. Most of my game development time has been spent on reconfiguring my tutorials and levels.

Originally, I wanted to use a few quick tutorial levels at the start of the game to teach the player the basics and how to use all of the powerups and abilities. I could then throw the player into the "normal" game levels and they would have all of the powerups at their disposal for solving the puzzles. I managed to squeeze all of the desired instructions into 10 short tutorial levels (all of which were interactive and had the bare minimum for explanations). After tweaking these levels many, many times I was quite happy with how I managed to get so much information into relatively few levels. However, I then let some others test it out.

You see, as it happens many times with this sort of thing, I became too close to the work and lost perspective on how a truly new player would feel playing the tutorial for the first time. As you design, create, tweak, change, test, test, and test some more you learn all of the tricks. The levels you are constantly updating and testing become very easy to complete as a result. It becomes harder to judge the true difficultly those levels pose for the first time you play them. So I asked my girlfriend to be a testing guinea pig to see how the tutorial section really flowed. I immediately saw that she was expected to learn too many game strategies within a very short amount of levels. She did not have enough time to get a feel for all of the abilities, and was forced to use a new powerup as soon as she tried the last. Additionally, some of the tutorial levels were just too hard for a beginer of the game.

Clearly my initial idea of keeping the tutorial section short and sweet was not working out. So this week I went back to the drawing board. I reconfigured my level structure and basically got rid of the "tutorial section" completely. Now the player is simply playing the "normal" game levels all of the time. There is no tutorial section you need to graduate from in order to be allowed into the rest of the game. Instead, each new ability or powerup is gradually introduced throughout the regular flow of the game. Of course, the first few levels all have a bit of tutorial-like instruction to ensure the player knows what to do. However, there are now many more connecting levels in between that allow the player to fully understand and experiment with the abilities they have learned. Eventually a new powerup will be introduced with a brief explanation, but there is no longer any real tutorial section. It won't be until somewhere around level 30 that the player has learned all of the powerups, but even then there are still plenty of other game objects that aren't introduced until later.

I think this was an important change for the game that lets it flow much better, but it has required quite a bit of change to the levels and I'm still working on those changes. So, this week's screenshot does not really show any new graphical changes. What it does show is a level with plenty of moving platforms, a button, a moveable crate, collectable Energy Charges, and it also shows the metal ball in "Boost" mode. Happy Saturday :)

OddBall #screenshotsaturday #6

This entry posted by Graham in Velvety Couch Games
Tags: Game Development, OddBalls, ScreenshotSaturday