Before taking 247G, I did not fully recognize the value of playtesting. Haven previously taken another 247 and d.school classes, I recognized the importance of user testing and feedback. However, in game design, playtesting was invaluable. Unlike apps which have a certain level of uniformity, games tend to be more creative and thus may be why it required more testing. Many logic puzzles that I thought were incredibly intuitive were simply not. For instance, in my group’s game Perfect Partner, the goal of our first puzzle was too unlock an iPhone, so we hid a sticky note with clues on how to unlock the iPhone in a drawer in the bedroom that the narrator wakes up. Going to our first play-test, I was worried that out puzzle was too easy. Yet, our playtester took 30 minutes to simply find the sticky note that contained the hints to unlock the iPhone. To him, finding the sticky note was the puzzle! Thus, we decided to scratch giving hints on the sticky note and just write the password on the sticky note, changing a logic based puzzle to exploratory. Saying this, I did not empathize/understand my playtester’s difficulty until I playtested my classmates’ games; I found games and puzzles that were designed to be simple downright confusing and sometimes impossible to solve. Puzzles were always harder than the creator expected! Many games made my brain hurt and caused a level of frustration that released games did not; it made me wonder, on average how many playtests did games have to go through before being released in the marketplace? How many playtests are necessary to find a game’s balance of challenging and fun.
Through this class, I learned how complex games truly are. While I love board and card games, I never thought about game mechanics or the level of fun a game brings, whether it was discovery, challenge, narrative, etc. Now, when I play games, I think about them more critically and analyze its machanics.
Perhaps, the most challenging part of the class was not the class material but rather navigating team dynamic, especially in project 2. I was lucky enough to be placed on a team where everyone was incredibly passionate about our project. Saying this, our team decided to do an entirely digital project on Unity. Despite being a CS major, I did not have any experience with Unity; thus, I worked on our game’s narrative and puzzles. This was my first class project that I did not have the ability to contribute on every part of the project, which definitely took some getting used too. It was especially hard because I felt everyone could jump in and give their thoughts on the narrative and the puzzles, yet I did not have an ability to help debug. Additionally, my team contained 6 people, so it was sometimes difficult to voice my opinion. Through this experience, I became more aware of my capabilities and came to accept the fact that I cannot help with everything and instead I should just focus on what I can contribute to the project and do it to the best of my abilities.
Next time that I design a game, I would do more playtesting! Playtesting was incredibly helpful, and with every round of playtesting, our team gained valuable insight. I also would play more narrative games – or whatever type of fun that I am creating – as the best way to learn and more importantly be inspired is simply to play!