Hello and Happy Monday!
A bit of a shorter blog post this week as we wind down our final development sprint of the semester. Umbrella Mondays had its first public playtest last Friday (December 8th), and it was a resounding success! We wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who came out and tried our game–your feedback was absolutely incredible!
This playtest was part of an ongoing collaboration between the Umbrella Mondays team and the University of Wisconsin-Stout User Experience Center. Our team has been working with usability experts to make sure that Umbrella Mondays is as user-friendly as possible, and they gave some great advice for conducting our first public playtest. This playtest gave us lots of great insights that will drive our development moving forward. By having people try our game in the prototype stage, we learn which mechanics are intuitive to the player and which ones confuse them, and now we can implement inexpensive changes to our gameplay without losing much time.
Overall, the results of the playtest were overwhelmingly positive, which was amazing! For the two days prior to the playtest, our programming team was hard at work assembling all of their scripts into a workable build, and they were beyond pleased that everything went off without a hitch.
But user testing isn’t just about making sure that everything works correctly–it’s about making sure everything works as expected. When a player experiences something unexpected, it breaks immersion and lowers player confidence, both of which we want to avoid. And we certainly had some areas of our game where things were not behaving as you would expect. We plan to tweak the speeds of a lot of our interactions since a lot of testers commented that they felt too slow, as well as incorporate a lot more user interface (UI) cues, narrative, and animations that will hopefully reinforce the mechanics we want players to learn.
In the next couple of weeks, we have plans to do a more formal user test on site at the UW-Stout User Experience Center. There we’ll be able to capture screen recordings of the testing sessions, as well as ask more direct questions of our users and get more targeted feedback about elements of the game that we’re curious about. Our playtest facilitators, Spencer and Travis, got some really good experience during last week’s test, but they were mostly just gauging user reactions–for the UXC sessions they’ll have a formalized script. The formal user test is scheduled for Monday, December 18th! We’ll post times for this upcoming user test on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so keep an eye on those if you’re interested in being a playtester and helping us test the usability of Umbrella Mondays!
We’re hoping to use our last few days before the Stout Game Expo (SGX) to fold in a bunch of art and animation assets that we’ve been working on for the past week! Currently, our build contains the entire first level, and that’s what we’ll be using for future user tests. After SGX, the team will be on Winter Break, but we’ll be back in early 2018 with more updates!
If you missed last week’s playtest (or if you want to play it some more), we hope you’ll stop by the SGX this Wednesday, December 13th, from 6pm-9pm in the Memorial Student Center Great Hall! Hope to see you there!