Archive for the 'wip' Category

The forest for the trees

November 21st, 2008 by Michael

At the joyous occasion of finalizing the forest (not really: we wish we didn’t need to finish anything… -old internet habits die hard), I’m working on the final collision objects for the trees today. It’s a hilariously convoluted process. This is what the “code” looks like for the tree collision objects in the main forest area:

We actually need two collision objects for every tree. One that the characters can see, so they can try to avoid them. And another for the system to try and keep characters from intersecting with the tree in case they didn’t succeed in avoiding it (physics simulation). The row of little blocks at the bottom of the screenshot contains the positions of all trees, one block for every tree. Multiply this by 16 to get the entire forest.

In a test version of the game, the collision objects look like this:
Mmm… Candy cane forest!

New screenshots!

November 19th, 2008 by Michael

rose on the pathgrandmothers house in the rain
robin in a field of flowerscarmen and the woodsman wolf

see larger versions on the gallery page and on flickr

tester #7

November 18th, 2008 by Auriea

tester #7

She is a professional games tester.
We were intimidated at first ;)
Tried to glean how this is _supposed_ to go.
But turns out, of course, there is no one way this happens.
She was *incredibly* thorough.
To the extent that one could consider having a “high score” in The Path,
she is most definitely the record holder.
AND
during her session Michael tracked down a major memory issue.
And now, the fix!
If we could we’d have her on call
for all our game testing emergencies.

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tester #6

November 14th, 2008 by Auriea

tester #6

I hardly sketched him at all because this tester was testing many new features we’d added (or taken away, or tweaked the hell out of) based on feedback of the other testers, and I had to pay close attention. I’m glad he was able to play at all given that Michael and I were chatting, analysing his every move, behind his back for the first 2 hours. Then we left him on his own but he experienced some new bugs that interrupted him on several occasions. Its 5 steps forward and 3 steps back along The Path. I do feel more confident than ever that we can finish the game but at the same time I have to wonder how *any* game gets finished at all. Is there a such thing as bug-free 3d software? He is a fellow artist/computer freak/game geek, so we were able to discuss The Path in the context of those realms between art and games and technology. Some great conversation over afternoon tea. His overall impression was positive and he gave us some interesting feedback on the pacing of the game (which we are concerned with.) It will be nice when we get to beta and can have people test the game all the way through without the bigger distractions of things going haywire. I think next week we will have most of this ironed out though. And perhaps we will have the “ending” scenes completely in place too and can finally test them! onward!

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I’m not a game designer

November 10th, 2008 by Michael

I was adding a new feature to the game in response to some of the test results: guides to finding things in the game world, presented in the form of unlockable functionality. We would even remove some guiding systems from the beginning of the game and unlock them as the players makes progress. Rationally I know it makes perfect sense to do this, and it will almost certainly improve the experience for almost all players. It prevents frustration and it allows for communicating play instructions bit by bit. But implementing the feature made me feel so dirty. Withholding information from the player, even if it is for their own good, is not something that comes naturally to us as designers.

Though it does to us as storytellers. So maybe that’s a way to approach the problem…

tester #5

November 7th, 2008 by Auriea

tester #5

Making this post a few days later so my recollections are not as fresh as with the other tester reports…
This player made me realise how immersive The Path can be. She came at 9 in the morning started playing around 10, after coffee. She was really eager to start playing! Told us she needed to leave around 2 in the afternoon. Before any of us realized, it was time for her to go. Time flew! I take that as a good sign. Seems one can play for a long period of time without getting fatigued or getting bored.
We had tackled many of the show stopping bugs of previous play sessions so she experienced no crashes at all! Yes! There was only one major glitch. And we noticed some issues with finding things in the forest that we will improve. She was able to play as each of the girls and gave us a really good chance to make lists of what we will need to put into a manual and what information we can convey through the game itself. As a casual gamer (she’d played many browser-based games, for example) she was able to give us insights as to what attracted her to our game. This is useful to know as we hope to market heavily to adults who think 3d video games are “for kids.”
I am very pleased by the variety of people we are having over for these testing days!

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tester #4

November 4th, 2008 by Auriea

tester #4
It occured to me this morning as I watched tester #4 play that we are asking a lot of patience on the part of players of The Path. So many times we are forcing people with the design to slow down, build tension, look around carefully, let go of control. It will be interesting to find out how many people find this an attractive aspect of the game… will get the idea why we are wanting them to do that… or will it just be a source of urges to skip the cut-scenes push the girls to do what you want, run faster, etc. not that any of that will do you any good. ;)
He was a bit impatient with the game I think. Still enjoyed himself though.

It was exhausting to see that as bugs get fixed others spring up, where you least expect them. Wish some of these would just magically disappear… lets see if little elves sneak in and do all the fixes while we sleep tonight! :)

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tester #3

October 28th, 2008 by Auriea

tester #3

Today’s tester was someone who, at last, is very much a gamer! And also a male, also in a younger age group than the other testers so far. This was great because we could discuss our game in relation to other games as well as just have some all around geek-out game talk. :) He was very comfortable just jumping right in and playing The Path without us having to explain much of anything. He tested with the joystick controller and the keyboard. His play style was very different from the other 2 also in that he invented in the game certain challenges for himself. He had a amazing mind for 3d orientation, finding some of the things we do -on purpose- to disorient the player a bit frustrating. We were excited at how he truly embraced the narrative of the game though!

Again, a big list of bugs! We’re going to take a few days out from the testing and work on everything that has come up recently. We will begin again with this exercise next week.

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tester #2

October 28th, 2008 by Auriea

02
She was elegantly dressed. She chose to use the keyboard rather than a joystick “because I am not a gamer, I am comfortable with a keyboard,” she said.
After an orientation where we explained controls and some basic info about the game. After the coffee and the croissants. She played tirelessly all day, and diligently wrote out all the bugs she found. A great help! And she helped us decide to include on a feature which all future players may thank her for ;) . She volunteered to come back another day next month and I think her familiarity with the game will come in handy to evaluate the fixes and tweeks we’re about to make.

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tester #1

October 25th, 2008 by Auriea

tester #1 We sent out a notice to our mailing list last week that if anyone would like to come to our studio and help us bug test the current builds of The Path they could set up a time with us via email. These tests are happening one person at a time and every night we try to fix the bugs found the previous day so the next tester can find what we missed and help us keep our to-do lists full of new bugs >.<
As people come to play I will draw them… just because, that is what I do if I have to sit still without a computer for any length of time. :p

Anyway, we had our first official tester of The Path come over today. What a difference it makes for us to see the game through a fresh set of eyes! We’re so busy making the game that it can be hard to find the time to really examine the total effect of a play through… or we just don’t see it anymore because we are always looking in such a specific way at specific things as we work. When someone comes and just PLAYS we see the game finally as it was intended! And we are very very happy with what we’re seeing so far!

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