Mobility releases February 17th!

How I do playtests

February 5, 2018

A quickly drawn picture of a notepad and someone playing a game in front of a laptop.

I play a lot of indie games, as well as a lot of itch.io stuff– small­er, short­er and sim­pler games. What I often notice, though, is that some of these games have real­ly tiny but frus­trat­ing issues that could’ve been pre­vent­ed, or moments where I just get stuck think­ing the game glitched out.

One tool you could use to help to avoid these frus­trat­ing moments is playtest­ing, which will help you to spot the most obvi­ous issues in your game that could pre­vent enjoy­ment. How­ev­er, playtest­ing will face you with the ugly faces of your game– espe­cial­ly the first few tests, where you can see all of your game’s short­com­ings. It can be depress­ing, and might make you reluc­tant to do tests at all. This post urges you to press on, because playtests intro­duce the ele­ment that com­pletes your game: the play­ers.

You will need to move the game out of the bub­ble it’s being devel­oped in. When you give it to some­one else, you will learn new things about your own game. These can be either good or bad, infor­ma­tive or not real­ly help­ful. You’ll need to learn to deal with that. Don’t make it the player’s fault (‘You’re play­ing it wrong!’), instead, look at where it is going wrong on the design lev­el, as objec­tive­ly as pos­si­ble. It is human ten­den­cy to do this— I find watch­ing playtests embar­rass­ing, per­son­al­ly. It can be scary, but in the end, it’s for the good of the game.

In this post I explain which playtest­ing progress works for me. I playtest my games from time to time, so hav­ing a struc­ture for orga­niz­ing it is pret­ty help­ful. It was designed to be effi­cient: get as much use­ful info from tests while orga­niz­ing as few of them as pos­si­ble. I’m intend­ing this post for peo­ple who want to get start­ed with playtest­ing, so if you already have a pro­ce­dure that works for you, please stick to it!

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Favorite games in 2017

December 31, 2017

For my own record, here are my favorite games I played in 2017. Just like last year, I don’t real­ly mind if a game was released this year or some­time before—just that I played it in 2017. The list is no par­tic­u­lar order.

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How to record gameplay footage

April 11, 2017

(This post is pri­mar­i­ly intend­ed for those invit­ed to playtest my games– but you might also find this infor­ma­tion use­ful if you’re look­ing into sim­ple record­ing soft­ware your­self. Enjoy!)

Record­ing game­play footage cre­ates the most use­ful infor­ma­tion for me, while keep­ing the work­load for you low, aside from actu­al­ly test­ing the game. It can be a bit tricky to set up, so here’s how it works.

Please do a test run of your record­ing pro­gram to make sure it works and is set up cor­rect­ly! Thanks!

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About UI friction, or ‘Death of the Title Screen’

March 13, 2017

I love UI and UX. It’s quite hard to design, and takes a long time to get right, but it’s so sat­is­fy­ing when you ulti­mate­ly get it right. I’m cur­rent­ly work­ing on the UI of my pre­ci­sion plat­former Mobil­i­ty, and I’ve seen a lot of both good and bad exam­ples late­ly, so I thought I’d write about the sub­ject more in-depth.

The goal of most UI, no mat­ter if it’s for an appli­ca­tion, a game menu, the inter­face of an oper­at­ing sys­tem, or what­ev­er, it’s to get the user from A to B as fast as pos­si­ble. That means it’s both obvi­ous to the users/players which actions they need to take in order to accom­plish their goal, as well as hav­ing as lit­tle steps between A and B as pos­si­ble. In the con­text of a game, this usu­al­ly means that the play­er can get from boot­ing the game to actu­al game­play as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, and for big­ger games, that users can com­fort­ably nav­i­gate inven­to­ry, shop and trade menus.

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Sokobanana design

February 7, 2017

Let’s con­tin­ue the tra­di­tion of explain­ing the design of my games using my lat­est cre­ation, Sokobanana! I’m pri­mar­i­ly mak­ing these so I can ref­er­ence my design choic­es lat­er in case I for­get them, but I’m putting them on my blog for every­one to see. This con­tains spoil­ers for the puz­zles of Sokobanana, so play that first so you know what I’m talk­ing about. You might need to click ‘Read more’ to dis­play the entire post.

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