Round 2: Naive Guest
Development Time: 2 weeks (group)
Platform: Head Mounted Display
The purpose of this round was to develop a world that a naive guest, one that has neither seen our world nor is necessarily familiar with video games at all, can play through in its entirety. During the presentation, we could provide one verbal instruction to the guest and then we must step away. Stepping away and watching a naive guest play, and in many cases break, the world while saying nothing was one of the most challenging aspects of this round. The lesson of this round really resonated with me as I viscerally saw the importance of playtesting. Communicating clearly and succinctly is an important skill both inside the game space and out.
With the start of Round 2, all of the students are shuffled into new teams. As in the previous round, my new team elected me to the role of producer. Our team was assigned to use the Head Mounted Display (HMD), which would allow the guest to freely look around in a first person perspective. We felt that a space world could provide a good sense of freedom and the science fiction atmosphere could enable us to create clear goals that the naive guest would accept. In Troika, we decided that the guest is the pilot of a wayward ship and must locate and collect a resource for a damaged component in the engine. Moreover, we learned of a fully suspended motion chair available to us and we were eager to integrate it into our world. We felt that by integrating such a tactile interface, it would help engage the naive guest with our experience.
At our final presentation, a thirteen year old boy elected to drive our world. With the single instruction to “Fly into the planets,” he took off away from the game world, away from all of the planets, and straight into a black hole. As we designed it, our play area was curtained by a restricted area that would warn and eventually kill the guest. One of the lessons I took away from this was to create an environment where the experience cannot end while the guest orients themselves to the world. Of the feedback we received, one was to gently guide the guest back into the play area if they wander too far.
In addition to the valuable game design lesson, I started to feel more comfortable with my new role. In particular, learning to create astronomical objects from scratch helped to build my confidence as a new texture artist.