TL;DR: forms and polls are good. Feedback from anonymous strangers are very important!
It’s been a few months since we started to develop Alchemist’s Castle and finally I am almost sure that all of the planned features are implemented and working! Up to this point, we were testing the game internally and we only showed it to our few close friends. Not because we were shy or anything, it’s just that there was not much to show and most of the stuff was buggy.
Before we begin to design levels, we thought that it would be a good idea to gather some feedback on the current state of the game. So, we quickly created few levels to see if people like the core of the game. Also, we created a Google Form for the convenience. We were not sure if anyone would actually bother to fill it in but we thought that it was worth to try anyway. While the number of participants was not “overwhelmingly high”, it was sufficient to get a general idea. Here are the results of the main questionaire:
After seeing the results I was wery glad that we decided to conduct a survey! While the general responses were not bad, it is clear that the people we showed the game before were not “brutally” honest with us. So family and friends are not the best people to ask for a feedback. Hardly a shocking revelation.
Seeing that graphics were generally liked was a relief since it is the hardest part to change in this project. The tile set featured in the demo is not the only one we have, and personally it is not my favorite either. After adding more varied and more colorful environments, I think the “average graphics score” will go up.
The “Controls” part is where we were deceived by our friends the most. All the feedback we got before this poll was quiet positive. Looking at the graph I can see that this part definitely needs some work.
Other two graphs didn’t surprise us and it is a good news!
Suggestions (most of them anyway)
Now, for the fun part! We also asked for a suggestions and here are some that I would like to about;
Q1: What kind of upgrades would you add to Alchemist’s Castle?
A: Melee weapon (and different weapons in general), teleport, dash, wall jump
We didn’t add melee weapon due to couple of reasons. The character we are playing is an alchemist’s apprintice. Basically a medieval geek and physical power is not his strongest virtue. Also we want to focus more on platforming, exploration and puzzle solving rather than combat.
Teleport is actually a good suggestion. Easy to implement and can be used as a puzzle solving element. I don’t know why we didn’t thought about it. It is possible that we will include it in the final version.
Dash is also a good suggestion, which I thought about. However it is hard to implement at this point.
Wall jump is a feature we already implemented but since double jump serves practically the same purpose we decided to discard it.
Q2: What kind of mechanics would you add to Alchemist’s Castle?
A: Swimming, limited ammo.
I agree that swimming would be nice. We also thought about manupulating water level in some rooms as a puzzle element. But we decided that it would be too much work for this project (scope is important).
We didn’t make the ammo limited since it is our only weapon. However, the more I think about it the more sense it makes. We may include this mechanic in the final version.
Q3: What did you hate the most in this demo?
A: It was short, unfitting music and absence of sound effects, jump.
We wanted to test the controller and see if people like the visual style of the game. Lenghty and challanging gameplay was not our priority. Don’t worry though, final game will be a couple hours long.
Current music is a placeholder and we didn’t include any sound effects yet.
Jump. I think this is why people didn’t like how it feels to control the character. I will work on it some more.
Q4: What did you like the most in this demo?
A: Graphics, it was fun to play, fast gameplay.
Most people praised different visual assets like the player character, the ghost or death of a bat.
Seeing that people also liked the gameplay as a whole was a relief since it means that the character controller is not too bad.
Q5: Anything we forgot to ask? Any suggestions?
A: Lore and story in general.
Don’t worry, there is a story! In fact there is a story for the prequel as well!
Despite the fact that there were not too many participants we managed to gather some valuable data. Perhaps we will do a similar poll before release of the game just to see if we can tweak something.
Again, thanks to you all who spear their time and checked out the demo, and double thanks to all who filled the form!
Stay tuned for further updates!