The Big Day Approaches

Nobody can even go here yet. That's a problem.

Nobody can even go here yet. That’s a problem.

重要な日は遠くない

I’m not getting married yet. Just letting some kids play a game. Doesn’t mean I’m not nervous.

February 5, 2015

This past month has been relatively eventful. While I haven’t managed to accomplish everything I’ve wanted, my goals were ambitious from the get-go. What I have been able to do is get a decent section of the initial part of the game working. There is enough content to enjoy for a while in class.

Or, so I think.

Last year, my game was in use for about a week before someone managed to complete everything. And I had to help them with the last thing (it was actually pretty difficult). I could speed-run 100% the game in about 40 minutes. This one I designed to be much more difficult to complete 100%. Already, in 40 minutes a player can only speed-run themselves to maybe Chapter 3/7. To get to Chapter 3, 100%, I imagine it’d take at least twice that time. To get to Chapter 7/7, 100%, I imagine students taking a while.

Sometimes I forget that the last game’s story could be completed in 15 minutes, doing everything right. Seeing a teacher get through a third of the game’s current content in 40 minutes is actually oddly comforting. Last time, I remember panicking when the teacher asked me what else there was to do, since some students had gotten through most of the game in two class periods. I responded, “to perfect complete the game”, to which he noted that most of the kids had come close to. I went home that night and made two whole areas, getting little sleep to do it. This time, I think I’ll have it a bit easier.

On that note, what made this week especially fun was having two of my teachers play the game. Each of them enjoyed themselves independently. Both only having a limited amount of time to play, they tried to blaze through the game as fast as possible. Both being gamers, they knew how to progress at a reasonably quick rate.

What I learned:

  • there was a bug I didn’t notice before
  • they both like shiny things I’ve littered all over the place
  • there needs to be an explicit notification that the menu exists (and that there’s a quest log), something neither of them figured out without my help
  • unlike the last game, there’s a lot of extra content, which pained me to see them so casually skip
  • Japanese gamers read Japanese really fast

March 2, 2015

So the date when all the students play is almost at hand. On this day, I’ll learn a few important things. The most important thing I’ll learn however, is whether or not the students enjoy the game. The teachers seemed to think the game was easy enough, but then, they’re teachers. Will students be bothered with the challenge, or will they enjoy it?

Before this date, I really need to make the transition stages between Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. They’re the most important things I need to add. I’d also like to make a side area, but that’s less of a priority. Right now, I have 3 (great) areas fully made, but locked off by story. I need to put that story in.

Another thing I want to do is make a “perfect completion” counter, which basically takes all the variables in the game, adds them together, divides by one hundred, and determines if you have everything or not. Basically making 100% obvious, something that my last game failed to do explicitly. If students say “I think I’m done”, I can look at their perfect completion counter and say “you’re close, but…”. Last game, if someone was level 65, this said the same thing. But with so many more variables this time around, it would be nice to have something as obvious. Especially something out of 100. Maybe I’ll make it out of 1000?

What makes the counter cool is that I can make it an additional challenge. Like “race to 100”. Who can get to 100% first? Or, more likely, which student can get closest to 100. I actually think a perfect 100% will be pretty difficult.

Anywho, getting back to the point, I’ll get to see whether or not students enjoy the game. If they do, I’ll probably continue the project to completion. If they don’t, I’ll probably continue with it, but end it earlier than I’d like, and start work on the next thing.

The biggest thing I’ve learned through all this is kind of odd: what’s the point of leveling up? In this game, a few (not really interesting) things open to someone of higher level, and your HP increases. In a traditional RPG, perhaps you get new skills or stronger attack. Here, you can just survive longer if you do things wrong. A good player can’t progress through beginning battles any faster than a bad player. Or, rather, a high-level character can’t progress faster than a low-level character.

I think I need to have more for someone to want a higher level. For my next game, my thought is that I’ll have both “normal” battles as well as conversation battles. Conversation battles give more exp and you can level up faster, but “normal” battles are where your level matters. In that it gives stronger attacks and new skills. Does it make sense that someone who talks a lot becomes a great warrior? Not really, but who’s complaining?

In any case, the fated day approaches. And the question that comes with it is: what next?

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