Hey everyone, sorry for not posting last Sunday but I was putting all my efforts into preparing for EGX Rezzed! In this post I will be talking about my experience there, which was awesome by the way!
In the last full week before Rezzed, I carried out a final play-test with the students on the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) games arts course. They gave some really good feedback and were pleased to see the changes I had made since the last test. One of the main things they wanted to see was more interest in the environment. So I had Connor make some modular background assets and shown him how to normal map them so I could focus on bug fixing and last minute improvements. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before but to achieve the crisp lighting style we have to hand draw the normal maps, which I have done up until this point.
The last few visual additions I made were mostly tutorial centric. I added a screen unique to each creature to show the player how to control each one. I also worked on sound effects. I gave the old sound effects a listen, which were used in the original prototype project. It was really interesting to hear them again because it showed me how far the game has developed; none of them fit the game as it is now. So I made a new set of sounds to use which work much better. These sounds still need improvement but they are a much better representation of what the game will sound like.
On the last night before taking the build to Rezzed, I decided to test the game on my old laptop for fun. It ran better than I expected, there were a few framerate issues but it was doing pretty well. However, the leaderboard I added did not update when someone added their score to it. Turns out, I had missed a couple of essential lines of code. Just what I needed before setup day but luckily I fixed it at the last minute!
Wednesday came around and I went up with the games course leader to setup the university stand and the Squillamorph stand. I knew that Connor's artwork for the stand was great but seeing it in person was something else! Cat Tap, another incubator studio game, also had a stand under the UCA banner. I got the game build installed without issue and the game worked. *wipes brow*
So, Thursday came around and I was pretty nervous. I've never been to a gaming event to present a game before and talking to lots of people about it was quite a daunting prospect. However, as more and more people tried out the game and I saw how much people enjoyed playing it, I began to gain some confidence. By lunchtime on the first day I was loving it. Players of the game were so engaging and gave really good feedback! The whole event was so motivational. Meeting a huge variety of players and other professionals was a fantastic experience. I didn't get much time to go round and play other games but the ones I did get to try were awesome!
There was only one thing that didn't quite go to plan. The business cards and stickers I had made for the event didn't get picked up as much as I had expected. So, I had brought 1000 cards and stickers, which in hindsight may have been too many and is a lesson learned. On the bright side, I now have a bunch of them left to use in the future!
What I Learned
Some of you might want to know what I learned from my experience. If I was to give my past self advice it would go something like this:
- Don't stress about the game having bugs or other issues. As long as you explain this to players, they will be understanding of it.
- You will be given lots of feedback by lots of players. Write down as much as you can. Their feedback is important and you aren't likely to remember it without having a note of it.
- Have a personal business card available to hand out to other professionals. Some of them will want to contact you directly without going through your game's social media.
- Invite people over to play your game. You'd be amazed how many people won't play your game or take freebies without being invited to.
- Most people are just as nervous to talk to you as you are to them, don't worry about it. Be as engaging and friendly as you can and you'll be more than fine. Most importantly, be yourself.
I think that's a good way of putting what I learned from the event. Now I'll explain what the plans for Squillamorph are after getting feedback from the public.
We got a large amount of feedback from players at Rezzed. The main piece of feedback was that the tutorial needed improvement. It wasn't clear enough to players what they were meant to do and the game threw them into the combat gameplay too fast. The combat was another main point included in feedback. It just doesn't feel satisfying to attack other enemies yet and the purpose of it isn't clear. I'm glad we've learned this now as it means that we can improve things before we go early access.
I know this has been a prominently wordy post but the next one should be GIF heavy as usual. Thanks for reading!
I'm the game developer for Squillamorph! I'll post here on the devlog as often as I can.