Kicking the Tires at Comicplaooza
This weekend at Comicpalooza was very exciting for Aqua Lungers! We had our own spot over in the MakerSpace area of the venue and people of all different ages and backgrounds were stopping by to check out the game. Comicpalooza lasted three days, and each of our two Aqua Lungers machines had up to four new players fighting for treasure nearly the entire time!
Of course, having so many players running around in the game is a great way to find out what breaks when you spend enough time kicking all the tires. We found a couple issues that involved the camera getting stuck and players' scores not being counted correctly, which we were able to address before the last day of the show. This gave us a chance to see if the problems came back and so far it looks like those issues are fixed.
Other than bugs, we were also looking out for how players played the game and which mechanics would come naturally to them. Basic movement is mostly there, but we found players don't usually learn fast swim or charge dash by themselves. This becomes problematic because many of the games levels and creatures are designed around those moves. At the moment the thinking is to give more time for players to discover those moves before requiring them in a stage. If that doesn't work, we may have to resort to some sort of tutorial that teaches players that those moves exist.
Another important consideration is that players will need something in the game to tell them what the goals are and how points are scored. What shape that takes remains to be seen, but it's something we'll be looking at. Similarly, a lot of players jump in wanting to kill the monster and get frustrated when they can't. This is a difficult point for me personally because I really feel like always having the monster in each stage is important. The game is just not the same when they are gone, since they are intended as an obstacle that players need to get past while attempting to accomplish their goal, which is to get money. This goes back to making clear the rules of the game, and what the player is really after.
There were other takeaways from the show Including general difficulty, wanting access to certain kinds of moves, and interest in seeing more content overall. We'll be looking at all these things as development of Aqua Lungers continues and improving on as many of these as we can. In the meantime, we look forward to finding out what other issues players dig up in their Aqua Lungers adventures!