Attended the Knoxville Game Design meeting at The Technology Cooperative and received a lot of good feedback from fellow developers. The guys at Chaosoft were particularly helpful with their suggestions to improve controls and gameplay. It was my first time seeing other people play the game, and served as a good informal cognitive walkthrough.
A couple of gamers tried out my game, and it was quickly obvious that the game wasn’t clear about which buttons perform which actions. In the old days we had instruction manuals that told us the controls, but it was usually faster to figure out the controls than looking it up in the manual. With digital distribution, we no longer have the luxury of providing the player with a hard copy manual, so all of the control explanations have to be built into the game. Also, back in the NES days we only had 4 buttons and a D-pad, so figuring out the controls was a lot simpler back then.
One helpful suggestion was to put the wire on its own button. This was an obvious control improvement, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t implemented that earlier. The wire is used much more often than the resistors, so it clearly warrants having its own button. Separating this functionality took a little bit of time, but it was worth it.
A graphical “A” button has been added below the wire selector, and a graphical “X” button has been added below the currently selected resistor. The animated arrow which previously pointed to the selected component has been removed. This makes it clear which buttons perform which actions. I also added “LB” and “RB” labels next to the “X” graphic. “LB” only displays if the selected resistor is greater than one, and “RB” only displays if the selected resistor is less than the maximum (however you can still press those buttons to make the selection loop around).
There was still some confusion about hooking up a resistor with a lower flow value than the LED, so I may have to add some more explanation about the rankings, especially the “luminosity” ranking.
Another suggestion was to display a timer on the game level screen, so there was an indication of how well you are doing in respect to the time rank. I’ll see if I can work that in, but I think it may make it appear as “too much stuff going on” in the game screen.
The screenshots below show the new button displays, as well as the new blue color if the LED wasn’t connected with it’s maximum flow value. I chose blue because it is a cold color, and it was different than the default “off” gray color of the LED.