Playtesting Overclocked: The Aclockalypse at EAE Play, a bi-annual event where over 400 people come to see what Game Students at the University of Utah have been working on all Semester.
At the end of each semester, the Entertainment Arts and Engineering programs hosts an open house where the general public, industry professionals, friends, family, and other students are invited to play the current iteration of EAE Student games. Hundreds of people passed through the Graduate Labs trying out over 40 student games.
My team was especially excited to watch people try to play our game, and to gather a lot of helpful information about how we can improve it. We'd recently reached feature complete, with a solid core game loop, and implemented all of the systems that will likely be in the final game. Overclocked is a rogue lite twin stick shooter where you play as Father Time using your magical time manipulation skills to defeat hordes of misbehaving clocks. As a rogue-lite, we are aiming for the game to be difficult, but we want to make sure that the difficulty is by design.
“I think I've played all of the Capstone games, and so far Overclocked and Telophase are my favorite.”
Not wanting to abuse our testers' time, but having many things we were interested in asking, I split our questions into two separate surveys. One survey focused on understanding and ease of usage of our skill tree, and the other focused on controls, game feel, and movement. Additionally, several other members of the team were enlisted to carefully watch and take notes as people played. Did players understand how to play? Where did players start to need help and ask questions? Did players play in the way that we expected them to?
The surveys netted 77 responses, and 30 people signed up to be invited to play test the game in the future. I'll be writing about the survey analysis in more detail at a later time. Preliminary findings from the observational data showed that we have some work cut out for us in the user interface and balancing departments, but that players had a great deal of fun despite this. Many laughed or smiled when they died, played multiple rounds, and stayed at the testing station for upwards of 7 minutes. While trying out other games myself, I overheard a young woman say "I think I've played all of the Capstone games, and so far Overclocked and Telophase are my favorite." I'm grateful for all the data and encouragement EAE Play allowed us to receive.