A Tofu Tail – Immersion and User Experience

alchemedium —  May 13, 2015 — Leave a comment

Keeping players fully engrossed in the world of A Tofu Tail (or any game we make, for that matter!) is a very important facet of our game design methodology.

We have been working the past few weeks on improving on the players’ experience while guiding Mr. Tofu along his journey to retrieve his true form.

Art!

More concept art!

money dont grow on trees

Sean has completed the first pieces of art for the first cutscene of A Tofu Tail, and It was been implemented into the game!

dem cherry blossoms!

We will definitely have more of these to come! But onto other things for now!

Keeping Immersion in Game Transitions

We have received a ton of good feedback over the course of our alpha testing efforts, the submission responses from the Indie MEGABOOTH for PAX East, and player testing while showing at the Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl. The core mechanics of the game are very solid at this point, and the polish is moving along well, which we are super excited about!

But we have also gathered some good insight into the aspects of the A Tofu Tail that pull people out of the experience:

  • The transition from one level to another can be quite jarring, with no fade, or obscuring element to ease into the new scenery
  • The transition from a completed/failed level is the only time that the player needs to use the mouse during gameplay
  • Is the pause menu even necessary to show to navigate between levels; why not just move to the next level automatically?

So after some brainstorming work, we came up with some solutions in smoothing these transitions for the player.

Screen fade

A quick/gradual screen fade can be added to smooth the transition between stages, making this transition less jarring.

Adding narrative design to the level transition

When the stage is completed or reset, the tile under Mr.Tofu drops and Mr. Tofu falls through the stage and lands on the next/same stage.

This gives the feeling that the player is actually moving between levels by Kitsune illusion magic, keeping the player immersed in the narrative.

a tofu tail - narrative design

Ease of menu and GUI use in transitions

The reset button can be added directly to controls rather than in the pause menu. This saves time for the player, as well as keeps them absorbed in the game.

just droppin' back in!

The stage win and fail conditions no longer bring the pause menu up to navigate between levels, the player is just taken to the next stage automatically upon button press. The only time the pause menu actually pops up now is when the player deliberately pauses the game themselves.

If a player wants to quit or skip the stage, this can be done once they move to next level, and should be relatively infrequent compared to attempting the next stage. At this point, if this isn’t the case, then we are doing something wrong with our level difficulty progression; it is not a problem with giving the player easy access to all options.

how smooth your transitions are!

We can also reduce the number of level resets by the player by allowing unlimited move reversals, rather than keeping the restriction on the number of reversals per level. We shifted the ‘penalty’ for using a move reversal to add a fraction of time to the player’s level completion time – going against their ranking for that level – rather than causing them to be unable to reverse any longer.

There are probably a handful of other little tweaks that we can make to improve this as well – we will continue to do small playtests and polish more of this up!

Next Steps

Next time we are going to be checking out game balancing; cutting back on the number of story stages, challenge difficulty progression and balancing, and new levels that are being built! Don’t miss it!

So have a great week and keep on ploppin’!

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alchemedium

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Indie game developers from Pittsburgh, PA. We are dedicated to bringing you unique audio, visual, and gameplay experiences. Currently developing the story-driven puzzle game "A Tofu Tail" .

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