Interactive Fiction: Playtesting
AS AN AUTHOR
From the playtesting, I learned to think on the richness of context by examining the kinds of actions my characters can do and giving viable options to the player to make it more engaging. I also learned to consider my writing style and how I should give more meaning to some of the passages or text that I write. I became more aware that I haven't been able to give further thoughts on how I could describe some circumstances or some objects in my story. Lastly, I also learned to be more meaningful in the breakdown of my text and linking them to show other texts, because some have no purpose in being clickable.
What surprised me is how some of my playtesters reacted to certain parts of my story. Hearing one of them praised the options I gave and said some were really good, and how one elicited a reaction of fear that he might die when he chooses the wrong answer. I was also surprised to find that some of the subtleties I integrated into my story that were meant to be clues or answers to certain riddles were overlooked.
The changes I created was to revise some of the text I already have and adding more actionable options for the player to choose. My story was very linear and I was aware of that. However, my awareness became more apparent when I observed how my players went through the story. At one point, even I got bored when they were simply clicking on one option and was progressing through it in a single path.
On a final note as an author, my advice would be to watch for the player's reactions and observe how they connect with your game. These unconscious behaviors tell a lot about what they usually think or feel about your game, like whether or not it's engaging. Also be open to feedback and ask questions on what could be improved. Be prepared to ask which specific areas of concern or improvement you would like to have an opinion on.
AS A PLAYTESTER
From the playtesting, I realized that large chunks of text are difficult to go through. It doesn't make the game as engaging and it makes the player want to skip through the story and just look at the options, which loses the context of playing, and what also happened to my playtesting session. I would usually skim through the text, most of the time not bothering to read it because I feel that it's time-consuming. As a playtester, I would rather have less information than being bombarded with a lot of unnecessary fluff. Details are great but should be kept to a minimum. I also learned that changing the layouts and fonts and creating hierarchy creates visual comfort when reading a lot of text, especially with this type of game.
Read the text and give meaningful feedback. Suggest how to make the game better in terms of visuals, context, and interactiveness. Ask what areas of concern the player wants to get a comment on.
- Tell the player to write down clues so that they won't be lost when they are prompted with riddles or questions that needs an answer.
- The clues should stay on the screen because if you hide them, the player will easily forget.
- The text is easy to read because you broke them down by using clickthroughs, but the basic information isn't necessary as clickthroughs because what would be the point?
- You have a good structure for making the character or player move forward.
- Think about your actions and how you would like it to play out and branch from there. Give your characters more option because it's very linear right now.
- Describe the objects that you present in the story. Some kind of visual would be nice to give reader's a clue or an image of what it is instead of leaving them clueless.
- Some of the passages can be revealed simultaneously instead of one by one which makes it exhausting to go through.
- The plot is linear, add more options.