Sunday, 13 May 2012

Familiarity breeds... a problem

I decided quickly that simply using video or a live video feed from the camera on a jigsaw didn’t actually make for a very interesting game (maybe a mini game). So I striped the idea back until I decided that movement was the most important thing and the simplest way to show movement was to move from video to simple animations.

The first puzzle was a simple bouncing box. I put together a simple menu. Like many, if not all, tablet jigsaw puzzles the game was free form. The player could choose the animation and the puzzle size. Armed with this early version I set out for some play testing. Straight away there was a problem. Given the choice of puzzle, the testers used their experience with jigsaw puzzles, to choose JiggleSaws that they couldn’t complete. The animations looked like very simple pictures and people were choosing puzzle size of medium piece counts. When asked they thought the puzzles were going to be simple. Instead they were being overwhelmed with motion on pieces that they just couldn’t understand.

So on one hand I had a challenging puzzle game but on the other it’s similarity to the classic jigsaw meant people weren’t giving themselves the time they needed  to learn the new puzzle. It would seem that people don’t like being baffled.

So the free form puzzle game became a level based game. The levels would start very simply and get harder at a steady rate. This creates a very controlled learning environment where puzzle elements can be introduced to the player one by one. So I had solved my first problem but sadly introduced another. The puzzles now starts very simply and most people seeing the game at this early stage say that it’s a game for children.

This slow start seems to be showing up already on the app store. JiggleSaw has been on the app store for just over a week. 5 days ago JiggleSaw had 7 ratings on the Austrailian app store, 5 x 5 stars and 2 x 3 stars. Today it has 7 5 star ratings.

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