My time at the ROM and Gamercamp 2013 – Part 1

In these past few weeks my team and I have been showing off our ROM Game Jam game, Rise & Fall, to public audiences at the Royal Ontario Museum and Gamercamp 2013. I wanted to write about my full experience at both of these sessions in this post, but it got really long. Therefore, I decided to break it up into multiple parts to be posted over the next week or so. In this first part, I’ll talk about my experiences with the playtesting of Rise & Fall

If you been to this blog before, then you know the deal with Rise & Fall. If not, click here and read. I’ll wait for you to finish.

Done? OK. The game was first playtested as part of the Ancient Arcade at the ROM for International Archaeology Day (October 19). Our game was displayed on a large monitor and played with two controllers.

As you can see from the picture directly above, I only had one Xbox 360 controller, so I had to use an old Logitech controller as the second one. Unfortunately, it was so old that the game didn’t detect it automatically; I had to use Joy2Key to make it work. Another unfortunate thing was I didn’t bring my male-to-male 3.5mm audio cable to connect my laptop’s headphone jack to the display’s PC Audio In jack (to be fair, I didn’t even know the display had one of those), so I had to turn my laptop towards the players (from behind the display) and crank up the volume to maximum. Even then, the tiny speakers on the laptop couldn’t overpower the ambient noise of the crowds at the museum. The only fortunate thing that happened that day was the discovery of a VGA input port on the display. My laptop, being 5 years old, doesn’t have HDMI output (which would have also fixed the audio problem), only VGA.

The game generally received positive feedback from those who played it (especially from the kids) and some even suggested improvements that could be made. There was one kid in his group of friends that managed to quickly figure out the optimal strategy (read: exploit) of the game and remained undefeated. Later during the day, another gentleman found the same strategy exploit and won a lot of games. One player noted that the game favoured the player who was further ahead, since that player’s artifacts would provide ample cover and making it very difficult for the other player to hit them.

Taking those into consideration, we moved and changed the properties of some of the artifacts to balance the game before we showed the game at Gamercamp. We also added a fifth artifact on each side that don’t serve as platforms or cover, but as an indicator that one side has won. This changed the objective from:

“Defeat your opponent to restore all your artifacts then defeat your opponent once more.”


“Defeat your opponent to restore all your artifacts.”

which to me is much less confusing (and less explaining on my part).

The setup for “debut” of Rise & Fall at the Gamercamp Ancient Arcade (November 2-3) was largely the same as the setup at the ROM, except I bought and brought an additional Xbox 360 controller so both players had the same controller to play with and I brought my audio cable, hoping that they would be using the same type of displays as last time, which they did. Even with the audio coming from the display this time, it was still hard to hear the audio amidst the crowd and other games’ audio. Oh well, at least I tried.

Not everyone who played the game gave feedback, but those who did gave positive feedback. Kids seemed to be the most excited of all the playtesters (that’s not to say they weren’t any adult that weren’t excited). We had to compete for attention with the games that were part of the Gamercamp Official Selections, which were being showcased in the same space opposite of the Ancient Arcade games. They had way more time to be polished, so it was a bit intimidating, but overall I think we did pretty well out there.

I would like to thank my team members Shmuggly and Goombaguy for helping me helping people learn to play our game at both the ROM and Gamercamp. The next public showing of Rise & Fall is tentatively scheduled for December 6th at the ROM again. We hope to be there again to show off our game some more.

In my next post, I will be writing about the other games at Gamercamp in the following days. Stay tuned to this blog.

(Terrible photography provided by Quadolor Games. With over 2 weeks of experience, DON’T rely on Quadolor Games for your photographic needs.)

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