Holiday Post thing

Whoa, it seems like forever since my last post. Since the Bit Bazaar ended, I’ve been focusing my attention on many things, some regarding Gonna Catcha and some not. But there’s no time to explain them all here, so I’ll pick the most important one.

As I mentioned in my last post, Gonna Catcha was played in an arcade-style environment at the Bit Bazaar on December 7. Players weren’t be able to read the manual to figure out how to play the game, as it wasn’t available to them. So in an attempt to minimize confusion, I added the instructions screen below, which was shown just before the first round started.

Crash course in spirit catching.

It explained the basic rules and goal of the game, i.e. what you can and can’t touch, what you should and shouldn’t shoot and how to progress.

I didn’t arrive at the Bit Bazaar when it started, so I might have missed some of the early birds playtesting the game. The first people I saw playing didn’t seem to have too much trouble figuring out what to do, but as the day went by and more people played, it became apparent that the instruction screen wasn’t doing its job very well. My guess that it was too brief and too detailed at the same time, and that confused people about the rules of the game. It presented all of the shooting and touching rules for each NPC type all at once, but due to the lack of space, the descriptions of each rules were too laconic. By the end of the day, I was back to my old ways, explaining the game myself and skipping the instructions screen, and things went by a lot smoother.

In retrospect, the instructions screen was more of a band-aid solution than a real fix to the problem. Since it was a bust, I figured that I need to go to Plan B, which is to use demonstration cutscenes to explicitly show how the game is played. As such, on my to-do-list I’ve promoted “Demonstration cutscenes” from “Optional” to “Necessary”. I also grouped it together with “Attract mode” because the two have one thing in common: the ability for the game to play itself. But before I get into that,

Or kicked upstairs, whatever.

Ahem. So anyway, I’ve started working on the new instructions delivery method: new tutorial cutscenes that will replace the old instructions screen. Here is a screenshot of what it looks like so far:

Don’t fear him.
Essentially, it’s just a half-size level that plays itself to teach new players how to play the game. And speaking of playing itself, I’ve also started on making the autoplay system too. I think I’ve got the playback system working pretty well, the recording system on the other hand, which is only here to help me record gameplay to be played back by the autoplay system and may not be part of the final product, has a few bugs to work out. For starters, it generated a 500+ MB output file when it was only supposed to be a few kilobytes in size.

I feel bloated… ugh.

The recording code is working much better now. I’ll go into more detail about in a later post, because this one really needs to get out there. I don’t know when, because it’s the holiday season, with the whoop-de-do and hickory-dock. And don’t forget to hang up your sock, ’cause just exactly at 12 o’clock, he’ll be coming down the chimney, down.

P.S. Now that I think about it, Donum and Pohena bears some similarities to Sinterklaas and Krampus of Alpine folklore.  Krampus punishes naughty children while Sinterklaas rewards good children. Pohena and Donum does the same with spirits, according to the supplementary material.

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