Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – Fall 2010

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 29, 2010

I can’t report too much on last night’s event, though if Greg gets around to making a write-up I’ll link to his.

The evening started out with a short presentation about the dangers of Easter Eggs in games to the industry. He noted the Hot Coffee scandal (which I didn’t see as an Easter Egg so much as disabled code that wasn’t properly excised from the game after they realized what a bad idea it was), and how any kind of “undocumented code” can be a vector for exploit by malware. A better example might have been the notorious “himbo” Easter Egg in SimCopter. But the key point was, I think, to place Easter Eggs responsibly. Good advice!

After that, I was one of the many people showing my game to attendees. In this case, the perennial indie night fixture, Frayed Knights. There was a large crowd initially, and I showed some of the new features of the game that I hadn’t shown before. So I guess I did have something to show, after all. After the crowd dissipated to look at other games, I let people play the game.

Watching other people play your game in development is always a fascinating experience. Fascinating and terrifying. But very educational. There are many things to be learned:

#1 – Anything that players don’t seem to “get” without you explaining it either needs to be explained better by the game, or simplified.

#2 – Anything that you feel the need to apologize for while they are playing is a high priority issue that must be fixed.

#3 – Players will play the game COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY from how you, the developer, play. This can help you discover new bugs, open your eyes to new possibilities, and expose your design to the kind of feedback you’d never get on paper.

Thanks to the brave efforts of the guys playing the game last night, they unwittingly provided me with a number of NEW bugs and issues to put on my “to do” list.


Some more write-ups on the event:



Filed Under: Utah Indie Game Night - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • Brian Kelly said,

    Excellent advice and insight regarding showing off your game!

  • Robyrt said,

    These are so true. I was testing a board game where ships move between distinct regions of the sea (say, the English Channel and the North Sea) and one of my players immediately tried to move her ship along the dividing lines. “I thought they were trade routes!” she explained. Just a fresh perspective can be very illuminating.

  • skavenhorde said,

    So the Alpha wasn’t as boring as you thought? Sometimes it’s good to get fresh eyes on it.

    When painting I always see all the flaws and how horrible it must look, but then my girlfriend comes along, slaps me upside the head and says it looks great. Then I take another look and it looks a little better in my eyes. Although I still see the flaws 😉

  • Calibrator said,

    Re #1:
    Where to begin and where to stop mit oversimplifying things?

    – How to play (“handle”) the game: Installation, options, control and game mechanics.
    Personally, I think this is a must. A game should be trouble-free on the technical level.

    – Content: Game world and NPC history, history of the player character, plot, mission/level/chapter design and possible loose ends when game is won.

    Explaining absolutely everything content-wise could make a large part of the audience happy but on the other hand result in a Hollywood mega blockbuster product: A “popcorn movie” that is forgotten the instant you leave the cinema.
    If you leave things in the dark – like for example the origin of the serial killer in the movie “Seven” – a part of the audience will ponder on it long after the movie is over or the game is won.

    It’s my not so humble opinion that for games that feature some kind of plot like RPGs or adventures and contain a dose of mystery the designer should have the freedom to choose what exactly he tells the player.

    If you on the other hand explain absolutely everything (remember we are speaking content here) from the start it could lead to standardized scenarios, NPCs and player characters – like in many first-person-shooters for example that are, perhaps, the epitome of mainstream gaming right now.