After having cut Daisy, my teammates and I were down to three ideas, and in order to progress to the next stage of our capstone, we had to decide on one to focus on. Having gone through a couple of sessions of play testing, it was apparent only two of them were really interesting to players: The Husker Report and Super PAC Bros! It was a tough process to go through, since there were aspects of both that we really enjoyed, but in the end we chose Super PAC Bros!, and are currently moving ahead into development with it.
Concept art for a Super PAC Bros! stage by our artist, Amanda
Ultimately, our deciding factor was the scope of the games- as discussed last week, Daisy was cut for this reason at the recommendation of Professor Boyd, and we were still wary of taking on a game that would require more work overall. In our meeting with Boyd, he pointed out how Super PAC Bros! was easily the lowest-risk out of all our concepts. In terms of design and programming, having the game be 2D was a great help, simplifying the space that we would need to account for. The concept was also more scalable, giving us a base to create more maps and systems if we wanted, as well as allowing us to reduce some of those features if things were getting out of hand.
With Husker Report, we would have needed to write a script for the story as soon as possible, and use it as reference when designing levels and implementing the systems later on. Basing our structure around the narrative would have also been a huge limit on flexibility, especially if we were to add or remove systems, or needed to rearrange levels or elements to fix pacing issues. Still, we thought that Husker Report still had interesting aspects, such as the treacherous relationship between the player and the interview subjects. Professor Boyd had also suggested having multiple subjects be interviewed at once, allowing their memories to overlap and collide in impossible (and visually impressive) ways.
Another big factor of our decision was the aforementioned play testing sessions- we got a big hint about going with Super PAC when we saw how players reacted to it. During the sessions, we had not gotten a single negative response. I don’t mean to claim that the game was perfect (certainly not!), but it was very encouraging to see that everyone we had play our prototype saw at least some value in it.
Some concept character sketches for Super PAC Bros!, also done by Amanda
The feedback for Husker Report was a little more reserved. From our survey, we found out that 86 percent of play testers enjoyed the prototype that we had, despite it being extremely primitive. And while 86 percent isn’t bad (our third prototype had closer to 60), it certainly wasn’t unanimous. My roommate, another designer, warned that action games tend to receive the best reactions in play testing, but my team and I still felt that Super PAC experienced much more support.
So, not very surprisingly, our team went with the idea that was the most in scope, and I think possibly the most conventional of our concepts. While I’m a little disappointed that we’re not doing something more “experimental”, I still think that we have a lot of room to branch out with Super PAC Bros! It’s also nice to be able to focus on one game, as opposed to three ideas simultaneously- now we can get into the nitty-gritty stuff.