Some analytical thoughts after the exhibition.

18 May

The exhibition went really well I thought.

Everything worked nearly as expected with a few problems that you could only find after playing the game on and off for 5 hours or so.

But, the execution and interaction with my project went exactly as i’d hoped for.

There were a few incidents with the headset and people trying to use it by themselves which caused an issue. I more or less had to always be around just to guide people through the first hurdle of my game, making sure that the headset was on correctly.

This is something that, even if you were playing the toy that I hacked apart would give people trouble. The headset has to be in contact with skin at all times, hair cannot get in the way and it takes up to half a minute sometimes for the hardware to detect that it’s on correctly.

For some people, this was all just too much.

For one person, when I told them they just had to wait a bit to see if the headset was on correctly just took the headset off straight away and said “it’s not working for me, oh well”. I was very disappointed with this outburst.

With stuff like this, I would have thought people would be prepared to wait as it is relatively new tech and most people did wait, but there will always be a few people that expect everything to be instant. This was more so among the younger audience. The over 20’s seemed to get that you had to wait and understood that, whether this being an inherent thing due to us growing up with tech rather than having it always around is something to be discussed. I think cartridge loading games and dial up internet are my friend when it comes to things like this though.

An interesting point that came up several times, people didn’t believe me when I said its mind controlled.

They would look at me funny and go “you’re not serious are you? How can it do that? What?” And then they would ask to have a go and they would get it, it actually reads your thoughts.

That’s another point right there, asking to have a go. Interesting. It’s an arcade style game, yet people seemed slightly afraid that they would break it if they picked anything up.

In the future, I’d have to address these problems. The hat connection problem can most likely be solved by getting a proper brain wave reading headset, which I plan to do. Neurosky, the company who made the chips that go in the toy headsets, now make an “education” version of their full on headset which allows for quick brainwave reading and cheaply too. €89 is the price tag, which is pretty handsome.

Making a furry hat seem more robust? I’m not sure I could do that with this tech. If it was just kinect controlled then go for it! But having wearable tech is something that will always be hard to make robust and self explanatory.

Overall, the game had the desired effect, people who played it were wowed by the fact that they could just blow things up with their mind. It was nice feeling to see people act like that.

And after the initial tutorial lead by myself, “put your arm out and concentrate on blowing things up” everyone was up and running. Everyone. That’s a fantastic success rate. The game failed no one. No one was unable to think enough, unable to get a grip on how to control the cursor, it was fantastic. The game just worked.

The fact that I had a self correcting difficulty level setting on my game just made it better, most people got to the end of the game. Only a few died before that but a huge majority got to the end and saw the whole game. That’s brilliant! My game overcomes what other games fail to do, let the player see the story. They get to see what happens throughout the game, the bosses weren’t stopping people from completing the game. Unlike most console games, you have to beat very hard bosses to see what happens, since my game auto corrects itself and figures out what is hard for you, everyone could see the story I worked hard on creating.

That is the biggest success for me, and it’s something that nobody notices.

And because the game figured out what was hard for you, you could see that reflected in the scores so if your thoughts were on parrallel for what the game was programmed to be hard, you would get a better score. This just lead to a competitive nature between others. They liked seeing that highscore, they liked seeing who was at the top, especially if it was them.

But yet, every single highscore, which ranged from near 2000 to just over 500, that player got to the end of the game. Now I think thats some clever programming right there.

Not just basic mechanics, but something that makes the game enjoyable to play. It’s a nice little touch.

On another note, no one really paid attention to my mind controlled lights, they were right there in front of them, being very bright, yet no one commented on them changing colour or anything. Interesting. Makes me think that it wasnt obvious that they were mind controlled and that they were more of just a nice little lighting show for the game. Oh well, if they didn’t question it’s existence, then it was obviously a good sign. They felt that it fit in then.

But overall, I had nothing but good, supportive comments on my game. So, I think I’ve succeeded in creating a game that appeals to people and is easy to play. It’s good stuff.

I think I have achieved quite a lot. I have made this quite visually impressive game that works through mind control, thats pretty good right? I’ve had a lot of positive press about this project which just reinforces this belief, and I’ve learned quite a lot about game mechanics and game interaction through this process. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and enjoyed experiencing everything and learning about the way humans interact and think about games as they play them.

Overall, it’s been a fantastically positive experience that I learned a lot from.

If anything, it made me realise that I want to make games full time. Maybe not these huge brainwave reading games, but the theory behind game interaction is truly fascinating to me. Especially when it comes to applying real world theory to games and how that works. It doesn’t, game worlds have their own physics and behaviours. I like it.


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