Sunday, November 3, 2013

Playtesting: Old and New

One of the big things from doing a bunch of playtesting is that you quickly realise where things don't quite work. This is blatantly obvious when it comes to show-stoppers, of course.  If you can't progress a quest because of some logic error, an area being inaccessible (either in or out) or not receiving an object you need to complete the quest, this is immediately recognisable.

With the title of this post, what I'm talking about is where things don't "fit" quite so well as they should.  While I've been focusing primarily on the big show stoppers, I also hit upon the continuity, realism or general flow of the game issues that mean things just don't come together nicely.  One such issue was relating to a major quest, where part of it occured on the same area as a main town map area.  This was originally to make sure the player got to see the whole town map area, but as I played the game, I realised that it simply didn't fit in terms of the content of the quest.

This means new area time!  Now, in this particular case, I didn't actually want to spent hours and hours on making a new area. This is basically a one-shot area that isn't really designed for much more than a single encounter. I've created almost all my areas from scratch in The Shattered War, but there are a couple where I have used existing work as a base for an area. In this case, I grabbed one of the default areas from DAO... but modified it to suit my own purposes.  Doing this, I've managed to create an entirely new area with basically only a few hours of effort. 

The really good thing about this is that with some clever editing, it's quite easy to change the area such that it's not easily recognisable as one of the original areas even for someone who has played the game a lot.  By removing a bunch of items, changing texturing and vegetation, and doing a few key modifications to the existing terrain, it is possible to make it look dramatically different. Here's a shot of my modified level below - if you've played DAO, see if you can spot where it came from!

You never know what's around the corner...

If you're interested, here's a link to a comparison shot of the original level compared to my modified version.  I'd still like to do a bit more work to the decoration of the level, but given my current focus is getting the mod "content complete", that will have to wait.

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