And here is the handout for the poster presentation (also with Inkscape):
Coming up soon: The slides for the panel presentation (alas, with PowerPoint).
Conrad Schaeffer, a young 20-something journalist working for the Associated Press, just landed an assignment that any rookie reporter would dream of getting. Tasked with covering the story of Nazi gold that went missing after a suspicious train derailment, in which several guards were killed, Conrad is putting his fledgling German skills to the test for an assignment that could very well make or break his new career. Having just arrived at the Stuttgart Central Train Station, Conrad must quickly assemble facts regarding the robbery from available media, eyewitnesses, and word-of-mouth before the trail grows cold. To further complicate the issue, a mysterious blonde German woman suddenly appears, claiming to have inside information regarding the robbery. Can she be trusted, or does she have ulterior motives that could possibly cost Conrad more than just his job?
Students came to class today armed with their dialogue on 3 x 5 index cards and were provided prototype evaluations sheets to evaluate how the gameplay functioned. It seemed to me that this testing and evaluation was a critical part of the entire development process as students finally understood how their individual components fit into the big picture. A paper-based walk-though is standard operating procedure in many game designs studios early in the development process. I found this procedure difficult to fit into the academic calendar, however, thinking that it would perhaps be akin to midterm testing. I will have to think more carefully of how to apply external design assessment models in an academic setting in the future.
Below are the comments (verbatim) provided by the student prototype testers and their respective questions:
1. What seemed to work particularly well with the prototype test?
2. What did not work so well with the prototype test?
3. Were there any moments when gameplay seemed to lag? What will you do to correct this in the next design iteration?
4. Were there any challenges that were particularly easy to solve? Or too difficult? What will you do to correct this in the next design iteration?
5. What are you going to do in the next design iteration in terms of character development?
So, to summarize: It seems that students will need to work more carefully on how to weave their dialogues into a cohesive whole that can lead the player along specific challenge paths, but without being blatantly obvious so that gameplay becomes predictable and boring. Also: the students will have to figure out how to incorporate game objectives into their dialogue in a manner that seems to occur naturally and conversationally. As for many of the students the game seemed to "come together" for the first time only during the prototype testing phase, this is something that needs to happen sooner in the semester, rather than later. Here are some images from today's prototype test:
On other fronts, I am still working on my submission to L2 Journal and I will probably hold off all 3D mesh and texturing development until this article is behind me. Once I have that done, I will be working almost exclusively on the game and getting up-to-speed with Blender (and Python).