The most (surprisingly) difficult task: how-to-play
So far, the biggest task in our AR game development, Attack of the Bugminator
When you developing a game for a long time, it's easy to skim over some of the fundamentals. Especially on how you teach the gamers to play your game, eventually, and not because you are lazy or not paying attention to the important things, it happens because you playing with your game a lot.
Setup of the game
You are, who came up with the idea, you created the proof-of-concept, you have brainstormed for several hours and watched your child growing, shaping to the final form (and watched great ideas and features gone to void).
And when you have someone to lay hands on it, you excitedly waiting for the big WOW effect. But before you got that, you watch how she skips the tutorial entirely and then asking you how the heck she can do this or that.
We played our game a lot, and we thought everything is crystal clear about it. We know how to play our game, and we think everything is obvious because the buttons are there where they need to be, the icons are self-explaining, and so on.
Look at there please. It will be fun :)
And we were right if everyone's brains were working as ours. But they are not, so we were not right, not even close.
AR technology is relatively new, and developers just experimenting with it. The most popular games in this genre usually keep their AR functionality as tight as they can for a faster learning curve. If the player can't figure out, how to play a game in a short time, there is a big chance that the game won't be on her phone for too long.
Our AR space tower defense game is unique, and it has a few unique gameplay elements (at least we didn't found any similar), and we have had a lot of interesting discoveries about how various people look and see our game and the AR technology's capabilities.
Pick it up!
To play our game successfully, the player needs to move around the planet in the real world, look around herself to find the coming danger, and make fast decisions about what turret to deployed and where, or rotate the planet itself and pick up powerups.
When someone takes her hands-on Attack of the Bugminator, who have never seen AR, a lot of question arose, but this two was the most interesting:
- How do I navigate? As we can see in other AR games after the player place the center of the virtual space, moving around is just an option, not a requirement. People using their phones "statically". Moving with it in the real and the virtual space at once is a new experience.
- How do I pick something up? Interestingly (to us, at least) it wasn't clear that the player can pick up power-ups with their phone. She has to go there in reality and move her phone into the objects to pick it up.
Just go there and pick it up! You deserved it!
If you want to know how we solved these, check out Attack of the Bugminator here: attackofthebugminator.com
Your planet's fate is in your hands, Commander! :)