On October 19th, I was able to take Overrwyrld to a local demo night in Faneuil Hall organized by Boston Indies to get to watch people interacting with my game in person.
I went in to the demo night hoping to gain a better understanding of how people spend their first few minutes of gameplay, as a recurring pain point for the experience has been a lack of up-front guidance. It was incredibly helpful to see people moving around and trying things I hadn’t anticipated (although I can’t help but comment on how many people were rubbing up against every wall like I were some kind of design sadist).
Based on the observations and feedback from the demo night as well as the continued feedback received elsewhere I’ve decided to try and nudge the player along a bit more at the start. With nothing to do but wander until you find the first power, the game is not the most engaging anyway, and I do want to urge the player on to experience the fun of the later parts of the game.
To accomplish this, I’ve released Overrwyrld v1.534, in which I locked down much more of the Overrwyrld so that the player is less likely to get lost, and where any wrong directions can be quickly corrected. On start, the player only has access to less than a third of the Overrwyrld, and will soon find themselves on a short path to the first power. As the player acquires new powers, I also changed a few previous walkways into barriers to keep players on track, and force players to walk by them after receiving a new power to hopefully entice them further. This increase in interactivity and guidance is still arranged so that all interactive rocks and shrubs in the Overrwyrld are required to complete the game.
I also made a bit of a course correction for an arrow of shrubbery I had lying around to point the arrow in a more promising direction while still keeping the secret end-game “surprise” puzzle of the arrow intact.
In fact, not only was I able to keep my existing puzzles amidst all these terrain changes, but I was able to add even more puzzles in to each of the three “phases” of the game, from power acquisition, to power toggling, to all powers being active at once. Many more rooms now come with hidden traversal requirements that will be revealed during the end-game phase, even though those requirements had been hiding in plain sight the whole time.
The result is a much more fluid introductory sequence with considerably less possibilities for aimless wandering, and leading into a more satisfying and interactive secondary and tertiary phase of gameplay.
I’ll be bringing the game back to the next Demo Night once its announced, but the latest version of Overrwyrld is already available online if you’d like to see the result of these changes first-hand.