Darkness Dwells - Metrics and Research

During earlier blogs I have talked a bit about promotion and social media and I have talked a bunch about research, but I haven’t really concluded how it worked out for us or what we did with feedback that was provided to us. That is the purpose of this blog.  

On social media we very early on made a twitter and Facebook account that most members shared with their followers. On these social medias we kept posting pictures and teasers for the game, but most importantly, we used twitter polls. This allowed us to sort of gauge out what our audience enjoyed at the same time we were developing the game. It also allowed us to be more in contact with our audience and show them that we were interested in their opinions in order to make our game better.  

What we found out through the social media and out of assumption testing was that most people that enjoyed horror games enjoyed challenge with it. Making it a struggle for survival and getting the adrenaline pumping even harder. We decided to take this into consideration when making our game, hence why we added the radio and the use of the bed monster. The bed monster originally wasn’t supposed to be a threat during the entire game, but upon testing the game and having it feel to easy, we made it so that the player has to try and balance the bed monster with everything else happening in the game. On top of this, we added the radio, which makes all the monsters appear faster unless the player turns it off, adding a new layer of urgency and challenge.  

It is not a surprise that streamers and youtubers enjoy horror games, for the main purpose of overreacting to them. Somehow, it seems to attract a lot of views. views that we can guide to our page. The game was originally made with youtubers in mind, which is the whole reason why the game is based around jumpscares. Due to research made by a teammate of the project, we managed to find out that generally people do not care if there is a lot of jumpscares in a short amount of time. Naturally we used this to our advantage and based our game around this as part of our core mechanic.

I believe it is due to our research and interaction with the audience, that darkness dwells at this point is number 3 on most popular game on itch.io, and have been featured on the front page. Thank you for reading this short blog discussion.

Darkness Dwells Marketing and Branding

In the brief for Darkness Dwells we were told that marketing was going to be a big part of the development. In fact, it was the entire reason that the game was created from the start. To take an existing game, research the market for it and then start creating a brand and promoting our work online to gain an audience before the game was released.

Marketing & Promotion

For the marketing itself, we really enjoyed the thought of having the fan base try to decipher the story or the origin of the characters. To do this we planned to post images and Gifs as much as possible to attract audiences early on. The whole point of this was to make them curious and start sharing ideas and theories about the game and its story.

When we sat down to talk about the market for our game we decided that twitter would be our main platform, as it is easy to share posts with your followers there, but also using Facebook to try and reach that audience as well. We did a bunch of research into horror games and what their price points were, as well as what type of content you got for what price and what the users thought about it. We also made some difficulty assumptions, which was based on an assumption that horror game players enjoyed challenge in their horror games. Fortunately, our assumption was proven correct and it allowed us to shape our game to be more difficult. Our market for darkness dwells were mostly YouTubers and horror game players. The main reason for us using YouTubers were because they tend to fake being scared and therefore gain more viewers. More viewers for them would hopefully translate over to more downloads for our game.

In order to reach a larger audience we were given the tip that we should use localization, meaning we add language options in order to reach other countries as well. One of the main languages (that also is a big portion of the games market) is simplified chinese. It shocked me to find out how much the percentage of purchases used simplified chinese as a language.

Branding

For the branding of Darkness Dwells we early on noticed that we really enjoyed Longtooth, and because of that he became the main monster for our game, much like Freddy in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. Because of this we decided to use him for a ton of promotional material including banners, logos etc. We thought it would be important to have a distinct character that would give our game a recognizable face.

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Above are some of the marketing material used to promote the game and to create a brand out of the character Longtooth.

The results of this plan will be posted in the post mortem for the project, which is being posted in a few days, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Thanks for reading

Fullmetal Barber Testing Process and Design Choices

During Fullmetal Barber , We went through several pivots and changes, and most of the changes were made while testing our game. At the start of the project, we sat down to create a testing plan, and we all agreed that testing constantly during development would be the best course of action, while then using the Synergy exhibition as a final playtest with people that hadn’t seen the project before. We managed to act upon this fairly well and because of this we managed to root out issues and fix these rather quickly.

Our process of testing was as follows. We decided what we needed to test, and what we wanted to find out from the test (E.g. does is the game too accurate). We then consider whether it is something we want to test ourselves or have someone else test for us. Whoever was testing, we took notes on their feedback or behaviours that happened in the game or in the minigun itself. We then sat down to discuss the feedback, and after that went on to take action against it. Whether it be scrap the feedback or implement it, we made sure to listen to it and consider if it was something we could have use for in our game.

One piece of feedback we made sure to listen closely for and made sure to shape most design decisions after, was the weight and accuracy. We did not want it to be light, nor too heavy, and we wanted the player to have trouble aiming because who the hell can make precise movements with such a bulky weapon? Once we had settled on the drill engine, it was definitely heavy enough to act as the full weight of the minigun, and it did add some inaccuracy to the game. Of course, we managed to enhance this inaccuracy using violent screenshake while firing the button of the minigun.

Every now and then we had a classmate or lecturer over to test for us, giving us feedback on the construction or the weight of the item. When we let our lecturer playtest the minigun for the first time, we got the feedback that the barrels would become to heavy, and that we needed to use another material for them. We constantly looked around for materials and eventually found very light, thinner plastic tubes we ended up using for the minigun.

One example would be the choice to switch from using the Arduino Leonardo as a mouse rather than using the wiimote. We noticed that the wiimote combined with a program called GLOVE_PIE was very buggy and the connection was very unreliable. We started looking for alternatives, and found out that you can use a gyroscope/accelerator connected to an Arduino Leonardo, and it will work as a mouse. Thanks to us testing it, we managed to switch it out and make it work before any major showcase happened.

Thank you for reading this blog on the design choices and playtesting of Fullmetal Barber. Now that the project is coming to a close it is very interesting to reflect on the process of our creation and where we started off, as well as looking back on the choices we made.