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.

Material Design Research Process

This post will go over how I have been going about my research when creating a custom controller. This is more specifically tied to studio 3 and the brief that we've been following for that class. The specific tasks on which this post is based on, was that we had to come up with a small game that used a custom controller.

Research

First of all I had to look for inspiration. I had no specific idea so I decided to look online on different electronics retailers for different types of fun stuff. Problem was I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted, so I decided to search for "Sensors" and see what comes up. After some browsing I found a flame sensor and a proximity sensor, that I started to spawn some ideas for.

Brainstorming

Once I found the sensor I started to come up with different ideas for these sensors. The flame sensor idea was that you had to light a persons cigarette perfectly by moving the lighter closer or further away from the sensor. The player would know if they did good or bad by the eyes of a giant mannequin (that would hold the sensor in a fake cigarette) that would light up if you did well.

The idea from the proximity sensor was that you would have a parallel parking simulator where the controller would be a cardboard car, with the proximity sensor attached to the back part. With it you would have a game which would have a car that would drive forward and backwards depending on the proximity of your hand to the sensor. You would also have two arcade buttons on the car roof in order to be able to turn right and left in the game. All you have to do is manage to park between the two cars in the game.

Materials

For the final step I had to consider materials. Of course a cardboard head would start to burn so I would have to use some form of thin metal sheet for the cigarette game, and a casing for the sensor. For the parallel parking game I wanted to use a cardboard car, as I felt like it would feel really good to both create and use. Cardboard has a kind of "crafty" feeling to it which I really like.

And that is practically it! Research what you can use, brainstorm and make sketches of your ideas and then find out what materials to use in order to get the cool controller you want. 

That is all for now, thanks for reading

To Connect a Wiimote - Material Design Dev Diary #1

The other 1/3 of Studio 3 is material design. That is creating some type of controller for a game that is custom, or used in an unconventional way, or doesn't use any digital products what so ever. It's pretty fun and I must say it really makes me feel smart to sit and toy with electrical parts and making stuff light up and so on.

For the material design project, me, Paul Frame, and Nicholas Duxbury are working on a game called... FULL METAL BARBER. You are a barber that uses a shotgun in order to cut peoples hair. Sounds awesome right?

Well, in order to get this working we had to decide how we wanted the game to work. We quickly came up with the idea of making some form of light-gun that you aim at a mannequin in order to make things happen in the game. Paul had the idea of using a Wiimote as the main "pointer" for the weapon. He also built an amazing cardboard-scissor-gun that we could place the wiimote and nunchuck inside.

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Here comes all the challenges we had to go through in order to get it to work. First of all, connecting a Wiimote was easier than we thought, even though it was hard. All we had to do was connect the wiimote through bluetooth and that's it. The only issue we encountered with this was where we connected it (apparently there's two different places to connect bluetooth devices).

Next issue was that the Wiimote didn't react to movement or button presses at all. Of course, we had to have some form of App to recognize the Wiimote as a form of valid input device. We figured that since we were only going to make the game in Unity, that we use some form of API for the wiimote. Luckily, there is one, made by Flafla. All we had to do was press a button, and the button input was being shown!

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There was however, no reaction of the actual movement of the controller. So it couldn't be used for what we wanted it to be used for. However, after some conferring with our lecturers, we came to the obvious conclusion that we needed IR lights in order to sense the position. Luckily, one of our lecturers had a spare one for PC lying around in his office that we were allowed to use for this test, and voila, there was movement recognition. 

And now we get to the issue that plagues us to this day. The API. Flafla is amazing for having created this API, but as a user with no advanced experience in coding, I would have prefered some form of manual on how to use aspects of the code. Something as simple as "How to make shit happen on button presses" or "how to get the position of the pointer in world space and not in canvas space" would've been extremely helpful. This is still to be figured out, but it seems like Paul has a solution to it, so it remains to be seen what works and what doesn't.

Until that update comes out, take care and thanks for reading this post.