Rewind: Back To Inform 7

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I actually never thought I would be returning to Inform 7 anytime soon.  However, in EL405 I am understanding that experience really is most important.  

The setting of my game is strictly on a boat and the tone is adventure.  Is it morbid?  Well, maybe a little...but the choice is up to you!  I was hoping people would be drawn into this game because it is something familiar. Everyone knows (hopefully knows) the story of Titanic, so they can probably start to picture what the game might be like.  I like to play games having to do with books or movies that I already know, so I wanted to go ahead with that approach.  

Some of the factors that influenced my choice were the games that I had mentioned in an earlier blog.  These games, such as Shade, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Broken Legs, influenced how I would invent my game to starting off as a familiar story to the player.  It also led me to put my player in the position to make a choice based on morals.  After I looked at the Broken Legs game and saw the difficulties of being the villain, it interested me enough to put that into my own game.  

The opening of my IF game, already states where the person is and what they have to do.  To better explain, the person is supposed to retrieve a key to get out of the room they are in, so that means the player is informed of their first task.  The opening screen also mentions their overall objective (to get out of the ship and onto a life boat), so the player knows what they are aiming for the rest of the game.  What I enjoyed about the opening is that it does not specifically say that the boat is the Titanic.  The player has to look at their inventory and examen their boarding ticket to find out that they are third class on the Titanic.  I think this affects the tone of the game and it challenges the player.  If the player does not examen the ticket then there is a risk of the game not having as much affect on them...but I'm not worried about that.  

As for creating the game, there were many different codes I tried to look up in the guide.  Most of them were tricky or impossible to find, or waste my time trying to find.  However, I came across fitting some codes to work in my game.  One of the codes I am proud of finding is the very first one I did on my own:  Creating another character in the story.  I didn't want the player to feel completely alone on the ship and I wanted the chance for them to interact and make "difficult" decisions involving another character.  I looked up the codes but I couldn't use the exact code that was in the guide so I had to make it work for my game and it did!  I was proud of myself, because I didn't actually think it would work, but my goodness was I excited was I clicked GO and the broken clock did NOT appear!  That was a good day.  

During the middle of my game, the player gets to find a life vest (very important) and hopefully find the staircase that will lead them up to the deck.  They are rewarded on the deck as long as they have their life vest.  However, they are also rewarded right before that, if they give their life vest away (tricky, I know).  

There are two endings in my game but one can occur earlier than the other one.  I always intended the story to play out in this fashion but I wondered how I could get it to work through codes.  For a while it was almost hard for me to even begin to think of codes to start with to try and get the outcome of the game that I wanted.  However, Dr. Jerz helped me step by step to come up with some codes that helped my ending.  And it worked!  The ending (both of them) happen exactly how I want them to happen so I am very happy with that accomplishment.  

While creating my game, I would give credit to the Inform 7 documentation guide that helped me get through some tough coding.  Dr. Jerz helped me out with codes as well as Kiley Fisher.  I didn't get any codes from other games (though maybe that would have been helpful).  

Usability Testing  

1.  Roommate who was willing to take the test because she loves Titanic.  She went through the game and thought that the first section was a lot more difficult then the middle and end.  I had not intentionally made it that way, but I started to make the game with less obstacles purely so I could just finish it.  If I had the time to go back then I would certainly make it more challenging later on.  She did get through the rest of the game and kept the life jacket for herself, so she lived!  And she thought it was a great start to the game.  

2.  My second tester was a guy friend from home.  He had never played an IF game so I had to give him that little sheet that comes with the terms and phrases.  This game took forever for him to play, mostly because he could not get past the first part of the game.  After this and the first user test I realized that I did make that first part a little too difficult.  I should have put something like that in the middle or more near the end.  However, I did help him along and then he got through the rest but he did want to talk more to the other character that I put in the story.  He was disappointed that I had another person in the game but he couldn't talk to her.  So that is another thing I would do if I had more time.  He ended up keeping the life vest for himself too (selfish people) so he was also alive in the end of the game.  

3.  My third user test was female and I kind of begged her to do it when she was just planning a short visit.  However, it was funny and she enjoyed the game because she had never tried a text adventure game before, which is why she needed the little cheat sheet as well.  The first part of the game was hard again, and she was the only person who gave the life vest away to the other character!  But then when she died she wasn't too happy about it...  

I did learn a lot from the user testing.  Mostly because I got to see people's reactions, which were mostly funny and they were always smiling.  I learned what I need to fix and what I should enhance if I were to work on this game more intensely.  I am excited at the prospect of it because I think it would be an even better game!  But I still don't know if this is the project I will choose for my final.  We will just have to wait and see.  

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