Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Playtesting at District Arcade, UX improvements!

As I’ve been mentioning for the last month or so, I had the opportunity to present Colonial Sea Trader at a local indie gaming convention, the District Arcade. It was a very interesting experience, and I learned a ton from it! It was quite encouraging to see people play my game, some of them for upwards of 20 minutes, and some of them better then I’ve ever played the game so far!

First of all, a few things that I wish I had done. I particularly wish I had tested more on my demonstration machine. I found a few issues that only showed up on the test machine on the day of the convention themselves which proved to be quite annoying, namely that it was far too slow, and particularly that reloading the game tended to just not work. I’ve started working on those, and I believe with only a little work I was able to identify the cause of the restart crash, but I wish I had done that before!

I learned quite a few things. I brought a notebook, and took two full pages of notes while watching people play the game. I noted areas that people clicked that didn’t do anything, confusing things that people didn’t understand right away, and generally speaking tried to help them to do the right thing. In the end, I managed to find quite a few things, of which I’ve already fixed about 20% of them.

The biggest thing that I noted that people wanted to do was to click the background to dismiss a dialog. The good news is, it now works!

Clicking outside of a dialog now dismisses it

Other items include continuing to improve localization support, fixing the minimap clicking that wasn’t working before, and making signs transparent if the ship is behind them.

Lastly, I fixed the scroll wheel support such that it isn’t as slow as it has been. I personally used other ways to scroll, so that was quite helpful to see.

To end on a positive note, I had at least 4 people who really seemed to like my game who played it, and quite a few others that gave some really good feedback. If you are one of those who played Colonial Sea Trader, I thank you very much!

This week I’m going to continue to tackle the slowness that happens on the start. I found some of the issues, but I’m not there by a long shot. I’m also going to consider adding some controller support, which should allow me to improve things otherwise.

I did two videos this week, one just showing the game play, and another sharing my experience in voice my experience at the District Arcade. Check them out below.

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more! Finally, follow me on Twitch, and help me develop games!

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Streaming development, quality improvements, playability

I decided I’m going to try something different. I was listening to a GDC talk about a number of things, one of the things was streaming your development work. I decided, why not? So I have set up a Twitch account, and figured out how to make it work. I did do a single test stream Friday, and it worked quite well. The next time that I will do it is today at 12:30 EDT, 1630 UTC. I know it’s only a few hours notice, but I’d love it if any of you could jump in and say hi, and see how things are going. I’ve set aside a number of topics to try and make the stream more interesting, I’ve decided no one wants to just watch me spend 3 hours digging in to a code base that I’ve been working on for over a year to fix some obscure problem. Mostly I’m going to focus on UI and Player Experience. So please, stop in. I’ll keep going until I can’t anymore, assuming there is interest.

I’m continuing to work towards the District Arcade, in only 2 weeks! I missed the date last time, the correct date is September 16th. As I previously mentioned, playability is the major thing that I am working on to improve with in the game prior to the event.

I started my test stream by playing the game, and carefully taking notes of where I felt the playability was lacking. The first area was that the price difference between buying and selling was just too high. I tweaked my settings a bit, and ended up with a price difference that was about 10-20% of the cost in most instances, which seems much more reasonable than the 2-3 times the cost I was seeing before!

Another major issue has been the lack of food. I’m still working on this, it’s a far more complex issue than I had first realized. Still, I think I set up a system this week that will be closer to fair, it’s going to take a while to really make it.

One thing that has really bothered me is the game looked much different in the compiled version than in the one I was running in my Unity window. I spent the better part of a few hours digging in to the code to figure out what was going on. In the end, I realized it was the Unity quality settings, the default value differed between the two versions, and made a huge difference. Check out the images below, the final product, and two test cases showing the difference between the two.

I also fixed an issue where the journal would overlap text sometimes. In the screenshot I showed last week, I was able to manually fix it, but it wasn’t working right in the game. The bottom line is, the list of cities that I allow comes from a text file, and each entry is on it’s own line. I was splitting by “/n”. I can hear half of you groaning now, knowing what my error was. Because I made the text file in Windows, there was an “/r” still attached to the end of the city. That is a carriage return, which basically means to start the text over again at the beginning of the line you ended on. The good news is, I’ve fixed this! It will now also support linux formats, FYI.

Lots of stuff happening, things are really starting to pick up! I did another development vlog, check it out below.

This week, as I suspected before, was a bit slower than I would have hoped for. As I mentioned at the end of last week, I made a trip to see the total solar eclipse (More later), which took much of my game development time for the week. Still, I was able to make quite a few changes that are smallish, but quite important. I do also have a bit of exciting news to share with you all!

The only visible change was adding a bit more decoration to the journal, as seen below. There may or may not be a subtle Easter Egg included, I give full credit to anyone who can spot it;-) Likely I will add similar tributes to others who have helped me to make this game possible, it’s been quite fun to do so.

As with previous weeks, I’ve been localizing more text. Most of this week’s changes were relating to goods, I now have most of them localized.

The biggest gameplay change this week was I lowered the time to move by a factor of two. It seems to make a huge difference in gameplay! I’m hoping to continue to do exploration in this field to improve the gameplay further! Particularly with some news that will come later on;-)

As mentioned previously, I made a trip to see the total solar eclipse in the US last week. It was really amazing, I recommend that anyone who can takes the opportunity to see one! One of the stories I heard while I was there was one that I had heard before, that of Columbus using knowledge of a lunar eclipse to impress the natives, getting them to do what he wanted to do. It made me think about how I could use this in Colonial Sea Trader. I think I’ve decided that some random events will occur that include eclipses, and will have some kind of an effect, which I’m still trying to work out. It should be quite interesting.

And lastly, for the exciting news! I have been invited to present Colonial Sea Trader at the IGDA DC’s District Arcade this year, on September 21st at Bravo Bravo in Washington D.C. If you are in the area, stop in and say hi, I’ll let you test out the game and give you a chance to provide some very direct feedback.

With the upcoming public demonstration of Colonial Sea Trader, I’m going to concentrate on getting as many updates to improve the gameplay as possible. The first was making things run smoother. The next changes will probably ensure that I have a reasonable distribution of land types, and thus good types. Stay tuned for more!

Lastly, I did post a short development vlog this week, check it out below.

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more!

Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Improved journal, more localization, improved speed of gameplay

This week, as I suspected before, was a bit slower than I would have hoped for. As I mentioned at the end of last week, I made a trip to see the total solar eclipse (More later), which took much of my game development time for the week. Still, I was able to make quite a few changes that are smallish, but quite important. I do also have a bit of exciting news to share with you all!

The only visible change was adding a bit more decoration to the journal, as seen below. There may or may not be a subtle Easter Egg included, I give full credit to anyone who can spot it;-) Likely I will add similar tributes to others who have helped me to make this game possible, it’s been quite fun to do so.

As with previous weeks, I’ve been localizing more text. Most of this week’s changes were relating to goods, I now have most of them localized.

The biggest gameplay change this week was I lowered the time to move by a factor of two. It seems to make a huge difference in gameplay! I’m hoping to continue to do exploration in this field to improve the gameplay further! Particularly with some news that will come later on;-)

As mentioned previously, I made a trip to see the total solar eclipse in the US last week. It was really amazing, I recommend that anyone who can takes the opportunity to see one! One of the stories I heard while I was there was one that I had heard before, that of Columbus using knowledge of a lunar eclipse to impress the natives, getting them to do what he wanted to do. It made me think about how I could use this in Colonial Sea Trader. I think I’ve decided that some random events will occur that include eclipses, and will have some kind of an effect, which I’m still trying to work out. It should be quite interesting.

And lastly, for the exciting news! I have been invited to present Colonial Sea Trader at the IGDA DC’s District Arcade this year, on September 16th at Bravo Bravo in Washington D.C. If you are in the area, stop in and say hi, I’ll let you test out the game and give you a chance to provide some very direct feedback.

With the upcoming public demonstration of Colonial Sea Trader, I’m going to concentrate on getting as many updates to improve the gameplay as possible. The first was making things run smoother. The next changes will probably ensure that I have a reasonable distribution of land types, and thus good types. Stay tuned for more!

Lastly, I did post a short development vlog this week, check it out below.

If you haven’t yet, feel free to like me on Facebook, join my Google Group, subscribe to my Sub Reddit, or follow me on Twitter, where you are likely to get frequent updates! You can also subscribe to the Old Ham Media YouTube Channel, where I post frequent videos showing the progress of gameplay and more!