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.

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Dev Blog- Colonial Sea Trader- Playing with video, improving map UI

This week I tried something I’ve never done before, posting a video blog entry. I won’t do this every week, but I will try and do it at least once a month. In the process of doing this, I found a lot of issues that I hadn’t otherwise noticed.

There are a few things that I pointed out that I know about and haven’t had a chance to resolve yet, but I discovered a few key issues while doing the vlog. The biggest thing was the minimap image looked absolutely horrible. After thinking about it for a few days, I came up with a new approach which is much faster, and looks better compared to what it did before.

I’m still not really happy with the minimap overall, but I haven’t figured out what to do about it, yet. It is coming, however, and I expect to be fully there soon! I’m looking at pixel scaling algorithms, or perhaps a custom shader to improve the look of it somewhat, not sure what I’ll do yet.

I found it quite interesting at how fast the game plays in the build version. I think I want to slow it down actually, which is interesting because when I play it in the Unity window, it runs much slower. Still, I’ll have to come up with a better way, stay tuned!

I also spent some time learning about how to import Emojis, it turns out that my text rendering engine can support emojis, and thus all I have to do to add them is to get the data in to the right format to use, and import them. I haven’t gotten there yet, but when I do, it’ll improve some use. And no, I’m not talking about using smilies, see my previous blog for what I’m talking about using.

This week I’m going to sit down and do the price list. I’ve got it started, it’s time to get it to a working state. This might be delayed if I decided to do Ludum Dare again, but I should have time notwithstanding to finish this price list!

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!