Play-testing:The Hour

Hello all. I’ve been told to start a play-testing or announcement thread on this here forum. So I am. Because, obviously, I do whatever I am told. Perhaps that is a lie. But the point stands, and this thread now exists (thanks to a bit of prodding).

So, if you want to, I would be ever so grateful if you would do a bit of play-testing in my world, “The Hour.” Currently, it is rather small, and not particularly developed. There is a card that I don’t quite know what to do with, and there are myriad issues I’m trying to untangle. This is, of course, just the beginning. You can find it at >><<, predictably. (Also, it’s in first person. Hope this doesn’t throw you off.)

This is the part where I was going to put a preview. Then I decided to let you experience it for yourself. I will tell you this: it centers around a one-hour period which the protagonist is forced to repeat over and over and over again. During this time, the protagonist can do basically whatever he/she wants, but only some things will uncover the truth. Well, actually, that depends–there are many possible truths, the question is simply which truth the protagonist will choose to fulfill. What would you do if you only had one hour to live… forever?

Also! I am full of ideas. Lots of them, and I will almost certainly never finish them all by myself. If you want to see them put together in a nifty presentation form, go to [color=00ffff][/color]. It’s a Prezi, meaning it’s supercool and will give you motion sickness if you stare at it too hard. So, if you want to collaborate on one of these, let me know. Please, please, please ask me first if you want to use something from here. Please. Thieves are cool, but not thieves of intellectual property.

To end this rambling post, I will let you know that, seeing as I am at school, I will be very busy, too busy to be working on The Hour or any other project all-too-frequently. This is not to say that I will not take your comments into account. It’ll just take some time.

edited by SomePerson on 9/19/2012
edited by SomePerson on 9/20/2012
edited by SomePerson on 9/21/2012

Splendid! This looks like a fascinating structure.

Have you considered entering for the World of the Season competition?

This is a nice game. Reminds me of the Inform games and the like I used to play forever. This is a good thing. :)

Critical stuff:

  • Once one has achieved Wakefulness 3, the opportunity cards lock – at least, "Something " does, that being the one I have stuck in my hand. I’m not sure how to advise you to fix this; in my world I’ve been assigning cards to areas, making all major shifts also area shifts, and then leaving the root open (no quality locks) and using quality-locking branches, including one that, basically, does nothing but get it out of your hand. You could also try to combine the initial two cards so that you only have one way to raise your Wakefulness.

  • Typo: on the second “Thinking” success on the Box card I get this: “Not too much longer before I can start bulilding.”

  • Succeeding at a Feeling challenge on the same card gets me this: “Feeling hasn’t changed, because it’s lower than 1”
    This happens with the other qualities I don’t have too. Is an inability to ever gain, say, Feeling once one has been id’d as a Thinker intentional? If so you might wish to simply lock the Feeling challenges – or if you want people to be able to try them, just never build up the quality, you may want to indicate that somewhere.

  • Also, once I’ve done that third success at the Box, the Box card vanishes. Nothing replaces it. I found this kind of puzzling – with the article, for example, it was relatively obvious when I’d hit the end of the quest and/or the spot for more content, but this felt like it just dropped off in the middle.

Overall – very interesting setup, very nice tone, and I’d like to see more. :)

For some reason the “A little something” card keeps sticking around.

Thanks for playing, guys! And yeah, I have considered entering the contest–I still need to get to an end-game point, though. Once I’ve got that figured out, I definitely will.

Both you guys, thanks–I realize now that I changed the method of increasing wakefulness without removing the fourth option from the opportunity card. And I would never have caught that typo, katastrophe. And, as you said, I do want people to be able to try them, just not be able to increase the qualities. I should definitely mark that somewhere. The box thing, well… my intention was that you can’t actually finish the box without help from your Significant One, something you can’t do in the prologue because they’re running late. I should mark that more clearly–perhaps a description label like “Can’t do anything else right now” or something.

Actually, the idea for this started as an Inform game, but I decided this would be more interesting. Plus, I am absolutely terrible when it comes to detailed programming.
Thanks, watch for updates, and keep playing!

This looks very well-written! Impressions:

-The restart card is chillingly dark. I like it!
-Having to wake yourself up…interesting. It’s strange…obviously, a game that’s exactly like real life would be tediously dull, but so many games gloss over little details like this that I kind of like them when they do appear, for the novelty if nothing else. You also do a good job of keeping me immersed, too, by giving every single step a different text instead of making it a grind.
-I like the use of MBTI as central qualities! Something that occurred to me when playing Fallen London is that it gives you multiple ways to approach a problem, but very broadly – it doesn’t give you, for instance, multiple ways of solving a Watchful-based problem. This feels like a good compromise on that front. I especially like the touch that you can try challenges that don’t fit you, but can only improve through your selected qualities. Overall, seems very innovative. Why’d you exclude Judging/Perceiving, though? (Interestingly, I actually got one letter off from what I get when I take the real Myers-Briggs test – there I get Intuitive, here I got Sensing.)
-You also do a good job of laying out the player’s options, giving us multiple plot threads throughout both cards and items.
-Hm. Do you intend for two “stages” of “Editing…” to be available at the same time? When you set a branch to disappear when it’s “no more than x”, it actually doesn’t appear until one level after what you set it at.
-Ooh, that is a good cliffhanger. (The “content cap” card triggers before you actually run out of content, though.) I really like what you did with forcing the player to only choose based on symbols.

So, this looks great, overall! I really think you’re taking the engine in new and interesting directions, and the writing is spot-on. I can’t wait to see more of this!

I’m enjoying this so far - the concept is great (I’m a sucker for groundhog day stories) and gives you lots of options for creeping, sinister or just funny moments. The personality test as a character creation tool is clever as well. I haven’t played through multiple options yet, but it feels appropriate and interesting to have the cards that progress your day unlock depending on your personality type - how “you” might approach things.

I like the first person, and the turn it takes into the properly surreal once you’ve collected enough of the objects.

What I would say is it felt a little bit strange to have progress-based storylets stored in the inventory - the key, the article, the coin. You needed to raise your quality in them multiple times before it unlocked new pinned cards, and I was out of “sometimes” cards and had explored most of the pinned options before I thought to go back to these. Might be advantageous if these were pinned, especially as you could then lock them off when someone reached the appropriate level in them - rather than leaving them open to play even when you don’t get a quality increase? (For instance, once you’ve reached ‘2’ in the unknown key) Just a thought - but, again, an interesting concept!

This was fun to play. The first-person narrative took a little getting used to, but a rhythm did get started. (Though it was a distinctly surreal experience to get so much done within an hour of waking up.)

The pictorial-based section towards the end was extremely cool. I liked the text for the ‘noose’ option.

The tone of half-awake-ness and the slowly dawning sense that everything was just a little off was enjoyable. I look forward to seeing more.

Okay! Little The. It is nice having the restart card there, and I do like the text on it, but my intent is for it to be a temporary tool for anyone who’s playtesting, so don’t expect for it to stick around forever. Waking up, well, I wanted to make it a process. It serves as a sort of introduction to the gameplay, I thought, while easing the player into the setting. The MBTI thing is an aspect I’m pretty proud of–I wanted the qualities to reflect aspects of the player and the character. Far too often, main stats seem pasted on, whereas these feel more like an integral part of the protagonist. I left out Judging/Percieving mostly because it seemed a bit redundant with Sensing/Intuition and Feeling/Thinking–I didn’t think I would be able to devise cards that would distinctly require Percieving or Judging abilities over the others. Perhaps, if there is a demand for it, I’ll add it in. And yeah, I did mean for two stages of Editing… to be visible at once. I figured I’d give the player multiple options. Why not? Above all, thank you for playing. I really appreciate your feedback.

betterthemask! Your turn. Glad you’re enjoying it! Yeah, that was my goal–as I said above, having the main stats be personality traits makes them more integral to the protagonist. I thought so, anyway. Seems like the first person is working, generally, and yeah, I’m still working on how exactly I want the surreal portions to work, but I have an idea. I was struggling with the “inventory items being necessary to progress” thing. You must have played before I changed this, but now there’s a pinned card that hangs around until the usable items are fully investigated called “My To-do List” or something like that. It doesn’t actually make progress on anything, but it’s there as a reminder that, yes, there are things to use in your inventory. It would make it easier to lock off progress, though–to make them their own pinned cards, I mean. Hm. I’ll have to think about that. And of course, thank you so, so much for playing. It means a lot, really.

And Dearheart! Thanks–I know it might be “intriguing,” or “vaguely interesting,” but if a game isn’t fun… well, who will want to play it?! Nice to know that it is enjoyable. I figured the first-person narrative might throw some players off at the beginning, but I’m glad a rhythm did form. It is a bit crazy how much gets done in that time, isn’t it? Though, I’d consider that a bit more than an hour–when the protagonist wakes up (the next time around, I mean), it’ll probably be just after taking the personality test. So, all the waking-up things, any early investigating, and the entire personality test take place before the hour starts. Of course, that’s still a lot that gets done after that. But whatever! It’s not completely unfeasible. Thanks for playing, and thanks for your feedback!

Now, to everybody. I wasn’t sure about the dream portion, how that would work. The visual and auditory representations of the environment are a bit restricted by the selection of icons, but I really like how it’s turning out. I’m glad it seems to be working–I was really worried it would be too “experimental” or something. But this seems like the kind of thing StoryNexus was made for. I mean, you can’t really create a similar experience on any other system, at least none that I know of.

So, that’s that. Thanks again for playing, and for your feedback! As the game develops, keep it coming, please! I need to know that what I’m making doesn’t suck, and that whatever parts do suck are things I can fix.

This is interesting. I feel like I am biased a bit when it comes to the personality traits because I am a psych major so I know how to read/beat those tests. It was strangely reminiscent of Silent Hill 4 for me, which is certainly a good thing and I enjoyed the pictorial section as well.

I don’t know how I feel about pretty much having set choices though. Personally I was taken aback by having a named close friend, and a little disappointed it was a guy. I have always gotten along with girls more so than guys in life and the first person PoV, does indeed make it more personal, which makes it all the more… upsetting? that it feels like your choices are being controlled by an outside source.
edited by Kitsune on 9/23/2012

Thanks for playing, Kitsune! I can see how you could draw the comparison to Silent Hill 4, with the closed-world, slightly “off” environment, but soon enough the entire city will be the protagonist’s playground. There will be much, much less restriction in the non-prologue parts of the game. And yeah, I am a neuroscience major and have had plenty of psych classes, enough to know that these tests are far from perfect–but the idea isn’t to accurately capture your personality, but rather to act the way you think your character might in a similar situation. I would also hesitate to say that those tests can be “beaten”–after all, sensing isn’t “better” than intuition, and introversion isn’t “better” than extroversion–they just are. Glad you liked the picture-dependent section. It’s being expanded, steadily.

I tried to make it as open as possible–instead of assigning you a husband, a wife, or a gender, I gave a range of options from nobody to, well, pretty much any relationship you could have. Unless you want an option to have a “friend with benefits” or a parent/relative, I don’t know who else could be classified as a significant one. The relationships mostly give you the choice of your significant one’s gender–only “Myself” and “A Close Friend” determine the gender of the person who will play a role in your story–Myself presents Lydia, and A Close Friend presents Stephen. Of course, one could argue that the lack of control in the early section is good. It’s meant to show you how not in control of your life you are, how much others dictate. Then, the point of the rest of the game is to, in the one hour that is repeated over and over and over again, learn about other people, invest in other people, and stop living passively. Of course, the story goes much, much deeper than that, but the contrast between the lack of control in the prologue and the control in the main game will reinforce this feeling, or so I hope.

Thanks for your feedback!

Your welcome and I do look forward to your expansion and seeing what you do with the story. I apologize about choosing the word beaten, it really is impossible on a personality test, but what I mean when I say that is, as a psych major, I know what results your choices are going to give. So, as much as I try not to, it breaks away from a “true” representation of my personality to picking and choosing the qualities I want, which is what you are saying is the goal anyways so no worries. I just tend to avoid all types of quizzes because I tend to know how to pick and choose my answers, even if I don’t want to.
edited by Kitsune on 9/23/2012

It’s no problem–I totally understand that. Personality tests tend to be kind of transparent. And yeah–I’m not trying to capture the player’s personality with 100% accuracy, just… try something a bit different, is all.

Hey, to anybody subscribed to this thread–do you think that the portions of dream that are sans-text should be completely sans-text, like, with no commentary from mysterious-voice-person at all? If so or if not, do you think the rest of the dream should have text? Or should I continue with this surreal, image-based thing?

Surrealism is awesome! Like I said, innovation! Even though the medium may seem simple, don’t be afraid to push it to newfound limits! :-D I think it’s pretty cool to have to interpret what each branch means yourself – and if you don’t interpret it right, the voice provides context in the results section.

(I do think it is somewhat necessary for there to be some narration on the part of the voice, though. The medium is very text-based, after all, and you can’t put images in results, I think…)

Is there supposed to be a locked card indicating when you’ve hit the end of current content? I’m at Dreaming 4/Approach: The Key (character name Aspeon), and don’t seem to have any actions open at all.

Have you left the room and arrived on the plain? Also, what is your “Attempting to Leave” quality? There should be more options, or at least a “content cap” card.

Never mind, figured out the issue. It should be fixed–if not, let me know, and I’ll see what’s up. Thanks for letting me know, and thanks for playing!

I had a very difficult time with this, as the pictures were small and therefore difficult for me to see. I couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to represent or where I was supposed to go, so I just clicked on cards at random. I like the idea of having a character wandering through a surreal world–but as a player, I really need words to understand what’s going on. Pictograms don’t narrow possibilities; they expand them. So I have no idea what’s being said.

Okay! So the bit of narration that is provided wasn’t enough? Did the “sounds” help at all? I know back when I started designing this section of the game, the icons were full-size, so I was a bit miffed when they spontaneously shrunk–that being said, I’ve played through it, and they still seem pretty visible. And in terms of what things are supposed represent… other than the literal meanings of each object you encounter, it’s really up to interpretation. The process of leaving the Room is suitably surreal, dreamlike–and I don’t want to limit possibilities. But on the Plain, and once you have begun your journey to whichever destination you choose, it will become slightly more straightforward. There will be some form of narration, though it still won’t be quite as traditional as you might like. So, basically, if you prefer the more traditional or logical style of StoryNexus design, this game might not be your cup of tea. But if this is a widespread issue that many players are having, I’d really like to know so that I can adapt it appropriately. Adding any more narration wouldn’t really work with what I have now, but if this is a serious problem for the majority of people playing this game, I can change the tone, the style, or the design of the dream. So let me know, players! What are your thoughts on the dream? Too many possibilities? Not enough direction?

And Rhysdux, thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. The main body of the game isn’t going to be in this style–rather, it will resemble the opening section (but with many more directions to take). And, each dream section (this is just the first) will have a different style, so perhaps the next one will be less open-ended and more definitive! Thanks for bringing the issue to my attention.