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Practical Game Playtesting: A Wii-Based Case Study
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Practical Game Playtesting: A Wii-Based Case Study


January 15, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next
 

Car handling: extremely twitchy

This issue was something which slipped by us simply because we were so used to the handling of the car that we didn't realize there was a problem.

As players took hold of the controls, they found that the handling of the car was so sensitive that doing simple things such as driving in a straight line was difficult to achieve, which meant that trying to get the car successfully around a corner almost always resulted in the player crashing with the barrier. This was obviously viewed extremely negatively by players.

By spending some time tweaking the car handling, we were able to drastically improve the game. Figure 1 shows a graph giving us a before and after view.


Figure 1. Error comparison between sensitivity changes

As can be seen, the number of errors made was drastically reduced, while the average time between errors was increased. Additionally, players often found themselves winning the first race, therefore giving them strong, positive feedback early on and enticing them to continue.

Shunt issue

Performing a side-shunt meant having to shunt the Wiimote quickly to the left or right, as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. Example of how shunt was performed

This would cause the car to slide sharply in the direction and hopefully hit a car. While there was no problem performing the action, it was the result which was not expected. At the apex of the movement, we found that instead of the Wiimote coming to a stop, the laws of physics kicked in and there was a slight jerk, which was equally as strong, in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, the game would pick this up, and this resulted in the car going the opposite direction to what the players wanted, as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3. But what actually happened

This really frustrated the players because of obvious reasons; the car wasn't doing what they wanted it to do.

The solution to this was to use both the player's actions and software combined. We found that the player always shunted with vigor; there was never any half-movement to it.

So, we decided to utilize this, and toned down the sensitivity of the Wiimote quite a bit. This meant that when the player performed the shunt, it wouldn't pick up that little bit of after-movement at the end of the gesture.


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