Demoing TangramsVR

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to demo TangramsVR at the MAGWest festival. It was the first time showing off one of the games I made with complete strangers. I was terrified! What if they thought my game was no fun? What if they laughed at me or my game? Perhaps the worst was: “What if no one wanted to play my game?”

Since I’m writing this after the event, you know that I’ve survived. I ended up learning a lot through the process.

Demoing is really terrifying!

I mentioned before I was terrified to share my work. I’ve been in writing workshops before where sharing original writing is an incredibly powerful experience. It makes you so vulnerable. Demoing a game is very much the same! I think that you have to expect that not everyone will like your creation. And that’s okay. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up making something no one wants to play.

Feedback you will get is invaluable.

I have to admit that I’m really glad that the players of my game were wearing a VR headset. They were completely oblivious to every time I cringed because a mechanic didn’t work as expected. Or when I noticed a bug that I forgot to fix. Or they found a bug that I had never seen before.

Prior to the event, I thought my UI was self-explanatory. Boy was I wrong! I found myself needing to explain the mechanics to many players, even people who’ve had experience with VR. Guess it’s back to the drawing board on that area of my game.

I also got useful information on the puzzles of TangramsVR. Many of the puzzles, players seemed perfectly fine with thinking it through for themselves. I had a couple of players that needed some hints to get through a couple of the puzzles. That showed me two things. 1. I need to have some sort of help or hint system for the puzzles. 2. People are willing to struggle through on their own to solve a puzzle.

How long people play the game says a lot!

I had two people over the three days that were determined to beat all of the 13 puzzles! If a player did one puzzle, and quit I would have known that my game wasn’t engaging enough. I could have drawn the conclusion that either they were bored or that the experience was making them sick. I didn’t have any one take the headset off without completing at least three puzzles. Most people made it well into the second puzzle room, completing about five to six puzzles.

What people say also matters.

I had several people talk to me after they took off the headset. Many asked me where I planned on taking the game and what my future plans were for developing the game further. A lot of people gave some generic advice like “that was fun” or “I really enjoyed it.”

For some people, TangramsVR was their first VR experience. Those were the people that I asked about how it made them feel. I wanted to be sure that the experience was a comfortable one for them.

Some people gave specific advice. For example, one person mentioned that he was partially colorblind and the colors I had chosen for my line renderers for teleportation looked exactly the same. I thought this was amazing feedback. I don’t think that accessibility comes up often enough in game development. I hope that some tools exist that could help me evaluate TangramsVR and ensure that it will work for all abilities.

Do some paperwork.

One of the best things I did was to keep my notebook nearby. After each person played my game, I’d jot down notes to myself. What they liked. What they didn’t like. Bugs I saw. Bugs they pointed out. This was incredibly difficult to do on Saturday. It was really busy and I lost track of how many people played my game after about 10. I started this tactic as a way of remembering thoughts and feedback as the day progressed. If I didn’t do this, I don’t think I could have possibly remembered much of what I talked about.

Now that there’s been a little bit of time since the event, I’ve been able to fix some of the issues that have come up. I find that I’m sad that I have no where to demo the game and get more feedback. I truly enjoyed the time getting to share my game and talk about it with others.

I’ve launched TangramsVR on Viveport…

and I have a release date for TangramsVR on Steam.

Next steps is to get it on the Oculus store. Once it’s on the Oculus store, I can start adding more puzzles, bug fixes, and game play improvements. If you do end up playing my game (or if you’ve played it at MAGWest), do let me know what you think by writing a review. Your feedback means that I can make the game even better!

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