A Week of Polishing

Right now we’re finding bugs and tuning the game. What exactly does that mean?

Liana stressed one of the game’s new features (using it as much as possible in a complete game), and wrote up a bunch of issues: it was inconsistent, wasn’t clear enough, didn’t feel like good value for the cost, and felt too generic. So I reviewed what was going on. Some of the inconsistency was actually just feedback and advice that was out of date. I added a new way to see all the effects. There are new side effects to help add value. And there is now the possibility of interactive results instead of a boilerplate response. These are new situations that need to be exhaustively tested, so that’s now on Kati’s plate. Some of these changes needed to be mentioned in the manual, too.

Liana had previously played a game where her main goal was to increase the size of the clan. I had fixed some of the specific bugs this revealed, and also started applying some new consequences and activated a new scene I had written the previous week.

I tracked down and fixed a bug which could make the game unplayable if you made peace with a clan right before it was scheduled to raid you (due to previous events).

Report buttonAnother timing bug (reported by a playtester) had to do with when the followup for an omen occurred. And another was a possible conflict with the seasonal calendar (you might be willing to ignore the harvest, but would your allies?).

One bug had to do with dead emissaries returning with gifts. This seemed like an issue that could happen in scenes other than the one it was reported for, so I swept the entire code and found another six places.

Raided By: NoneOne game had very few raids. I looked at the logs and data, and made some adjustments to what are probably the underlying causes. (Raids look at many factors, such as relative strength and different aspects of inter-clan relationships.)

While playing, I was surprised not to get a relevant bit of advice on one situation. The exact set of advisors makes a huge difference on what advice is given, as does the context in the story, but I ended up changing the priority of one advice type. In theory this is a big change, but I believe it is more in line with how Robin and I used that type. We’ll need to play for a while and make sure you still get good advice.

A conversation with Zack sparked an idea that I need to implement this week.

By the end of the week, there were bugs relating to the new interactive results, so I fixed those.

And there were a number of typos and text edits.

So that’s a fairly typical week of polishing a game which is at the alpha stage.

Author: David

Creator of Six Ages and King of Dragon Pass

10 thoughts on “A Week of Polishing”

  1. Must be a tiresome process, having to play your own game over and over, not for enjoyment, but to find errors and test corrections. The magic these game have is probably lost for those working behind the curtains, right?

    So Kudos for your perseverance!

    1. That’s why finding the right QA team is so important. Liana recently told me that it’s fun playing the game (even though she is usually trying to break something).

      1. Well, testing if the game is actually fun is probably of paramount importance ; )

  2. I think KoDP is my favourite game of them all, it’s joy to read about Six Ages. There’s one feature that may be improved, and you are free to read about it or not.

    It’s about dialogue branching. I’ll use as an example the event “Einarth Milk-Eyes: Prophecy”, where we receive an omen from a wise man and have a six options:
    1) End the feud with other clan.
    2) Gift Einarth.
    3) Ignore the prophecy.
    4) Immediately begin preparations for omen.
    5) Offer Einarth a place in my clan.
    6) Wait for a while, then fulfill the prophecy.

    In this situation I imagine the chief giving gifts to Einarth and offering him a place in the clan, but also choosing to fulfill the prophesy. Sadly I have no idea if it’s possible to make preparations after gift giving. Which options close event, and which allow me to choose again?
    Yet I’m sure the character (chief) knows if it’s possible to pursue a prophesy after gift giving, or will it be considered as a tardiness.

    In the game “Expeditions: Conquistador” the choices leading to the exit was marked with a little symbol. Choices that allowed you to choose more than one respond had a special label too. It helped a lot. Of course it’s not always an option: the game tells us a story, so not every choice must have a clear label.
    For example, if my explorers will encounter a weathered shaman in the woods, I might have an options “Give him food” and “Ask him for advise” labeled as non-ending, while “Ignore him” and “Attack him” labeled as finishing. But in practise any contact with him reveals that he is a Chaos worshipper and leads to fight, so the labels prove to be wrong. That means the labels are not a plot-trumping visions of future, but a character’s intentions (“I want to show my generosity and will definitely use the chance to invite him to us, but who knows what will happen in the next moment?”). I think this concept will work great — if tutorial will clearly say that the labels are intentions, not a meta-iformation.

    Of course I’m not a game designer, just a one player who’d enjoy Six Ages more this way. Good luck in your good job, I’m waiting to buy your game already)

    1. A few things:

      What would a game be without meaningful decisions? You need to choose what’s most important. Is your focus on showing generosity or gaining a prophet?

      At the same time, the game isn’t trying to be a jerk. Gifting Einarth isn’t going to keep you from fulfilling the omen.

      Marking choices breaks immersion. And if it is merely a matter of intent, then hopefully the text is clear enough.

      Finally, this change would require going back and marking literally thousands of responses. Which would introduce the possibility of miscoding, so we would have to do more testing. This late in the development cycle, this would be a problem.

      I do get what you’re saying, and will add this to the manual:

      You’ll need to pick your highest priority response, the action you want to focus on. Sometimes you’ll be able to choose a second option, especially if the first doesn’t resolve things.

  3. Here’s hoping you need more play testers. My info is hopefully in a queue somewhere for the next batch.

  4. Oh gosh, am I excited with all of the effort, love, and passion that you all are putting into this game! I already have a few friends in mind who I plan on gifting this game too. Everything I’ve read about this game truly makes me so happy to see another unique game out there that deserves all the attention it can get!

  5. Super excited guys. Been playing KoDP for the past 3 years and just won my first short game. Remembered about the Six Ages announcement and had to check up! Glad to see you are all still working hard on this!

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