Lessons Learned From Beta Testing
After just shy of a month of my open beta test, with 30,000 downloads, I have learned a few things. Thought I’d post some thoughts, as well as give people an opportunity to point out other stuff I might have missed.
First the good news, it seems Something’s In The Air is a critical success. Everyone seems to like it the way it is, and thanks for that. Most of the bugs are in the form of spelling and grammar errors, which are likely to always be a problem. For me this is good news because I do not have to post any patches, and it is good news for you players, because you do not have to download the latest version. I am planning an official version 1.0 release, but I can take my time on it.
The bad news, or more accurately less good news, is my surprise at how players played the game. The addition of “endings” was practically a last minute suggestion from the Lemma Soft Forums that only took a couple of hours to implement. The primary focus of pretty much all players is in reaching the magic 40 endings, instead of what I would hope would be the focus: the over arching story. There are also a lot of details people miss while rushing to reach the 40 endings.
These observations have led to four changes that will come out in version 1.0: 1.) In order to help people find the 40 endings, I am adding a single page map indicating which endings have been reached, and visual hints to where to find the missing endings. You can see an example of this map in the above picture. 2.) whenever you reach a new ending, a pop-up message will appear on the last screen of the story. 3.) There is now a second section to the gallery called the Player Notebook to point out content likely to be missed in the rush to 40 endings. This includes a Game Clues page pointing out 6 mysteries found in the first 3 stories. Once at least 5 of the 6 clues are found, then story 4 will unlock, which solves the mysteries. 4.) Another part of the Player’s Notebook is a list of “facts” on 12 different female characters in the game. Because it is fairly easy to finish all the endings and still miss some of this stuff, this will give you some additional end game goals to work on.
These changes for the most part I have already finished. What I have yet to finish is some new content like a new Ariane “ending” which ties up a few loose ends. This will give Ariane 12 endings. To keep my ending map pretty, I dropped the “Do You Know Any Gymnasts?” ending from Paula (it will still be there, it just will not count as one of the 40 endings). Why drop it? Because an expanded version of that ending will be shown as a reward of getting all 40 endings. Currently the reward is a lame sight gag, the new reward will basically be Story 4 part 2 with a big dramatic suitable ending to the whole visual novel. The idea for Story 4 part 2 comes from a rather interesting discussion regarding the ethics of “What Paula Did” over at the Shark’s Lagoon Forum.
My goal is to finish these last two stories over the summer and have 1.0 available then.
In the mean time, if anyone has some more mistakes to point out, or improvement suggestions, please leave a comment.