For people who didn't see my previous posts, 4 in a blow is an extended version of 4 in a row. You don't win the game by making 1 row of 4 of your bombs like the classic game. In 4 IaB dropping 4 bombs in a row will let them explode. This will break the tiles underneath the bombs. Your goal is to break a specific number of tiles of a certain color.
The first test revealed that the surrounding stones must be destroyed when you make a combination. Otherwise the board fills up with stones to fast. In other words, the game "worked" or "felt good".
The second prototype was a digital paper prototype. I made it with adobe illustrator. Since I knew that the game worked, UI and HUD became my focus for the next tests.
What information did the players needed? Where do we show this information? What are the best sizes for all the assets?
Sven gave me a photoshop document with all the assets and sizes of his blastball game. With the Sven's psd file and some inspiration from Kings diamond digger and candy crush, the paper prototype quickly became a pre-visualisation.
Anyway, I made the animation the way I would play the game. Immediately the test showed me the importance of the choices I had to make. I caught myself thinking: "Ok what tiles do I need to blow up?"
Also the random places a stone could fall, turned out to be a nice surprise.
The final pre-vis was made with the stencyl engine, not with adobe flash. Somehow the click-and-drag programming code was easier for me to handle the animation etc.
Take note that the game itself is made with the unity engine. Stencyl is not bad, but in general unity is just better.
Looking back at this
The paper prototype did help, but I know now that I could have gotten more information out of it.
A paper prototype is easy to make but the testing itself takes more effort then a digital version. You need to move all the pawns by yourself, do all the calculations, etc. The thing was that I just was to lazy to do all those things properly.
A second annotation towards myself is that I must know my target audience before even beginning to work on a paper prototype.
Back then, I knew that puzzle were popular but board games were (and still are) not. So I needed to make something in between to convert the puzzle gamers to play a board game.
My first reflex was to look at the strategy canvas for diversification while I should have looked at the commonalities of customers and non-customers.
I have had no discomfort experienced, while making the pre-vis with stencyl. It helps you time the animation and it helps you explain the game to strangers or colleagues.
The only downfall is that it can take some time to make.
I will dicus the result of the later prototypes in the upcoming posts.