You've released your alpha demo. You have 20,000 users telling you what to do. What do you do?
The few weeks since we released the public alpha test demo have been very exciting for the team over at Dejobaan. Twenty thousand users have downloaded the alpha, and several times that many have visited our website. If you aren't one of them, go here now!
As you might have read in past dev diary entries, our goal with the alpha was to improve the graphics also evolve the gameplay. What do we do now?
Step 1: Listen to the Overall Buzz
- "I hope @RoRoDejobaan wont be too upset at me being shamelessly "inspired" by aaa. I mean I really am inspired. To make my own falling game."
- "Just finished aa... In that final bit you managed to get a perfect mixture of awesome. I love it. And this is just the alpha."
- "@RoRoDejobaan UBER congrats on the alpha test!"
- "Dude, the game is stupidly fun (and I love the UHF reference!)
- "NICE. You are getting some great popularity. Keep it up.. er down. And fast."
- "Extreamly good game. And its only just a Alpha. So will done u guys are great. Aaaaa one of the best game i have played all year"
- "The friends I make on facebook are not about social networking, they are about a reckless disregard for ****ty monster budget AAA titles."
- "i have accomplished the alpha test master. i'm waiting for your orders."
Slashgamer (/gamer) interviewed us at the Independent Game Conference East, over at Northeastern University. It was there that AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity had its first grand exposure to the public:
- "There were about ten groups showing off their work and out of the ten I found two developers that I felt had something unique in their games. The first was Ichiro Lambe Founder/ President of Dejobaan Games..."
Not too bad. Let's hope, when they post the interview, we look good. So, what are the users saying? Here's a conversation from N4G:
- "[The name is] either a very smart move, or very stupid, in terms of PR."
- "just can't see it myself, plus it is a stupid name regardless of whether it grabs your attention or not. "
- "You're kidding right? I know god knows how many people who try to get as high as they can in FPS and even WoW, just to jump off... over and over again..."
- "Surely it ought to be called SsssSsSSssHHHhhhhHhhHhIiiiIHi iiIIiiiIIiiiIIIIIiiiiTTtttTTTtt tttTtttt!!!! as that's what most people tend to exclaim when base-jumping "
Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
Step 2: Listen to Repeated Suggestions
We also asked players who finished the alpha to comment on our blog. In game dev, sometimes the most useful comments are about the little things:
- "Biggest problem that springs to mind right now is that there's no quick way to retry a level after you fail."
- "A retry button when you fail/win would help immensely."
- "Oh, and it definately needs a "Retry" button/hotkey rather than renavigating the menus."
- "I'd like to see a much quicker way to retry without having to go all the way out."
When a third of our feedback all tells us the same thing, and it makes sense to us, it's something we're going to add. Similarly, we originally left the menu controls rough, because, well, it was an alpha. Ichiro admits that this may have been a bad idea:
- "The control in the MENU. I just want suggest you use the normal WSAD/Enter."
- "make enter,escape and arrow keys the buttons used fa menu navigation"
- "I'd recommend letting somebody used the mouse only to navigate the menus. "P" to play is kind of weird."
- "The menu controls should be unified with the game controls."
- "Improve the menu controls (use WASD and Mouse)."
- "make mouse support in menus instead of arrows keys and p to play."
Oops. People though that we left that in because we sucked at UI development. However, most users seemed to like the theme of the game:
- "I really like the anti-hyper-consumerism(and anti everything) flavor of the game and think you could bring it out in the levels more."
- "Not only do the floating ads have a very sci-fi-ish feel to them, the style behind them really sells the semi-hemi dystopian future that I suspect is the idea here."
- "[The] implications of a culture where saying "You'll buy whatever we're selling" and slapping a girl with nice breasts* on an ad would actually work is perfect."
- "I love the ads. Let me just say that."
- "I personally don't like the futuristic scenario, so some bonus levels for diving off a "realistic" mountain/bridge/building would be awesome."
Not everyone's cup of tea, but we got many more thumbs-up than calls for something different. And take a look at the last comment -- even though it wasn't his thing, this is the kind of feedback we're looking for! So, what's next?
Step 3: Build the Beta. Make People Happy.
Small order, eh? It's 2:47am, and I haven't slept in a while. Penguin steak. Molybdenum. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my sexy fries.