Sharing content with you, the audience, is a tricky subject. We have already reached a point in development where we need to start thinking about what content we share and what we should keep secret. In fact, if you read last week’s blog post we had fun withholding some info about a new character.
Jokes aside, the team is split on how we should approach sharing more “sensitive” content like later levels, endgame bosses, secret unlocks, and more. We fall into two camps: one that says “share everything; test everything,” and one that says “hold back content; don’t ruin the surprise.”
Sharing for Gameplay’s Sake
If you have been following our Twitter, you would know that every week we attend GLITCH’s Play/Test event where you can present your game for testing and feedback. Play/Test has been invaluable in the development of Fingeance: we get to talk to players, see what they do, and how they react to changes in the game. So many changes and improvements have been made because of this event and the ability to play test the game with the public.
So why would we want to hinder this process?
We are a small team working on a small budget, but we have big dreams. We want to make sure that all of our content polished and balanced before we release the game. Limiting the amount of content that we are going to show means that we can’t test that content with the public. We don’t have the means of hiring out a company to test out the game and we certainly aren’t looking to have everyone that attends Play/Test sign NDAs before they can play the game. Sure, there are some things that we probably shouldn’t show, but if it affects gameplay we should think about showing it.
It makes sense put gameplay above all else.
Savoring the Experience
Spoilers suck. If you were really looking forward to experiencing a story, spoilers can suck the wind from your sails. That first time you find a surprise or discover a secret is electric and precious. When we show off new content — and see players’ faces light up with joy and wonder — we get a huge kick. It’s inspiring, and a big part of why we do this.
So why would we want to ruin this for them?
Discovering new content in a game is a driving force to continue playing. “What’s around the corner?” “What other discoveries lay ahead?” Stillalive Studios, and their game Son of Nor, had this same problem. Throughout their process of developing the game, they were documenting it through development vlogs and blog posts bringing their followers along for the three-year journey. But, towards the end of development, they made the conscious decision to not show some content. This was to not spoil the game for those that have been there since day one, those that actively seek out their updates, those that care the most about their game. Yeah, this approach meant that this content isn’t nearly as well-tested as the other content, but there are other ways to test without showing all the content to everyone. We should be more confident in our ability to craft our game and only show certain content to a select few.
It makes sense to value the experience of the player above all else.
What do you think?
These are two approaches to the problem of sharing content. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. But what about you?
Do you want to see everything? Do you want to have surprises?