I have the belief that for Monumental Failure to be a success, the ability to share it with friends and family is a key factor. To clarify, I know that Monumental Failure isn't going to be the game that occupies hundreds of your gaming hours, but I want it to be a game you're going to show your brother, your sister, or even your grandma. I want Monumental Failure to bring people together to have a laugh, and enjoy a moment of comical frustration with whacky fun video game physics™.
To achieve this level of share-ability, the game has to be accessible. If someone has never played a game before, will they be able to play Monumental Failure? What barriers does someone have to overcome to play it?
In this week's dev log, I'd like to share some thoughts related to how I'm answering the above questions and making Monumental Failure more accessible.
The first thing I ever designed for Monumental Failure consisted of 4 capsules that pushed a 3D rectangle up a ramp on to two other 3D rectangles. To give the player a degree of control fidelity, it made sense to assign pairs of capsules to separate joysticks, left capsules on the left stick, right capsules on the right stick. I needed to allow the player to end the round, so a button press, 'A' , fit this need. Move your "guys" with the sticks, lock it in with a button.
In developing the Monumental Failure proto-game I found myself with an extremely simple control scheme. I decided it would make for a more interesting game if these controls never changed and every challenge was prescribed by the level design. This has the benefit of only needing to tutorialize the controls once, which combined with simple controls gives a huge boost in accessibility.
Assigning all the joysticks to character movement eliminates the right stick's typical function - camera control. Asking the player to be a camera operator could be a huge barrier to play, so we remove camera controls from the player's responsibilities, and instead make it a responsibility of the designer. This definitely creates some headaches for the designer, but it's a huge gain in accessibility.
Additionally, as a concern for accessibility, I have to take a macro look at the game, and ask, is it friendly? Goofy situations and a general comedic tone help, but, is it fun to fail? Can you enjoy yourself even if you're not winning?
I sum up all these questions and concerns into a simple mantra for myself: "Can my dad play this?". My dad doesn't play video games, but he has a sense of adventure and embraces new experiences. He has the right attitude and the perfect lack of video game knowledge to make him an ideal tester for Monumental Failure!
It just so happens that Dad stopped by this week, and we got him to play through the Stonehenge and Roman Aqueduct levels. He navigated both levels with competency. Surprisingly, his biggest challenge was figuring out how to press start on the game's title screen. I guess I have to make that more accessible!
I hope in the future if you hear me talk about accessibility as an element of game design, this post will enlighten you as to what I mean by that.
Thanks for reading!