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Can You Keep Up?

As promised, I've got the next TWO parts of the speed room for you this month! Things are definitely going to start getting busy with the holiday season rapidly approaching and still one more game to get into the room, Runner (renamed from sprint line). I do expect the last game will be the most difficult and time consuming to develop, which is why I've saved it for last. Nevertheless, making sure the other games in the room are just as fun and engaging is a constant challenge with many highs and lows, which I'll continue to share with you as I speak about each part of the game. So, without further ado let's get into the first game for this month: button presser.

When I first introduced the button presser game idea I had likened it to Willy Wonka's fantastic elevator with buttons on all sides. The original implementation of button presser was pretty close to that, but I quickly found out that using that original design as a method to test speed was FAR too difficult and it became more of an accuracy test. So, in order to get the game back to test speed I had to make a few changes- First, like all games in Mythlink, I had to adjust some parameters to make the game accessible to everyone whether you're 3 feet tall or 30 feet tall. This meant cutting down the wall size and allowing users to adjust them up/down based on their preferences and height. Second, I had to cut down the number of buttons and reduce the number of walls the user could play with. Having too many buttons made the game more about accuracy than speed and having up to four walls made the game too difficult. Having a wall behind you at all times basically resulted in constantly spinning around to see if any buttons needed to be pressed- both dizzying and a not very fair (or fun) game design choice.

The final results of these cuts are seen in the gif below. Players are allowed to choose anywhere from one to three walls where the goal is to press the lit up buttons as fast as you can. If four buttons are lit up consecutively, you lose! I've also added the "wall" light up feature which alerts the player on which wall currently has lit up buttons. This helps players utilize their peripheral vision to find which button is active, rather than needing to spin around or look left and right constantly. You'll also notice that some of the buttons are rotating. As per the norm, once a user reaches level 5 (or higher), a slight twist is introduced to make the game more interesting. In button presser, this means the buttons start to move around the border, along with increasing frequency of buttons activating.

Next up is the copycat keep up game. I'll start off by saying this game very nearly got cut because I thought it was going to be way too boring. Luckily, as I started getting further and further into the development of the game I found it was getting more and more fun! This one turned out closer to the original idea I pitched back in September. A user will face off against a "wall" which will spit out commands that the user has to input on their controller. The twist at level 5 and higher changes the game so not only do you have to press the buttons in a certain order, you also need to rotate your controller to match the game while pressing the buttons. It's a little hard to make out but the gif below shows an example of level 5 play.

While the gif does show the gameplay appropriately, it does omit one important feature. Exceptionally talented users can choose to play with two controllers at once. This doubles everything about the game- Two boards appear instead of one and each board gives a command which must be input by each specific controller (left board commands must be pressed on the left hand controller, etc.) Let me tell you: playing the two controller version is HARD. I would say easily the most difficult thing to do in all of Mythlink. While a gif is not the best way to showcase this particular game, even playing with the single controller takes the most focus and speed of anything I've created so far. In fact, the two handed version at one point was so difficult I had to tune it down because I don't think anybody could handle it. Who knows, maybe I'll be proven wrong and when the game is released people will ask for the tougher version...don't say I didn't warn you. :)

Now, I know what you may be thinking. "Wow, some of these games seem sort of bland or unable to be interesting for long periods of time". And you might be somewhat correct. So, I'll leave you this month with a few of my thoughts on that.

First, they may seem bland at first glace because they are not traditional types of games. You would never purchase a PC or console game with these types of main features as their selling point. However, VR is very different. The new medium really lends itself to new ways of thinking. You can't really make a VR game using existing tropes- or if you do the game will end up feeling like VR was an afterthought and not worth the current heavy investment in a system. This means designers have to branch out to find new ways to engage audiences. Personally, I want Mythlink to be a roomscale-only VR game. I don't want it to be able to be experienced in any other way, otherwise...why wouldn't I have just created a game for a console which has a player base in the tens of millions? In addition to this new way of thinking, I *personally* wanted Mythlink to be accessible for everyone regardless of how much space they have or how tall they are. This adds an even deeper layer of difficulty in design, because I can't just design a game with amazing features that only work for people who are 6 feet all and with an entire room of play space dedicated to VR. I mean, what kind of game community would Mythlink have if there wasn't some 4 foot tall 13 year old punk who kicks everyone's butt online?!

Secondly, I want to talk about the longevity of the games. I am well aware that nobody is going to sit down and grind out 40 hours of "Button Presser" to max out their mythlink's speed. Frankly, the game just isn't fun enough for that, but it's also not designed to be like that. With the exception of the Puzzle room (which I do believe has longevity), each room has multiple games. These games are meant to compliment each other in your mission to create a stronger mythlink. Sure, maybe you get bored of button presser after 10 minutes, but that's ok becuase you'll still have THREE other games to play if you want to raise your mythlink's speed! And what if you get bored of all the speed room games? Well then take a break and go raise your mythlink's strength and intelligence! All of these components combined are what will make the game fun and hopefully the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

See you next month!