When we last spoke I was preparing to show Blabyrinth at DemoNight here in Montreal. It didn't go perfectly: the music didn't work and there was confusing video lag between the two devices, but it was a good learning experience.
It's tricky to present a game like this on stage because I need at least two video streams, and preferably four (one for each player). I've tried it before by streaming each device wirelessly to my laptop using an app like Reflector but I've had problems with lag before. This time I connected one device with a cable through Quicktime Player > "New Movie Recording..." and streamed the other one over wifi (Quicktime can't show two devices for some reason). But there was still lag, probably due to interference from so many other devices in one space. At one point the streamed video was 20 seconds behind the hard-wired one, which made the actions very difficult to follow.
Next time I present I'll try to avoid wireless streaming entirely. If anyone has tips on how to show four iPads on one screen I'd love to hear them.
State of the Game
I realize that I haven't actually shown much of the game in action so here's a video playthrough of a random level showing what the latest build looks like:
I traveled to London for a week in February and, despite no longer having an official reason for going (the Digital Culture Awards was rescheduled for April at the last minute), I still had a great trip. Since I had no more Spaceteam obligations I spent the whole week working with my artist Sam, running Blabyrinth playtests, and hanging out with escape room folks.
I had some great brainstorming sessions with Sam and my host Ed. We came up with some UI improvements and I've started experimenting with two new features/mechanics: light & darkness, and personal minimaps.
Puzzles involving light and darkness were always on my wishlist but I hadn't planned to implement them for version 1.0.
But darkness came up as a solution for keeping people together in a group. Something that happens a lot in playtests is that as soon as the team drops into the level everyone runs off in different directions. So the idea I'm exploring is to make the level completely dark and give one player a torch so they have to stick together in the beginning... until they find additional torches throughout the level at which point they can start splitting off.
It might be overkill for the entire level to be dark, so I'll probably just have a few dark rooms, but it's a useful tool to have in the box.
I was planning to include a "magic", auto-updating, level map as a special item or reward, but now I'm considering making them a default feature to make navigation easier. At the moment it's very easy to get lost in the labyrinth because the rooms all look very similar, and the way I previously solved this was to add player "shouts" (which you can see in an earlier blog post). But one of the insights from the brainstorm (thanks Ed!) was that while this helps players find each other, it doesn't encourage them to talk to each other. Once you see the shout callout on the screen, you can start heading in that direction without any further interaction. But if instead you can see both of your locations on a map, you can guide your teammate to you by describing the route.
It was a welcome reminder that I should always be prioritizing face-to-face interation when trying to solve game design problems.
Another interesting side-effect of carrying a map around with you is that it takes up an inventory slot that could be used for something else. So you have to make a choice about whether to keep the map or drop it to carry more stuff!
No San Francisco
I had tickets to GDC in San Francisco but unfortunately I got sick the week before and had to cancel the whole trip :( I'll be there next year for sure.
...then we take Berlin
Next month my travels take me to Berlin for the A MAZE. festival. Blabyrinth is nominated for an award and I'll be showing the game there in person. Maybe I'll see some of you there!