Monochrome Heights Devlog #7 – It’s Playtest Time

One of the many tough things about making a video game is that it can be hard to know if you’re headed in the right direction. You’re too in it to see what the average player’s experience will be.  I’ve been focused lately on making a build to send out to some playtesters. If I had a huge budget and infinite time, I could make demos and builds and get playtesting feedback regularly. I could pay people to help me test the game and make sure it’s not too difficult or too easy. But as it is, in the real world, I’m faced with the fact that building a demo version takes extra time, requires enough polish for playtesters to see past the rough edges, and means I have to find people willing to try out this early version.

I’ve decided that having a level featuring most, if not all, of the mechanics in the game was a prerequisite for my next round of playtesting. I’ve completed that, and I’ve been spending all my time making sure at a minimum all the levels work and the demo itself flows at least sort of well. At this juncture, I’m mostly concerned with getting feedback on difficulty and checkpoints for the existing levels. I know the levels and items and backgrounds need more polish, and I know I need to build the story segments, but I’m not so sure that the current iteration of every level follows the best difficulty curve, or feels good to new players.

A screenshot of Happy the Robot riding a vertical moving platform. IMAGE CREDIT: One Frog Games.

I’ve gotten pretty good at my game, and while it is meant to be a challenging game for people who want a tough but fair experience, I need to make sure that it feels good to beginners, and that there aren’t weird difficulty spikes, or particularly hard challenges without proper checkpoint placement. I’ve done my best, but I know that at this stage the only way I can iterate on these levels, and then design better future levels, is to get some feedback.

I wish this demo had a better tutorial, and fancier transitions between scenes, and more varied backgrounds and platforms, but for now it will (hopefully) work to get some initial feedback from my more eager friends and family. If you’re interested in being a part of this playtest, or future rounds, feel free to reach out. I’m planning to take a step back from building levels while I gather this feedback, and focus on polishing various bits of the game and building out some of the story elements. But we all know not everything goes according to plan.

A screenshot of Happy the Robot dodging sentries. IMAGE CREDIT: One Frog Games.

Either way, this build feels like a big milestone, even if it took a bit longer than I’d hoped.

If you’re interested in following along in more detail, sign up for the Monochrome Heights mailing list here. You’ll get exclusive access to early demos and additional short updates. Until next time. Thanks for reading! 

Share any thoughts on the game in the comments below or come find me on the Boss Rush Discord.

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