I submitted my recent Social Justice Warriors game to the Indiecade International Festival of Indie Games.  While I didn’t expect it to be nominated for any recognition, I was already intending to attend the event in October and entering my game guaranteed admission.  I figured I had nothing to lose by entering and at the very least I would get to hear some detailed feedback about my game. The judge’s comments are listed below with my own responses in color.

Judge 1: Played the original version of the game before the v1 Update.
—–
Social Justice Warriors is a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase game. I like that quite a lot – I went from startup to battling trolls immediately. The subject matter is very familiar for me (I have friends who have written quite a bit on subjects that fall in this category, and I used to live with a troll who trolled simply to get a rise out of people – sigh) and it appears to be handled quite well. [The game was meant to be simple, accessible, and relatable subject matter for all internet users.]

I went through and played as all of the classes, which were all themed quite well and seemed rather accurate. I also appreciated the trolls’ arguments (some of which I’ve seen before…). [The troll comments were sourced from things people actually say online.] I will note that the rogue character actually made me uncomfortable with how the rogue abilities / theme work, mainly because it is so similar (by design) to the trolls themselves. I applaud that. [The Rogue class was part of showing all sides of the conflict.]

My only gameplay gripe is that it was often unclear what would happen as I selected a menu item. (Maybe this is by design, as you don’t know exactly what will happen when you release a tweet / blog post / etc?) [Yes, but I now think I must ignore that in favor of playability.] I am referring mostly to the last option provided as soon as you start a new character. If I understood what I saw correctly, the cleric can heal while the paladin simply takes less damage? These are made a little more clear by their names (if you are familiar with the subject matter), but a part of me would love a (stylized, of course) description of the attack. “The cleric will disappear off to r/{foo}, rejuvenating and regaining sanity and reputation.” [This is a valid suggestion that I’ve received from many reviewers recently. I’ll be adding this to the v2 Update.]

I liked the animations of the characters typing, but I feel that (compared to the menus and bars on the screen) that they look a bit out of place. I suspect that increasing the number of pixels there would help – or increasing the pixel size of your menu elements to match. [I can see this disconnect, but I think it is the UI that need adjustment, not the art.]

I really dug the fighting music – it reminded me of some JRPG I cannot put my finger on. The menu music also served its purpose – it worked as a nice background track, but did not steal the show. [Fantastic, Justin Aftab’s music always takes the spotlight in my games.]

I had a moment on startup that very much confused me, and if you have the opportunity to do anything based on one piece of feedback I would hope it is this. The very first thing I did was (accidentally) click on the Greenlight link. [Already removed this button in the v1 Update. Replaced it with a description of the keyboard controls.] The next thing I did was try to click on the menu items, which were not clickable. This was very confusing. In fact, I would urge you to rework the menus entirely – making them both clickable and respond better to feedback from the up/down arrow keys. I had a few moments where pressing three times in succession only moved the cursor down twice, and a couple times where I believe I held it down too long and a single press jumped up/down two items. [Already fixed this bug in the v1 Update.] Are you using an OnKeyUp event (or whatever Unity’s equivalent is?) Bonus points: if you can rework the menu, you can (and should!) release on mobile.

Finally, I wish that the gameplay strategy guide posted on the website was accessible from the main menu for new players. [Already added as a menu item in the v1 Update.] It’s certainly easy enough to get a hold of from the start without looking outside the game itself (which is how I like to review), but some of the descriptions of each attack would be very beneficial to reference in-game. [Going to add those in the v2 Update.]

As I referred to before – I’d love to see this on mobile. It is very well suited for short play sessions and simple presses. I’d love to see a $1 (or ad-supported) version! [Adapting a text-based game to mobile’s many screen sizes is not a thing I aspire to do with my life, unfortunately.]

————————————————————–

Judge 2: Played the most recent version of the game.
—–
The concept is great – the subject matter and game genre are a perfect match.  I found the game engaging for a short while but the gameplay does not currently have enough depth to sustain engagement for long. [This is true but as a game meant to convey a message of self-reflection, I felt shorter was better.]

As a note, I didn’t initially look at the “How to Play” section because I like to jump right into games.  Without that context, it wasn’t clear what impact my choices were making – decisions felt arbitrary and losing inevitable.  I was more engaged once I read about the mechanics – but they were not clear within the game.  Maybe consider integrating that information into a mini-tutorial in the game, or implementing more feedback that guides the player to feel their choices are meaningful and that there are paths to victory/upgrading. [Again, attack descriptions will be added in-game in the v2 Update.]

————————————————————–

Judge 3: Played the most recent version of the game.
—–
This was a timely game for me, given the whole hacking scandal thats been going on around indie gamers.  I think this game has potential to spread the word to people, but i would suggest a couple of changes:  (1) its got to be a web based game…the people who might learn from this are just going to follow a link, not install something on their pc (and i suspect that you’ll get hacked virus versions that trolls will promote that will damage people’s computers).  [I don’t think “it must be web-based” is the best feedback, nor does the argument for it convince me.] (2) i think the different attacks need to be varied, and you should show what each of the attacks do somewhere else besides the help screen, because no one is going to bother to read it. [All 3 judges suggested this so it must be a good idea, get into the v2 Update already!]  Just integrate it into the main game.(3) focus on making the game play more interesting OR make it even less game play and just focus on the fact that you really can’t beat the trolls. [I don’t know how to make the game “even less gameplay” but I’ll certainly try to make it more interesting in the next update.]

————————————————————–

In closing, I thought it was all great feedback considering much of it had either already been added to the game or been scheduled for the next update by the time I received it. Thanks to the feedback from the Indiecade judges and other reviewers, I think the next update will make it an even stronger game (just in time for its Steam release, I hope).

Since I paid the Indiecade submission fee in order to actually attend the event, I feel like I got my money’s worth out of this venture. I’ll let you know what I think of the Indiecade event after I attend next month in Los Angeles.

UPDATE: The v2 update was released on December 1, 2014 and included many of the jurors’ suggestions. Also, we had a lot of fun at Indiecade playing weird games, particularly setting the high score on Groin Gravitators.

Indiecade Feedback for Social Justice Warriors

One thought on “Indiecade Feedback for Social Justice Warriors

  • October 4, 2014 at 1:34 am
    Permalink

    Nice to see that you listen and even adapt your vision to valid critique. Thumbs up.
    There’s one little thing I didn’t understand: Why is it harder to port a text-based game to mobile platforms than a regular game?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.