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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsParty Animals! - A Deceptively Cute Political Strategy Game (PC)
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Author Topic: Party Animals! - A Deceptively Cute Political Strategy Game (PC)  (Read 21810 times)
ryansumo
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« Reply #100 on: October 28, 2015, 06:11:47 AM »

A political campaign game with animals is a great concept.

The design and colours of everything is looking really nice but I do agree with others in that maybe the background sections that aren't important to the popped up ui could be desaturated or darkened in someway so as to not distract from what is important at that point. Looking great though and I'll definitely be following.

Also liked your post of the breakdown of your animation technique.

Glad you found the post useful, and appreciate the kind words!

Yeah I need to have a think about how else I can can emphasize the pop-up UI when it comes out. 
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ryansumo
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« Reply #101 on: January 19, 2016, 02:09:16 AM »

I'm a little sad that we broke our streak of consecutive monthly devblog updates last month, but it was quite the hectic month for us as we tried to get work done in between dodging family gatherings for Christmas (A perennial nightmare for Filipino introverts).  We did get quite a bit of work done though, which I'm excited to share with you all today.

Procedural Party Animals


In the process of making Party Animals it was always in the back of our heads to make some aspects of the game procedural in order to increase the replay value of the game.  The way the game is made makes full procedural impossible in the same way a roguelike might be, but there are definitely a few aspects that when randomized will change the way the game plays for you.


First off is the candidates.  We guessed that being able to select your choice of animal candidate would be one of the things that players will like about the game, so we're hoping to making quite a few custom candidates to accommodate everyone's favorite animals (I've had at least one request for a giraffe, which should be interesting).  The candidate's name is also customizable, as well as their traits.  We haven't filled in the candidate's histories yet, but each trait will have an accompanying description alongside it.  Previously our candidates had pretty set histories and traits, but we figured there was more to gain by allowing players to customize their own candidate.


Aside from choosing a candidate's history, you can also rename them, choose their home district and platform as well as selecting the staff you want to hire for your campaign.  We currently only have three staff types right now but that should increase to at at least six by the time we're done.

New Maps


Some of you might have noticed that we also have a selection where you can choose the map you want to play in. New maps can definitely change the way the game is played and at the same time add some visual variety to the game.  The maps will take much more effort than the candidates so we're rolling them out little by little and not announcing anything yet until we've finalized them.  Previously we discussed that the Summer Island map is based on Samar Island in the Philippines.  With the new maps we're hoping to interest players from around the world so they will be very loosely based on countries or continents from around the globe. That said, I'd like to introduce you to Autumn Island!  It's still very rough and has none of the new buildings, but it should be fairly obvious where we're drawing inspiration from.
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ryansumo
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« Reply #102 on: February 13, 2016, 11:52:13 PM »


For the longest time I resisted adding animations to our district buildings because of the additional work now and with future maps.  Turns out it didn't even really take that long!
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ryansumo
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« Reply #103 on: February 14, 2016, 09:38:40 PM »


The game has finally reached a point where we're ready to show it to the world! Well not yet exactly, but we did show it to a few friends. As any self respecting game designer would know, play-testing a game is one of the more important parts of the game design process. In fact, if there are any doubts about a game mechanic, play-testing it is the way to go. In this article, I talk about how we conducted preliminary play tests for the game, and some of the interesting things we learned during the play-tests.

The Play-testers

First let me talk about the play-testers. Our very first play-testers are a few friends from the game industry who we lured with our charms, err, the promise of free food, and those unlucky enough to sit by our table during the recent Manila Game Jam held at the Ateneo De Manila University(ADMU). Seriously guys we really appreciate you taking the time to sit through the game and answer our questions. Speaking of questions, what play-test would be complete without a play-test questionnaire?

The Play-test Questionnaire

For our first play tests we decided to go for a more general questionnaire, since our primary goal in doing these play-tests is to gauge where the game is in terms of fun, and to see if any problems will arise. As we iterate on the game based on preliminary feedback,  we'll also iterate on the questions, refining them until we're ready to test the game with more people.
Our questionnaire consists of two parts: Pre-game, and Post-game:

Pre Game Questions
   
The first part of the questionnaire deals mainly with knowing who the play tester is. This is important because answers to the questions will mostly be opinions of the player towards the game. Knowing the play tester will help us later on when deciding how much weight to put on his suggestions/feedback later on. Here are some of our Pre-game questions:

1) Do you consider yourself as a strategy gamer?
2) Please list down at least three strategy games that you have played.
3) Rate your skill as a strategy gamer.(1 lowest,5 highest)
4) Rate your interest in a game about politics. (1 lowest, 5 highest)
5) Rate how clean a campaign you will run.(1 dirty, 5 clean)

Questions 1,2, and 3 allows us to know what the play testers game preferences are which may shed some light on some of his/her Post Game answers later on.  Question 5 is of interest because it tells us how the player plans to play the game ( good or evil) at the start, and later on we compare it to his actual play style.

Tester Plays the Game

After answering the Pre Game questions, the play tester is given a short introduction to the game, the goals of the player, and basic mechanics by yours truly. Afterwards, the player is let loose in the districts of Summer Island to test his political mettle against the opposing candidate. During the course of the game, the play-tester is allowed to comment and ask questions about the game, while we take notes.

Post Game Questions

When winner of the Summer Island elections have been revealed, it's now time for the play-tester to answer the Post Game questions. The Post Game questions deal mainly about the play-testers feelings towards the game. Some of the questions:

1)  How fun was the game? (1 lowest, 5 highest)
2) Which part of the game did you enjoy the most?
3) Which part of the game did you find the most difficult?
4) How difficult is the game? ( 1 lowest, 5 highest)
5) How corrupt were you in the game? ( 1 lowest, 5 highest)

Remember during the Pre Game questions we asked how clean a campaign the player could run? In the Post game questions we ask how corrupt the player's candidate was during the campaign. It was quite surprising and fun( insert evil laugh here) to see that most players ended up being more corrupt than they thought they would be.  But the best feedback was one tester that insisted they would be super corrupt but ended up only being moderately corrupt (wouldn't it be wonderful if more of ouir politicians were like that?)

Play-test Results

First a disclaimer before we present our results. Since we just play-tested with a very small pool of players, results from the play-test are not accurate at all, and should be used merely to present a different perspective on the game. Also, a majority of the play-testers are game industry professionals who have insight into the game development process which may or may not have coloured their reaction towards the game.

The play-testers had an average of 2.78 (skill as a strategy gamer), 3.33 (interest in politics), 2.89 (running a clean campaign), 3.22( corruption), 3.5( had fun), 3.44( game difficulty), 4.17( accurate to political theme).

Aside from the values above, we also received qualitative feedback from the play tests.
Things Players Did Not Enjoy

Too Many Stats to Track

These were game feedback which had keywords like info, and stats  attached to words like Too much or Too many. These feedback seems to deal with the playing having a hard time processing game information hindering them from making decisions during the game.

AI Turn is too Fast

These were game feedback which mentioned keywords like AI, Fast and Quick. These feedback seems to deal with the player having a hard time knowing what the opponent is doing.
Things the Player Enjoyed

Being Corrupt

These were game feedback which mentioned the keywords dirty, bribery, and scandals. The feedback seems to show that the player enjoyed doing bad things in the game.

Dominating Districts

These were game feedback which mentioned the keywords domination, and winning.  These feedback seems to show that the player enjoyed seeing his territory expand visually in the game through the borders of districts he has captured.
Looking Forward To More Play-tests

If you're looking to do a similar process during your own play-tests here's a few things to keep in mind:

Quantitative data is not useful with a very small pool of play-testers because results won't be reliable. Try using open ended questions in your questionnaire.
Ask follow up questions. The play-tester rated fun as 4.5? Ask him what kept him from giving the game the full 5 points.
Always clarify if the play-tester's answer is vague. The play-tester might not mean what you think he means. (at the same team be careful not lead the tester to conclusions)
Observe which questions the player isn't asking. If there's a mechanic important enough to the game and the player is not asking questions about it, don't assume that the mechanic is clear to the player.
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ryansumo
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« Reply #104 on: May 10, 2016, 03:29:24 AM »

In our latest blogpost our programmer Marnielle talks about inadvertently creating a politically corrupt genetic algorithm AI for our game Political Animals.  Apologies for making you click to go to our site, I'm just too tired ro format properly right now:

http://www.squeakywheel.ph/blog/2016/5/9/i-created-a-politically-corrupt-ai
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and
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« Reply #105 on: May 10, 2016, 12:59:35 PM »

Just catching up with these posts - been super busy. I've got a question around the playtesting: did you watch people playing the game? If so, did you feel that you got more out of that than the questionnaires?
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ryansumo
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« Reply #106 on: May 10, 2016, 07:09:14 PM »

So far we've only done live testing and one personal let's play style video with commentary.  It's hard to say where we got better information, the questionnaire and watching them play go hand in hand.

Offhand I'd say that the questionnaire is best for more met questions like asking about their experience and their intended play style (in our case, will you be corrupt or not) and comparing with results.  Watching them play is the best way to pick up on pain points and also what delights players.
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ryansumo
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« Reply #107 on: May 27, 2016, 02:33:38 AM »


We are very excited and proud to finally announce that Positech Games is working with Squeaky Wheel to publish Political Animals.  We definitely will have more details about this in the near future, but for now please check out the website! to learn more about the game, and sign up for our mailing list if you want to be the first to hear news about the game.  It's been a crazy ride so far, and we hope you'll join us as we make this crazy game!

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Greipur
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« Reply #108 on: May 30, 2016, 06:00:10 AM »

Congratulations on getting publishing help, I think it's a great match with Positech Games since their target audience probably partly overlaps with yours. The name change also makes sense, although less catchy.
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ryansumo
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« Reply #109 on: May 30, 2016, 07:20:51 AM »

Thanks, agree with you wholeheartedly on all points.  It's very stressful now that we've announced officially!

Congratulations on getting publishing help, I think it's a great match with Positech Games since their target audience probably partly overlaps with yours. The name change also makes sense, although less catchy.
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« Reply #110 on: June 23, 2016, 02:57:51 AM »

Just read your latest post on Gamasutra - thanks for writing those, they're super helpful! So glad to see you got signed with Positech, I really like his blog (when I remember to read it) and very much enjoyed Democracy 3.

Looking forward to seeing where you can take this with their support!
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ryansumo
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« Reply #111 on: June 23, 2016, 05:42:19 AM »

Just read your latest post on Gamasutra - thanks for writing those, they're super helpful! So glad to see you got signed with Positech, I really like his blog (when I remember to read it) and very much enjoyed Democracy 3.

Looking forward to seeing where you can take this with their support!

Thanks a bunch!  So happy your Kickstarter was successful btw!
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ryansumo
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« Reply #112 on: November 15, 2016, 11:44:26 PM »

Hi everyone,  Just wanted to write a really late update here.  As of today, Political Animals has launched on Steam, gog, and humble.  It's not sold very well at all, but we're still updating and now thinking about what our next game might be.  I'd like to thank everyone who's ever shown interest in the game here and supported us along the way.  I'm sorry we weren't able to update here as much as we'd liked, but development inevitably took its toll on us.  Still, I'd like to share some blog posts.

This one was from the week before launch, when we shared the game to streamers:
http://www.squeakywheel.ph/blog/2016/10/24/how-i-learned-to-get-comfortable-with-being-uncomfortable

And this was written a week after launch:
http://www.squeakywheel.ph/blog/2016/11/8/what-does-it-feel-like-to-launch-a-game

If you have any questions about the development process or launching I'm happy to answer them here as best as I can.  Thanks again!
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oldblood
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« Reply #113 on: November 17, 2016, 05:46:14 AM »

Congrats on the release! Sorry to hear that the sales have been disappointing. I was in a very similar situation several years back and reading your blog post brought back a lot of memories, my experience was oddly similar. Not that it's any consolation, but I snatched a copy for myself and a friend on launch day. Hopefully the long-tail will make up for the lower-than-expected launch month.
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ryansumo
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« Reply #114 on: November 17, 2016, 06:28:13 AM »

Congrats on the release! Sorry to hear that the sales have been disappointing. I was in a very similar situation several years back and reading your blog post brought back a lot of memories, my experience was oddly similar. Not that it's any consolation, but I snatched a copy for myself and a friend on launch day. Hopefully the long-tail will make up for the lower-than-expected launch month.

Every copy counts!  Thanks so much.  I hope you were able to keep making games?
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