Blendimals is not a kid’s game. It’s meant for 15+ people with an interest in puzzles. Never the less the graphic style has an immediate interest for children and so Blendimals is often mistaken for a kid’s game at first look. Because of that we got invited to showcase at Buster Festival, a children’s film festival with a media workshop. We expected the kids to be 10-15 years old so despite being outside the target group thought it would still be a good opportunity to try out the game and spread the knowledge of it. We were in for a surprise..
As it turned out Buster Festival had a run-in with another, slightly bigger event in Copenhagen: The world championship of cycling. They were set in the exact same 10 days and both at Rådhuspladsen, right at the center of Copenhagen. That meant major restrictions regarding car travel and parking in the center – and very few people at Buster Festival. Furthermore the average age of the children was about 6, not exactly an age we expected would be able to play an adult puzzle game.
That didn’t stop them from trying, though.
The graphic style was a magnet for kids with the goofy animals, sounds and animations. Most of them were so exited about the game concept that they kept playing and trying to get through the rapidly climbing difficulty levels. Many of them sat playing the iPads for ½-1 hour at a time. Often they even came back to the game after taking a round to the other stands. We were amazed that they would be so insistent in playing when the game was so beyond their difficulty level and most of them had to try a level 10 times or more to get through it. It got us thinking that maybe later we should make a kid’s version..? Kids rock!
So even though we didn’t get the audience we expected, either in number or age, we got so much input from the 6 year olds. We had brought a prototype with the first 10 levels of the game. The kids found lots of bugs and gave great input on game play, but the most significant discovery we found was that the game needed a much lower difficulty increase. It simply got too difficult too quickly. Inspired by the test sessions 10 new tutorial levels were quickly drafted to teach the player specific actions, and new help screen were also added.
During the play sessions we also witnessed all that is fun about Blendimals. It was a great experience for the whole team to witness first hand the reactions to the game. “I got a dog! I want to try the dog!” -The kid had just gotten a mole.
So where are we now? We are feature complete this week and then it’s on to build, tweak and decorate the remaining levels. We’re working on implementing the tracking and test distribution system TestFlight. It’s mainly a testing system to track actions that test players do in the game, for instance how long it takes to play through a level, if the player is stuck somewhere in the game or if the game chrashes. It should help us spot lots of bugs in the game and find out if certain places are too difficult. Furthermore the system makes distribution of the game to testers really easy. So we’re really excited about that. It should be up and running this week and then all we need is lots and lots of testers.. (Did you notice the hint? If you’re one of our smart, puzzle-loving target audience I’m sure you did – and can’t help but sign up of course!)
I’ll end this post with a big thank you to the kids who played Blendimals so vehemently at Buster Festival. You have thoroughly impressed us!