Now that our interactive video has been constructed we are enjoying playing it through and exploring all of its different variations and plot paths. What we think we did well was building the world in which the character inhabits – playing / watching genuinely feels as though you are in the characters head, and the flow and continuity of the settings and items in the room are consistent and logical. Set pieces such as the gig, radio excerpts and photo album are entertaining and believable. There are a couple of issues, mainly tech related that could be improved upon in future. It was apparent that when using the radio (on the Mac version) that no radio tuner cursor appears until the mouse is moved, so it may not be apparent that the player should use the mouse to scan the frequencies. Another thing to note is that, being an app created in unity with the non-linear functionality of the radio tuner it is not possible to play the video in a browser, so all users must download the app. We have concluded that this is a worth while trade off as the file is available for both PC and Mac and is easily distributed due to the small file size, and the radio tuner is a crucial mechanism in our story so it is important that we did include it.
We also put the video in the hands of some people that had nothing to do with the creation process because as much as we enjoyed the experience, we knew what to expect and where to find all of the content. The first thing that we noticed is that the majority of players, no matter which route or outcome they finished on in the plot were intrigued by the setup, which was a good sign as our intention was to draw the player in with the introduction. Users were generally extremely keen to find the solution to the mystery, and would show genuine interest in making a decision, which we took to be a major sign of interactive engagement. Another common reaction was that most players, at the end of their plot journey would laugh heartily at the outcome, no matter which of the plot routes we took. This is interesting because we had been thinking of the outcomes as fitting into win/lose categories, however seeing as enjoyment has come from all possible outcomes, any outcome can be enjoyed by a player, and therefore can be considered a positive experience. We found that a typical run through for a first time player was often quite quick, as they would very quickly pick an option that would lead to a conclusion. Although this did mean that our testers were successfully completing the story, we would find it meant that the majority of them were missing out on a lot of content which we would consider the most important / entertaining. This is something we have thought about improving for any future projects.
Social Media Test
Seeing as a download is required to play this game we thought it would be interesting to use social media to test it in a way that can be enjoyed by the casual online user. A Facebook Live stream was set up which incorporated the video being played live by Niall and Ben and Facebook users could comment to suggest actions for them to take .
The live stream got 107 views and 38 interactions. Those who interacted were often passionately trying to give their view on which action should be taken, which was the same reaction as during the play tests. The key difference was that the nature of social media meant that the live stream was viewed by an audience we did not specifically have to ask to play the video, they were casual users who just had to click a link to join in with the experience. Another interesting point is that this setup meant that users could discuss (and argue) between themselves about what the next action should be. This meant that a video we had designed as a single player experience had become in effect a multi-player platform by being incorporated into social media.
Overall, we did well to not only achieve our goal of creating an engaging experience, but also having the unexpected result of creating a multi-player experience with multiple entertaining outcomes. We did notice that a typical play-through can miss a lot of content which we would look to change for two reasons. The first reason is that there is content that we believe to be the most crucial or entertaining, such as the radio excerpts or the festival gig. Another reason to make this change is that if many users have a similar experience with the video they would be able to discuss this with each other and be able to compare notes on what happened to their character, sharing their enjoyment with others. To address this we would look to create ways that any user would eventually come across certain plot points regardless of the actions they took. In future we would look to make similar projects more complicated, with plot routes which are purposeful dead ends and loops. We would build in more structures that prioritise certain pieces of content so that more than one option leads to this piece of content meaning that although a player may be moving forward through the plot, a change of behaviour is required to break the cycle and reach a desired goal.