Simon Says “Touch your belly”. Everyone touches his or her belly. Simon Says “Smile!”. Everyone smiles. As children, we played this game of watch and follow. Chiro Heroes originated from this simple concept. Remember the times in school when the teacher wrote and you followed? Same concept applied in our idea. How to make it more interactive then? Add some music and presto! Suddenly everything feels more interactive. It sounded like a great idea.
To learn and to practise. We started with these 2 essential modes. Players will learn the words by following stroke by stroke according to the tempo of music. Add in a guide or a ‘shifu’, ‘sensei’ or ‘master’ who will teach the strokes and we have a digital Simon Says game in the palm of your hands.
We expanded on that concept of practise and created a 3rd mode, the battle mode. Players will write for a bigger reason, to practise and feel that there’s progress. Each word they write will damage and defeat enemies. Now, it became a role-playing game and players had a purpose and goal to write more to win.
With the idea thought out, it was time to get down to work! Our first prototype’s goal was to test the ‘learning and practise modes’ for kids, our main target audience. What were the reactions? Well, it was mixed.
The kids had trouble following any form of tempo with the music. Once they missed the beat, the missed the words and they felt frustrated. The game had to be slower and more lenient.
That’s when we had our first iteration with the following changes:
- Removing the tempo based writing mechanic. This allowed the kids to write it at their own pace when they learnt during the ‘learning mode’.
- Have clearer markers for strokes after it is showed
Our 2nd prototype included the ‘battle mode’ with the above changes. How did they react this time?
With the learning mode changes, the kids were no longer frustrated with being unable to follow the strokes. In fact, they enjoyed the game more. With the battle mode in the game, they repeated playing the game over and over again. Some even wanted to compete with their siblings on who could write faster. Here you can see some of the play testers enjoying themselves
Our observations meant it was good news for us, our core mechanic was fun! It was also high replayability as the players wanted to continue to progress. However, we also noticed what else we needed to improve on:
- To keep the battles short (mainly game balancing) as the kids get tired easily
- To put battle at the forefront of the game. Essentially putting fun in front
- Polishing stroke sequence feedback to be clearer
With our play tests done, we validated our game concept and mechanics with high interest shown from our target audience. We pressed on with polishing the game and eventually completed and commercialized it. More information about our final product can be found here: http://www.deltaduckstudios.com/chiro/
Hmm… but what did our play testers parents think? They are our buyers after all.
Next post, we’ll share more.