For getting external feedback or new ideas we created a set of interview questions that should lead into a conversation about our game concept.
To respect the interviewees right to privacy we will name our participants A, B, C during the further text.
A is currently employed by TU Berlin and works with lasers (not the harmful kind). He knows the basic idea behind public displays, but he never used one. His gaming life is long gone in favor of much much work. In the early years he played a lot on the Amiga 500. At work, he also did a study on the Kinect in 2010.
B is 26 years and a self-employed event personnel for hosting and promotion jobs. He has a lot of free time during work, which he uses for playing several mobile gaming apps. As a child he played on a Nintendo Entertainment System. Later in school he was more in playing computer games. So he is very experienced in different gaming platforms. In his job he has to promote new electronic devices from time to time, so he also has a lot of knowledge about technology.
C has worked in the hotel business for some years after school and has just started her studies in business economics. She grew up in a big family with older and younger siblings with whom she did a lot of console gaming in the past. Currently she is way to busy for big gaming sessions, but her boyfriend is still playing a lot of video games. So she stays up-to-date.
Hello, how are you?
A: Very good (for now).
B: Next question!
Whats your job?
A: Working at university.
B: Service, Host, Promotion
Do you like playing video games?
A: I have not much time now, but I always enjoyed playing video games.
B: I have always liked playing video games. And in these days I can even play everywhere in the world with my smartphone.
C: I did a lot of gaming when I was at school, but today I am completely out of time.
Do you play any video games? How much time do you spend in a week?
A: Years ago in school very often in winter. Summer was more for sports.
B: From time to time some console gaming. And a lot of mobile gaming distributed over the day.
C: In the past I spend several afternoons and weekends staying home playing video games. In the last years there was only some party gaming at most.
Is a good graphical design in video games important for you? Or do you think a good game mechanics is much more important.
A: I grow up playing ATARI, so high definition graphics is not important for me. But a good graphical design could support and maybe even improve good mechanics.
B: Depends. Call of Duty with 8 Bit colors would be a crap game. But a super realistic graphics engine in a boring game idea would be crap too. So I think you need a good game mechanics first. And then try to develop a matching graphical design that looks as best as possible.
C: A good graphical design is important to bring life into video games. With that statement I don't mean that you need high definition 3D technology. Everybody who played some older games knows that a good graphical design can even be very simple. But my main point is that is has to match with the game idea. Of course the game mechanic itself is the most important part of a game, but the graphical design will always have a strong influence on the gaming experience.
Which experiences do you have with input devices? (Gamepad, Keyboard Mouse, Wii Controller, Kinect)
A: Always used Joystick, Mouse, Keyboard. Very sparse experiences with Wii Controller or Kinect.
B: Never played with Kinect, but I am familiar with all the other devices.
C: Some very few Kinect experiences, but I did a lot of playing with the other devices.
If you are not experienced with Kinect games, do you want to play more Kinect games?
A: I did not have much interests in gaming anymore.
B: In my experiences all the Kinect games form an own genre of video games. And I am not very interested in that genre.
C: I am experienced with some Kinect games, but none of them was fascinating for me.
If not, why? Physical Problems? Or no interest? Or never had opportunity?
B: I had never the opportunity to play Kinect games. Additionally, I am not interested in playing them.
C: Kinect games are exhausting. Nothing for lazy gaming afternoons.
Are you familiar with public gaming?
B: I play in the public, but I don't know what public gaming is.
C: I don't think so. Never seen a public game in the city.
How much time would you spend playing in public?
A: I would give it a try, but don't think I would spend much time.
B: Depends on my time and the game. Maybe hours.
C: Depends on the game and the queue of other people who want to play.
Is competition very important for you? Do you want an eternal highscore? Or do you think it is not important for public gaming?
A: Highscore is never a bad idea. But I think such things are more for hardcore gamer. For most people highscore lists are not important.
B: I think competing with other players is generally one of the most important aspects in multiplayer video games.
C: If it is a competition game, you need a highscore, but if the main essence is playing and not challenging this is not necessary.
Generally, would you pay for good gaming experience with Kinect games?
A: Not really. Maybe if its really impressive.
B: Why paying for video games?
C: Don't know. This is a silly question because if it is an option I would never pay for something.
Do you want to be taught the mechanics of a game or do you prefer learn on your own through experimentation?
A: I want to get into the game as quickly as possible. So reading a big handbook would not be good.
B: I hate getting taught in general. I like exploring the mechanics and possibilities of a game on my own.
C: Depends on the complexity of the game. But an optional tutorial or help is never a bad idea.
Is a short animation of an action better than an in-game observation of the needed action?
A: If you don't get the controlling from observation some small hints would be great.
B: Only if it is not obvious or if the player is too stupid to get it.
C: Sometimes a short animation can explain more then one thousand pages of the handbook.
How much time would you spend at most getting to know the mechanics of a game in public?
A: As mentioned I should be as easy and quick as possible or I would lose my interest for the game.
B: If I am not bored by the game I won't be bored by exploring its mechanics.
C: For a public game the learning should be as easy and quick as possible.
Do you think a native input system like driving with an invisible steering wheel would be better for a racing game or a input mapping of alternative gestures like leaning to right or left is more fun because it is more precise?
A: I think it should be as native as possible. Means steering a wheel would be perfect for a racing game. But the most imaginable native input system for a racing game is still a real wheel with foot pedals. So leaning to right or left sounds more native to a skating or skiing game.
B: I don't think this leaning idea is more precise than steering a wheel. But such things depends on the player behavior and preferences. Maybe the player should be able to choose between different controlling styles.
C: This is not easy to answer if you have always played racing games with game pad or keyboard. But in all Kinect games that I played you interact directly with your virtual environment. So I think driving a car with left, right leaning is not very native. But also using a wheel would only be native if you see real wheel in the cockpit view that you can grab.
Do you know the game Mario Kart ?
A: Not much playing experiences, but I know the game.
B: I know the game and spend a lot of time playing the Nintendo 64 version.
C: Mario Kart 64 is still one of the best games I know.
If so, did you like it? (What exactly was good or bad)
A: Not enough playing experiences to answer the question.
B: I like the game very much because it has many sides. It is a great party game and offers a lot of fun playing in a group. But it is even a challenging singleplayer entertainment when you are more focused on the race and not trying to battle your friends. But the best component in the game is the big arsenal of silly weapons.
C: I have always loved to stress my enemies in that game with all these cool weapons and items. Sounds silly, but I have never been a fan of racing games and the action component in Mario Kart is so much fun. That's why I have always played the battle mode of that game.
Can you imagine a kinect version?
A: Sounds like fun, but I cannot imagine it before I see it.
B: It could be hard to port the game in a way that the main essence does not get lost. But I would be interested in playing it.
C: I can imagine everything. But it sounds like a hard job.
Surprisingly there is not much interest and experiences with Kinect technology in our group of participants. And public gaming in general seems to be not very popular.
Anyway we have got a lot of food for thought. The input mechanism should be as native to the gaming situation as possible. Means driving a car with body leaning seems to be a bad idea for a racing game. Maybe the use of an invisible wheel could solve that, but we should think of a completely new approach.
The game mechanics is the most important point and graphical design comes second. But its influence on the gaming experience should not be underestimated.
Tutorial / Help
The best approach would be that no help is needed. But if this is not an option it should be as discreet, simple and effective as possible. So this means no monologues, but instead a short animation with the corresponding action.
The idea of creating a Mario Kart version got positive reactions.