Quality assurance is important for any game, but perhaps most important for those with an educational component like Kanji Samurai. It is important that we get feedback as to our game’s difficulty progression. Since we are asking players to use Kanji Samurai as a tool to introduce them to the Japanese language, we need to ensure we maintain a challenging experience that does not overwhelm the player. Early testing already showed that our game was too difficult, and players need to be introduced to new Kanji at a gradual rate. At this point, our quality assurance sessions are all for player usability; the goal of our test is not for design feedback or to catch bugs, but to see whether our game feels good to play and provides the casual educational experience we are aiming for.
Kanji Players Memorized:
Stroke order for Day/Sun:
We’ve already started to implement changes based on QA feedback. Perhaps the most important feedback we received is that players were confused as to which stroke order to draw the Kanji in. Stroke order is simply the order in which players draw the lines that make up the Kanji. In the earliest build, during training mode when the player is familiarizing themselves with the Kanji, the stroke order is displayed to players as an animation. After the animation plays, players are tasked with tracing over the Kanji on the screen in the correct stroke order the animation showed them. Players have the option to view the animation as many times as they want. Although we had stroke order indicated through a simple animation in this early build, it was still not clear enough to players when strokes changed. Players primarily had trouble determining if the corner strokes were one or two strokes, as is the case with middle (中) where the top line and the right downward line are combined as one stroke. In order to relieve player frustration, we have since implemented an alternating color to the stroke order so it is obvious which lines come first and where each stroke ends. This means that when the animation of the Kanji plays, the current stroke will be red and the old strokes will be black. This will give players a clear indication of the stroke order they must follow.
Example of color indicated stroke order:
Stroke 2: You can see how players were initially confused by this as the top line and the line on the right could easily be perceived as two separate strokes. By highlighting it as a single stroke in red ink, players should have a clear idea of how to draw the Kanji in the proper stroke order. Stroke 3:
During quality assurance, many players felt that had written the Kanji correctly and that the game had marked them wrong incorrectly. This was not the case, as we tested it thoroughly for accuracy. More likely players were drawing the Kanji in the incorrect stroke order or not drawing a stroke line long enough. We hope that players will have an easier time with stroke order during tomorrow’s QA testing because we have since implemented the indication of stroke order through color changes. However, the issue of not drawing the stroke order long enough is a problem that still needs to be addressed. Eric is working on determining the best way to account for player error in stroke length, and how much leniency we should grant them. The problem stems from Kanji like middle where players will draw the centerline just a block too long and get the entire Kanji wrong as a result. This is far too punishing for the player and also doesn’t make sense logically. We have discussed implementing a partial credit system in which players both take damage and give damage if they got the Kanji correct but in the wrong stroke order or if the strokes aren’t long enough. Eric is still looking into how to best implement this partial credit system.
I think I can sum up our playtesters feelings by keeping these three rules in mind in future design:
- Keep the Kanji simple
- Make the stroke order clear
- Allow player error in stroke length