We’ve showcased Shwip at several events over the years and we’ve come across the same key messages several times. Some players will instantly grasp the control style and gameplay, and some will have trouble – ultimately ending in frustration. We want Shwip to be enjoyed by everyone possible, so we set out to create a series of enhancements to our user experience.
Shwip has a pretty complex set of controls to grasp when first getting hold of the controller or keyboard so it’s no surprise that there can be some level of frustration. Early on, we admittedly assumed players would grasp the control styles after a series of playthroughs, but we’ve changed our tone after hearing so much of the same feedback.
We’ll start with what we originally had, and move on to the new and improved screens, so get comfy!
Shwip currently has 4 distinct game modes and 4 control styles. Each mode has different elements unique to that mode. Some modes share control elements, while others remove and add others – there’s no wonder players were confused.
Our first series of enhancements was to the control layout screen.
The screenshot above shows our first attempt at a controls screen. Notice anything wrong? There’s currently no way to know what controls exist for other modes. Time to fix that.
This new controls screen will now show players the different modes and their unique controls styles. The new unity input system has certainly made it easier to create unique bindings and showcase them, so thanks for all the hard work Unity!
Let’s move on to mode enhancements
As mentioned earlier, each game mode has a unique set of controls. Originally, we had two separate areas to let players know what they were in for.
These two screenshots show how we let users know about the game mode they’re about play. While informative, they don’t exactly go out of their way to embed themselves into the players mind. Originally, you had to dig through a series of menus to get the information, we set to change that.
Our second attempt aimed to give players more of an overview of the unique aspects of each mode. The additions seen here was a direct response to the feedback we got from players during our roadshows. These screens appear before you start a game, and give players a chance to read more about the mode. Furthermore, they can dismiss these screens so they don’t show up the next time you play ( which happens a lot 😉 ).
Unfortunately, these screens suffered from a serious flaw. They were flat images. Realistically, players will have a large variety of control types and situations. We assumed most players would use an Xbox controller, and geared our UI to that. What we forgot, and partially due to the old Unity input system being so lackluster, was a complete disregard for pc and keyboard users. So again, we set to change that.
The screenshot above is our newest game information screen. The screens now display dynamic control styles depending on which device the player is using. Awesome! We hope this new series of screens helps players grasp the game modes better, enabling them to play as we originally intended. The screens even go as far as to display BOTH keyboard and gamepad buttons in multiplayer.
The screenshot shows how the UI changes to display a pair of control styles – all dynamic and updates in real time. Those enhancements continue to the new team selection screen for multiplayer.
A conclusion – what we learned
We’re a two person team here at Jamhammer Games with a lot to learn about game design and how it affects our players. This experience has helped us gain a new respect for our players and those who have tested Shwip for us over the years. Look forward to these improvements in our next Update due soon on Steam! Take care.