Monday, November 30, 2009

Trial mode is not always a Trial

Trial modes for the XBLIG are a required Item. MS says we must make sure that we do not give everything away when people are trying our game. That way they have a reason to purchase the application. This is great but there are no real rules on what the Trial version can do, and also can NOT do per se.

A Trial could be as simple as allowing only a certain number of your multi level game to be playable. Another idea is to Create a special level/s for people to Trial. This is what i did in Pellmell. Still the Trial has it's own limit of 8 minutes of playtime, although you can restart the application and get the 8 minutes again. There will not be saving of progression in Trial mode to make sure that people cannot just keep doing this to get to game finished etc. In Aceball i did something easier than creating special levels for the Trial. I simply allowed them to play as much as they wanted, and used the 8 minute trial timer to halt their progress. The simplist form of restriction.

However some of the games on XBLIG are not really suited to this timed format. Some of the games up there are so BIG that you do not even get through the instruction/training level before the 8 minutes are up. This is a bit of a travesty really. And shows the inate dumbness of the 8 minute trial. It was a great idea, but now seems a little out of date. I could easily have restricted my previous two game to ignore the trial timer, and in fact on Pellmell i did. Aceball would have been easy to restrict to say 15 levels or something (that takes about 12 minutes to play through :O) Also some games are too small to use the 8 minute trial efectively. Is it wrong that there are 1 dollar games that do not last more than 5 minutes at a play? I don't think this is wrong, as those 5 minutes could be the most awesome time ever! So those games need to restrict themselves in other ways. That is possible, as you do not have to last the 8 minutes in your Trial. You can end it any time.

So My new application is a Comic with a Trivia game built in. How to Trial mode that eh? Well the 8 minute Timer i cannot alter and if people kept re-launching the application they could read the whole of the comic (the main draw for this pplication). so what i have done is restrict the number of pages to about half (50), and also restricted the trivia game to only be the easy mode and ask only 10 questions. I also restricted the questions it could ask to the first 10. this is a hard restriction, but i certainly hope one that will not annoy a player, ballow them to be drawn in enough to enjoy the application and therefore make a purchase.

A good trial is King, but it is not yet a science. Therefore a lot fo trial and error go into trying to create what is a compelling trial mode and yet not show off everything you have. I am not sure i did the best job with Pellmell, as it's sell thru is only at about 10%.

Here's hoping this Dreamland Chronicles Trial mode works out for me and Scott.

So now Trial mode is finished i have two things left to do..
1. Alter a few annoying SFX,
2. Redo Upsell screen (promotion screen)

then it's into Peer testing it goes.

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