Top Bug: A Usability Story

Hi everyone,

Today’s Top Bug takes us into the area of usability! The below issues were not bugs per-say, but issues that came up during play testing that made us realize certain parts of the game were not clear, which is basically a bug in itself. So let’s look at some of our more obvious mistakes!


To craft, or not to craft:

In Brut@l you find weapon blueprints, these outline the recipe you need to make a weapon by collecting the required ASCII letters (our crafting materials). As you can see in the image below the weapon name is listed as well as the recipe (red letters mean you don’t have the letter, where as white means you do). While we felt this was clear, the issue came when players found the letters over several floors and forgot what they did or did not have, often leading to them NOT creating any weapons – quite a fail for a game that gets tougher and pushes the use of not only weapons but also enchanted variants to deal even more damage.


To rectify this we watched several days of new players play Brut@l and realized people understood the concept of blueprints and crafting materials, and in some cases (for simpler recipes) kept track of what they needed and made the weapon there and then. The key problem was with more complex recipes or if they were building a weapon over a longer play session. To this end we introduced (and tweaked several times) our crafting alerts system. This is a quick on-screen prompt as both an image and a piece of text in our classic ticker text section to inform the player they can now craft a weapon, enchant a weapon or brew a potion.

In the GIF below you can see our Amazon character collects the letter P, finishing the recipe for one of our long swords. Once the letter lands on the alphabet bar a small sword icon appears over her head, before resting on our ‘Crafting Alerts’ bar, letting you know something can be crafted. This GIF shows the basic weapon now being craftable, if this was a fire short sword the icon would be orange, green for poison, etc etc.


Who am I?:

Is this title an excuse for us to use an old Jackie Chan movie poster? Yes. Yes it is.


But with that aside, now onto the real issue. Who are you in Co-Op? One of the things we read sometimes in-regards to Brut@l is that people are worried it will be hard to know what is going on, and while we’re obviously bias, we can say that we, as well as those who played the game at PSX, PAX and via our testing sessions had no such issues with single player. However, as you can guess, this means that Co-Op had an issue. Internally we know what’s happening in the game, what could happen, and how it could happen, this means it’s very easy for us to distinguish everything on screen, which is natural when you’ve played the game for hundreds, if not thousands of hours. The issue here is that when it came to Co-Op, while people really enjoyed it, at times it was clear (when watching them over their shoulders!) they were looking at the wrong character – which is not the experience we want.

The fix was rather simple, introducing the classic ‘P1’ and ‘P2’ icons (unique art for each character class!)  to make it, at all times, clear who is who:


Bar that, we obviously had other smaller issues that we caught while people played the game, but these were the ones that resulted in this response from us and our play testers:


With these fixed, as well as a host of other small issues we really think Brut@l has come together well and we can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Head over to Twitter and Facebook and hit follow and like to keep up-to-date with all things Brut@l and Stormcloud.

Until next time,

— Richard


Author Richard Wood
Categories Brut@l
Views 2441
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