Co-op for Everyone
Two groups of people I have in mind when making the game are couples and parents with their children. In these cases one party often has limited experience with games. So I want to make the game approachable and enjoyable for them. At the same time, I want to keep the game challenging for more advanced players.
Perhaps more important than the other concerns, I want to make Together playable by as many people with disabilities as I can. They deserve the emotional connection and experience of playing with their friends and loved ones as anyone else. Many people have disabilities that prohibit them from sharing other peoples hobbies. I want to make the game accessible to as many of them as I can, so they can share their hobby with others.
There are a few personal reasons I chose to make accessibility a priority. I have a friend with muscular dystrophy which makes playing on a keyboard impossible. I implemented mouse controls so that he could play. I also have four uncles who are all color blind, so that was on my mind. Colors used in game mechanics were planned with the color blind in mind.
Some things I have done to make Together enjoyable for everyone:
- The core campaign of the game will slowly increase in difficulty most everyone can finish the game together
- There are more difficult optional objectives that unlock more difficult levels for those seeking a challenge. Even the most avid gamers get stuck
- The main campaign levels are designed to require more puzzle solving than mechanical skill
- Colors used in game mechanics were planned with the color blind in mind
- Controls are kept simple, you can play with one hand.
With colors in place and keeping the base controls simple we are well positioned to make the game widely accessible. There are many other things we can do, and we will do everything we can on our indie budget during the beta phase of development to make sure as many people as possible can play Together.
One of the first mechanics I started with in Together was a ghost which would chase the player and possess them. At which point the player would be disabled and float in position until the other player lured the ghost out. I discovered through play testing that the ghost mechanic was putting players under a lot of unenjoyable pressure. Especially if there was a skill discrepancy between players one player would end up carrying the load. I want both players to feel competent and equally responsible for their success, so this wasn't working.
It was a big enough issue that I removed the mechanic from the game which was in most of the levels and started from scratch. Without spoiling the game, I will say the mechanics I replaced it with were less hostile and allowed for a more thoughtful approach rather than being under constant duress. This also helped focus the direction of the game to one of accessibility and approachability.
Thanks for Reading
I believe that all media we consume can both benefit and harm our lives and our society. I think games specifically are under utilised for good. In this case, I hope they will bring people together and that they can strengthen their relationships with each other. I know there are couples looking for things to do together, and children who need more attention from their parents. Maybe they can play Together. You can support the development of Together: Amna & Saif on Kickstarter, vote for it on Steam Greenlight, and sign up to get noticed when it is released at the bottom of the website.
Ed. Note: We'd like to thank Lyle for taking the time to contribute to our site. Together: Amna & Saif is roughly slated for release in spring of 2015.