Five people kindly responded to my request a couple of weeks ago for playtesters for my Batter Demo, and here is a summary of what I learned:

The hittability is much improved; two reported 75-80% contact rates, two reported rates around 50%, and one reported ‘most’, which I will interpret as 70%+. Compare this with reports from the previous release of contact rates below 10%.

Problems revealed:

  • The interface is not clear, and the quiet-time requirement, post-pitch, led testers to think the software locked up.
  • There were some actual locking-up bugs related to specific mishandled keycodes.
  • The game was ignoring the mouse if any game-controller/joystick was installed, and not communicating to the user what input it was using.
  • The ‘bullet-time’ interface ignores the game controller, forcing the user to switch to the mouse
  • Right handed players prefer right handed avatars.
  • The pitch speed was too fast for some.
  • The foul lines were not drawn correctly.

Most of these problems are bugs, and fairly straightforward to fix.

The contact rate still needs to be higher. The demo constrains the pitches significantly (small strikezone, guaranteed strikes, slow pitch speed, fastballs only) to make them easy to hit, and the contact rates are still <85%. I would like to get the contact rate in this constrained environment up above 95%, so that when the fanciness of pitching (curves, sliders, change-ups, pitches outside the zone) are added, the reduced contact rates will still be >70%.

The changes I have in mind to improve the contact rate include:

  • Improve the contrast between the ball, the reference disk, and the black bat position indicator, so that they are all easier to see.
  • Offer a more ‘telescopic’ perspective, showing the pitcher larger in the view, so that variation of the balls path from on-center will be visible sooner in the pitch.
  • Provide a progress indicator on the ref disk to show how far along the path the ball has traveled. This helps the player gauge timing. The demo has a ball shadow, but that is of limited utility, as it requires taking ones eyes off the ball to see.
  • Provide a ‘Next Pitch’ button in the (new) GUI, so that the batter can mentally prepare for the pitch before having to deal with it.

Beyond these, there will be some general shaping up, like drawing the outfield fence, and providing a blue sky background rather than that heavy black.

Thank you to you five who responded, and all of you please continue reading this blog for continuing development.