Playtesting Karma

Our original game for this term was a standard Diablo-style hack ‘n’ slash, but with a karma system that was implemented in a similar manner to the duel-color system of Ikaruga. The main character could switch between being black and white and would receive benefits and detriments against enemies of corresponding and opposing colors, again like Ikaruga, but applied to a Diablo-style game.

We set about playtesting this simple concept. We had the main character as a circle in our demo and all the enemies were squares of varying size. The player could click their way around a large flat map that had random enemies spawning at random points. We were, at this point, just testing the core click-to-attack and change karma alignment.


The players we tested this with (being my brother and a couple of his friends) liked the idea at first. They enjoyed clicking to attack things and got into the groove of meandering around the board killing things.  Enemies came in waves from random locations. Each wave was made of one solid color of enemy, so the players only had to switch karma every now and then and continue attacking.

They enjoyed the simple two button interface (left click to move/attack, right click to switch karma).

Some of them said that they would like more to be in the game world, but understood that we were just testing the mechanics at this point.


After a good couple rounds of feedback, we adjusted the demo to generate enemies of random color instead of waves of enemies of a solid color. The demo was now throwing black and white enemies randomly at all times.

Players grew frustrated as they continued to have to rapidly switch back and forth between karmas, which interrupted their hack ‘n’ slash enjoyment they had before.


They suggested sticking with the waves of enemies, or at the very least having a ‘less random’ dispersement of enemy coloration. Otherwise, they thought the concept was pretty solid.

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