Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Incorporating Player Feedback in the Game Design Process

by Eric Cantini, CEO, Sunstorm Games
·         Abstract: This talk covers how to best run playtests with kids and offer other forms of collecting feedback from players.
·         Sunstorm Games was founded in 2009 and has published over 80 titles like FairFood Maker and My School Dance. They have 40 employees and focus on games for 11-13 year old girls.
·         There are two main strategies for collecting player feedback: analytical data and surveys. Get gameplay analytics via Kontagent or other similar platforms, and feedback through usability studies.
·         Sunstorm has one resource dedicated to full-time analytic implementation. QA are also required to become familiar with sophisticated reporting. Have a platform able to cleanse data, protect against fraud, and do occasional de-duplication.
·         Market performers are not universal. Just because an ad works overseas does not mean it works in the US, so test for each market.
·         Usability studies are one-on-one lab sessions with an observer watching and webcams pointed at the player’s face and the player’s hands. Girls tend to blame themselves for losing and don’t say that the game is too hard or if the game is broken. It’s important for the observer to ask the right questions. Don’t ask if the game is fun, since kids will always try to give you the pleasing answer. Also, having a female observer works more effectively, since girls are more comfortable with other females and boys are used to having a female teacher figure.
·         Do QA via crowdsourced testing such as uTesting. There are often a lot of QA feedback about bugs and crashes, and a few usability and gameplay mechanics feedback.
·         Run focus groups with product plan reviews for ideation and validation, and game design discussions.
·         Create player game design teams, who meet for a couple of sessions over the course of a few months. Start with a kickoff session, run several round table discussions, and end with a launch party.
·         Create a virtual player panel of 1000+ players who you can e-mail game design questions to and receive feedback. This is great to find favorite art styles, best name for the game, popular clothing, etc.

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