Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Metrics

Any good designer should be able to back up their decisions with data in a spreadsheet. In fact, designers who make decisions out of personal preference or spite are not designers at all - they're just creators or people with ideas. They're not refining something based on the needs of a particular audience. They're doing the equivalent of writing a journal entry. Which is fair - we all have our own methods of processing. But, why am I rambling on about what I consider to be good design practice? I recently put analytics into "Bound." This is the single most important thing a designer or developer can do in order to understand how their game is being received. In this post, I would like to touch on the different metrics that I'm tracking and why I chose to track them.

(Here I've used an image of the dashboard for a demo game - I don't want to make IRB mad at me for featuring my actual playtest data.)

First of all, the analytics SDK that I'm choosing to work with is GameAnalytics. Mostly because I've worked with it in a professional setting before. But, also because it's extremely easy to implement and has this fancy dashboard that you see above where I can look at usage data in real time. I'm mainly using it to track the amount of time players spend in different sectors of the game and what keys they press at what times. Each session will also record the minigame values that player was playing with and the player's ID so that I can pair their analytics data with their survey response.

Most of this information is to help me determine minigame difficulty. I know that, for example, if no players are pressing any of the breathe keys - they probably aren't noticing that there is a second prompt. Or, if the time they spend playing the minigame is only ten seconds, and they didn't press any keys, then players probably didn't understand the mechanics of the minigame. I m also tracking how much time players spend walking around the environment before the minigame. If players are spending too much time there, it may indicate that it is unclear where the player is supposed to go next, or there is something distracting about the environment.

I do have concerns about using GameAnalytics. The program itself is heavily geared towards tracking usage data. Things like daily active users, average FPS per play session, average play session length, etc. I only care about the custom events that I've created. I hope that it won't be a major pain in the ass to extract the data that I'm interested in. If not, I may just have to write my data directly to a .CSV file. The old fashioned way.

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