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Fun Meters for Games Nicole Lazzaro, President XEODesign ® Larry Mellon, System Architect Emergent Game Technologies AGC Oct 28, 2005 Measure Fun Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Yum! (But Why?) Structured observations of the people - Smiling? Savoring? - Structured questionnaires ?

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Fun meters for games l.jpg

Fun Meters for Games

Nicole Lazzaro, President

XEODesign®

Larry Mellon, System Architect

Emergent Game Technologies

AGC Oct 28, 2005



Pulled pork sandwiches yum but why l.jpg
Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Yum! (But Why?)

Structured observations of the people

- Smiling? Savoring?

- Structured questionnaires

?

Insertion of probes into the sandwich

- Temperature? Sauce balance?

- Sandwich mods?


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Fun meter requirements

  • Multiple data sources

  • Repeatable & validity

  • Game & player variance

What could you use it for?

  • Pre-ship evaluation

  • Early evaluation of game play


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Larry Mellon

Nicole Lazzaro

  • CTO: Emergent Game Technologies

  • 20+ years of tools and engines for distributed systems & supercomputers

  • Jade, EA, DARPA, …

  • Parallel simulation & virtual worlds

  • Automated testing & metrics in games

  • Recent Play: Go

  • President and Founder XEODesign

  • 15 years of design and research player experiences

  • Sony, EA, LeapFrog, Sega, Ubisoft, PlayFirst

  • Cognitive Psychology Stanford

  • Recent Play: Tombstone Hold ‘em


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Next-gen: I get the graphics, but where’s the game?

Computational

power

Visual effects

Innovative

game play


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Blocking IssueIn next-gen games, how much innovation will be fundable?

Cost & Risk

Innovation


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Next Gen Games

  • Increased Complexity

  • Increased Complexity of Analysis



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Blocking IssueBig games are hard to change at the last minute!

Project

Start

Gold


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2. Fun Meters Today

  • We can measure aspects that contribute to fun today


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Probes showed us how players interacted with each other: socialization more important to players than dancing


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The socialization more important to players than dancinghouse categories mini-game just wasn’t rewarding enough to players: a game “dead spot”

……………….

House Categories (Beta Test)


Fun meter l.jpg
Fun Meter socialization more important to players than dancing

  • "Where is the fun in that?" – Bruce Shelly


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Knowing in Time socialization more important to players than dancing


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4 Flavors of Fun socialization more important to players than dancing

The 4 Keys “The Ride”

Easy Fun:

Filling Attention

Hard Fun:

Challenge & Mastery

Altered States:

Change Internal Sensations

The People Factor:

Social Mechanism

www.xeodesign.com/whyweplaygames


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4 Flavors of Fun socialization more important to players than dancing

The 4 Keys “The Ride”

Easy Fun:

Filling Attention

Surprise & Curiosity

Hard Fun:

Challenge & Mastery

Frustration & Fiero

Altered States:

Change Internal Sensations

Excite & Relax

The People Factor:

Social Mechanism

Shadenfreude & Naches

www.xeodesign.com/whyweplaygames


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Hard Fun - Fiero socialization more important to players than dancing

  • Personal Triumph Over Adversity


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My Fun Meter Read Out socialization more important to players than dancing


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Some Players socialization more important to players than dancing


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Other Players socialization more important to players than dancing


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LeapFrog’s FLY Pentop socialization more important to players than dancing

Player Prototypes

and Field Studies


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Fun Meter socialization more important to players than dancing

  • "Pace is everything.  User attention is the game." – Mark Terrano


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3. Fun Meter Challenge socialization more important to players than dancing

More than 20 aspects to measure fun

Larry & Nicole have a bet

  • Left and Right sides compete

  • Winner gets a duck!

  • List posted w/slides

    260 ideas/hour = 4.3/min (21.5 / 5 mins)


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What to Measure socialization more important to players than dancing

  • Pace

  • Exploits

  • Rewards

  • Power Ups

  • Score Jumps


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Fun Meter Challenge socialization more important to players than dancing

Take Away

  • Lots of Aspects Effect Fun

  • Each Needs a Meter


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4. Sources of Data socialization more important to players than dancing

  • Every Meter Needs a Data Source

  • Data Relates to the Question


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Section 4. socialization more important to players than dancing

Data extraction is always tricky…

Indirect

(asking players)

Direct

(observing players)


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Fun Meters socialization more important to players than dancing

  • “Are people around the company  (e.g. non-testers) playing?” – Steve Meretzky


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Gathering Opinions socialization more important to players than dancing

Co-Worker

Focus Group

Survey

Beta/QA Testing

Lots of noise

Cheap to implement

Requires player to interpret events

Indirect Measures


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Internal socialization more important to players than dancing

Indirect Measures


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Internal socialization more important to players than dancing

Indirect Measures


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Strengths socialization more important to players than dancing

Many People Playing Game

Bugs and Exploits

Easy to Set Up

Forgive Artifacts

Fill in What’s Missing

Rapid Iteration

Limits

Professional TestersBug Focus vs. Fun

Player Filters Data

Not Target Market

Seen Earlier Versions

Group Think

Beta/QA Testing


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The Vocal Minority socialization more important to players than dancing

  • Type of play they expect?

Silent

Majority

Love It!

Hate It!

  • On Line Surveys

  • Post Play Surveys

  • Beta/QA Testing

  • Forums/Chat

  • Focus Groups


Focus group l.jpg

Strengths socialization more important to players than dancing

Brainstorming

Packaging

Generating Ideas

Limits

Ø Behavior

Group Think

Opinion Leader

Fibbing

Post Play

Watch not Play

Focus Group


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Meta Critic socialization more important to players than dancing

  • Automated

  • Opinions of Play

Limits

  • Reviews “Weighted”

  • Comes too Late


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Strengths socialization more important to players than dancing

35K/5yrs

How Many Play w/Their Partner?

Limits

Ø Behavior

Fibbing

Question Bias

Online Surveys

Daedalus Project, Nick Yee


On line surveys l.jpg

Strengths socialization more important to players than dancing

Nifty Charts

Measure Existing Ideas with Accuracy

Automated

Low Cost per Respondent

Limits

Self Select

Ø Behavior

Fibbing

Mostly Quantitative

Find What Ask For

Bias in Questions

On Line Surveys


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Fun Meter socialization more important to players than dancing

  • “We didn't have the techniques then that you are creating now to measure where the person was, and instead looked at progress vs. time or survey results after playing to try to determine where the person was at.” – Jeff Pobst


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Observation socialization more important to players than dancing

Data Probes

Behavior Based Data

Requires Expert Interpreter

Tell us things that the user can’t tell us.

Direct Measures


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Observe Player socialization more important to players than dancing

  • XEOAnalysis

  • Usability

    • Un-fun

  • Player Experiences

  • Emotions & Drivers

    • 4 Flavors of Fun


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SWG Fun Btn socialization more important to players than dancing

Usability: Remove Un-Fun (51UI)


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Frustration w/o Fiero socialization more important to players than dancing

  • [Fiero flowchart w/hard and easy fun]


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Strengths socialization more important to players than dancing

Behavior Data

Directly Observe Player, Game, Context

What and Why

Explore New Ideas

Less Up-Front Bias

Paper or Electronic

Limits

More Effort to Collect Data and Analyze

Time

Automation

Trained Observer

Observe Player Experience


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Context - Last Call Poker socialization more important to players than dancing


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Observe Players Early socialization more important to players than dancing

Paper Fun Meters

  • New Roles for NPCs

  • Wire Frame UIs

  • Paper Prototype

  • Play Test the Fun

  • Automate Data Collection w/ Consumables or Tokens


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Fun Meter socialization more important to players than dancing

  • “There's a core rule, a way to interact, and then tuning, an adjustment to see if it is ‘gripping and attractive’ or is it a ‘drag on the experience’?” - Hal Barwood


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Tuning imbalances can throw your entire economy out of kilter (killing fun), but remember to triangulate!


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More tuning imbalances: visitor bonus did not provide enough incentive to attract other players to your home, lowering in-game social connections

Economy: Detailed View


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Play styles vary wildly across player types: hardcore players will go to great lengths for a minor cash advantage


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Looking at what people spend their in-game money on gives you clues into what entertains them

……………….

4 of top 5: windows??


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Motive you clues into what entertains them

decay

Time

Player & game actions

Minute 1

open door

cook food

Minute 2

fire breaks out

Rate of

occurrence

across

multiple

playsessions

Name of sound

Correlated data is much more valuable than single-source data

Click

rate

Time

Screenshots!


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Measurement techniques: you clues into what entertains themprobes embedded in the game

  • Strengths

    • Concrete, accurate metrics

    • Easy, fast, automated

  • Limits

    • Does not directly measure fun at all, only things that indirectly impact fun

    • Limited insight into player motivations

  • Best uses

    • Hot spot / dead spot analysis, tuning feedback

    • Understanding the true actions of your players


Future fun meters l.jpg
Future Fun Meters you clues into what entertains them

New Data Sources

  • Biometrics

  • Eye Tracking

  • GSR

  • Facial Tracking

  • FMRI

Vittorio Gallese, 2004


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Conclusions you clues into what entertains them


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Knowing When you clues into what entertains them

  • Player Testing & Reviews

  • Data Probes

  • Observation and Prototyping Play


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We need more than better visuals in next-gen games you clues into what entertains them

  • Visual impact eventually tapers off

  • And who can afford it?


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Breakout games – games that establish a new genre – have innovative gameplay

  • Populous

  • Pac Man

  • Doom

  • The Sims

  • Habitat

  • Grand Theft Auto

  • Katamari Damacy

?

What new types of gameplay will open up new genres in next-gen?


Measured innovation early in the design cycle is a way to break out of the box l.jpg

Design innovative gameplay

Measure

Play test

Cost / Risk

$

Innovative

game play

Measured innovation, early in the design cycle, is a way to break out of the box

Complexity

Scale

Cost

Pac man

visual



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Q&A innovative gameplay

Slides are on the web

www.maggotranch.com/MMP

www.xeodesign.com/funmeter

Our contact data

[email protected]

[email protected]


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