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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

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
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?

slide4
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
nicole lazzaro

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

Computational

power

Visual effects

Innovative

game play

slide8

Next Gen Games

  • Increased Complexity
  • Increased Complexity of Analysis
slide11

Mobile

Off-Computer Play

2 fun meters today
2. Fun Meters Today
  • We can measure aspects that contribute to fun today
slide15
Probes showed us how players interacted with each other: socialization more important to players than dancing
house categories beta test

The house categories mini-game just wasn’t rewarding enough to players: a game “dead spot”

……………….

House Categories (Beta Test)
fun meter
Fun Meter
  • "Where is the fun in that?" – Bruce Shelly
the 4 keys the ride

4 Flavors of Fun

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

the 4 keys the ride20

4 Flavors of Fun

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

hard fun fiero
Hard Fun - Fiero
  • Personal Triumph Over Adversity
leapfrog s fly pentop
LeapFrog’s FLY Pentop

Player Prototypes

and Field Studies

fun meter26
Fun Meter
  • "Pace is everything.  User attention is the game." – Mark Terrano
3 fun meter challenge
3. Fun Meter Challenge

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)

what to measure
What to Measure
  • Pace
  • Exploits
  • Rewards
  • Power Ups
  • Score Jumps
fun meter challenge
Fun Meter Challenge

Take Away

  • Lots of Aspects Effect Fun
  • Each Needs a Meter
4 sources of data
4. Sources of Data
  • Every Meter Needs a Data Source
  • Data Relates to the Question
slide31

Section 4.

Data extraction is always tricky…

Indirect

(asking players)

Direct

(observing players)

fun meters
Fun Meters
  • “Are people around the company  (e.g. non-testers) playing?” – Steve Meretzky
indirect measures
Gathering Opinions

Co-Worker

Focus Group

Survey

Beta/QA Testing

Lots of noise

Cheap to implement

Requires player to interpret events

Indirect Measures
internal
Internal

Indirect Measures

internal35
Internal

Indirect Measures

beta qa testing
Strengths

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
the vocal minority
The Vocal Minority
  • 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
Strengths

Brainstorming

Packaging

Generating Ideas

Limits

Ø Behavior

Group Think

Opinion Leader

Fibbing

Post Play

Watch not Play

Focus Group
meta critic
Meta Critic
  • Automated
  • Opinions of Play

Limits

  • Reviews “Weighted”
  • Comes too Late
online surveys
Strengths

35K/5yrs

How Many Play w/Their Partner?

Limits

Ø Behavior

Fibbing

Question Bias

Online Surveys

Daedalus Project, Nick Yee

on line surveys
Strengths

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
fun meter42
Fun Meter
  • “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
direct measures
Observation

Data Probes

Behavior Based Data

Requires Expert Interpreter

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

Direct Measures
observe player
Observe Player
  • XEOAnalysis
  • Usability
    • Un-fun
  • Player Experiences
  • Emotions & Drivers
    • 4 Flavors of Fun
swg fun btn
SWG Fun Btn

Usability: Remove Un-Fun (51UI)

frustration w o fiero
Frustration w/o Fiero
  • [Fiero flowchart w/hard and easy fun]
observe player experience
Strengths

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
observe players early
Observe Players Early

Paper Fun Meters

  • New Roles for NPCs
  • Wire Frame UIs
  • Paper Prototype
  • Play Test the Fun
  • Automate Data Collection w/ Consumables or Tokens
fun meter50
Fun Meter
  • “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
slide51

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

economy detailed view

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
slide53
Play styles vary wildly across player types: hardcore players will go to great lengths for a minor cash advantage
slide54

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

……………….

4 of top 5: windows??

slide55

Motive

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!

measurement techniques probes embedded in the game
Measurement techniques:probes 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
Future Fun Meters

New Data Sources

  • Biometrics
  • Eye Tracking
  • GSR
  • Facial Tracking
  • FMRI

Vittorio Gallese, 2004

knowing when
Knowing When
  • Player Testing & Reviews
  • Data Probes
  • Observation and Prototyping Play
we need more than better visuals in next gen games
We need more than better visuals in next-gen games
  • Visual impact eventually tapers off
  • And who can afford it?
breakout games games that establish a new genre have innovative gameplay
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

Design

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

slide64
Q&A

Slides are on the web

www.maggotranch.com/MMP

www.xeodesign.com/funmeter

Our contact data

[email protected]

[email protected]

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