Playtesting sessions can give us valuable information and help us tune our game. And the ones we conducted were no exception. However there are valuable aspects which your test players can’t give you simply because they aren’t aware of them. Some gameplay patterns only emerge when you have higher number of players, which usually only happens after releasing the game.
Two weeks have passed from the initial release of ColorFusion and some significant gameplay data is starting arrive (Thanks to our Russian Friends).
The collected data show us a drop in players in every level, which we think is normal. But in level 7 we see a bigger drop, and we also notice the average time to solve that same level rises a bit. On level 10 and 11 we experience a even bigger drop in players and even bigger rise in the average time.
This drastic changes should indicate that something is wrong in our level progression. Too many users are getting stuck in this levels and they won’t progress. This demands some action and we are working on it!
This is a simple example of what metrics you can get from your game and used them to improve the experience you deliver. You can use services like Google Analytics and Playtomic or you can build your own service. Tracking player actions in your game can help you improve your level progression, find out issues you never thought you had.
Over the last weeks, we have been thinking of where to go with Color Fusion. This is no longer the wild “what is this game going to be?” thing, but a sincere try to improve the game to the best of our ability. So, we need to understand exactly what we are trying to improve, and what plan we are going to follow to achieve it.
When taking these decisions, writing down our conclusions (or lack thereof) helps us, as the indie “jacks of all trades” we have to be, not to lose focus on our goals while we are doing our tasks. It helps us in not having to re-think where we want to go with the visual effects after we are finished writing tutorial code. It helps us in not forgetting what aspects of gameplay we want to refine after we finish making adjustments in our level editor. Well, you get the idea.
In certain circumstances we may not even know the correct decision, but writing down the possibilities might be a great help. Doing this might even help us understand the problem better, and help us down the road when we are making play-testing or analyzing “real-world” data.
Of course, I also think that what is written should not be treated as something carved in stone but rather as a guide. Just because your current roadmap tells you to do something in a specific way, it doesn’t mean you cannot deviate from the initial plan if it fits or makes the game better. After all, your gut feeling and judgement capabilities are very important tools when making games.