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Why You Shouldn't Design Games Through Analytics

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the because-you-are-bad-at-math dept.

Games 134

An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly writes at TechCrunch about a trend many gamers have noticed over the past decade: designers increasingly relying on statistics — and only statistics — to inform their design decisions. You know the type; the ones who'll change the background color if they think it'll eke out a few more players, or the ones who'll scrap interesting game mechanics in favor of making the game more easily understandable to a broader market. Naturally, this leads to homogenization and boring games. Kelly says, 'Obsessed with measuring everything and therefore defining all of their problems in numerical terms, social game makers have come to believe that those numbers are all there is, and this is why they cannot permit themselves to invent. Like TV people, they are effectively in search of that one number that will explain fun to them. There must, they reason, be some combination of LTV and ARPU and DAU and so on that captures fun, like hunting for the Higgs boson. It must be out there somewhere. ... Unlike every other major game revolution (arcade, console, PC, casual, MMO, etc.), social game developers have proved consistently unable to understand that fun is dynamic in this way. ... They are hunting for the fun boson, but it does not exist.'"

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Reality Check (5, Funny)

equex (747231) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573361)

Didn't they actually just find the Higgs ? Kinda blows the analogy,

Re:Reality Check (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573427)

Didn't they actually just find the Higgs ? Kinda blows the analogy,

You understood it, didn't you?

Re:Reality Check (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573459)

Learn to read. The analogy turns on the fact that there IS a Higgs and there is NOT a funHiggs.

Re:Reality Check (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573487)

You have to admit though, it's a horribly bad analogy.
It's bad in multiple ways.

Re:Reality Check (3, Insightful)

ireallyhateslashdot (2297290) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573655)

You have to admit though, it's a horribly bad analogy. It's bad in multiple ways.

Just because you don't like it doesn't make it bad.

Re:Reality Check (5, Funny)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573695)

You're right. What makes it bad is that analogies are universally fun; so much so that they. in fact, are the funHiggs.

Re:Reality Check (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573777)

And add to this the fact that it is well known that the Photon is in fact the fun boson; cf. Photon-torpedos.

Re:Reality Check (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574577)

Quick! Build a game around analogies!

...you can express "analogies are universally fun" in terms of impact on ARPPDAU, right?

Re:Reality Check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42577039)

That game is called category theory. The sweet irony is that it isn't actually fun.

Re:Reality Check (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573779)

I thought it was rather forced,,, myesss

Re:Reality Check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42576075)

They didn't find the Higgs they found something that may be the Higgs, and even if it is the Higgs all it does is confirm what we already knew.

Confirming Higgs boson busts other theories (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42577309)

even if [the newly discovered particle] is the Higgs all it does is confirm what we already knew.

But more importantly, it busts the various Higgsless models [wikipedia.org] .

SOUNDS AWFULLY GAY IF YOU ASK ME !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573377)

Analytics !!

The goal often isn't fun (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573397)

The goal is money: get more people to buy the game and get more people to buy in-game purchase items.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573425)

I wonder if anyone has designed chocolate through analytics and statistics.

That said there is no perfect game/chocolate or spaghetti sauce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIiAAhUeR6Y#t=0m24s [youtube.com]

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573663)

I wonder if anyone has designed chocolate through analytics and statistics.

I assume it must have happened some time for some brand. I know for certain that the Heartbrand Magnum [wikipedia.org] ice cream was designed by a team of food scientists.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573685)

FWIW Margaret Thatcher was in the team that came up with a method of making soft ice cream.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573675)

this reminds me of that time when alcohol influenced cooking placed chocolate chips in our spaghetti...

Re:The goal often isn't fun (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573485)

Close. Social games are generally F2P/Freemium. The objective isn't to get people to buy the game. There are three objectives:

- Get people to play the game. A lot. This brings in advertising money.
- Get people to promote the game to their friends, typicially by either offering some bonus to those who recruit others or by giving players an advantage based on how many friends they have helping them out.
- Get people to spend money on the game. Usually this is by making the early stages fairly easy on time requirements to get players dedicated, but the later stages require a silly amount of dull and repetitive grinding to complete which can be bypassed with a small payment.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (4, Interesting)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574059)

No, it's really much simpler than that. Encourage a parent to install a free game from the app store, and then guide the child to the 'buy more gems' IAPs before the 15 minutes password window expires. The reason analytics has become so prevelant, is that its a way for game designers to mentally divorce the ethically dubious mechanics of their game, from the profit it's generating. I've actually had conversations with people about their daily graphs, which clearly show huge profits from new players within the first 10 minutes of play, followed by no profit thereafter. When I've pointed out what those graphs indicate, by and large the response was always "but the analytics says these people are all in the 30-40 year old age range, so we aren't exploiting children in the way you're suggesting". Sure there are some people who will make IAPs to get around some of the grind, but by and large, the vast majority of profit is made within that frst 10 minute window. It's a business ethic that made me quit the industry.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574999)

I've actually had conversations with people about their daily graphs, which clearly show huge profits from new players within the first 10 minutes of play, followed by no profit thereafter. When I've pointed out what those graphs indicate, by and large the response was always "but the analytics says these people are all in the 30-40 year old age range, so we aren't exploiting children in the way you're suggesting".

If you have verifiable data available that shows this I would love to see it.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42576337)

This was fixed back in 2011. App purchases followed by an IAP purchase requires you to enter the password a second time.
http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/10/apple-now-requiring-passwords-for-all-in-app-purchases/

Re:The goal often isn't fun (2)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574143)

The make-it-simpler strategy fails to account for competition. If you make a game too much like others, and throw it into a pool of a hundred thousand games, your game will get lost in the crowd.

Games must be different to succeed. They have to find a niche market, and hope that the niche becomes larger.

Angry Birds is probably an exception to that rule. It got famous through a lot of luck. There are several games out there like it, but it was just in the right place at the right time and somehow caught on. I wonder how many game developers thought their simplistic game could become the next Angry Birds, and flushed tons of money down the drain.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573531)

Sadly that's true for majority of the people making games today.

I find it hard to work with a team anymore because I say "no" when someone ask me to stop working on functionality that's important for the game itself and instead work on implementing some money grab bullshit. It almost always comes up, typically when nearing the end of development, at the point where coders should be focusing all of their efforts getting everything working right, tweaked, and balanced. There is never enough time in developing a game to get everything as you want it, it only makes things worse when you have to put aside time to add shit that the ordinary user is going to find annoying.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (2)

Tagged_84 (1144281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573567)

The key difference between games and F2P social "games" (aka. Pokies 2.0) is the difference between a game player and a potential customer.

Social games are closer to digital drugs than games, they aim is to get you addicted and keep you coming back to pump more coins in... Basically Pokies 2.0

Re:The goal often isn't fun (5, Interesting)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573649)

The goal is money: get more people to buy the game and get more people to buy in-game purchase items.

True. This behaviour isn't just limited to games though, but all commercial "creative" endeavours: music, movies, tv shows, etc. Everyone has seen the hollywood movies that have been run through so many test audiences that it has become just bland pap.

This is the reason that indie music, games and movies can often break through and become a runaway success. People are tired of the dross that big entertainment keeps churning out.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (3)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573807)

This is the reason that indie music, games and movies can often break through and become a runaway success.

They can, but I'm not sure I'd say often.
 

People are tired of the dross that big entertainment keeps churning out.

That claim keeps being repeated endlessly... but somehow, those the make the claim fail to notice how disconnected it is from reality. People keep flocking in droves to what the soi-disant tastemakers of Slashdot pronounce to be 'dross'.
 
The intelligent person would notice the disconnect. The dogmatic just screws his blinders on tighter and repeats the claim.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575061)

This is the reason that indie music, games and movies can often break through and become a runaway success.

They can, but I'm not sure I'd say often.

For an interesting look into indie game development, take a look at the film Indie Game [imdb.com] . It is quite revealing

Re:The goal often isn't fun (2)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42577645)

People are tired of the dross that big entertainment keeps churning out.

That claim keeps being repeated endlessly... but somehow, those the make the claim fail to notice how disconnected it is from reality. People keep flocking in droves to what the soi-disant tastemakers of Slashdot pronounce to be 'dross'. The intelligent person would notice the disconnect. The dogmatic just screws his blinders on tighter and repeats the claim.

An intelligent person might try to find a reason for the disconnect. In this case, the saving grace for the entertainment industry is that the largest market of concert- and movie-goers is the teenage to early 20s demographic.

Which means they can rehash and resell the same dross: anything sounds good when you are growing up and the last album you owned was from The Wiggles.

The music industry excels at this - targeting the new generation of kids for whom everything is new, whilst also exploiting the teenage needs to be cool/fit in with peers, and the movie industry reboots franchises so often that it becomes ridiculous - look at the incredible hulk movies.

TLDR: It works because there is low hanging fruit born to the market every minute, not because my base claim of dross is incorrect.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573815)

Everyone has seen the hollywood movies that have been run through so many test audiences that it has become just bland pap.

Fortunately we have African movies, which are completely untested, and the plots, effects and acting are all so bizarre that you can't stop laughing.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574701)

Not if indie game developers are cryptographically locked out of certain genres that aren't practical on PC or on touchscreen mobile devices. I can give examples if you're curious.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (4, Insightful)

ildon (413912) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573665)

Exactly. Social games designers don't give a shit about "fun." They care about revenue. And these numbers *do* appear to increase revenue. They're closer to slot machine designers than game designers.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42577689)

Every game designer cares first about revenue and secondly about fun. Look at the dumbed down XCOM from Firaxis and listen to what the designers about why the game was simplified.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574041)

Unfortunately yes. It's not about fun anymore, it's about milking dough. DLC (Paid Patch), Free to play (Pay2Win) etc.

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574247)

Exactly. Witness:

Unlike every other major game revolution (arcade, console, PC, casual, MMO, etc.), social game developers have proved consistently unable to understand that fun is dynamic in this way.

Apparently whoever wrote this hasn't paid attention to arcade, console, PC, casual, or the MMO market lately. Add "Social games" (e.g. Farmville) to the list of games that found an intriguing gameplay that was a hit, then everything thereafter has been clone, clone, clone!

Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is scandalously literally a re-skin of World of Warcraft mechanics, right down to tripartite skill trees (e.g. "Hey, I have a 31/8/2 build!") and hideously expensive "high-speed" mounts that only double your run speed (ludicrously fraudulently labeled "speeders").

Re:The goal often isn't fun (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576249)

Exactly. It sounds just like the "beer" industry. Cheapen, and aim for the lowest common denominator in order to expand in the market. Once you're there, milk the suckers through crossbranding and cynical tie-ins.

However, there will be revoltions, people will object to the pablum every now and then.

I don't recall noticing this... (2)

seebs (15766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573413)

Admittedly, I don't play any of Zynga's games, but I play a lot of games, and I talk to a lot of gamers, and I've never heard of anyone designing games exclusively through analytics or statistics. I am not convinced that this is a real thing...

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (3, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573467)

'social' games and regular games are very different things, and most people who play social games wouldn't consider themselves gamers. They are the people who start to twitch uncomfortably if they are unable to check facebook for more than an hour.

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573899)

don't those people realize they're just wasting their time on useless stuff?

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (2, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573977)

I think that is called 'living.'

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42574045)

And they would say the same about you posting on slashdot....

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (5, Interesting)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574021)

See: The homogenization of WoW over the last 8 years while throwing more and more shiny at it to try to call that the creativity. They tried to go against the numbers ONCE but called it so badly that their subscriber base revolted and they lost a large portion of their North American/European subscribers.

TL;DR for rest of this: World of Warcraft has shot itself in the foot for several reasons but mainly due to exactly the reasons stated in the article. They relied on numbers, and then when they realized numbers weren't getting them anywhere as a lot of people didn't like where the game design was headed... they relied on the absolute worst group of people to advise them: The hardest of hardcore gamers.

They removed the wrong functionality based on the opinions of elite players. While overall class homogenization and general horribleness really started its massive downwards spiral in Wrath of the Lich King, Wrath had one thing going for it: Variety of raids. Elite players in wrath had difficulty filling raid spots even just a month after the world first lich king kill because there were things to do. Thus when consulted they put their own interests ahead of everyone else and voted in a removal of seperate cooldowns for difficulty mode of raid encounters. This was ostensibly done for good reasons but since gated raids with gear from previous raid instances being required to progress into harder raids are no longer there... removing this trashed the list of things to do for the folks that "populate" the game world. The people that are on constantly. The ones that have little to no life outside of the game. These are the guys that get made fun of the most and they are absolutely vital to your games success. Most of them are quite friendly and helpful and they deserve better. Besides that they broke the nostalgia factor of re-rolling alts for most of their older players, who no longer fully return to the game because they don't feel like re-learning the zones in addition to the classes.

They continued homogenization while removing those things in Cata leaving everyone in the semi-hardcore(people who play a lot but not super competitively) bracket bored out of their fscking minds.

The graphics don't help.... original gfx were grittier and less cartoony. When the graphics were updated for Cata they went wayyyy too far into the looney toons bin for myself and a lot of others. I would have preferred mildly more realistic environments than vanilla(but not too realistic, the original art style had a "fun-looking" appeal to them) with much more realistic player characters. The fact that my dwarf hunters nose and hands with the new cartoonier textures look nearly as bad as the graphics in Aidyn Chronicles from the N64 is fucking depressing. Especially when its stressing a computer with hardware powerful enough to account for a 20x10 server room full of N64s.

Their numbers and polls state that graphics don't matter to their customers however, which is only partially true. Graphics quality doesn't matter AS MUCH but graphics style most certainly does. Its one of those intangibles that will likely never show up on most exit surveys unless you start forcing people to give you their top 5 reasons for leaving instead of one or two. Blizzardat the moment gets one or two.

The thing is, once you start getting the 5.... if the top 1-2 reasons are varied and split around a relatively even-looking pie-chart... then they all need work but its probably already being worked on for your next expansion etc. If 95%+ of people leaving place an issue in their top 5... it needs to be addressed immediately.

Additionally... don't just poll people who are currently playing. Poll those who have quit. Those who respond who have quit probably want to return but won't due to the reasons they list. If wow was trying to get its subscriber base back, this is where it needs to start.

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574219)

I really hope people (that matter) read that last paragraph. Allow me to quote it and stress it: Poll those players that have quit. Asking the players that are around for their opinion is pointless, they are already here and they are already staying. It's like looking at the bombers that make it back from the enemy raid and reinforce the parts that have holes in them. They don't need reinforcement, those bombers made it back, you should reinforce the OTHER parts of your bombers because those are the parts where those were hit that did NOT get back.

What's worse is actually that every maker of MMOs out there tries to copy WoW, ignoring the fact that those that want to play WoW are already playing WoW, and those that are not are looking for something that is NOT WoW. Now, how should making a clone of a game I don't want to play convince me that I want to play yours?

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575193)

Thanks and maybe responding will get your post some more attention as well. That message really needs to be heard.

Something I also forgot to mention is the tendency for these companies to all end up using the same Beta testers and these testers are being listened to FAR too much on basic game design elements. Once the product goes to beta those things should be decided and done. Those are things you have decided by your extremely well-paid game designers, not the idiots clamouring begging and bribing their way into unpaid work just to get a glimpse at new game title x.

Especially if you're launching an MMO.... once its released finding the signal in the dross of forum posters is nearly impossible. Unless something is fairly universally ill-received you shouldn't even think about changing it. Even if it is, tweak it, don't redesign it altogether.

I participated in the last parts of the SWTOR beta and there was a story about a dev coming out and saying the testers ruined the game... they did. I ended up with access to a bunch of the old forum posts and saw the early beta screenshots posted to the forums. I saw the features. I saw everything. It was glorious. They had a hit on their hands that got destroyed by testers and fans. They listened to design opinions that they should have ignored, and ignored those that they should have listened to, but overall they'd have been in much better shape if they'd just ignored everyone and focused on fixing bugs and balancing classes, but not the exact way the testers wanted the classes balanced because that way goes boring shit best relegated to competitive FPS games that are the only things that CAN be balanced to the point the testers want.

I really think this is a lot of where the cloning you speak of is coming from. Its the same idiots testing every game and shouting bad ideas loudly enough that they end up getting implemented.

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574383)

The Secret World took the opposite approach to class design - almost unlimited flexibility in how you put your class together, using a point-based system. You're limited to 7 or 8 active and passive skills (ala Guild Wars), so high "level" players don't necessarily have better powers, just more choices to select between them. Everyone in the game, additionally, is multiclassed.

I hated the cookie-cutter nature of WoW. I hated getting yelled at in raids because I took talents that matched my playstyle instead of something they read on the forums (even though I could show to them how hemorrhage was a better raiding attack than what they wanted, it didn't matter). I really hated the more and more and more homogenization of the builds. I'm surprised they don't just have a dozen or so pregenerated characters and just let people play with those, the way the game has been going.

I quit a long time ago, returned briefly for each expansion (except Pandaren, because fuck Blizzard), and just shook my head as it got worse and worse. I'd beat the single player content, uninstall, and unsubscribe.

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

towermac (752159) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575495)

Yep. Yep. Yep.

They've got business people making business decisions about the business of WoW. Has that ever worked for a game? Hear us Blizz: Never let anyone close to your game (mechanics, story, balance, etc.) that doesn't love it, and hasn't played it for years. It's too bad really. They are slowly blowing their chance to own a significant corner of the internet, in the same way that Youtube and Amazon and Ebay do.

Yes, the bad influences started in Wrath, but it (was) a really big game, and takes a long time to run it into the ground. Wrath was the pinnacle; you could have fun and be competitive in so many different things. No matter if you were the hardcore raider, bloodthirsty PvPer, or a flower picking grandma. Plus, let's admit it, the story of Wrath of the Lich King was beyond epic. Very difficult to top, and perhaps they shouldn't have tried.

One of the main reasons Wrath was the peak is because that's when they really started taking things away. Example: 71 talents mixable in 3 trees, is better than 30 constrained talents, and far better than 6 talents. Old class quests that were hard. It's a long list. On the other hand, most everything they've truly just added, as opposed to changed, is great. Tol Barad (Cata battlegound) was the most fun I ever had on a computer. The Mists farming and cooking stuff are great additions...

The game is based on fantasy; you make changes based on raid mechanics of the day, and you blow the fantasy right out of it. Example: Druids can bring stars down from the heavens to smite their enemies, only because Elune taught them that power long ago, in return for being the guardians of nature. It's a powerful spell on a long cooldown, and you need to be careful with it; you may very well smite someone 30 yards away that wasn't fighting you. Great power; great responsibility, all that. That was the great thing about Wow; the lore and scope of the game is so deep and broad, and however much of that character backstory you're interested in, it's there.

Lo and behold, patch 4.0.1 hits and Starfall no longer hits anyone, unless they were already fighting you. What the hell? Turns out newbs couldn't use it properly, and pulled random mobs in dungeons. Yeah, so? That's always been the case with Starfall. Be a better Druid. ;) That's one example of hundreds. I used to tell whiners: "The game is hard; play it."

They'll never read this Opportunist, but just in case, I hope they hear this: The whole game is based on the fantasy. Without the fantasy, it's stupid cartoons running around on pixels; a screensaver with buttons to change the pattern. That's only fun for a little while. A few other points:

1. The Fantasy (that one should be said again)
2. Never throw away the good work of past game designers.
3. Grindy is not the opposite of easy.
4. Bring back Vengance for PvP bears...

(Yes, I'm bitter.)

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (2)

seebs (15766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575731)

Just a side note:

I know easily ten people, probably more, who "used to" play WoW.

Of them, not a single one has ever commented on any of the things you've talked about. Every one of them quit over something pertaining to Blizzard's general corporate attitude post-merger; Real ID, the video with the anti-gay slurs at Blizzcon, lack of action about trolls and abusers in chat... In short, stuff that had nothing to do with the game, only with the company and community.

Had the company not been so spectacularly hostile to me and my friends, I would probably have loved Cataclysm; I'd certainly have bought it and played it, but instead we sent emails to their privacy department asking us to delete all our personal information. (This has not stopped them from continuing to send promotional spam now and again to the unique/tagged addresses never used with anyone but them, sadly.)

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576585)

I don't really touch on the community issue because thats an entire other problem. Suffice to say Blizzards own tools have driven the community to where it is now, which is to say a very bad place.

For the Real ID stuff I have to sadly point out you're in a (thankfully) very vocal minority.

Blizzard received a lot of feedback on the required Real ID system which was almost entirely negative but not many people would have actually left because of it. Most of those that would have did so as soon as it was threatened. On the whole the particular system that inspired the move has actually improved the game somewhat.

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

NoSleepDemon (1521253) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576853)

Almost all my friends left due to class homogenization and the general compression / "dumbing down" of stuff to do. I personally began to doubt the direction of the game when they added recuperate to the Rogue skill tree - they needed a way to stop Rogues from going down in fights that didn't involve lots of escape skills (because those would be 'un-fun' to their enemies) so what did they do? They added a blanket x% heal every couple of seconds. Bloody terrible. I didn't even get to 85 in Cata. In my opinion they had class balance pretty much perfect in the final patch right before Burning Crusade, then we saw how broken class stats became passed 60 (e.g. MASSSSIVE health ramp up) and they've been literally chasing that problem ever since.

Re:I don't recall noticing this... (1)

NoSleepDemon (1521253) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576865)

Oops I meant the final class balance patch before they added the 40 point talents, as those blew absolute chunks.

Ok, ok, I believe you know about game design (5, Funny)

steviesteveo12 (2755637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573415)

MVP and F2P eventually passed into regular industry jargon along with a boat load of other terms. Most every company involved in the space now talks about DAU, LTV, ARPU, ARPPU, ARPDAU and even ARPPDAU. They talk about performing cohort analyses. Some of them ask whether they are working on an MVP or an MDP? Most don’t really bother discussing viral K-factors any more, and instead obsess about the CPA of players. These are significant changes for an industry that used to worry more about Metacritic ratings.

Jesus, some executive just had a seizure on that guy's keyboard.

Re:Ok, ok, I believe you know about game design (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573429)

some executive just had a seizure on that guy's keyboard

One of those wipe-clean seizures, one might suspect.

Re:Ok, ok, I believe you know about game design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42575891)

Some of them ask whether they are working on an MVP or an MDP?

In today's world cows are so rarely seen near cities that their existence has become a myth to most game companies, hence the demise of "cash cows." Similar argument goes for stray dogs.

Minecraft (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573419)

I would be interested to see if Notch has any interest in Analytics at all.

Re:Minecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573571)

As seeing as how the analytics are a blatant configuration option, yes, they are very interested in it. Chances are they just wank over it and then throw it out the door, though, since Notch doesn't actually touch MC anymore. He's working on 0x10c and Scrolls. The dev team behind MC now mostly listens to folks on twitter and youtube, which is the scariest thought possible when it comes to game design... The game has changed a great deal since Notch handed the reins over to other devs, moreso than it ever changed while he was in charge.

Re:Minecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42574769)

I would be interested to see if Notch has any interest in Analytics at all.

He might if the game has in-app payment system that lets players buy resources (iron, diamond, etc) with real world money.

Missing the point. (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573455)

Social games aren't supposed to be *fun*. The objective is to keep people playing. Fun is one way to do that, but there are other methods that can be just as capable or even more so. Social games depend on a few effective psychological hooks:

- Time sinks. Once you have gotten the player to invest enough hours, they become reluctant to leave and throw away the invested time.
- Social interdependance. Allow players to assist each other. That way if someone does want to stop playing, they'll have to abandon friends who need their help.
- Constant progress. Players need to feel like they are constantly getting further and further, so an effective social game makes sure there is always a new milestone just ahead - and that there is a way to show off this success.
- Ease of promition: Make sure your players can tell everyone else they play via facebook.

Social games aren't about fun. They are about operant conditioning. Zynga has a psychologist on staff to advise their designers on how to make a game people will feel compelled to play, and the approach works.

None of these actually require the game be fun. Or have we forgotten Cow Clicker, the parody of social gaming deliberatly designed to be as dull and un-fun as possible, yet which still achieved a moderate level of success purely by following the rules of social manipulation.

Re:Missing the point. (2)

Bostik (92589) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573615)

Social games aren't supposed to be *fun*.

There was a pretty good write-up on the topic more than a year ago: Who killed videogames? [insertcredit.com]

It's a long read, but most of the important points are made in the first page. The rest (sadly) qualifies for TL;DR - it simply rehashes and expands on the same ideas from different angles and in more depth.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573641)

It's a long read, but most of the important points are made in the first page. The rest (sadly) qualifies for TL;DR - it simply rehashes and expands on the same ideas from different angles and in more depth.

It sounds like your neat summary of the article might also describe the difference between "social" games and "regular" games.

Same as MMO really (2)

aepervius (535155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574083)

All you said could as well apply to MMO really. From the time sinks to constant progress. Social gaming did not invent skinner box for games, they just refined it with cost effective way.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574249)

So, essentially, social games are the antisocial stepbrother of real games?

Re:Missing the point. (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574331)

>Zynga has a psychologist on staff to advise their designers on how to make a game people will feel compelled to play, and the approach works.

Yes, as reflected by their ever-rising stock price.

Oh, wait, no.

People hate Zynga because their "games" are crap. If you can call them games, really. Any "game" that can be played optimally by a very short shell script really isn't a game in my opinion.

DDRbot (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575179)

Dance Dance Revolution on a standard controller can be played optimally by a bot loaded with the step chart. But that's not the point of DDR; the point is the physical activity from playing on a dance pad.

Even more subtle (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573471)

I hate any company that is driven through spreadsheet thinking but I think this story only really applies to the Zyngas of the world. My beef is a little bit different. It is where multiplayer games slowly cut off all the interesting discoveries. Too perfect a sniping spot; modify it to make it vulnerable. Room too perfect for a grenade tossed by a defender; change it. Gun a little too powerful; tone it down. All these fixes make eventual sense in that once enough people make one of these discoveries then they exploit the crap out of it and it really ticks the other players off. But at the same time these discoveries are cool. When I find that perfect ambush site I will annoy a bunch of players until they just start tossing a grenade into that spot every time they walk by. So if the spot is too perfect by all means fix it but then create another "too perfect" problem. Let people find it and then fix it. Too many multiplayer games get fixed until it is just a boring stalemate while other games never get fixed and that perfect sniping spot just runs all the other players out of town. In real war you often have move/counter moves the whole war along which is the thinking that drives the whole "Fighting the last war" syndrome where after the war the winning side keeps countering the enemy's last move better and better. But in many games all the counter moves just fix existing problems while not actively seeking to create new ones.

Re:Even more subtle (1)

Tom (822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573745)

What you talk about is meta-gaming and it only exists in games with enough complexity to allow for it.

Basically, someone finds a strategy that is better than all others, so everyone adopts it. But then it isn't better anymore, because everyone is doing it. It becomes predictable, which allows someone else to find a counter-strategy, which then everyone employs.
In your example, grenades would become a standard loadout item. Now there is suddenly room for someone exploiting the fact that, say, nobody packs healing kits anymore (because you can't pack both grenades and healing kits).

Meta-gaming is pretty common in competitive gaming.

Re:Even more subtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42574571)

...and in life.

Re:Even more subtle (1)

Tom (822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576261)

There is no meta-life. But life being an Infinite Game [amazon.com] , it has multiple layers that are meta to each other, but not to the game per se.

Re:Even more subtle (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576971)

No, he's talking about counterplay, which is heavily linked to the metagame but it's not the same thing. For example, you can have a perfect sniping spot that has no vulnerability - the metagame will shift to favor use of that spot, but he's talking about including options for counterplay, which is adding that hole to toss a grenade in where they'll die but can't hear it come in, or having 3 entrances to the room. Once people adapt to having less healing kits, which itself is countered by submachine guns, which is countered by snipers, you're talking about cyclical imbalance, which you want to intentionally design into the game if you're going for something that's more than a throwaway game.

Re:Even more subtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573795)

Participants in a "real war" have multiple conflicting interests which do not align perfectly, and suffer from imperfect information. Also the fact that you are in it for life and death means that anything that can go usually does.

Often in a computer game a character's interaction with the world is constrained by the game's design. The design is not usually "open ended" in the way that the interaction allows for an infinite (or sufficiently large) number of consequences for participants of a certain level of skill. Chess is a good example. Two grand masters may often come to a draw since (I assume) that White's knowledge is sufficient to predict all reasonable outcomes for Black. Two novices are exploring an effectively infinite (and therefore unpredictable) world. In a computer game, a "good spot" is easily popularized and becomes boring because enough people know how to effectively exploit it.

Re:Even more subtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42577055)

Campers ruin games, period. Get out there and fight, use your skill.

Win8 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573473)

Sounds like the way that Windows 8 was made. That development blog kept talking about "studying real world usage" or whatever.

Re:Win8 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573627)

That development blog

You read w8 dev blog? I.e. you love to swallow. asl? You can become my bitch.

If it's not measurable, it's irrelevant [right?] (2)

Bostik (92589) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573481)

Scott Adams nailed [dilbert.com] the tunnel-visioned focus on nothing but metrics.

'nuff said.

I think they just want the average American fb use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573491)

U know the ones. The ones that don't mind playing boring, repetitive, puzzle games -_- IMO that average is full of people who don't who are lazy and love instant gratification.

Why homogenization? (2)

kasperd (592156) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573517)

I can understand why aiming for mainstream market share leads to homogenization initially. But why does it keep doing that? Doesn't there come a point where another mainstream game is going to lose out due to tough competition from the number of games they are competing with? At that point one would think niche markets would start looking attractive.

Re:Why homogenization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573749)

IMO you've mixed up the game market and the market for a particular type of game. Once the market for (say) Tamagotchi-style pet games reaches its equilibrium then yeah, the next game sold shouldn't be worth selling or buying. The market for games in general might be somewhere else, away from equilibrium.

A "mainstream preference" probably refers to the most popular genre, which may or may not be Tamagotchi.

Re:Why homogenization? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573845)

Essentially it is "lowest common denominator" syndrome. Let's say your potential market is 100 people. 50 of them like the same sort of thing. The rest all form 5 different niche groups of 10 people. Your game (or whatever product) will cost roughly the same amount to make whichever group you aim for. Which group do you try to please with your game- the 50 or one of the 10s?

With low value commodities like games, music etc. there never reaches a point where the market is so saturated that targeting the biggest group doesn't make sense. In our fictional example, you'd need 100% of one of the niche groups to buy your game to equal the success of only 20% of the mainstream group buying your game. Assuming each group is as discerning of quality as the rest, that's hugely difficult.

That's not to say some companies can't make a decent living out of marketing to niches. But it's extremely difficult to persuade the big money blockbuster producers to spend the same amount of money on a niche as they would on the mainstream.

Re:Why homogenization? (1)

kasperd (592156) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574003)

With low value commodities like games, music etc. there never reaches a point where the market is so saturated that targeting the biggest group doesn't make sense. In our fictional example, you'd need 100% of one of the niche groups to buy your game to equal the success of only 20% of the mainstream group buying your game.

I'm quite confident that the market is so saturated that it is very hard to get even close to 20% of the mainstream customers to buy your mainstream product. The question is how many you could get to buy a niche product, and what price you could sell it at.

Are people who don't like the mainstream products going to buy them anyway or save their money for that one niche product, they really like? Maybe there are people who would rather own a single niche product than three mainstream products. If you are targeting those, twice the cost for a niche product wouldn't be a problem. But even for a niche product decreasing the price is going to increase the customer base.

you can improve what you can measure (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573545)

"you can’t improve what you can’t measure"?

Huh?! Well, that doesn't preclude that you can improve what you can measure.

Yes, I believe that valuable insights can be gained from what you can measure. For example, if your data couldn't determine a success factor that is a valuable result in itself! The insight then is "there must be an unknown factor we have not included in our model".

What is the big deal? I also think that the unexpected can be found within a mainstream setting, it all but takes a glimpse of genius to discover it. Finding that genius recipe in the dark, without any previous experience is silly, ignorant and ill-informed. Think of the angry birds authors who had made about a hundred games before they hit gold. That was no luck. They had the experience. Systematizing that 'hovering feeling' experience into a mathematical model? Why not? It still takes genuine talent to make it fun and implement it well.

almost as bad as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573647)

I know rite, people who make games using a feedback mechanism

terrible

as terrible as a "games designer" who spends all their time writing articles like this

Both things are equally bad, both things, unfortunately, work.

Game designers make games for profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573667)

Any fun that might be had by the player is secondary to the game designers purpose.

The goal of the free game designed through statistics is to make money for the publisher. If the statistics say that changing the background color will eke out a few more users, and the average 'milk' of those users is worth more money, the game designer is right (from an employer point of view) to change that color.

Re:Game designers make games for profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573755)

Any fun that might be had by the player is secondary to the game designers purpose.

Not necessarily, that's why I play Oolite [oolite.org] : the devs do it for the fun (their own fun and the fun of the players).

Captcha: "feudal" - Slashdot will really become a strong AI one day :)

misconception (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573729)

While the point is largely true, the submitter is missing the most important point:

So-called "social games" aren't about fun. And they aren't games. The game is just the packaging. These things are basically drugs. Read up on the corporate background of Zynga and what kind of people they employ. They create designer-drugs that are scientifically designed for maximumg addiction potential.

The "fun" and "game" part are just the coating that gets you to try it. Much like a drug that you take for the first time because it promises a good trip or great sex or whatever, but that's just for the first few times. After that, it's the addiction that makes you take it, not the high, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.

Social games aren't meant to be fun, they are meant to keep you playing (and spending, or creating ad-impressions).
The reason we (I'm a game designer) talk about things like "gamification" in the work environment is not that it is fun, but because we've found ways to make people repeatedly do things that they have no intrinsic reason to do and that are not rewarding in themselves.

Modern games feel like Marxist utdystopias (1)

Suiggy (1544213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573739)

All of these analytical processes and gathering of statistics during the centrally planned development process, striving for ever more fairness, balance, and equality--not only in the game mechanics but in the themes and storyline as well--are precisely why games such as Guild Wars 2 ultimately become boring, flat, and dead to many players. Sure, when the game first came out, it was fun digging into it, but for all of the fairness and equality in the reward system, you came to loathe the game for not offering you a path to play it more freely, more independently. There is no way to game the game. And those that discover and attempt to exploit holes left in the games mechanics, purely out of boredom and happenstance, soon feel the wrath State with permanent account revocations. After all, those who resist the revolution and dare throw off the shackles of enslavement must be sacrificed for the benefit of the Proletariat! Trotsky would have been proud.

Unfortunately, article misses the point completely (4, Insightful)

Jayde Stargunner (207280) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573741)

This article only makes sense if you assume that "social game" or F2P game developers actually care about those metrics because they are trying to find "fun."

They aren't. They care about those metrics because they are trying to maximize revenue for the current title. After experimentation, they then take the combination of factors that had the maximum revenue for the previous title and then repackage it into a rebranded version of the same game with that combination as the starting point. It's more like casino design than game design.

By and large F2P games are not really about creating a "fun" experience. They are about creating an addictive experience loop which yields them income through impulse micro-transaction purchases. While "fun" is a factor (the game has to be interesting, after all) it certainly is not the primary goal of this part of the industry. Although some games buck this trend, the top-grossing ones are certainly not games which would typically be considered wholly "fun" compared to standard console/PC game titles.

None of these acronyms have found their way into mainstream console or PC title development. They are all monetization terms which are primarily applicable to "games" which have the sole purpose of monetization. This should not be surprising.

Easier said than done but.. (1)

monzie (729782) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573793)

.. one should try to write games which one likes playing. Human beings are not that different from each other, despite what hate media in different mediums might have you believe..

Having said this, Yes I am a software developer and no I have not invested the (great) amounts of energy and time required to become a game developer.. I'm earning my bread the easy way.. by being a Ruby on Rails developer.

I've nothing against the RoR community or framework - it earns my daily bread - I just respect the game developers because I know how tough it is and working in a game company is always a risk even after one has acquired a lot of skills.

Condemning evidence-based decisions is stupid (1)

Benfea (1365845) | about a year and a half ago | (#42573809)

The problem is not analytics. The problem is that the analytics are applied exclusively to what will sell more games, and not to what makes better games. Obviously, they have to devote some or perhaps even most to selling more games, but they should devote at least some time and effort into making better games.

Decisions made in the absence of evidence will almost never be better than evidence-based decisions. That's why when you get sick you go to a doctor instead of a shaman.

Imagine what is possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42573811)

Imagine what is possible when you don't assume (because of pre-existing incomplete data) what the outcome will be.

"the ones who'll scrap interesting game mechanics in favor of making the game more easily understandable to a broader market"

Chess, quite possibly the worlds most popular game couldn't be developed today.

Arrogant approach (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574043)

To ignore statistics and customer feedback is to display an arrogance that can result in an awful experience for players.

The biggest example of this in recent times is FFXIV. Throughout the betas and previews they ignored feedback and imposed what they felt an MMO should be like on their users. The result? An incredibly bad, high budget MMO where design choices got in the way of the user at every turn (a server side UI that was slow and painful to use, limits on the amount of quests you could do, awful crafting, awful economy, unhelpful maps and quest descriptions).

There are more general exams when making genre games too. If you're making a colourful JRPG with a bunch of cute characters, the JRPG audience isn't likely to be turned away if you use a battle system based around AD&D and give it a dark, gritty plot with lots of violence and disturbing events.

Even for simple design choices it can be a big deal. Halo 2 has no brightness controls and has some very dark levels, I played it on an old TV with the brightness at max and could only play it for short periods before eyestrain kicked in. Kid Icarus on the 3DS requires use of a stylus and the control pad, this means you have to use the stylus in the right hand, making the game near impossible for lefties (thankfully you can use an add on control pad to make it playable). Ignore customers needs when designing something and even great games can be ruined for some or all.

Re:Arrogant approach (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575103)

Yepp, I second that.

There was once a game from a german company. Gothic or something was its name. I had an original game pack as a gift from a friend who did no longer play it. However: the manual was missing.

No big deal usually.
You can find screenshots here: https://www.google.com/search?q=gothic+game&hl=de&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=veXyUMLDBKba4QSVy4Fg&ved=0CDkQsAQ&biw=1161&bih=1102 [google.com]

What was the problem? Well:
a) you could not change the key bindings. And sorry, I can not play with W, A, S, D. I have to admit I only can with Q, W, E, S.
b) there was no in game help page to even show the key bindings.

I had to call my friend every few days to ask: how do I loot a corpse? (Something like shift-arrow-up ... or down )

The game is superb and got very good critics ... they made several sequels.

However they never realized that the limited money/sales they make is due to brain dead keybindings (that could not be changed).

I did not play the game for the same reason I don't use EMACS (but well, I guess EMACS key bindings *CAN* be changed)

Wasn't the Microsoft Ribbon from user statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42574475)

The results of their so-called "user experience" reporting? The problem was that the only people that allowed that thing to spy on them were the dumb ones so that's who Microsoft modeled their Ribbon interface for.

learn from the old arcade games! (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about a year and a half ago | (#42574823)

Joust and Tempest are fun, but weird. In the first, your only controls are flapping to control how high and fast you fly, and directional left-right. In the second, it's totally a "WTF kinda drugs was this designer on?" experience. While not nearly as developed as modern games, these provided me with plenty of entertainment when I was a teenager. Don't be afraid to do something completely different, because if the gameplay is cool enough, the game sells itself.

Re:learn from the old arcade games! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42577031)

Joust is a game of skill. Every enemy type has a definitive behavior.

Tempest is cheap as hell and the player who inserts a coin fast enough after their game ends can continue to a higher score via the level select, to a point. The game has a huge firing delay, items that zap lanes, items that reach the edge of the playfield. (The latter was fixed in Tempest 2000 when they added jump.) Even SuperZapper doesn't work fast enough.

The problem is not analyzis (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575021)

In my eyes the problem isnot running spread sheets and having lots of numbers but:
a) the conclusions you draw
b) the verification of your changes

Most people are completely dumb assed about the conclusions, in other words they rig the spread sheet and collect only the numbers they want to support the (wrong) conclusions they already made.

After making changes, ofc the numbers of their original spread sheet change. So they conclude: the change was effective. However they miss that another team also made a lot of changes.

E.g. a dungeon is unattractive. Players rarely go there. One reason is (players say so) the loot it drops is not worth the effort. Other players say: the dungeon is to hard.

So one group of game designers make the dungeon more easy (like WoW UBRS in old school WoW), and it provides better loot, so people are more actively looking to go into the dungeon.

Another group of developers however makes the "Dungeon Finder" feature. So you can search for other players with a mouse click and get automatically assigned to a group of players, to join a RANDOM dungeon. Depending on the gear average you get placed in the dungeon the other group of developers just made more attractive. So, the feature of the second developer group supports the numbers of the first. But they are completely unrelated. The numbers of group one are now worthless. Nevertheless their apparent success is used further as guideline for future development.

Anyway a big success for the company: more people go into this particular dungeon. OTOH: lots of players quit because of the dungeon changes and most overall changes. As some other posters pointed out: I only joined WoW again for nostalgic reasons and accidentally payed for a 6 month subscription, I regretted it after 2 days (yeah, I was slow).

Dont get me wrong, the success story of WoW is amazing and a dream of a gamer and programmer.

You played Warcraft 1 or 2 and saw Doom more or less at the same time you thought: wow a doom like world/enige and a warcraft like game and all that as multiplayer, that would be awesome.

And TEN YEARS later, well make this 15, they did just that. A wet dream of a programmer who stopped doing multiplayer online games in the 1990s because he thought: internet will never be so cheap that people will play it.

But now ... the game is going where ultima online and the other fantasy online games went.

same Analytics BS is used by HR for hiring. (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575473)

same Analytics BS is used by HR for hiring.

And you end up with people who cheat at it / people who really can't do the job.

This article described World of Warcraft to a tee (1)

xQuarkDS9x (646166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42575591)

This is exactly what happened to WoW

"You know the type; the ones who'll change the background color if they think it'll eke out a few more players, or the ones who'll scrap interesting game mechanics in favor of making the game more easily understandable to a broader market. Naturally, this leads to homogenization and boring games."

I would daresay interesting game mechanics were scrapped starting when the Wrath of the Lich King expansion came out, then Cataclysm for sure which really made it easier, and now Mists of Pandaria which have made it so easy now to the point that it's boring and more easily understandable to the broader market.

Thus, ensuring more morons who couldn't understand an MMO like WoW back in 2007 when Burning Crusade was popular and I felt was the pinnacle of that game with the mechanics it had at the time, are now playing Mists of Pandaria and further destroying what maturity the community had from 2004-2007 in that game compared to the community at large now. It's why I took a break from the game in October and may look at it again later this year with a newer computer the game just got dumbed down way too much to the point everything is practically handed to you now, you don't have to work for it like in Burning Crusade.

Also, certainly Blizzard becoming a part of Activision did not help matters much either as I am sure that has been whats prompting the "dumbing down" of WoW the last five years and a *LOT* of players leaving.

Microsoft and Valve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42575921)

Two vastly different effects of an over-reliance analytics.

Happened with Halo (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576221)

This happened with Halo.

For Halo 2 they literally tested the game with soccer moms then made adjustments based on their play. They made it easier to aim and made it harder for one person to be too much better than another.

This had a very negative impact on the competitive gaming crowd. Some of them just kept playing Halo 1 but most toughed it out and played Halo 2. However, Halo 2 sold more copies and the Halo player base grew. It being easier to play likely had nothing to do with the growth, Xbox Live play was probably the only reason.

Halo 3 and the Halos after that continued the trend of making the game easier to play and made it a lot harder for one person to be better than another. It reduced the competitive play appeal and became less popular among the hardcore.

Eventually Halo was dropped from Major League Gaming (a professional gaming league) because it wasn't fun at a competitive level.

You risk losing your hardcore fans at the expense of picking up the masses. If you keep the hardcore fans pleased your game will continue to be popular for a long time but may not have as big of an initial launch. If you cater to the mass noobs it will probably have a big launch but popularity isn't going to last.

The trick is to make changes that cater to the noobs but do not ruin it for the hardcore players, but it is harder to do and most changes ruin it for one group or the other.

Statistics of addictive behavior (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42576265)

People are more likely to do an activity if there are random rewards, with reward size proportional to how infrequent the events are. That's why slot machines work.

Banker mentality... (1)

Genda (560240) | about a year and a half ago | (#42576579)

People love art. Music, Film, Games, Performance. By the very nature of art, its a unique, dynamic and inspired moments of human insight, expression, understanding, enlightenment, communication. The act of attempting to formulate this process, is like climbing up a cow's ass in an attempt to witness the magic of grass turning into milk. In both cases the outcome invariably ends up mixed with cow flop.

Enough already with the endless attempts to turn a film into a franchise then milk every atom of joy, love and money out until these Scrooges ruin the whole thing for everybody. Enough already of safe projects built to ride the mean average of everything hoping to appeal to everyone and further drain already depleted wallets. Most of all, enough with soul-less accounting minions measuring the worth of a film by the number of tickets sold. By that logic "Dumb and Dumber" is a greater movie than "Raising Arizona". I understand movie making is a business and box-office is the final measure of success, but for those who are more interested in the art, the humanity, and the beauty that people create, the box office is a side effect. Great art isn't for everyone so, bankers will never be interested in great art (save that which can be invested in, stored in a vault, and later resold at great profit.) So for the love of all that's Holy(wood), let the artists thrive and make art. Support and empower them. There will be magic, and wonder and beauty. Occasionally there will be wonder and pain and genius. This was a spectacular year for film. You bankers bank... its what you're good at. Let the artists art.

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