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Role Playing (Games)

BioWare On Tracking Player Feedback 41

simoniker writes "BioWare's QA director Phillip DeRosa has written a piece called 'Tracking Player Feedback To Improve Game Design' over at Gamasutra, which deals with how game developers can use statistics, even before a game is released, to improve gameplay. DeRosa "...explains how the Mass Effect creator has set up and executed code-based monitoring of key metrics to test, analyze, and refine its projects through playtesting." Is this approach sensible, or could it be more like movie producers 'pandering' to test audiences?"
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BioWare On Tracking Player Feedback

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  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @06:51PM (#20149231) Homepage
    Unlike movies, in which taking into account the opinions of test audiences is thought of as compromising artistic vision, video games are made for players to play interactively. It's not just their money that matters, it's their ability to play and have a good time. The best game designer in the world doesn't always get it right. Playtesting is not just done for marketing reasons; it's absolutely imperative if you want to make sure the game is as good as it can be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AvitarX ( 172628 )
      So games arn't art then?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clem ( 5683 )
        It's worse than you think. Art isn't art.
      • Neither are most movies and most novels. They're light entertainment.

        Video games are an art FORM, just as painting is an art FORM, but not every painting is a work of art, nor is every game.
        • Bah, I disagree. I think the best definition of art I've ever heard is "It is art because you say it is art. All that is left is to determine why it is art."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Playtesting is not just done for marketing reasons; it's absolutely imperative if you want to make sure the game is as good as it can be."

      I would make the argument that actually games are NOT truly targetted FOR *players*, if we are speaking about advancing the art of game design and gameplay. Tonnes of mediocre games rake in a lot of money for many other reasons.

      I'd say lots of playtesting now-a-days is geared towards dumbing down and making games easier, less interactive, more passive and more mediocre.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Das Modell ( 969371 )

        I'd say lots of playtesting now-a-days is geared towards dumbing down and making games easier, less interactive, more passive and more mediocre.

        Ah, of course. Playtesting is meant to make the game as bad as possible so it won't sell. Now it all makes sense.

        One only has to look at modern MMO's and console RPG's to compare the basic battle mechanics in those games with a game like God of War or other RPG's whose battle systems have real-time or more interactive elements.

        Console RPGs have been more or less the

      • There's nothing wrong with easy games. The market for them is substantially larger than it is for hard games, and that's why the industry is moving in that direction -- and about time, too. It has treated the less-skilled player with contempt and derision for far too long. You're an old-time hardcore gamer, so you think of easy games as bad ones, but the days when the industry would pander to the hardcore gamer's every whim are over. Don't worry, though, I'm sure a few companies will still make games for
        • "There's nothing wrong with easy games."

          You're right but the truth is when a game becomes too easy it becomes boring, so there must be some kind of push-pull with the player or gaming becomes a pointless excercise (no risk, no reward). There is such a thing as too easy and too hard. The thing that differentiates games from movies is PASSIVITY and lack of interactivity (taking part). Many modern games are becoming more passive, and hence skewing towards what a game shouldn't be: Passive. We have movies
          • by EWAdams ( 953502 )

            Forgive me for misunderstanding the nature of your complaint, but I disagree with your clarification as well. Different players want different levels of activity. The entertainment world isn't divided into passive (films, TV) and active (games). There's a continuum, and some players want "interactivity-light" games. Demanding large amounts of interactivity is threatening and off-putting to a certain class of players, and developers are starting, finally, to cater for them as well. Others are looking into am
    • by n3tcat ( 664243 )
      Sure, until you get a game company that doesn't know how to "Just say no" sometimes, and they try to fulfill every game player's wildest dreams and completely cock up the balance in the game mechanics. This does not affect single player games, but rather average multiplayer games.

      MMO's are not completely fucked by this sort of thing because many random variables cause the ebb and flow of the community to shift. Standard multiplayer games have a much tighter interactive experience, and screwing with the way
  • One has to pander when one is new. It takes years before a media is mature enough not to pander.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nuzak ( 959558 )
      Music's been around for a little while. You telling me it doesn't pander?

      Hell, commercial art sluts like Thomas Kincaid could be called pandering.
      • by JFMulder ( 59706 )
        Music is very old. Maybe it's like Alzeihmer. Start like a baby, grow up and end up a babbling idiot, like a baby.
      • The fact that you can identify sectors which (in your opinion, I should note) "pander" to what people want (what a sin!) doesn't indicate that it holds true across the entire industry.
      • by spun ( 1352 )
        Yeah, of course media that have been around a while still pander. Commercial writer sluts like Tom Clancy pander too. I'm not saying old media doesn't pander. But artists in those media at least have some non-pandering art to look back on when deciding whether to pander or, you know, actually make art.
        • by nuzak ( 959558 )
          The other difference between games and writing and most visual arts is that their requirement of being interactive means that they must primarily entertain. Add to it the high costs of production, and this means that game producers are always going to have to write what their consumers want. Still, even most "artistes" do that, it's just that their audience tends to like being challenged with new ideas, and their primary motive is to communicate, not profit (again, distinguished from the commercial whores
  • It Depends (Score:2, Interesting)

    I think it depends on the size and scope of a test audience. If they're picking up a group of 15 year olds at the mall on a weekend and having them sit down to play the game for a half hour, than yes, it is definitely pandering to a certain audience (this conversely could be said if they pick a few college aged gamers who spend several hours at a time on the game). However, if they have a decent beta/playtest application and select a good cross section of who they believe will be playing the game, then I
  • Screw 'em (Score:1, Insightful)

    by JamesRose ( 1062530 )
    Sorry, but a little less bioware player tracking, and EA Games corporate restructuring. Take us back to the days when Bullfrog was making kickass games and stuff.

    Isn't it weird when something can be so far from its roots even when its so new.
    • You might be able to get away with that if this article was about any other company, but Bioware? This is the company that has an almost completely unblemished reputation for quality, well made games that immerse the player and invite re-play. Take us back to the days of 'Baldurs Gate' and 'KOTOR'? Please.
    • Bullfrog was great...but LookingGlass was the _best_. System Shock, Thief...ahhh. The good ol' days.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin