Researching Spore: A New Approach to Player Testing

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This is from Nate's Meaningful Play presentation on the B|P player experience research on Spore for EA. More info here: http://boltpeters.com/blog/?p=95

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Researching Spore: A New Approach to Player Testing

  1. 1. RESEARCHING A NEW APPROACH TO PLAYER TESTING
  2. 2. • “Impact of digital technology on society” at UCSD • Co-founded B|P in 2001 • 7 people. UX research and Design • San Francisco • 2,272 Participants. 188 Research Studies. photo by andy price visualpause.com
  3. 3. Why we care about games
  4. 4. 2007 was like this shit.
  5. 5. Who cares?
  6. 6. We started the spore research with one question.
  7. 7. Why are video games designed in this environment…
  8. 8. but researched here?
  9. 9. no idea.
  10. 10. “Focus groups were invented to focus the research, not be the research” - Marty Neumeier | “The Brand Gap”
  11. 11. So what can we do different?
  12. 12. “Guys... I put my pants on just like the rest of you - one leg at a time. Except, once my pants are on, I make gold records.”
  13. 13. #1 native environment is critical… But timing is everything
  14. 14. One year. 59 Participants 393 Hours of Gameplay. 3 Hour Sessions with 2 Nights Each
  15. 15. who cares about fun?
  16. 16. who doesn’t.
  17. 17. DISCUSSION
  18. 18. here arefive things we changed.
  19. 19. 1. simulated native environment. 2. multi-user voice chat (AKA “talking” and Think Aloud Protocol) 3. touch screens. 4. metrics (PENS model) 5. delivery
  20. 20. Simulated Native Environment
  21. 21. Live observation room
  22. 22. Multi-user Voice Chat
  23. 23. Gamers love TeamSpeak and keyboard shortcuts, researchers can too.
  24. 24. Talking to six people is crazy
  25. 25. 3 1 5 6 4 2 7
  26. 26. #3. Touch screens Game Screen (w/ webcam) Survey Touchscreen
  27. 27. #4. The PENS Model Player Experience of Need Satisfaction
  28. 28. Intrinsic motivational needs? Doing things for their inherent satisfactions (e.g. games, sports). Play through punishment and boredom.
  29. 29. PENS measures three specific motivational needs:
  30. 30. what sucked
  31. 31. •Bordering on chaos at first •Restricted by game genre •Lots of technical problems •Maintaining think aloud protocol •Difficult to respond to questions •Recordings take weeks to render
  32. 32. welcome, now play like
  33. 33. (according to our precise time limits) Event Time Welcome / Consent 4:30pm Stage 1 start 4:45pm Survey 1 5:15pm Survey 2 5:45 pm Dinner 6:00 pm Stage 2 start 6:15 pm Survey 3 6:45 pm Survey 4 7:15 pm Review 7:20 pm 3 Hours
  34. 34. We Learned… Not Much
  35. 35. But then, something changed.
  36. 36. No more timing structure. Game Level Test Phase Time Action NDA check, equipment check, Paul intro, think Welcome / Consent At 0:0 aloud Stage X Begin Phase At :5 Smiley Survey 1 At :15 Smiley Survey 2 At 1:00 Announce: Mouse over + Press A to go End&Survey At 1:30 to Stage Y Stage Y At 1:40 Smiley Survey 1 At 1:50 Smiley Survey 2 At 2:25 End&Survey At 2:45 Review Survey At 2:55 3 Hours
  37. 37. …fun went way up Stage Y
  38. 38. #5. Delivery
  39. 39. Technology •Video Recording •ZDSoft Game Recorder •Live Observation •Six Webcams using VNC •Long VGA cables •Audio •Teamspeak (free) •ELO Systems Touch Screens
  40. 40. $79
  41. 41. free
  42. 42. $39
  43. 43. free
  44. 44. Summary 1. Native environment is critical, but timing is everything 2. You can do this for dirt cheap 3. Touch screens are fancy 4. The Dow Jones is scary
  45. 45. the future is remote game research
  46. 46. Nov 7th, in San Francisco userresearchfriday.com
  47. 47. Questions 1. You can do this for dirt cheap 2. Go to San Francisco for URF boltpeters.com nate@boltpeters.com

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