Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Massive Update!

In celebration of the new year, we released another update to the game. This time we added 75 new interactions possibilities to Chapter 1 and 2, and over 130 new interaction possibilities to Chapter 3.

Through the magic of Google Analytics, we can see whenever a player tries to combine objects unsuccessfully. Every so often we add proper responses to the top failed interaction attempts, instead of leaving the boring standard 'That doesn't seem to work'. Our goal is that every single interaction possibility will eventually have a proper response.

At this stage, the things we're adding to Chapter 1 and 2 pretty much fall into the 'strange & rare' category. For instance, attacking the bedroom pillow with the crowbar now has a proper response. In Chapter 3 we're still seeing some confusion during some of the harder puzzles. If a lot of people are trying to use every single inventory object on everything in the scene, it's a pretty good indicator that more tweaks and hints are required.

From a game design point of view, it's also important that the stimulus-response cycle never gets predictable. If you keep getting the same response no matter how you interact with the world, you will get bored very quickly. It's the equivalent of getting exactly the same loot drop every time you kill a monster in Diablo.

We don’t track who did what. All that happens when you attempt an interaction is that a counter increases by 1. So if seven people try to smear baby oil on the radiator in the bed room we just see something like this: "Chapter 1:Bedroom:Use baby oil on radiator:7".

Personally, I'm very fond of this data-driven approach to game design, since it makes the player an active part of the process. I look forward to taking this approach to the next level once The Dream Machine is done and dusted.

Development news on Chapter 4 will follow in the next post. Stay tuned!


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  1. Hmm... I started off thinking ´this approach leaves me wishing I had waited to play the game until /after/ all the tweaking and updatey enrichments were done... but now I'm thinking 'way to create replay value guys!'. Guess it's a glass-half-empty/full thing.

  2. Boris - I agree with you. I think if I wait maybe a year with replaying it I might have forgotten some of it - replay value when you know the "correct" solutions are low. Still cool that you guys can actually see the players interactions - maybe there will be more of this in the future of computer games? Fantastic game btw - I love it :-)

  3. I love the idea of you listening to your audience and adjusting the game, and it'd be amazing if every possible option was given a unique response. This really shows how passionate you guys are about making something special. Keep up the good work!

  4. I totally agree with Boris, Sara and Mr Jellyfish. I'd actually be really curious to hear the stats on just how many combinations of interactions there actually are for each environment, and the totals (and what percentage are covered)! :-) Excellent work guys, keep doing what you love. Cheers.