It’s been a week since our first demo release at Itch.io. At that time we thought that should be a small demo released with less than ten players who will be playing our game. It turns out there are thousands of people who do. What we thought we’d get one or two feedbacks, it turns out we get dozens of them. We are happy, humbled, and excited to finish this game. If you are a fellow game developer, you’ll know how that fuels our spirit.
We are planning to post two dev logs; one is a reflective post about what works and what does not in our demo. The second one is a changelog for our next minor update. This article should be a two different post, but let’s make it into this one post (because laziness is one of my virtues).
So this is what we learn in our demo:
Itch is an excellent platform to release a demo.
This part is obvious. We never thought that there are so many people playing our demo game. We get dozens of feedbacks. There are publishers, media, composer, artist, and other game-loving people contacting us. This response boosts our team spirit. (Again, Thank you!!!)
Create a feedback button inside the game.
We only get several emails from our email address firstname.lastname@example.org, but we got tons from the in-game feedback button.
Using the feedback button… It’s super effective.
We put a big “out of place” button inside the game to make the player easier to give feedback. We create our own web service for this, but you could also use a simpler method (email launcher, perhaps?).
We’ve received a lot of positive feedback saying that they enjoy the game (We’re humbled, thank you!!!). There is also feedback about the mechanic; usually it’s about player motivation (we hear you, more of this later). And there are also some feedbacks that we consider funny (or maybe is just us with our strange sense of humor). We think it should be posted here. Here are some of them:
“I like the game , it’s simple yet fun. I wish I could donate to you but I am a kid and I don’t actually have any money :)”
“i wanna money”
and is my favorite feedback:
“I dont like you”
and here is my response:
If you are planning to release a demo version, and you want to have a lot of feedback, use the in-game feedback button. It’s really effective.
Implement Analytics before Demo-Release
By using analytics, we could see how the player plays the game (not to mention we could also put cool dashboard in our office). Using analytics, we can answer this question:
- “How many game sessions played today?”,
“How many players play the demo until the end?”,
“How many players get a positive monthly balance?”,
“How many player get re-occurrence event more than three times?”
and many more
There are many analytic components out there, but we create our own using a simple web service and PHP report generator. We choose to do this to have a flexibility of how our logs to be reported.
The downside is that we need more work to create and maintain the server. I’m not sure developing our own analytic is the best way to go in the long term, but that’s what we are doing now.
Fixes in Version 0.5.21
Balancing is hard work. When we ask our friend and colleague to try Startup Panic, some of them think that this game is difficult (this is also my opinion), but some of them win in the first try.
You could imagine how I (the one who follow the development from the beginning) feel losing to a first-time player.
If we lower the difficulty too much, we’re afraid that the game will be less challenging. If it’s too difficult, then the player will be frustrated.
So we come to our savior…DATA.
When we ask our friend and colleagues, we only get about less than ten sample. Using analytics, we could see that with thousand people playing, there are 55% who have a monthly balance less than zero. This is how we know exactly that the game is still too difficult. So in the build version 0.5.21, we lower the difficulty a bit and wait to see how it turns out.
We have a lot of feedback about the mechanic of morale/motivation that is too harsh. We hear you, and we are lowering the morale/motivation decrease parameter (not sure if that’s the right word for it, but since English is not my first language, I could type what I want and get away with it :D).
For you who have been complaining about employees motivation, please try the new version. Hopefully, the motivation decrease is not too harsh, but it still could give a flavor in the gameplay.
We try to be funny.
Since we thought that the player already knows what the meaning of some of the feature (such as timeline, text-message, hashtag, etc.) we experiment to change the “feature” description to be funnier.
Trying to be funny in the game, or in any group discussion, as a matter of fact, is tricky. When you succeed, you’ll become popular in your group. When your joke is not funny, people will cringe and think that you are weird. Please let us know whether we would become popular or weird.
Wow never thought I could write this much. Thank you for reading and enjoy the game.
PS: Pardon my English since it’s not my first language.