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Feature: 'Tracking Player Feedback To Improve Game Design'

In this latest Gamasutra feature, BioWare's QA director Phillip DeRosa explains how the Mass Effect creator has set up and executed code-based monitoring of k
How can game developers use statistics, even before a game is released, to improve gameplay? BioWare's QA director Phillip 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. In this excerpt, DeRosa explains the importance of using the proper tools and technologies in gathering and analyzing data compiled from playtesters: “The task of gathering, aggregating, and analyzing all this information is much more effective with tools and technology support. Simply put this is a logging system. Pick a database, logging system and reporting tool and go crazy. If the preference is the buy rather than build there are a few companies that provide products and services in this area as well. Time is a precious commodity and having the right tools and technology will help reduce iteration time, allow for gathering and analysis of large amounts of data and increase the accuracy of the information as well as the speed at which it is delivered. Our first foray into this was a manual process to gather information on some of our previously released titles with the help of a few less-than-enthusiastic testers, a spreadsheet and an electronic stopwatch. This proved to be a valuable exercise and served as our proof of concept. We showed this around and saw enough value to proceed building this capability. Building the tools and technology fits into our departmental goal of moving low value time intensive tasks onto computers and allow our skilled people to focus on high value analysis tasks.” You can now read the complete feature, which includes more from DeRosa on how BioWare uses playtesting sessions to help refine their products before they are released (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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