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Math Scientist – What we learned from our focus groups

Last Friday we have gathered several dozens of test subject (or guinea pigs if you will) into our office, feed them popcorn an potato chips and asked them for some feedback on the game. Due to some space restrains we had to separate them into several groups, here is one of them (we also had them compete against each-other to keep the spirits high :D ).

testGrupa1

We had five different versions of the game and focus group participant had to try each one of them.  On the 5 builds we made we had several variables (for example, the speed of the animation, falling numbers and hints were different in the different versions of the game).  The builds 1 and 5 had the variables cranked up to the extreme, while the 2 to 4 had them in between. After the play we asked our participants about the game’s pace, visibility of its elements, colors used and an overall impression. We also watched them play the game, and noted anything that wasn’t immediately clear.

So here are some of the interesting things we gathered:

-Our hints were placed at 3, 4, 6, 7 seconds and never appear, however the results were polarized. Some players didn’t like hints, like don’t like them at all. However players that hadn’t played these kind of games before were frustrated if there were no hints, or were slow to appear. It appeared that no single setting was right, so we tinkered around and thought about a compromise that should try to help players but not be too intrusive to those who don’t like the hints to begin with. Our solution is 6 seconds for hint to appear first time, and 4 seconds for each successive appearance until the player makes a move and just keep the 4 seconds delay on levels that have time limit of any kind. We also considered a hint button, however players tend to frustrate themselves trying to find a possible swap instead of hitting the hint button and then completely giving up without even using the hint. Because of this we opted to not put any kind of hint button.

-Players generally liked faster animations (including the faster decreasing of big numbers), however they had trouble clicking (and claiming points) on all big numbers in time. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive but not unsolvable. Our solution was to add a slight delay to the decreasing of big numbers after any user action (like this a user can claim multiple big numbers without losing them).

-Most of the players had a problem noticing our equations, so that was a clear tell for us to redesign them and make them more noticeable.

-Players also didn’t like the looks and colors of our special numbers, so that is also something we will have to change.

-Some players didn’t notice the hint animation. We are unclear as to how to proceed with this. One way might be to add a sound cue to the hint, but it might aggravate the players, another is to perhaps make the animations a little more visible. It also might be that it is a complete non issue as players responded better and better as time went on (suggesting that it is just a problem of not knowing the game).

-Players try to make diagonal swaps (proving that even the most rudimentary things need to be added to the tutorial).

-Finally most players liked the game, so there is some hope for us still :3

The feedback we got is very valuable to us, and is being used to improve the game before it’s release. And the release is getting really close these days :D We’ll keep you posted!

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Posted in Dev blog, Math Scientist and tagged , .