Dev Diary #41: GDEX 2016 Postmortem
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Last year around this time, my colleague Jonathan delivered an update titled “Thank you for a great OGDE!” OGDE, the Ohio Game Developer Expo, was reloaded and rebranded this year as GDEX. The event brings together regional game developers, players, and the general public to show off works-in-progress, discuss game design, and celebrate the medium we love.
As developers, this event is particularly good for a couple of reasons. First, the event’s popularity means that we have the rare pleasure of watching hundreds of players experience Luckless Seven right in front of us. The second, connected virtue is that these players offer awesome feedback: both generous compliments and insightful recommendations. As I often say in these posts, that feedback is invaluable.
Caption: A student game developer stops by to check out Luckless Seven.
At last year’s event, we demonstrated a very different-looking version of the game. The start menu looked different. The opening to the game distinctly lacked any supernatural beasts. The Ekosi tutorial was only recently designed, and it was a wordy beast that ultimately missed a few spots. Players recognized this, and they gave us diverse recommendations: some requested clarification on the card game’s finer details, and others rightly pointed out that our explanatory wall of text was overwhelming.
Caption: A GDEX attendee waits for our protagonist to wake up following the intro match. Wake up, Mark!
If you’ve been following development in the last year, you’ll know we’ve put a lot of attention into that opening segment of gameplay. It’s important to teach players how to play the card game clearly and concisely, and we’ve taken as much time as needed in pursuit of that goal. Exhibiting the game at GDEX 2016 was an exciting opportunity to measure our success in making the game both accessible and fun.
Caption: A player faces off with Krista in the game's opening match.
The results were encouraging. Like last year, we got to watch hundreds of people partake in the game we’ve invested so much care into. This time, however, we got to see these curious new players learning Ekosi much more quickly and easily than ever before. But it wasn’t just the anecdotal experience of watching players thriving: our player surveys were also overwhelmingly more positive than those from last year.
Caption: An attendee fills out the player survey after spending some time with the game.
We collected roughly fifty survey responses this year. All of the questions were optional, but a strong majority of respondents answered all questions. On average, players this year played for longer before hanging up their headphones, and more players elected to fill out the survey. Here are some of our favorite results:
Survey respondents ranked the game’s easiness to learn much more highly than last year.
Players indicated that there were far fewer points of confusion throughout the game’s tutorial.
The majority of respondents indicated that the game was visually impressive, fun to play, and original.
Caption: For much of the day, our booth was surrounded by play and conversation.
It’s important in any feedback context to be aware of potential biases, and that’s especially true at a big, public exhibition like GDEX. While the general public is invited to enter, a large portion of players are video game enthusiasts or developers themselves. In short, they’re people that support games. Not just that, but people can be overly polite when offering feedback about a project with the creators present. (People are nice like that.) All of this amounts to a potential positivity bias in survey results.
Even with that positivity bias in mind, we were very happy about the results of our survey. In comparing this year’s results to last’s, we see that attendees played longer, learned more easily, and enjoyed the game more overall. These results offer our team positive reinforcement for our time and energy spent to revamp the game’s opening. We feel that we’re on the right track to making Luckless Seven the game we want it to be.
Caption: Our composer, Brandon, explains the action to a spectator.
That confidence doesn’t mean that we’re content, though. If anything, just the opposite. The positive reception we received at GDEX 2016 is a direct result of player criticism and feedback, and we intend to continue implementing changes. Survey results, observations, and conversations with the players have indicated a few more areas for improvement. Some points of confusion included how replenishment cards work and how to navigate the opening areas. In the coming months, we’ll look to follow through on your constructive feedback!
That’s all from us for now! As always, you can find our public demos on Steam and IndieDB. We have some exciting news ahead as we continue production on Day 4 of gameplay. Thanks again for your support and your feedback.
Until next time,