Brent's Toys,  Technology,  The Lazy Designer

Game Dev Update

Decent work has progressed on the kid’s educational/robot building game (and to the supplemental document I’m writing to explain my design process on it). If you are bored/curious, it’s the top link on my unity page. Lower your expectations accordingly.

It is not feature complete, but it’s feature sufficient and probably won’t be tweaked too much more. The most recent addition I’ve made to it is a player tracking mechanism, so I can keep tabs on how well the kids are doing while playing the various educational levels. There’s no front-end view for the data yet, but I’m tracking what I need to be tracking.

This tracking led to an interesting discussion between myself and my 5yr old. He was playing various levels on the other computer, to test the tracking system out (though he did not know that) and I monitored his progress. I kept on going up to him and congratulating him when he did well and asking him why he skipped some levels (or fared poorly). He eventually became disgruntled at this and told me to stop spying on him.

After I laughed though I thought a bit about that. In Book 5 of the Lazy Designer, one of the chapters discusses ways to track player data and what to do with it (i.e., how to use it to guide the design of DLC and subsequent projects). Aside from achievement systems though, I’m not sure how many games actually ship with these player data tracking hooks… and if so, what do players think of them. Does it bother you if you know the developer has access to your play history? Should this be voluntary data collection only (i.e., an opt-in program)?

Or does it matter? Personally I don’t really care if the developer is able to track my progress in most types of games, as long as the data collection is handled anonymously and passively (i.e., don’t force an Internet connection for the game just because you want to track my data.) What about the rest of you?

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.