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Design metrics

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Well, this morning started off with a dud. Literally. The first session I attended and was really looking forward to called "Dr. Strangeflow or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pipeline" ended up being cancelled because "the speaker cancelled because he has pneumonia". Now, I'll give the speaker-to-be Lane Daughtry the benefit of the doubt, but if I remember right his company Sony Online Entertainment also had a party last night. Just saying...

So I skipped over to the "Master Metrics: The Science behind the Art of Game Design". Cool session. Interesting contrast in speakers, too: one was good and explained things well, while the other flew through the slides so fast you would have got more out of it by closing your eyes and listening so you wouldn't have the visual distraction of slides changing every half second.

Having said that, the content was very good. I arrived late so I didn't catch everything, but the discussion revolved around techniques to use to collect metrics (i.e. actual data) of how the game is being played, including how levels are engaged, bottlenecks in level design, controller complexity, and player psychological reaction. Many of the topics were flown through, but some of the "buzzwords" I caught were:
  • reverse deconstruction, an analytical creativity approach used by Dave Perry.
  • heat maps, which were used in the development of Halo 3 to analyze player usage, kills, and movement in the maps.
  • Time spent report, a logging mechanism that logs the length of time a player spends on each major activity in a game (fighting, walking, conversation, cinematics, etc.).
  • control dimensionality metric, simplify controls through measured complexity models, also discussed in the book 21st Century Game Design.
  • the EmSense headset to capture brain waves and psychological responses to the game's mechanics.
  • Emotion definition in the player experiences as defined at XEODesigner.com.
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