Perform user research to help with the early planning and development of the game.
Develop research questions
Write survey and disseminate it
Collect, review, and analyze results
Visually present results using FigJam
F.L.O. (or, Fantasy of the Last Originals) is a fantasy RPG fighting game in development by Plot Armor Studios.
Identifying the Problem Area
Sometimes, an idea in our heads can seem fully fleshed out until we begin to truly work on it.
Our Project Manager had been thinking about and working on early iterations of F.L.O. for awhile. He'd written a game design doc and shared it with the team.But during one of our team meetings, it quickly became clear that we needed to clarify the exact game mechanics.
We needed to figure out:
What would the "fun factor" be for this game?
And how could we determine it was the right idea?
My suggestion? Start with the players!
First, we needed to define who our target audience is.
Then, we could create survey questions to find out what this audience finds fun about games.
Finally, we'd use the survey data to develop player profiles to guide our decision-making.
Choosing a UX Method
The type of information we wanted to find out was exploratory in nature, so I needed to use a qualitative research method. I decided to create a qualitative survey with open-ended questions.
In order to make my survey meaningful, I had to determine:
What information did we want to glean from players?
And how would we filter out participants?
Narrowing Down Participants
I performed an informal competitve analysis of F.L.O. with the help of the project manager & director.
We determined what kind of game F.L.O. would be, ideally, and which games would be considered direct competitors and inspiration.
We landed on three games:
Now, I knew we could limit our survey participants to players who have enjoyed at least one of these games, up to all three.
Defining Research Objectives
We wanted to gather attitudinal information in three categories:
Writing the Survey
I lead the writing of the questions, with the project manager reviewing and requesting adjustments. I was mindful of avoiding conditioning the survey participants, i.e. asking leading questions.
For branding purposes, I customized the appearance of the survey and designed a banner image. Branding like this helps build trust and confidence with test participants.
For all 3 competitor games, we asked the same set of questions:
What are the top 3 reasons you enjoy playing [game]?
If not specified above, what are your top 3 favorite activities to do in [game], and why?
Is there anything you don't like about playing [game] (i.e. something that frustrates you)?
What do you like MOST about the combat in [game]?
What do you like LEAST about the combat in [game]?
If you could change anything about the combat in [game], what would you change?
What do you like MOST about the story in [game]?
What do you like LEAST about the story in [game]?
If you could change anything about the story in [game], what would you change?
To find participants, we announced the survey on Plot Armor Studios' social media channels and via Discord in relevant communities (such as Philly Game Mechanics.)
Resharing our Linkedin post to my profile proved effective in netting a larger audience.
We quickly hit 26 participants. I closed the survey out at that point, after confirming that we had several responses for each of the 3 competitor games.
Survey Results & Analysis
Making Sense of the Data
I combed through the data manually and created note cards in FigJam, organizing them by the game and question asked.
I reviewed the responses and color-coded the ones that had an emotional charge in yellow.
Developing Player Personas
As I began synthesizing the survey results into intelligence, I simultaneously began to craft the player personas (aka user personas.)
I based the personas on two clear trends in the data that I saw, and referenced Bartle's Player Types as well as the BrainHex gamer typology study.
Player Persona #1
Player Persona #2
Generating a UX Report
Finally, I completed a presentation in FigJam showing key UX insights. I visualized the data and findings whenever possible to keep it engaging and easy to browse for all team members.
It's quite a large report - but I'll share a closer look at the main sections below.