“It’s evolution,” argued Playfish studio director Jeferson Valadares during his talk on intuition versus metrics on the first day of GDC Europe. After offering a quick and swift introduction to the most recent and popular debate within the game development community, Valadares continued to explain why both are equally important and require two completely different state of minds. “Using both is quite hard,” Valadares admitted.” The single biggest reason, is because you’re using the wrong one at the wrong time.”
Playfish itself is known for having specialized in adjusting their games based on metrics, which prove to help with certain types of decisions. “We’re almost at the point where we test something if we only need a couple of days to see if something works. Not being able to back it up with any results at the end is not very good.” Valadares did acknowledge that metrics do not solve all your problems, referring to Playfish’s own struggles with Pet Society. The introduction of the fishing gameplay gave a huge spike in engagement ratings. So did redesigning the user interface. Garderning on the other hand, brought the game’s engagement rating down. Valadares explained that this example should not discourage any developer to try new things: “It’s not going to get you good results every time, but it’s the only way to ever get great results.”
If you’re interested in applying metrics to your own game, Valadares recommends that you first and foremost align the results you want to find with your goals, business or otherwise. Keep it simple by only picking a couple of metrics that are easy to understand. They might not be perfect the first time, but give you a good enough picture of what you’re working with.
In the case of intuition and metrics, Valadares said any developer best uses both. ”People might think that because they’re a creative company, you can’t be lead by numbers. There’s a time and a place for everything. And if you get good at using both at the same time, you’re going to have a big advantage.”
Vlad Micu is managing editor of Gamesauce.org. He previously has been a freelance game industry professional for over five years and traveled around the world while running his company VGVisionary. Starting VGVisionary during college, Vlad was able to work independently as a pr & marketing consultant, event manager, industry journalist, speaker and game developer. He just returned from Bangkok, Thailand, where he pursued his dream of making video games as the game producer at arkavis, an up and coming casual game studio.