2013 Survey Analysis

30Aug13

Hello everyone,

I am a big fan of surveys, and I’d like to share the results from our most recent one. Huge thanks to /r/RPG_Gamers, /r/SampleSize, and /r/GameDev’s Screenshot Saturday thread for all the great responses.

First off, we had a few questions we wanted the survey to answer:

  • What percentage of gamers like our core features? (especially Mass Effect and Dark Souls fans)
  • What weapons and play styles are the most popular?
  • How can we make small changes to appeal to more people and/or make their play styles more viable?

Let’s take a look at the demographics of the people who took the survey:

survey1 survey2

COMBAT:

First off, I was pleasantly surprised at how many people liked our core features.  I expected the game to be more niche.

survey3

survey4

Lots of people mentioned in the comments that they didn’t want to be held back by stats (ie. Can’t use Weapon A until level 5, can’t fight this boss until level 8…), and wanted combat to be skill-based.  That’s sort of what I’m going for, but the stats will be pretty important.  Being level 4 won’t prevent you from using a heavy laser halberd, but having low strength will.  To help with this, lots of weapons will have lightweight versions, but they won’t do as much damage.

I think a good way to supplement stats (I like stats, but they can be boring to some people) is to give the player interesting decisions along the way.  Lots of bosses will have a special essence that you can use.  Just traveled to the acid caves and defeated the “Dissolver”?  Here are some hypothetical examples of things you can do:

  • Use the essence on yourself to get extra damage reduction and a chance to poison enemies that melee you
  • Use it on your favorite gun to get more acid damage, in addition to whatever elemental mods you have installed
  • Have your buddy Casey (if he’s still alive, and is on a friendly level with you) make you a special gun with it
  • Give it to some scientists so they can research a new acid spell for you

I think things like this would be really helpful with making builds unique and satisfying.  Rather than saying, “I love this character build because I leveled up dexterity a lot”, you’ll have more of a story behind them.

survey5

Our most controversial combat features were dodging, the lack of a cover system, and the lack of regenerating health.  In retrospect, I should have separated these into different questions.

Either way, I think having forcefield-shields will help a lot of people who don’t want to play as glass cannons.  These shields will function sort of like shields in Dark Souls.  You have to hold a button to block with them, and blocking hits will cut into your stamina.  It’ll still be challenging, but not quite as reaction-based as dodging.

Here’s another controversial feature:

survey6

I had a lot of people write me about this.  Most either said they loved it, or that it would be really frustrating and that they would almost always die because of it.  This is correct – it is extremely dangerous to be at low health.

My solution:

  • Don’t decrease the accuracy.  That just makes it more luck-based, and it was the most unpopular aspect in the comments
  • Make the “toughness” attribute determine what happens in low health:
    • Low Toughness:  Player gets weakened
    • Medium Toughness:  Nothing happens
    • High Toughness:  Player gets an adrenaline burst, and becomes more effective
  • I’m considering adding a starting “trait” or “natural gift”.  Maybe one of them could be “high constitution”, and it would prevent getting weakened at low HP.  Of course, by choosing this, the player is giving up some other trait.

This way, if players want to spend the attribute points and allow themselves to get to low health, they can turn this to their advantage.  I love rewarding risky playstyles.

LEVEL DESIGN:

survey7

I was very surprised to see that more people wanted to play solo than with a consistent team of party members.

I’m still not sure what to do about the party members.  Certain missions boss battles are built for solo play, and certain ones need other people.  I’ll think about this and get back to you.

THE NARRATIVE:

survey8

Looks like people really like over-the-top stories 😛

I was also very pleasantly surprised to see how many people liked the “choose your personality” feature.  However, I did get quite a few comments from people saying that they liked it, but wanted more conversation options, even if this didn’t affect the game much.

I’m still figuring this part of the game out, so if you want to take the survey, let me know what you think!  Right now, I’m leaning toward changing the personality option to a motivation option.  Someone you know disappeared on Terra Melior.  Why are you looking for them?  This will give players a good start on their personality.

Also, I will probably end up adding more dialogue options.  I’d still rather have only a few, well crafted options that affect gameplay and/or NPCs, but it would be cool to have more choices that have affect how certain people think of you.

Anyways, the plot, and especially the player’s role in the story is something I’d like to talk about in a later post.  For now, just remember:  You are not the hero.  The hero is dead.  You’re next.  😀

Here’s the survey if you want to take it:  Google docs survey

If you would like more info on the game, please check out TheHeroIsDead.com.  We have a teaser trailer that’s somewhat dated, but it has some cool stuff.  I recorded an update video today, but the footage isn’t cooperating with my editing software. :\

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