Another year and another avalanche of games are entering the final phases of their production cycles. Teams are starting to be able to play their experiences end-to-end and get a true sense of what they’ve created. In the rush to close out production and hit the street date, projects start to be locked down and team members moved on to other things (or the next GaaS release). However, in this critical time between Alpha and Launch, many ‘quality of life’ issues often arise.
Issues that cause large amounts of friction for players.
Why does this happen?
Because developers don’t experience games the same way that players do. A vast majority of the team will never go through the same experience that the average player will on their initial journey from purchase, through installation and setup, ending several hours into the game. Members of the dev team quickly become numb to problems and only a small percentage of the total team are involved in the final stages of the project. Often, there is little time remaining and the remaining team members are under pressure to close things ASAP.
This leads to issues such as,
Players being overwhelmed with information
Navigation issues that cause players to become lost or confused
Long loading times
‘Press X’ screens that merely trigger more loading into the title menu
A poor save/load/restore experience
Broken resuming of gameplay after restarting from low power/rest mode
Giant Day #1 patches that are nearly as big as what’s in the release
Options screens that are hard to find
Matchmaking that takes forever and/or doesn’t communicate what state its in
Issues around forming groups and parties with friends
We spend so much time and energy trying to ensure that the player’s first hour of gameplay is as perfect as is could be. But, every one of these issues is also something that the player may experience during their initial exposure to the game. Therefore, it’s important to identify, plan, solve for them.
Who on your team is advocating for the player’s total experience?