PROTIP (and something i didn’t realize until now): soliciting directed feedback from people gives you far, FAR more useful advice than asking for any old feedback.
Q: What do you think of my dress?
A: You should be wearing a pantsuit.
A: It doesn’t make your ass look as fat as that other dress.
A: Let’s talk about your shoes instead. They’re terrible.
A: Get an entirely different dress. That shade of blue makes me think of the Korean War.
Q: How would you tailor this dress to make it fit my body better?
A: i’d take it in at the waist slightly.
A: Needs to be tighter at the waist – perhaps lower the neckline.
A: I think it fits pretty well.
A: A bit loose around the middle. Maybe shorten the sleeves.
Ah, this – THIS feedback is the stuff of my dreams. i’ve had a rough road this week with catastrophically bad news at the office, and a steaming pile of terrible feedback from certain game developers who should know better (but of course i’m not talking about you, dear reader). No one was having fun in the game alone, so we rounded everyone up and scheduled two play times for Interrupting Cow Trivia. Everyone popped in, the test ran for an hour, and we locked up the game again. Then we asked players to fill out a short survey. The difference in the quality of feedback was like night and day.
Or rather, it was like the difference between getting shot in the gonads with a crossbow at night, and day.
Lobbying for Change
One mystery that remains to be solved is the feedback we’ve received about the game’s lobby. We may not have asked enough directed questions about this, but general consensus is that the lobby UI stinks. Without more pointed constructive criticism, i don’t know how to address this.
So let’s tackle it together! Here’s a shot of the Lobby that players saw in our recent playtests:
Pretty UI, or wretched hive of scum and villainy?
Here’s a list of the things you can do here:
- The “down” arrow next to “High Scores” expands that box. Player scores are listed there, along with your ranking (if you’re logged in).
- The blue arrows scroll the High Scores list.
- Filter the list by Friends, Foes, Members, Guests, etc. by using the drop-down.
- Click on any player name to see the Profile Pop-up (as long as the player is a member)
- Roll over the tables to see the table name and category.
- Click the “PLAY” button beneath any table to join a game.
- Click on a table to get the Table Details Pop-Up, which tells you who’s playing at the table and what the table settings are.
- Click to see a list of who’s online.
- Click to start your own table.
- Click to refresh the table list.
- The blue arrows scroll the table list.
- Click to return to the Game Options screen.
It Was Fine Until People Had to Use It
Here’s a summary of feedback:
- Many players suggested we build a High Scores feature. This, despite the “High Scores” label in a 22-point font at the top of the screen, with a sparkly pink udder crown next to it.
- Some players sat at this screen and waited, expecting something to happen. They did not know that action was required on their part to join a game.
- Some players did not recognize the large circles under the heading “Tables” as tables where games were taking place. The metaphor was, perhaps, unfamiliar.
- The three icons went unnoticed.
- A few players came to this screen in private beta when no one else was playing, and concluded that the game could not be played solo. They complained that they should be able to play by themselves. (i admit, this one mystified me … just join a table if you want to play. Doesn’t matter how many other players are online.)
- Generally, enough players came to this screen and were confused as to what they were supposed to do.
During the private beta, we thought the problem was that the screen contained too much text, so we tightened it up in a number of places, and changed some textual buttons to icons with text pop-ups to remove visual clutter. Here’s a before and after comparison:
She’s lost 20 pounds on the ThatMakesMoreSense Diet!
We’re Giving Her All She’s Got, Cap’n
Apparently, based on our more helpful feedback in the multiplayer tests, we haven’t done enough. Can you help us play detective and figure out why this Lobby screen causes people so much grief, and make specific suggestions to improve it?
One idea we have already is to actually add text – a call to action that tells the player something like “CHOOSE A TABLE AND CLICK ‘PLAY'”. Something like that.
Idea #2: kill the “tables waiting” text, because it’s not that useful.
Idea #3: redesign the arrow buttons
Idea #4: Put the category in the middle of the table, instead of the word “waiting”. Perhaps players wait at this screen because they see the word “waiting” everywhere?
Is there anything we’re missing?
You Should See the Other Guy
To digress, it amazes me that we’ve had so many complaints about the lobby. For your amusement, please take a quick look at the game selection screens for these competing trivia products:
And before you ask, no – i didn’t go scouring the Internatz for the worst interfaces i could find. These games enjoy the top slots on a Google search for “multiplayer trivia”.
… but not for long. ;)
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