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  • Design Insights We Learned At Dreamhack Dallas 2019

    [09.17.19]
    - Ross Przybylski

  • Our Experience

    "You do conventions to get fans, to get brand awareness and to standout. Trying to track direct ROI means you've already failed." Alex Nichiporchik, CEO, TinyBuild

    I agree with Alex and caution that data should inform how to grow and improve, not define the metrics of how successful your convention was. I measure our success by the vigor and excitement of the crowd and I highly recommend you do the same. We asked our players who played our game to tell us what they thought, and here's what they had to say.

    Politely ask players after they've tried your game if they'd be willing to give a short response about their experience. Compile these together and you've got yourself evidence that the trip was worth it.

    What We Learned About Our Game Design

    One thing we did different at this expo was take more time to play other games created by fellow indie devs, and this turned out to have the greatest impact on our learning from the experience. Shout out to Fell Seal: Arbiter's MaskWildermythRoundGuardRogue Empire: Dungeon Crawler RPG and Bound by Blades for the opportunity to play your games and learn from you.

    So what exactly did we learn? The games that excited us at Dreamhack were those that exhibited unique and original mechanics. The parts less exciting were those that felt derivative to other titles and implemented to satisfy perceptions of trends in the current market.

    This gave us pause to question our own design - Why were we implementing systems like our saga-style map, and would players perceive these mechanics as original and exciting or derivative and out of place?

    Branching saga maps are trending in the market, but we learned we aren't doing ourselves a favor standing out by making derivatives.

    Our first breakthrough was questioning why we were using certain mechanics in the first place. When I thought about our over-arching saga map, I reasoned it was there to provide break points and present choices to players - but were these choices meaningful or rudimentary? How informed is the choice I make on the path I take, and what can I do if I don't like the outcome (especially if the outcome is an unfair challenge I cannot overcome)? The saga map also directly conflicts with one of the unique and compelling aspects of Summoners Fate - our ability to tie tactical grid levels together as a seamless world.

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