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World Zombination’s Feedback Loop

Gordon Ryan

World Zombination’s Feedback Loop

World Zombination—like many larger MMOs and a variety of other online games—is a living, growing piece of software. While it’s been available to the world since February 2015, we’re still working diligently to add features and make adjustments that we think will improve player experience and boost the game’s fun factor.

But ideas for improving the game don’t just come from the minds of our game designers—there’s a wide range of input that contributes to the decisions we make for which way to steer development of World Zombination. Here’s how we generally gather feedback and what we end up doing with it.

Play tests

Play testing comes in a couple of flavors: third-party and in-house.

Throughout development, we used a service that gives the game to a variety of people from all walks of life and records their feedback live as they play it. It’s a really great way to capture true reactions from people who are unfamiliar with World Zombination or the MMO strategy genre. This is valuable to us, because we can better test how the mechanics of the game work without bias or know-how from prior experience.

We also conduct frequent play tests within the studio, so everyone has an opportunity to really dig into the in-development features. This lets everyone on the team see how what they worked on actually functions in the game before it’s included in an update, while also providing a chance to break the game using their intimate knowledge of how it works and call out anything they think is great (or not so great). We all gather in our cozy meeting room, download the latest test build, and take notes and screenshots that we send as feedback to the entire team. Here’s what it looks like:

playtest

Community feedback

As Proletariat’s Community Director, this is the one that is near and dear to my heart. World Zombination’s community engages with us in a number of venues: through email, in-app support messages, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and whatever other available means  they can find to connect, interact, and share their thoughts about the game with us. Oh yeah, and the forums. That’s kind of a big one. The biggest one, actually, since our players not only have a section of the forum that is dedicated to their feedback and ideas, but they also have the ability to write more in-depth feedback that some of the most dedicated members of the community will see and engage in conversation about. The Feedback/Ideas category in the forums is one of the most active sections, which is great, because we gain a lot of insight from what gets posted there and can hold meaningful discussions with the community about the suggestions they offered.

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So what do we do with the feedback?

A lot.

First, we have to gather it all. In the case of the third party user testing, it’s watching the videos and taking notes. Our in-house play tests result in a flurry of emails from the team (which we all see) outlining all of their concerns and suggestions for improvement. These pieces of feedback all get discussed and then triaged by the team once a week to determine what will or will not be added/changed and what priority those new development tasks will have in the World Zombination roadmap.

Input from social media, emails, support messages, and the forums has an additional layer of triaging, since it comes from so many sources, and they’re often unaware of what might be in the development roadmap. It all gets collected by Jennie and me and entered into a collaborative spreadsheet listing what the feedback was and where it came from. From there, a few times a week, I will take a look at that spreadsheet and determine whether the feedback is actionable, not something we would implement, already part of the roadmap, etc. After I pare it down, I then send the viable feedback to the same place that we send our internal feedback to get triaged, along with everything else as I described above. Yes, that means community feedback gets assessed right alongside feedback from Proletariat employees! Once the triaging has been done, I get a report back from Kristen letting me know what the status is of each piece of community feedback I shared. I then take those statuses and close the loop with the members of the community who made the suggestions, letting them know what we are doing in regards to their feedback.

The end of the feedback loop

The end result is, of course, changes to the game that reflect the feedback that is selected for development. You can see player feedback in action relative to many recent changes in the game: Guild Tier and Raid management improvements, the improved Auto-Fill function when you update your team, the upcoming ability to play your own music, and everything in-between. What we end up with is a game that is continuously evolving closer to an optimal balance between our vision for World Zombination and what our players want from the game. Are there bumps in the road that happen? Sure. When we recognize that through additional feedback and game data, we make further changes.

It’s all part of what makes developing World Zombination a compelling, long term project—it’s constantly being worked on, updated, and improved. We’re working on a game that we want the world to have fun playing, and with great feedback, we’re continuously making that goal more of a reality.

With all of that said: Thank you to everyone who shares their feedback!

 

Gordon Ryan
Community Director

2 Comments
  1. Hi Gordon,
    Should have mentioned this before but I have no idea how to collect the coins from the giveaway earlier.
    Any help would be much appreciated
    Cheers,
    Iain

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