March 26, 2015
At an early stage of Concealed Intent’s development I sent it out online
to get feedback from people who expressed an interest in the game. There
were very few replies and most of those were just of the form “yeah,
it’s ok.” As a result I started doing playtesting while sitting next to
the victim/tester. This is a much better technique - a huge amount of
information is gleaned from just watching someone else play, any
comments are a bonus. However, it does not scale, especially as a sole
indie developer. So in the background I continued to try finding a
At GDC Hugh Jeremy presented
Subnautica’s feedback system. Oh
yeah, this is what I wanted. Being a proud member of the “break’n’enter”
school of game design, I had the example code and presentation
slides downloaded within
minutes. Now a similar feedback system is built into Concealed Intent.
As developers we need to make it as frictionless as possible for players
to communicate feedback to us - otherwise most won’t bother. This is the
beauty of the Subnautica system (and my reimplementation).
- Collect feedback from within the game. Don’t make the player switch
to a different application. Create an in-game screen that can send the
feedback automatically to an online collection system.
- Ensure there is a quick-key to jump straight to the feedback screen
from anywhere within the game. When the player has something to say,
ensure they can reach the screen quickly.
- Collect minimal information from the player. The more information
fields, the more intimidating. Concealed Intent has just 2 text boxes
and a submit button. If the player has an online account (like Steam)
then one of the fields is filled in for them.
- Collect the player’s emotion. This is a brilliant idea from
Subnautica, there are a range of emoticons each acting as a submit
button. So there is always a guide to what the player is feeling when
they provide feedback. Overtime hopefully more positive emotions will
- Make as much of what is collected optional. Other than the clicking
the submit button, nothing is required in the Concealed Intent feedback
- Add extra information behind the scenes. As Concealed Intent is
turn-based and already logs game events, the feedback system just adds
this log to the submission without the player’s interaction.
Screenshots, framerates and other game info could also be added to aid
- But don’t send anything personal or identifying! Make sure the system
is safe and will not compromise the player’s privacy.
id’s and other personal info if it’s absolutely necessary to have them
in the feedback.
- Have a back-end system to handle the feedback. A simple
website should be enough. Subnatica’s
- Think about rewarding the player for leaving feedback. Subnautica has
a Steam achievement for feedback.
How well the feedback system works when live is something for a
postmortem. Although it seems to be working well for Subnautica so far
(13% may not sound like much, but I’d be happy with that). It should at
least work better than my previous system!