Empowering Player Feedback Analysis for MadHead Games
The unconventional, award-winning video game developer, MadHead Games is known for creating exciting action games for PC and consoles. Aside from Scars Above, they are also working on two unannounced projects based on famous and beloved IPs.
We interviewed MadHead to gain insights into their studio experience using Affogata. If you're interested in learning more about the MadHead <> Affogata partnership, keep reading the full Q&A with MadHead!
1. Can you give a brief description of your studio?
We are unconventional creators of action games for PC and consoles - extremely fun to work with and definitely not for the faint-hearted. For over a decade, we pioneered the local game dev scene, driven by the ambition to become the regional game dev leader. We have offices in three cities/ two countries – Belgrade and Novi Sad in Serbia, and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Currently, we are developing two big games in Unreal Engine: Scars Above, a challenging and immersive 3rd person Sci-Fi shooter... and one unannounced project based on a famous horror film IP.
We’ve just published our game Scars Above, a challenging and immersive 3rd person Sci-Fi shooter and are currently working on one unannounced project based on a famous horror film IP.
Making video game heroes is our thing… but the more rewarding part are the heroes our teammates become during the process.
2. Can you describe your team and your role? How does your team contribute to the studio and its goals?
We are the Analytics & Insights team that supports game designers and other stakeholders and aids them in their efforts to make an awesome game that our players enjoy. At the same time, we support our business side too by providing insights into business efficiency. As Analytics & Insights Manager and Specialist, we provide conclusions and recommendations in different fields such as game telemetry, player feedback, QA, game performance and playtests.
3. How did you first hear about Affogata?
I was contacted by Gil Yamin via LinkedIn, if I remember correctly. I recall it was a very pleasant and non-intrusive intro. At the same time, we as a team were working on sentiment analysis, so you could say that it was a contact at just the right time.
4. Can you describe the project that made you need a platform like ours? Please include the name of the game and what the goals were for this project.
The project's name was Scars Above. It’s a challenging sci-fi third-person action adventure shooter combining the rewarding feel of overcoming difficulty with a compelling and intricate story, set in a mysterious alien world to explore. In the months prior to the official launch, we had a demo of the game available on Steam, which we used to diligently collect player feedback. We ran sentiment and topic analyses which enabled us to gather player feedback on various topics and see what they like the most, and, more importantly, to identify potential issues we could fix before the launch. We managed to do this in house for Steam, YouTube and Reddit. After proving the value of such analyses, we were eager to include it into our analytics toolset for the launch, but the problem was scalability. The sentiment analysis we mentioned was done mostly manually, by using qualitative coding techniques and assigning sentiment by hand. That way we also made a training dataset for future purposes, but making a workable in-house tool would require much more time, namely, to train the algorithm to be able to slice through the, what we call it, broken English of social networks, let alone to include other languages. Shortly after you guys called, and it was just the right time. For us, it was important to collect early player feedback at the launch, to:
See to which extent we managed to use prior feedback to balance the game out for the launch
To collect a massive player feedback at launch and use it for eventual changes in the Day 30 patch
5. What challenges/problems did your team face that needed a solution like our platform?
Our main challenges were scalability, speed, specificity of the algorithm we would need to train for the in-house solution.
The scope of player feedback became too big to handle the way we did in the past. We needed a tool that would help us efficiently sift through many different platforms and languages and assign sentiment that heavily depends on understanding our players.
6. What were you looking for in a player feedback platform?
First and foremost, it was important for us that all the platforms we deemed important for collecting player feedback were covered. Secondly, we needed a platform that would be able to adapt to the specific “gamer language” and be able to assign correct non-neutral sentiment where applicable.
7. What made our solution stand out over others that you researched?
What made you stand out vs. our in-house solution we described in answers to previous questions.
8. What feature of our platform appealed to you the most?
It’s the power to quickly move between a high-level view of a certain topic, to a very specific sub-topic or keyword(s). This allowed for a complete view, and the clear UI provided the gift of speed and flexibility.
The dashboard has proven to be very insightful in both finding critical points to look into, as well as summarising the general sentiment around any topic we wanted to explore. Knowing the score of any area of the player feedback we were analysing helped gauge which of those needed a deeper dive, and knowing what topics were the most popular aided that effort.
At the same time, Live Search deserves a mention as well because being able to customise our searches with different keywords and add various filters helped us isolate different occurrences of specific recurring feedback and find a cause.
9. How was the implementation of Affogata in your team?
We used it combined with game telemetry data to find outliers in player feedback, both on the good and the bad side, and deliver insights and recommendations as learning points for game designers for the other projects we are currently working on.
The technical implementation went smoothly, as Affogata’s team led the way, and we started with the preparation just in time. When needed, Affogata’s tech people stepped in instantly and helped to find a resolution.
10. How did our team help with such implementation?
The Affogata team has been very helpful when it came to setting up the whole process. Maya, our customer success manager, helped us define topics we want to analyse, and while doing so further helped us understand the difference between topics and keywords. We had support the whole time, not only with initial setup but also with further, more advanced uses of the Affogata platform. Furthermore, Maya was instrumental in lifting the weight not just of contextual implementation (regarding keywords and topics setup), but she was also versatile to move quickly where technical implementation might’ve proven to be a barrier– such as with the authentication of social media channels of our publishers. She not only sent the instructions, but also commanded the communication with them, keeping our focus as a team on the tool usage, rather than dealing with the setup.
11. What was the initial reaction to our product?
It was very easy to dive into the platform and start using it the way we planned. The onboarding was efficient, and it made starting to use the platform pain-free and helped us get straight to the point. Not having a hassle of having to learn by trial and error on our own sped up the feedback analysis process greatly. Regular meetings were initiated by your team, which were used to gradually introduce the feature to us, keeping our learning curve very smooth. By the time we had to dive into the tool ourselves, we felt most comfortable. In a short time we managed to pull insights for our report without a single loss in time.
12. How has Affogata helped your team achieve your KPIs?
Mentioning the reports, we had several critical points – Day 1 (D1), Day 7 (D7) and finally, a Day 30 (D30) report. Our goal was to get player feedback and include it into a D30 patch. The trick was to get a high-quality actionable early D1 feedback, at least a directional one, and enrich it in later reports (D7 and D30). By providing us with the tool and the knowledge, through training, we wasted no time and managed to get exactly what we wanted. By using this player feedback, and combining it with our in-game telemetry (confirming the issue), we detected an insight which helped us to understand a certain player in-game behaviour which led to a churn of a certain subgroup of players. Combined with the telemetry data, we formed a critical insight that led to a game design change to tackle this, which entered a D30 patch.
13. Has our solution saved money and/or increased productivity?
I'd say it has:
Saved money in terms that it saved time for the analytics team, helping is to get to crucial insights faster, and in business, time is money
By correcting the issue the aforementioned insight refers to, it might increase retention, increase player satisfaction, leading to better user reviews, which might consequently lead to higher future sales
14. Can you share any metrics/KPIs that show the success you have enjoyed with Affogata? The more hard numbers, the better.
We identified 7 areas of the game that were strong suits of our game, and 5 main ones with negative feedback. On top of that, we were able to find 6 additional minor negative points, 2 of which were used in our D30 patch.
15. What have you been most impressed with?
The hands-on approach that the Affogata team has. At all times we felt like we could contact you and receive an answer. Also, any problem or suggestion we had was met with understanding and a reaction which made us feel involved. Overall, the often but not time-consuming scheduled meetings were very beneficial to us, not having to spend time learning the platform but having it incrementally explained to us from basics to advanced stuff really impressed us. On top of that, always having more Affogata people involved with different points of view was cool as well. We really felt the partnership vibe. Your proactive approach of support is your unique POS and you bring value to your clients, acting as an extended hand.
16. What surprised you about us?
While I cannot say anything really surprised me, as you had this magnificent client-oriented approach from the get-go, I must say I was amazed by the mentioned level of support and the hands-on approach after we've signed the contract. The devotion from your side multiplied – not only did you not leave us to cope with the tool by ourselves, but you actively assumed a guiding-hand role. In addition, we appreciate your dedication to keeping up with the needs of your clients – many times you've asked us for report samples, so you could understand our needs and find ways to help us. That provided a level of security that we will get the best of the tool and that the result will be there.
17. Is there anything else we should know?
You went above and beyond, and out of your usual business practice to make this partnership happen. We made a contract that was not according to your ordinary business practice, in terms of contract duration etc. In the end (or should I say beginning), we reached a very creative custom solution. Now that this first part of our cooperation has come to a successful end, I must stress out that we achieved several things:
You have our recommendation whenever you ask for it, and we'll spread word of mouth where we can
You can always contact us for feedback, as we believe in your tool and are happy to help you take it to another level
Your tool has made an impact and when we approach the launch of our next game (years from now), we’ll contact you and will be more than happy to continue where we left of, being excited to see what the future holds for your tool too 😊