• Natalie Markovits

The power of player feedback & how it can help gaming companies become more successful

Updated: Sep 6

Hello and welcome to Affogata’s podcast: Let’s talk customer feedback. We had the pleasure of hosting William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games.

The gaming industry is one of the fastest-growing industries of all, but it is also one of the hardest to penetrate with such big competition. What can make your game either make it or break it? Player Feedback!



A summary of what you'll listen to on this podcast:


1. How can game studios leverage player feedback and use it to create the ultimate player experience.


2. A conversation with William on his creative process of how he thinks of a new game idea and how he implements it.


3. A discussion on how small game studios such as FricknFrack Games can gather player feedback and how they utilize Discord to optimize their games.


4. How to approach conflicting player feedback and William's way of analyzing it to come up with crucial insights for their games.

Check out what William had to say about all this!


Audio



Transcript


Host from Affogata:

William, for our first question, we would love to hear more about FricknFrack games. We saw you mention you build “purpose driven, imaginative and engaging games. We teach, we fight disease, we solve problems, we encourage exploration, but most importantly, we inspire fun.” We read this about your company. So can you tell us more about this?

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Well, one of the things that really got us started in this industry was my belief and my entire team, this is how I built my team was we all believe that games have a very transformative power. If you look at how a gamer plays, it's all trial and error. They'll go forward a little bit, then they'll get into a fight, and then they'll lose. But they've learned how to move forward by virtue of trial and error. And at the end of the day, they get into the big boss fight and they may lose that boss fight a couple of times, but maybe 3rd, fourth, and fifth try, bam, they've got. If they win the game, they're excited to move on to another game.

We particularly chose these kinds of goals because, as our tagline says, it's our vision, but it's the player's game. We build games for the player. And one of the things that we also recognize is that the games have to have a purpose behind them. Sometimes, we've been reading about some games that help cancer patients understand what doctors are doing to them and understand some of the kind of procedures that they have to undergo. But it also recruits them to take their meds when they need to take their meds. So games can really help that. They can help understand they can put a person in another person's shoes and create great empathy based on those actions. And that's the power that I see in games.

But in terms of what we do. We believe in the creative process. We believe in putting a player in a totally immersive situation, but we also, at the end of the day, it's got to be entertaining. And then beyond that, the players got to like it. So we build games for players, and without the player, we don't exist.

Host from Affogata:

Definitely. And I think that finding the right balance between everything that you mentioned is probably the hardest, but the most important part of the game.

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Right. It's also the most fun because it becomes a big mystery. How do we talk to these guys? How do we get them to open up? And which is why we've spent a lot of time and effort building our community. We have a company community, which is only for those folks in the company, and then we have a community, which is a Discord community involving all of our games so that we can create discussion amongst those who have played one of our games versus another game. So we want that discussion, and we listen very, very closely.

Host from Affogata:

Great. Actually, this is part of my next questions, so let's leave that aside for a second. How do you start the creative process of coming up with a new game?

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Well, you have to understand one thing about me. I'm still a 14 year old kid. So that's how we start. What's going to be fun? What are some fun gameplay? And then we start looking at just the world around us, the stories of people around us, the great heroes, the great defiance that's going on in the world today. And then we may look at a painting, and so that's really a cool painting. I wonder what the relationship is. And so we try to ask these questions, and we also, even I'm a big fan of indigenous peoples. The stories, the creation stories that they have are absolutely phenomenal and beautiful. And I always say, well, that would be a great game. And then my team says, what's the gameplay? Oh, right. It brings my feet back to the ground. Yes.

But some of the other things that we're very lucky about is we managed to get a very nice relationship with a nonprofit. One of our games that we are sending to a producer on the 12 July. Fingers crossed that it all goes well. Believe it or not, of all things, a match three. And when I was talking to the producer and he goes to match three, eyes roll back in his head. But wait a minute, let me tell you about the situation we're putting it in. That's part of the gameplay, too. That's part of the world you build. I have a blast, and that's why I do it.

Host from Affogata:

That's awesome. And it's really interesting always to hear how game designers and developers come up with new games, because you must be so creative and understand so much about games that it's fascinating.

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

It really is fascinating. And I keep learning more and more every day. I haven't stopped reading about game design or game development or coding. I've stopped teaching myself coding because I found a great coder who does my coding, and it's brilliant. And he's teaching me now, which is absolutely amazing, but yet you can find great cool stuff everywhere you look.

Host from Affogata:

That's so interesting. And as part of your game, I kept reading about your company and I came up with really interesting content. And I wanted to ask you about a phrase that I read that you call yourself a collaborative builder of player-centric experiences. We would love to hear more about this term. And how do you create the ultimate player experience?

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Well, again, everything goes down to the player. So we thought we would start with the player first. We want to collaborate with our players. They may not be a player of Game A, but they may be a player of Game B, but they have insight and they have what they like, what are their favorite things, what kind of gameplay they do not like, and what kind of gameplay have they experienced that's absolutely, horribly terrible.

So we learned from how they've experienced other games, which means we're learning at the cost of our competitors, which is a great way to learn because it costs them more than it does us. The other thing is, when we say we want to collaborate with our players, I'm going to go back to our tagline again. It's our vision, but it's their game, and it really is their game. We're building it for them. So if I want my players to enjoy the game, I need to find out what they want in a game or how they want to deal with a situation and the gameplay we put in it, what are their thoughts, what are their ideas.

And we just finished rewriting our core description, if you will, of the company. And part of that we've changed some things in that we want the players to come and help us sculpt our vision with their praise, their critiques, and their suggestions. So we see them as a partner, we see them as a teammate. We don't see them as this ugly force outside that, Oh, my God, we've got to please the gods of the players. We want to work with the gods of the players. We want them to tell us what they want, because if they don't want it, they're not going to buy it, and if they don't buy it, we don't exist.

Host from Affogata:

That's awesome, because here at Affogata, ultimately our goal is also to help companies become more customer/player obsessed, because we know that at the end of the day, the players or your consumers are the ones that are actually using your products. So you do want to listen to them, you do want to satisfy them, obviously, finding the balance because there's a lot of noise, a lot of feedback. But at the end of the day, you have to listen to your players or customers to really survive. Right?

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Yeah. I mean, that's the economic principle that we work by. We don't make them happy, we don't live, we don't exist. FricknFrack will go by the way of so many others that have gone before us. It's kind of like going back to the film industry in the 1920s when film was just beginning to get big. It was a silent film. And so the scripts were very simple. It was more slapstick comedy. It was embodied with a lot of games. Dialogue we use in a lot of games, which is the old drop down box. But we've progressed beyond that now and we've gotten to where technology is really doing an opening up different kinds of relationships, and we are very excited about those kinds of relationships.

Host from Affogata:

That's great. And now, coming back to your first answer that you mentioned that you have a community on Discord, can you tell us more about what you analyze on Discord and what other channels of feedback do you use for your games? And how do you implement the player feedback and the analysis of the player feedback?

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Well, one of the things that we believe very strongly in is the best feedback is having a conversation with the player. If you can't have a conversation with a player, then it would be great to be a fly on the wall and watching them play the game. Yes, that would be just absolutely brilliant. But again, player feedback, as we said before, is really the key to success, we believe.

And if we're going to do it right, we need to know what they like and the experience that we give the gamers what they're buying. So we talk to gamers. We invite them all to come and join us and talk to us. If you think our game is terrible, tell us. But tell us why so that we can make a better game for you, the player. So it really is a player investment. If they like us, if they want to invest in us, we want their investment because we'll pay it off many time fold by virtue of building a game that they like. That is, if you will, sort of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which is an American story. She tries this ponch and she says, no, it's way too hot. She tries another ponch, too cold. She tries the one in the middle. Just right. We want our players to say “just right”. But yeah, we try every opportunity to talk to our players.

Host from Affogata:

I completely agree. And I understand it can be really hard sometimes, but I agree. We also believe that at Affogata that it can be hard also speaking with players face to face, because sometimes people do want to please you. So we do think that also the best kind of feedback is the one that what you mentioned about the fly for instance, would be to try to analyze the feedback that is not given to you but rather the feedback that is given out there and you'll be able to analyze it. We think that it can be more objective as well.

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Well, it's safer for the player to express what's near their heart because they're expressing it to a third party like you guys. And this is one of the things where we really appreciate the opportunity that we will have later on to be working with you guys. We definitely want to bring you guys on board and we want to come on board with you guys because you give us great value and you give it to us in a way that is non-threatening to the player.

Host from Affogata:

Yeah, that's exactly what we feel that is necessary nowadays. And also players feel that they can express more freely as we said at the beginning. And William, how do you approach conflicting feedback from different gamers?

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

That's a really interesting process for us. It changes from day to day. Just depends upon what we hear. Let's say we hear two players, player A and player B and they don't like something about the game. One doesn't like, I'll say section C and the other one doesn't like section B. But B and C are connected by virtue of their experience. So we can see how player B felt about the earlier section that player A doesn't like and vice versa. So we try to understand why they're saying what they're saying and then we try to understand what words have they used to express it.

And we also kind of put out some blinder questions in our Discord community. We don't really care who sends them to us. We don't really care who sends the answers in. But what we do care about is that they provide us with some answers. And so what we try to do very hard, we're not very good at it yet, but we will be better. We try to walk in their shoes, we try to become them and figure out what they're thinking as they're progressing through this level or through this player experience. And this is where it's really great to have a team that are avid players. They're more avid than I am. I'm trying to catch up to what they've done. They've played massive quantities of games. I've only played a small hill of games. But it's talking with them because they're having players. They can give me some insight as to what we may need to change. So I'll create something, I'll run it by them and I'll say what do you think? Great. Now I can run it by the community and see what they think. So it's nice to have that sort of AB testing if you will.

Host from Affogata:

Definitely. And I think that was a beautiful answer to end this podcast, because I do think that every company should think the way you do when thinking about walking in the players’ shoes to truly understand how they feel about your game and to ultimately build the best game you can for your players.

Participant: William Mayfield, Founder & Lead Producer at FricknFrack Games

Yes. Natalie, thank you very much for this opportunity. It is a huge opportunity for FricknFrack Games. So thank you very much.

Host from Affogata:

And I want to thank you, William. It was amazing to hear insights from you, and we really hope to work with you and FricknFrack games soon. And thanks all for listening and don't forget to visit us at www.Affogata.com


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