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Make love, not metrics: Wooga on the importance of romancing the player

#GDCEurope Timo Dries talks Monster World
Make love, not metrics: Wooga on the importance of romancing the player
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"I have to be honest with you we don't know what our players want," opened Wooga's Timo Dries during his talk at GDC Europe in Cologne.

"When it comes to casual games or social games, you can't rely on your gut feelings, because what people want and what people are playing constantly changes."

So how can developers best take advantage of the ever-growing social gaming scene? Are metrics the answer?

According to Dries, it's very easy for studios to become obsessed with metrics and numbers, but they're only one part of the story.

Monster testing

Dries said that, with Wooga's casual release Monster World, the studio watched people playing the game for half an hour at a time.

That data was then used to shift the game's design it to better meet the needs of the average player. Individual changes won't always deliver the goods, but if you repeat this process over and over, improvement in some shape or form is almost guaranteed.

But testing isn't everything.

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"You can't measure everything," added Dries. "Someone at Casual Connect Seattle last year said love is the ultimate metric."

In this context, love plays out as the "little details you add to your game" when you have a spare five minutes. The in-jokes, the animations. In short, going the extra mile to make your game feel like the product of the team behind it.

Love to love

"You have to make sure your players feel the love that has been put into your game," he continued.

"Every time we have some spare time, we add these little jokes to the game or little animations, so that whenever people are playing people who have been playing for years and who notice every little detail there's something new for them."

In Monster World, Wooga took a previously unpopular character Robert the Robot and started adding animations that showed him flirting with a female robot named Roberta.

Almost instantly, the audience took to him.

"Take your creativity and your love and you passion and combine it with all your numbers and your analytics, and you'll create something fun," concluded Dries.

"It takes heart and brain to make amazing games."