“People have a lot of variety about how they actually interact. Some people look very deadpan when they’re really enjoying things, and some people are laughing because they think something is ridiculously bad…We’re not just here about collecting information to understand things. We’re here about making the game better by having actionable data, and knowing someone smiled at four minutes and 38 seconds into a mission doesn’t help us out a lot.”
-Eric Schuh, senior user researcher assigned to Halo 4’s playtesting and data analysis.
If you haven’t happened across it yet, Polygon has an absolutely fantastic article following Microsoft’s Studios User Research and Central Analytics department, a dryly named group of individuals whose sole focus in life is to ensure Halo 4 is, above all else, playable. In the world of blockbuster video games – in this case, a new, highly awaited sequel within a franchise estimated to be worth nearly three billion dollars – playability is crucial.
Through extensive playtesting, data collection, and exhaustive attention to player behavior and comprehension, the User Research group provides 343 Industries with information and guidance that hammers out rough spots, tightens loose bolts, and smooths out potential wrinkles that could inadvertently derail a player’s enjoyment of the developer’s labor of money-spewing love.
Those looking to unearth Halo 4’s revelations need to look elsewhere, but if you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at one of the gaming industry’s least scrutinized areas of development, hit the link.