Initial Survey Results

I only have 4 responses so far but the data I am getting is still interesting. The most wanted features so far are 4-player capacity, customizable UI, Coin flip, and role D20. The least wanted feature is the activity history. Some of the suggested features I am considering are links to a card search database (most likely gather) and keeping track of the added cost of a commander.

Putting up a survey

I made a quick survey on Survey Monkey about the features that I will implement in my Magic Life counter app. The questions on the survey are: “Have you used a life counter app?” “What method do you use to record your life total?” “Of these features please list them in order of importance to you.” “Would you rather pay up front or have adds on the app?” “Any additional suggestions? Features I haven’t thought of?” And I posted this to a group of friends on Facebook, now to wait and see what result I get.

Play testing is harder than I thought

So my plan of going out to Cogswell and getting my buddies to play my game didn’t work very well. There were far too many distractions for the tester to focus on my game and the unscheduled nature of it made it difficult to get people to test it.

But even with these difficulties I learned some things. First about my game. I need some instructional text on the main menu for how to play. The auto-fire has a worse feed-back than holding a fire button. I either need to lower player damage or reduce number of projectiles. Delay between death and re-spawn is too long.

Now for what I learned about play-testing. First you need to plan ahead with the people you want to test your game, let them know so that they can be ready and put some time aside for it. Second do the testing in as sterile an environment as possible.


Everything for my game has been put together and I have a build but I have one last step before I consider it to be complete. Balancing. And for balancing I need play-testers. Those that are heavily involved in the development of the game can be some of the worst play-testers for multiple reasons. The first is because they are invested in the project and don’t want anything to change. The second reason is because they know how it works, or at least how it is supposed to work, this means that intentional surprises don’t catch the tester off guard and things that aren’t supposed to be surprises can come in unexpectedly. It also means that an invested tester might overlook something that feels weird or could work better.

The problem is that I need people to test the game. I have a few neighbors that I can have test it but the groups I want to test it have significantly different daily schedules than me and can be unreliable about weekly events we all attend. Tomorrow’s schedule is to try and get those in my neighborhood to try my game and then to see about the groups that gather at Cogswell on Fridays: The Game Development club and Friday Night Magic.

Heroes of the Storm Beta Design Analysis

Last week I discovered that I had been granted beta access to Blizzards new game Heroes of the Storm. For those of you that don’t know Heroes of the Storm (HotS) is a battle arena game where you play as one of a collection of characters drawn from Blizzard’s other games, examples include Diablo, and most of the character classes from Diablo 3, Raynor, Nova, and Kerrigan from Starcraft, Arthus, Thrall, and Sylvanas, from Warcraft, as well as the occasional odd ball like the Lost vikings.

Lots of people have said that Hots is more relaxed/simpler than other similar games such as League of Legends and DoTA. My take on it is that while it has mostly simpler mechanics than the other games largely due to team leveling and no items in the game it still has a large degree of complexity due to the varied map objectives that range from useful to game crushing.

Some of the pluses of the systems in HotS:

  • You can always get the character you want as you pick before you find team-mates
  • Daily quests give you varied objectives for differing play styles and reasonable rewards
  • Team leveling means two things: no one gets left in the dust and no single person can carry a game to victory
  • Similarly objective based game play prevents solo carrying
  • Before you purchase a character you can try them out in a one lane practice zone so you can see how they feel without waiting for a free week
  • The real cash costs of things is listed directly on the item and you don’t have to buy in game currency that does not easily convert

Some of the downsides of the systems in HotS:

  • Each game gives you a pitiful 20 gold, when a character costs 2,000 gold minimum and can go as high as 10,000. This is slightly counteracted by the quest system and level up rewards but it is still a bad feeling to get so pitiful a reward, regardless of performance. you get the same amount of gold win or lose (edit: You do get a 10 gold bonus for a win but my point still stands)
  • When you pick your character before seeing your team you can’t change your pick based on what others are playing. Got all supports? Too many Melee characters? No high damage characters? Too bad better luck next time
  • While most of the map objectives are fairly balanced some are just back breakingly necessary to winning that if one team gets the objective the first time and the other team doesn’t then the team that got it will just snowball so far ahead that it is nearly impossible to catch up for the next 10-15 minutes that you are stuck in this game (looking at you sky temple)

While the two in game drawbacks can be mitigated by playing with a group of friends playing with randomly selected strangers is generally a miserable experience.


In summation I think Heroes of the Storm has lots of good ideas behind it with a few big flaws around progression and team selection. But if you have 3-4 freinds to play with Heroes of the Storm is a great game and hopefully they can fix some of these things before they get out of Beta.

Edit: After getting a lot of more play time I have a few changes to my opinions.

First I have found that the rate of gold acquisition is much better than I first believed but it still feels bad to get so little gold for playing/winning games.

Second while it is possible to fight back from an early game disadvantage it is very difficult and requires team-work, a rare commodity when playing with random strangers.