Orbital Obliterators


Carrying out a Study

The purpose of the focus group study is to gain a better and enhanced understanding of the similar games out there. With this information it allows the using of comparative techniques to identify the similar qualities and factors each game shares, enabling the identification of the main aspects of the game that must be focused upon. – Tom Day, 2015

For those that need reminding or those of whom who have just clicked onto this article, the contents below are relevant to the game “Orbital Obliterators“, and the process taken to make said game.

Collection of Game Qualities

Pictured below is a Venn diagram of the previously mentioned games for the focus group.

f1The similar factors in the centre of the Venn diagram are then turned into measures which are identified and explained below in the table.

Factor Explanation
Social How social the game is, how much real person interaction is there?
Physical Time How long does it take to progress in the game to next stages?
Development How much development of units/nodes occurs in the game
Immersion How immersive is the overall game experience?
Strategic How much strategy is involved in the game?
Diplomatic How strong is the diplomatic element of the gameplay?
Typical Game Length How long does a typical medium sized game last?
Exponential Growth How much of an exponential growth to the game pace is there?
Management Complexity How complex is the management of the players ‘empire’
Chance Element How much of the gameplay outcome is simply down to chance?

Building the Measure

The list of qualities are fine on their own as a way of identifying what the game needs to include it if is indeed going to be seen as “Risk Styled”, but a better way of using the information gathered is to develop a measure of how much of each factor the game needs to include.

The table above has been converted into measurable factors, with this in mind, the following structured analysis was conducted as described below:

 - The developer will play each game for an allocated amount of time (5 hours).
 - The player at the end of each 5 hour interval will rate each factor on a scale of 1-10.
1 = Low and 10 = High.

The experiment was conducted twice over the course of 2 weeks, the results were then averaged out, and are displayed in the table below:

TribalWars Civilization V Risk II Average
Social 8 6 4 6.00
Physical Time 10 5 2 5.67
Development 8 9 3 6.67
Immersion 3 10 5 6.00
Strategic 9 7 4 6.67
Diplomatic 10 10 2 7.33
Typical Game Length 10 6 2 6.00
Exponential Growth 8 8 8 8.00
Management Complexity 7 10 3 6.67
Chance Element 4 3 9 5.33

The most important aspect of this data is the average data which has been calculated using the mean of the 3 data sets. It identifies the areas that need to be more and less prominent in the Orbital Whoppers Project if it is going to remain recognizable as a “risk styled” strategy game. Another way to view this would be to look at the percentages of the weighted average of each factor shown below in the table to the right

Social 9.33%
Physical Time 8.81%
Development 10.36%
Immersion 9.33%
Strategic 10.36%
Diplomatic 11.40%
Typical Game Length 9.33%
Exponential Growth 12.44%
Management Complexity 10.36%
Chance Element 8.29%
Average 10.00%

Looking at these percentages it is first worthy to note that all factors are quite similar in percentage, but this is due to the fact that all of the qualities were taken from the Venn diagram because they were already trending qualities.

In this respect, an increment of +/- 1.5% from the average is viewed as a decisive and meaningful difference in data. Meaning that the need for Diplomacy and Exponential Growth elements outweigh the need for Chance and Physical Time.

The Radar graph shown below  helps visualize the individual scores of each game and its performance in the previously mentioned factors.

f22The main focus, Risk II (Atari Inc., 2003) shows a strong spike towards Chance Element, this element is always a good trait for a game to have in the respect that it allows any person from any level of experience to still have an adequate chance at winning the game, and although the latter two games don’t correlate with Risk II on this factor, it will be included anyway due to said reasoning. TribalWars (InnoGames GmbH, 2012) Shows a strong pattern in the time based factors, it being very high, whereas the study shows that among the other games these factors remain much lower, this is an important discovery which will be reflected in the project, (the discovery of a negative aspect).

The discovery that the games shouldn’t last too long and that the need for a quick turnaround of turns was established lead to the decision to change a core game element… changing from a ‘Phased Turn’ to a ‘Single Turn’ system. – Tom Day, 2015

The initial game concept considered followed the below diagram of (fig.4.5.1) using a “Turn Based” gameplay style, (The notion that each player takes turns simultaneously).


However, after the initial design process, and the outcome of the research outlined above, the core game element which is the life cycle of a turn was adjusted to be more in line with the diagram shown below (fig 4.5.2), the main change being players take their turns sequentially.


The Target Audience Rating

As the next step in the research methodology, the data that has been generated must be filtered into categories which either complement or work against certain target audience groups. The target audience groups that will be used in this study are shown below and are derived from Adams & Ip’s definitions of Gamer dedications (Adams & Ip, 2002).

Target Audience Group Description
Casual Gamer The kind of gamer that prefers to just play games every so often, and when playing a game it needs to have a good element of chance, be simple and not too long.
Social Gamer The sort of gamer that really only plays games so they can socialize with their friends through the game medium, they prefer games to not be complex, and have a large social element.
Competitive Gamer The kind of gamer that is all about winning, the scores, the ranks and the skill. They’ll prefer games with strategy to show off their skill, but not necessarily anything too difficult or complex. Again a social element is important to show off their winnings.
Enthusiastic Gamer The sort of gamer who focuses strongly on getting into the game, a common example being role playing, an enthusiastic gamer wants to be immersed, and not bothered by the outside world.

With the definitions in mind, the below table has been generated to ascertain which factors of the study positively or negatively affect the target audience groups.

Factors Casual Gamer Social Gamer Competitive Gamer Enthusiastic Gamer Legend
Social X Positive
Physical Time X Negative X
Development X X X Neutral
Typical Game Length X
Exponential Growth
Management Complexity X X X
Chance Element X

With this data in mind, the following rating system was developed to help make more meaningful sense of the data.

f4This rating system would provide a final measure on how each game in the focus group performs against each target audience. Identifying the target audience at this stage will help in the design process when deciding which features to prioritize against the time plan.

The graph shown below shows how each of the games of the focus group has performed against each target audience identified in earlier.

f53The Average line is taken from the averages defined in int the tables above, which is the effective target line that should be aimed for in the development of this project. The data quite clearly shows that all games of the focus group are tailored heavily towards the Enthusiastic Gamer target audience, with a negative towards the Casual Gamer discipline.

The acquisition of this final set of data is of extremely high value to the project, as it can now be stated that the game being developed is/should be:

A Moderately competitive, moderately social non casual game, designed for those that like to get stuck in and immersed.

Further to this, it has been established that the factor of Exponential Growth is a constant correlation and therefore must be included and the elements of Physical Time and Typical Game Length must be reduced.

Further Reading

Contained in the ePortfolio on this site are multiple articles outlining how this project was made and some of the research techniques and planning that went into the project as a whole. Below are a few honorable mentions:

Picture1 Project Planning

The critical part of a project by far is never the coding although we all want it to be. Planning a project with a good methodology is the key when it comes to success. Read More…

Picture4Conducting Research

Conducting research whether it is market research or research into appropriate techniques is the cornerstone of any modern project and was not underestimated in this project. Read More…

Picture5Game Statistics System

To keep a player entertained when creating a game that will intentionally last a long time, you need a robust system of content to keep them enthralled right up to the moment. Read More…

Picture2Inside the World Engine

The universe is a vast empty space of unimaginable possibility, this games most defining moment has to be its attempt to capture a little of that magic with the World Engine. Read More…

Picture6Creating the AI Decision System

To combat players not having any real friends they need someone to play against, the design and process to implement an AI decision system was the result of this problem. Read More…

Picture1332Building the Game Engine

Perhaps the most complex and challenging of the whole system, the main… system! The Game Engine forms the integral glue that holds and manages all the data. Read More…

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2KGames Inc., 2011. Civilization V Manual. [Online]
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Adams, E. & Ip, B., 2002. From Casual to Core: A Statistical Mechanism for Studying Gamer Dedication. [Online]
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Atari Inc., 2003. ftp://ftp.atari.com/manuals/pc/6_times_the_fun/risk_2/riskii_manual.pdf. [Online]
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[Accessed 21 January 2015].

InnoGames GmbH, 2012. TribalWars Help Battles Wiki. [Online]
Available at: http://help.tribalwars.net/wiki/Battles
[Accessed 12 October 2014].