We do a lot of user testing as soon as we can, with a product in an early stage. I keep getting fascinated how many things we miss.
Palm may be an advocate of mobile VR, but he acknowledges that it isn’t without its shortcomings. The average user session across their games is 20 minutes, which he believes is down to the fact that, “The hardware on mobile VR is still a little bit too uncomfortable - the devices heat up a lot. I would like to see longer game sessions and I think a lot of it is it’s not comfortable to wear it”.
But Palm explained that rather than specifically tailor the gameplay to those 20-minute windows, “We focus on trying to make a great game and - the session length is important – but it’s more making sure the game is easy to pick up and play, and you can pick up where you left off; things like that”.
That the games from Palm’s VR start-up are popular with end users could be explained in part by his strategy of seeking their input early on in the process. “We do a lot of user testing as soon as we can, with a product in an early stage. I keep getting fascinated how many things we miss, in terms of somebody puts it on and they don’t understand how to get in or out of a scene. It’s really simple things, but you need to work like that with a new user because you get so blind to the productions that you’re doing yourself”.
But it’s obviously not enough for a developer to simply record that criticism; “You need to have a method that allows to fix those mistakes. So we’re working very agile and trying not to plan too much ahead on what the game is supposed to be about”.
Palm illustrated the importance of agile development with his latest release just out on Daydream, “Narrows started in a different direction and we did a lot of prototyping on sailing around, moving the ship in real time, but we switched it back into a more strategic gameplay. It turned out that this is definitely the direction we should be going.
But in this instance, “The changes came from looking at it from a game design point of view. The first prototype we made didn’t feel right and we spent a lot of time trying to tune it, but then we moved in another direction. Sometimes you don’t need user testing because you can see it for yourself and this was one of those occasions”.
Next: Social VR Is The Future