The In-House Tools Of A Small Games User Research Team

Jean-Luc Potte - Paradox Interactive

In the past year 4 in-house User Researchers have conducted efficient research on sixteen game projects at Paradox Interactive. This productivity was made possible by several software tools built in-house.

User Research Team Lead Jean-Luc Potte presents three of Paradox’s tools, and the story of their development. These tools include a data sheet that helps researchers spot trends and export video clips from their studies; a web page where Paradox employees can watch live video streams of people playing in their research lab; and a visualization tool which shows gamepad buttons being pressed by playtest participants. They’ll also present thoughts on how much resource should be spent on building a tool, cost-saving efficiencies, and thoughts on what makes a tool good or bad.

The Data Sheet Tool

In order to make data collection faster, Paradox combined a data sheet with a script written in Python. The result helps Researchers spot trends in their data set and allows them to quickly export video clips of the study’s most interesting moments.

The Playtest Observation Tool

The Team developed a browser-based solution allowing Paradox employees to securely watch live video streams of people playing in their research lab. Researchers can add context to the streams by publishing observation notes on the page. This streaming page is built on open-source software and required relatively little engineering time.

The Controller Visualiser Tool

A third tool adds a visualization to video streams and recordings. It shows which gamepad buttons are being pressed by playtest participants. It is compatible with any game build running on PC and does not require any kind of additional engineering work from development teams.

Jean-Luc will also candidly share their less-successful attempts at making tools. He’ll describe problems they were not able to solve, and situations where the team had to limit initial ambitions. Finally, the talk will share thoughts on tools that Jean-Luc suggests every User Research team should have, and a list of features that they consider necessary in order to make a great tool for User Research.

  • Category: Analytics / Case Studies / Future of GamesUR / Methods / Tools
Jean-Luc Potte, Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive’s user research team is currently composed of three user researchers, an administrator and a team lead. We support the teams that make Paradox’s developed and published games. We are also working more and more with the remaining parts of the company.

Jean-Luc Potte is the lead of the team. Previously he worked as a UX designer in development teams at Ankama and Crytek, and as a user researcher at Ubisoft HQ’s user research lab. He obsesses over the tools that game developers use to communicate with each other.

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