How To Create A Quality Research Budget and Schedule For Your Game Project

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”, but for many gamedev teams planning to use more player data, or to mature their approach to span the development lifecycle, their first hurdle is budgeting and scheduling. How much should we allocate, and to what differing research projects? When do we lock down our exact research schedule? How can we predict the data needs of a projects months or even years in advance? What mistakes are we going to make, and how do we deal with the chaos ensuing from changing priorities?

This session of short talks presents three leading games UX managers discussing their own approach to the budgeting and scheduling of UX research in gamedev.

Michele Cabeen is a User Researcher for a wide variety of projects at Activision. She will share her varied lessons learned, spanning the repeating-templated approach used in playtesting Skylanders content, to the more dynamic challenges of research-planning-on-the-fly for large projects.

Elise Lemaire is the Director of Operations at Rovio Entertainment Ltd. In addition to lessons on building a large-enough budget for a new team to create value, and Rovio’s approach to yearly budgeting (without knowing exactly how many games there will be to research), Elise will outline the importance of transparency and management support in running a successful team.

Jean-Luc Potte is the User Research Manager at Paradox Interactive, based in Stockholm, Sweden. Jean-Luc will reflect on the mistakes he made while prioritising research efforts across Paradox’s myriad projects, then present tips for spotting studies those studies that should be dropped, and those studies that will have the largest impact on a game team.

After these short presentations we’ll take a hosted Q&A to further discuss topics of gamesUR budgeting and scheduling. Questions will centre around lessons learned, strategic approaches, and how to firefight those last-minute research requests. The panel will close with questions from the audience.

  • Category: Talk
Michele Cabeen

Michele is a User Researcher at Activision leading research for mobile and console titles, including new IPs and products, such as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Amazon Alexa skills. She first played Skylanders at a New Year’s Eve party while she was in college. Little did she know she’d end up leading research for that same franchise years later before working on Call of Duty Online for China, Guitar Hero Live, and other AAA titles. Her work also continues outside of the lab at trade shows where she’s represented numerous titles and interacts with consumers for some boots on the ground feedback

Elise Lemaire

Elise Lemaire is the Director of Operations at Rovio Entertainment Ltd., home of the globally-successful Angry Birds franchise, based in Helsinki Finland. Elise has contributed to more than 15 titles at Rovio, and now leads their user-centred approach across multiple disciplines.

Jean-Luc Potte

Jean-Luc is the User Research Manager at Paradox Interactive. He manages a small team that conducts research on 20+ projects. Previously he worked as a UX designer in development teams, and as a user researcher – first at Ubisoft, then at Paradox. He obsesses over the tools that game developers use to communicate with each other.