Nitro Games is a mobile game developer & publisher from Finland that focuses on the category of shooter games Nitro Games produces free-to-play mobile games with high production value and high revenue potential for the mid-core player market.Our point of contact with Nitro Games is their Game Director Leo Kihlman. We have known Leo since 2013 and he has become a PlaytestCloud expert at several game studios before joining Nitro Games.
As an experienced game developer with 21 years in the game industry, Leo often sees players struggling with understanding the game mechanics, even sometimes with a tutorial. “At Nitro Games player onboarding is critical. Because of the playtests run with PlaytestCloud I have seen big increases in our Day 1 Retention just with a well planned First Time User Experience (FTUE)”
Because of the importance of onboarding players for the success of their games, Leo has developed a unique method of using PlaytestCloud to create good tutorials. When he uploads a build he does so without any tutorials in order to see what players understand naturally and what players need guidance with. Then he designs the tutorial based on the direct experiences learned from using PlaytestCloud.
He first discovered this approach 7 years ago with one of his earlier PlaytestCloud experiences. Before he had this ‘the players design the tutorials themselves’ method, Leo was often tasked with designing the tutorials based on what he knew and what he thought players should know – and even though he was bringing in his advanced knowledge of the game, player behavior is difficult to fully understand without user testing.
Heroes of Warland
When developing the game Heroes of Warland – a third person mobile shooter game – Leo and his team used this approach to develop a well-tuned tutorial. When ordering a playtest they chose players who are the exact opposite of the target audience to play the game as a first time user – but the build did not include a tutorial. So in this case they recruited female casual players who had little to no experience playing shooter games. That way, if the team can design a tutorial that lets players outside of their target audience comprehend and understand the mechanics of the game, just about any player will be able to.
Once they got the PlaytestCloud videos back he began listing out all of the features that the players understood and used perfectly, and also made a list of features that players seemed to struggle with. Leo notes however, while the tutorial always needs to describe the basics, this ‘struggle list’ lets the team figure out what features beyond the basic onboarding experience he will need to point out in his tutorial.
“The reason we love running playtests with PlaytestCloud is that it gives us access to players with totally fresh eyes. Our in-house database of players we would typically use are close to professional gamers and have unique insights but have too much knowledge of shooter games. So we like to use PlaytestCloud players to be able to have access to players who are outside of our industry. It's great to get those fresh eyes.”
Leo knows iterative testing works, so the next step of his process is to send us a new build after his next sprint cycle – this time with a tutorial but with a similar target audience. He has a few different goals in mind with this test: He obviously wants to make sure that the tutorial creates an optimal FTUE, but he also is looking to check if the timing of certain feature explanations is optimized. This ensures that features are explained at just the right time in the user experience.
As they tested Heroes of Warland, they found the best method was adding a linear story-based step by step tutorial as opposed to ‘an explain it all in one go’ tutorial approach.
The many playtests Leo and his team conducted lead to a tutorial that teaches players step by step and increased the tutorial completion rate to 90%, which in turn allows a significant increase in early retention. “With the help of PlaytestCloud we are always able to develop and refine great games!”