Game Development Reference
Interview with Exploding Barrel: Give Them
What They Want—cont'd
system that we've built and all of these things tie back into our Sparks
Analytics client that we've built.
JH: One thing that people can really screw up though, is with games
this big, you've got to be really careful about download sizes and install
speeds. That needs to be way less than ten seconds, because you can't
have users sitting around on a load screen; they'll all quit. So we've had
to optimize heavily.
JH: We've built our own analytics system from the ground up. We had to
do that. There are third-party systems, like Kontagent and others you can
use to figure our analytics. The way browsers work, you can't instrument
every action in the game without making a lot of weird calls to those ser-
vices. It makes it really difficult to get a beautiful picture of what is really
happening with all your users. When you get into analytics, you find
there are a lot of different ways to answer most questions, and some are a
lot easier than others. We built our own analytics package because social
games are so data driven and you really have to be able to understand
where people are spending money and who is spending money.
SB: And with the big analytics packages, you have to pay per each event
you want to track, and that can get really expensive.
JH: You can spend $10,000 to $15,000 a month on analytics. That sucks
because then you feel limited in what you can track. With our system, it
pretty much costs us nothing.
SB: We've got customer service portals, localization systems, and it's all
parceled out so that if a publisher or partner wants to own a particular
piece of something, or implement their own virtual currency system or
something, they can.
JH: Our build systems let us press one button and get a build live within
ten minutes. We've pushed out ten or fifteen live builds in a day, which
makes testing very easy. We can bundle by platform, so we have iOS bun-
dling where we can press one button and it'll bundle up an iPad version
and send an email to everyone with an entitlement for that version to tell
them to install the newest version.
Our localization system lets you keep a string table for all of your
different language versions of the game, and it actually uses Google
Translate to do the first-pass translation for all of them.
We have a bunch of community tools, too. We can look up any user in the
game, see all their play sessions, and see all of their transactions. Give them
something if they're mad and that kind of thing. We've built a diagnostic