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Notes on GDC talk about Subnautica postmortem (Jonas Bötel)

Subnautica postmortem

  • 14:24 "We added telemetry and feedback systems": in game feedback form, all feedbacks are public
  • 16:00 feedback includes position on map
  • 19:26 "people were telling us we were making a horror game, which was never our intent"
  • 19:42 on how to set priorities for increasing sales during early access
    • "look at your spikes, focus on what makes your game stand out, do more of that"
    • every early access update had one stand out feature
  • 21:30 on commuication
  • 22:20 open trello board to public: https://trello.com/b/yxoJrFgP/subnautica-development
  • 23:00 commit messages go life to twitter
  • experimental branch is available for players -> 20% use it -> free play testing
  • 24:20 sales increased -> because "streamers are your sales people"
  • 24:27 on roadmap - "how do you keep your focus and devliver a great update each month"
  • 28:56 finally replaced spaceship in background with real mission because streamers and players showed that they wanted to go there
  • 29:50 more details on telemetry
    • allows to understand what people are doing and in what order -> important to design pacing and progressing in open world game
    • "design based on actual data"
    • on tools and GDPR
  • 31:47 on quality of feedback
    • mark "community suggestions" in patch notes
  • 32:57 reference to talk on "Luck and Listening" by Chris Hacker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvcm3uUbzAw
  • 34:05 how to design and present an implicit main story with progressively evolving parallel story lines
  • 38:00 on things that were cut
    • they were no really part of the core game
    • "we never managed to make them emmotionally impactful"
  • 38:24 on survivor bias
  • 40:00 on open development
  • 41:30 "eaely access is a show, gamers want entertainment"; watching a game evolve is entertainment
    • also builds trust
    • reduces marketing
  • 43:43 summary
    1. emotions
    2. streamers
    3. show
  • 46:37 on negative feedback
    • defending yourself looks ugly
    • you want a community that defends you
  • 49:09 question: on how to handle long time features with monthly updates
    • "if you don't do a monthly update the long tail goes down and people start screaming 'they abondened the game!'"
    • 51:30 What do you see in your analytics (hospital cross sales)? - badically nothing apart from sales numbers and countries
    • 53:00 What was the cost of telemetry? - "Yeah, well, that was me..."; in game tickets are processed automatically, for example look for word "stuck" and area
  • 57:57 How to you deal with player backclash on removed features? - Yes, people got angry when we announced that there won't be any multiplayer. But you wanna keep your freedom. You need to be upfront and need a good community manager.
  • 1:00:00 Is early access applicable to every kind of game (e.g. spoil story of story based game)? - Personal believe: it is possible if you structure your game around it.
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