Game Analytics

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FluffyFreak
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Game Analytics

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:13 am

Recently, as in the last 3 years, I've been thinking about who plays our game, what specifications there machine has, what OS, how long they play, where/when they die ad-infinitum...

So I've started to integrate an example using their REST API for the GameAnalytics.com service.

Obviously this will need several things:
  • discussion - is this something we want to do?
  • agreement - user must agree and be able to opt-out / opt-in as they choose.
  • anonymity - I don't actually care who is playing the game, just how many, how and on what etc.
  • Linux & Mac ports - I'm only writing the Windows version right now - help would be appreciated when the code is more final.
  • More developer control over the GA account so I'm not a single point of failure & so others can mine the data.
The reason I want to know all this stuff is because currently I'm doing things like the OpenGL 3.x work and later on the BGFX port without knowing how many users it will impact.
We don't even know how many people actually play Pioneer! Or in what countries, or what languages!

Recently there was the post by K-Hideyoshi where it turns out that we might have hundreds of Chinese players... did anyone know we had hundreds of people IN TOTAL playing Pioneer? I had no clue.

So what do people think?
What concerns would people have?
Is it a good idea?
Etc...

Andy
Last edited by FluffyFreak on Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

nozmajner
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by nozmajner » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:48 am

This seems to be a quite useful thing. For balancing too.
Is it possible to include data like ship type, time between dockings (ingame and realtime) and stuff like that?

FluffyFreak
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:12 am

Yeah we could log all of that, there's a lot of info we could potentially gather.
Almost anything that the game knows about really although there may be practical limitations to that.

impaktor
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by impaktor » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:29 pm

discussion - is this something we want to do?
I think it is more a question of if you are willing to work on it. I see no harm in this. I don't know how much of help I can be.
agreement - user must agree and be able to opt-out / opt-in as they choose
anonymity - I don't actually care who is playing the game, just how many, how and on what etc.
Yes, this is the most important thing in my book, and if we get this to work I see no harm or downside to logging.

Would it be possible to compile the game without support for logging?

FluffyFreak
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:32 pm

Yes it can be enabled/disabled based on a define.

FluffyFreak
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:14 pm

I'm happy to add people to the GameAnalytics site as well, I picked it because it's free and there was an example API to try out.

Also you can invite other users to try out its various features for a project so if anyone wants adding just let me know :)

lwho
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by lwho » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:11 pm

We have to be very careful with this kind of topic, because reputation is all an open source project has and can quite easily be lost and only very hardly be re-gained. In any case such a feature must be opt-in not opt-out (and it should ask for opt-in at most once, because everything else could be interpreted as pressure to opt-in).

Even then I'm pretty sure that someone will claim that Pioneer has spyware included and once such a rumor is in the world, it will not vanish anymore (a good example of this is the Ghostery addon for Firefox, which has an information gathering feature that is clearly opt-in and still I regularly see claims that it contains spyware).

On the other hand, it's not at all clear to me, what can be gained, except for satisfying the curiosity of a few developers. We have two forums and github to interact with users and where we can ask questions to the users, start polls etc. Additionally, it's not my impression that we have a lack of ideas how to continue with Pioneer. It's rather we have too few time for too many (good) ideas.

All put together, I think more to lose than to gain. So, I'm pretty much against it.

FluffyFreak
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:43 pm

We know nothing about our users.

The people that visit the forum are always going to be in the vanishingly small minority of the actual users - worse than that they're a self-selecting minority.
We don't know why they play, what they're playing on, or anything about the way that they play, we don't even have a clue how many of them there are.

Because of this we can't know if something is going to break the game for our users due to hardware/OS issues, we don't know if a release is crashing when something happens like with the recent MXE crash and we don't know if users are actually using the features that we write so we can't tell which ones are worth investing more time in.

Worst case is that people accuse us of having spyware, and we lose users that we don't even know we have. Or not, it's impossible to tell, since we have no way of knowing.

FluffyFreak
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:51 pm

But yes I know it has to be opt-in, and easy to opt-out if someone has turned it on etc.

I'd like to actually record exactly what has been logged to a file like `output.txt` as well so that people can see the contents of events etc if they want.

nozmajner
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Re: Game Analytics

Post by nozmajner » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:20 pm

Yeah, lwho's concern feels quite valid.

One question is, where's the good place for asking the player if he wants to opt in, if this gets implemented?
We don't have an installer (which is a good thing in my opinion), so that's out.
Asking it on first game start might be a good idea, but might be scary/annoying, so we definitely need at least a very good and short description about it in-game, and a detailed one in the readme file or somewhere. Or a separate page in the settings with the option to opt in or out.
Or maybe there should be separate executables, one which is the same as the current one, and one with the analytics functionality, and very clear warnings about it at least in the main menu.

One other thing is, how the access to the data is controlled? As an open source project, maybe these things could benefit a lot of other projects too. Which is one thing for being transparent with it, and provide access on an open basis. On the other hand, these are data about our users, even if it's totally anonymous, and being open with the data could rightfully bug a lot of people.
If the data is locked up, who decides who can access it? Like if a new team member comes along for example.

I'm quite interested in data about the gameplay, which could help balancing a lot of stuff, including the ships. Even if I can't really imagine it right now, how would I interpret or use it.

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