Analyzing gameplay metrics and log data is an essential part of the gaming industry, as it provides developers and publishers with valuable insights into how players interact with their games. Throughout this article, we will outline how analytics, observability, and reporting can aid you in improving your performance whether you are a games developer or a gaming enthusiast.
It is possible to gain a great deal of information about how players interact with games through game analytics. As an example, analytics can be used to identify the most popular levels or areas within a game, the most commonly employed mechanics, and the most underutilized features. In light of this information, game designers can make informed adjustments to any aspect of the game to maximise player engagement. As part of this process, the difficulty or enjoyment of arbitrary aspects of the game may be tweaked; new mechanics or features may be introduced, or existing ones may be reworked or scrapped altogether in order to make the game more appealing to the players.
The use of analytics in games can also be a powerful tool for increasing revenue. Games companies can identify popular in-game items and microtransactions by tracking player behaviour and adjusting pricing and marketing strategies accordingly. As an example, the marketing team may offer more frequent sales if analytics indicate that players are more likely to make purchases when items are on sale. In addition, analytics may also allow companies to identify areas where players are more likely to churn (i.e. stop playing the game) and introduce new content or rewards to prevent this from occurring.
For game designers, game analytics can be an invaluable resource. Analysis of player behaviour and feedback can help developers identify pain points in their games that are causing frustration or discouraging players from playing. For instance, analytics may reveal that players are having difficulty completing a certain level, or that they have lost interest in the game after a certain period of time by analysing the player drop-off rate (often referred to as the abandonment rate). It is with this knowledge that developers can make changes to the game to address these issues and improve the overall player experience.
In mobile games, players are provided with an engaging and fun experience. Nevertheless, if a game takes a long time to load, is unresponsive to user input, or crashes frequently, players are more likely to become frustrated and lose interest. By measuring performance metrics such as load times, frame rates, and response times, developers can identify problems that might be contributing to these issues.
Mobile games require a complex set of technologies, including graphics rendering engines, physics engines, and network protocols. Any malfunctioning component can adversely affect the performance of the game. Developers can identify performance issues by measuring performance metrics and determine whether they are due to technical problems or other factors. For example, an unnecessarily complicated games mechanic might be causing noticeable FPS drops or hogging CPU power or network bandwidth and should be redesigned.
Some mechanics might even cause the game to crash, possibly only under a specific set of circumstances, which can be very difficult to dissect and discover how to replicate the bug. Having a crash log is critical to fixing these bugs before or after the game or patch is released. Often these fatal crashes can make their way to production, especially if they’re difficult to replicate, only to be discovered by the players. Players can then submit their own crash logs as issues to be raised by the development team either manually or automatically, with other logs to describe the events leading up to the crash.
In this use case, we will discuss the use of analytics and logging in the esports industry, particularly in World of Warcraft (commonly abbreviated as WoW), a popular MMORPG. In the game, esports teams (referred to as guilds in the context of WoW) can use analytics to learn the strategies and compositions of other successful guilds and improve their own gameplay. Internal logs within the game capture a huge variety of information so that players can work out why a technique failed, enabling them to optimise their strategies and tactics as players. We also discuss how data can be collected through the use of add-ons and tools, and then exported to a program such as Filebeat for analysis and visualization.
The use of analytics and logging has become increasingly important in the esports industry as players become more skilled and games become more complex. Blizzard themselves offer an in-game combat log that contains data from all game event interactions that the player experiences. These combat logs are accessible to add-ons created by third-party add-on developers and can be used to create add-ons to visually display combat details to the player, such as timer bars, animated warnings, and more. WoW addon developers can use a special COMBAT_LOG_UNFILTERED_EVENT event, which captures far more data that is unavailable to players in-game unless using add-ons. This event provides a payload of data, including everything that happens during any encounter of the game, whether that's a player versus player (PvP) tournament or fighting a raid boss with your guild.
As a player, logging gives you a ton of insight into the encounter that you're doing and what exactly happened down to the numbers which you wouldn't see or notice during the fight. For example, you might notice that another team member in your raid group was not using one of their class abilities that is detrimental to the fight, or they used it a second too late, which might have caused your team to “wipe” - a gaming term that implies all of your team members have died and the raid boss encounter has reset ready for your next attempt. This is how leveraging OpenSearch dashboards can enable people to look at their logs clearer by exporting those logs into an external dashboard for review.
One use for metrics within the game is by addon developers themselves who capture metrics associated with performance as well. We would also suggest that game developers themselves also use logging and metrics alongside each other to understand fights and optimize game mechanics.
Increasingly we’ve noticed as a trend that the use of analytics is becoming more vital. Games companies such as Blizzard and other leaders in this industry have to make their games more difficult otherwise players complete them too fast and get bored. This trend has inevitably resulted in an evermore complex and intensely competitive atmosphere where players are using emerging, sophisticated add-ons and log management tools to learn the fights and reach new skill-level heights.
Both players and developers alike can export the data from World of Warcraft so that you can basically use your addons as a data source to be passed to a data shipper, such as Filebeat or a custom program perhaps more directly integrated with the game, and sent to OpenSearch.
The importance of analytics and logging can easily be applied to other esports, such as Counter-Strike, among others. This use case in particular highlights a growing demand for analytics and logging in the esports industry and suggests that data will continue to play a vital role in improving gameplay and game development alike.
Additionally, with esports tournaments, there could easily be time-based deciders where it is hard to tell who won the match without the right tools. To use horse racing as an example where one horse might be a few millimetres in front of another on the finish line; you would need to have the right metrics to accurately tell who won and the same applies to esports. How do you know who beat who when the situation is not so cut and dry like horse racing, especially in a highly complicated gaming scenario such as WoW PVP (a player versus player) tournaments?
Having the right metrics is also useful for commentators at these esports tournaments who must communicate to an audience key events and details during and after the match. They say a lot of things during the fight but after the fight people want to know more insightful information, which observability can assist with.
An example from Warcraft Logs
In addition to monitoring the logs and errors generated by games, a platform such as Logit.io can provide developers with a number of useful tools for identifying and resolving bugs, crashes, and other performance-related issues within games.
Furthermore, Logit.io can assist game developers in analyzing player behaviour data in order to identify patterns and trends. Additionally, the platform is frequently used to monitor game performance metrics, such as loading times, frame rates, and server response times. As a result, developers will be able to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, resulting in a better player experience.
Further, Logit.io can be used to monitor game servers and applications for security threats, such as hacking attempts, DDoS attacks, and unauthorized access attempts. As a result, developers will be able to identify and respond to security threats in a proactive manner, thus ensuring that the game remains secure and that the data of players is protected.
If you want to explore how Logit.io can help you optimize the performance of your code, sign up today for a 14-day trial.