Many understate the importance of feedback. Certainly not ZIO Studios. We reviewed their debut game, Vampire Season, a few months back, and while we enjoyed our experience with it, we did highlight a few issues that stopped it from being perfect.
Fortunately, they were listening. As CEO of the company, Jairo Nieto explains, 148Apps actually helped structure the game that Vampire Season has now become:
The 148Apps review shed some very much needed light on two things: 1- We were still very naive about monetization, to the point where we were trumping the gameplay experience, 2- Our User Interface was still far from ideal. We were glad that the Vampire Season was found enjoyable and charming, but we were aiming to make the best game possible, so we took this feedback and sat down with our team to create what is now known as Vampire Season – Monster Defense. We wanted the economy to feel like part of the game, we didn’t want to force players into purchasing stuff, and we wanted everyone to easily understand the game, and to intuitively know what everything in the interface did.
We decided that the economy should feel like a game by itself. We got rid of all the invasive pop-ups, and we created an additional currency, called Sapphires, while making sure earning them was as fun as everything else in Vampire Season. We integrated Sapphires with the revamped Survival Mode, giving players the ability to earn them by chance in the Roulette, or by beating their friends in timed tournaments.
Sapphires are a logical and unique way to support the microtransaction mobile model. Most importantly, it’s much less expensive, and as Jairo points out, less intrusive than before. Many of the criticisms we made about the previous version of the game have been erased, improving the overall experience, making it feel more natural, instead of invasive. As a reviewer, there is no greater satisfaction to know that you’ve been able to help a developer evolve their product. Jairo continued:
Vampire Season is the culmination of various efforts and expectations, long months of creativity and coding, all wrapped up into this game that we hoped would be as enjoyable to play as it was to make. To our surprise, launching the game was just the beginning of a long (and exciting) learning process for a studio that is passionate about delivering the best kind of product it can create.
The other element we critiqued was the user interface. This is an area the development team seemed to take very seriously. Said Jairo:
We moved forward to tackle the User Experience and Interface as a whole. This turned out to be quite a challenge, as we iterated many times, taking the tutorial as a starting point. We redid levels, balanced many of the monsters and enemies, and then did it all over again. Then we took to the main menu, the loading screen and finally the in-game HUD. After a couple of months of hard work from all our team, we were finally satisfied. The game had reached a new level, as we had as a studio. We now firmly believe that reviewers are not just talking to the audience, but they are also talking to the product. Its our role as developers, to listen.