Brad Keys (r) and Matthew Miner at a Vancouver game jam.
Typically Game Design grads are at VFS for one reason and one reason only - to make great games. And that's exactly what they do, at companies like Radical, BioWare, Ubisoft, and Relic. Occasionally, though, they want to stretch their ideas and abilities to other aspects of gaming. Enter Game Design grad Brad Keys and Foundation grad Matthew Miner with their Unity analytics service, Lumos, released through their company, Rebel Hippo.
Lumos, currently a free service, allows Unity game developers to easily monitor their games and player base. It was awarded $25,000 from the University of Waterloo's VeloCity Venture Fund. We caught up with Brad to find out how he came to be on this side of the games industry.
How did you decide on an analytics service over making a game?
I find that when I'm developing a game there are a lot of moments where I say, "Man, I can't believe there's not an easy way to do this". And game analytics was one of those moments. My friend Matthew Miner and I saw that there weren't many analytics solutions specifically geared towards games. So we went for it. Our goal now is to make great tools so we can make better games.
What are the challenges with making something like this, when there aren't a lot of comparable products?
The biggest challenge was trying to architect a way that would ensure that we could offer the service at a price that compares to other analytics solutions out there. But like you say, since there aren't many comparisons available, it's tough for us to say how many features we need to offer before it's worth people paying that money. Right now we're actually offering it for free and getting as much feedback from developers as possible, so we can get it to a point where developers are happy enough to really want to pay for our service.
Unity has made it possible for developers to produce fairly high-end, graphically-sophisticated games delivered through web browsers. Do you think the industry is headed away from platforms towards web-based services?
I think 3D on the web is certainly picking up fast. The Unity web player install base has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. I don't think that the industry is headed away from platforms, though. I just think it's expanding to reach an even wider audience.
Can you give us a quick breakdown of what Lumos offers?
Lumos offers developers real-time analytics. It's a service that can track various bits of information about a game's player base. This includes hardware, software, player decisions and accomplishments, and how regularly they play. It can also provide developers with information about errors that occur while people play their games. And we have a feedback system that allows players to communicate directly with developers, to submit bug reports or just give general feedback about the game. The best part about the service, in my opinion, is that it requires no coding to use. You can simply drag and drop it into your game.
Matthew, the other half of Rebel Hippo, is looking to move onto Lumos full-time come September, while keeping an active hand in filmmaking, game development, and software design. Look out for great things from these two!