How can I improve player engagement (and do I need to)?

Hello,

I started sponsoring the game I have been working on (link to summary/changelog). To improve playtime I added a few features for the players to work towards, including: a shop where they can buy vehicles, and a build mode where they can buy parts and make a house. I also added a short tutorial so players might have a better idea of what to do.

I thought these additions would make playing games more rewarding, but even though 3 or 4 players stayed for 10+ minutes, most players stay in for 1-2 minutes, and some don’t even leave the spawn area. And is there anything I need to do to increase player engagement (especially for those who stayed at the spawn area)? Or are the short play times normal/irrelevant, with the few 10+ minute play times showing some promise?

Here is the visit-length data:

If engagement needs to be improved, I do not know how I would do that except by adding more shops and machines, which is more long-term as none of the players have played long enough to unlock much from the current shops. Does anyone have other ideas on how else to keep players interested?

Link to the game (Pong Arcade)

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If they don’t stick around for long then maybe look at the visual aspect of your game. If the players aren’t interested in the first couple minutes then it may be a ‘first impression’ kind of problem.
You might go into a game that good from the thumbnail and sounds completely fantastic from the description, but if it looks like a game from 2011 when you join it might be enough to turn players away.
Do you have to go through the tutorial first off, or do you have a choice?

Post a link to the game so we can see what it’s like.

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Here is a link to the game: Pong Arcade. I also added the link to the main post (sorry, I neglected to post if before because it was posted in the summary which I linked).

The tutorial is optional and very short. The game is supposed to resemble the older Roblox games, and I think the title and thumbnails communicate that to the players. Maybe it is the 2011-looking style turning them away, but if that is the case, then why would they join from a thumbnail and icon with the same visuals?

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Add an afk for rewards room. People will afk for rewards.

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I mean… it might get players to stay in the game, but they wouldn’t really be playing it. I could try something like that, but I don’t want to devalue my items or currency too much. Maybe an idle job at the factory that earns 1 token per 30 minutes? (the problem there is that most of them don’t seem to know about the factory…)

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the first game i saw needed 2 players but i think i was the only one playing. i would probably make the first games you see solo player and maybe make a cool graphic for the machine instead of just saying insert 2 tokens. also the text at the bottom left that gives the controls. ex: press enter to insert tokens. i would try not to do controls this way. i did not even notice it until looking around the screen and clicking. maybe just something on the screen of the machine that says “click to play (2 tokens, you have this many tokens)” also, on a side note, i usually hate games with tutorials. if the arcade is near spawn then players will see that and know to walk into it, then they can walk up to a game, and only then, would i give any kind of instruction, like maybe some pictures that show how to play that game that they walked up to or something. on a side note, i found the map kinda cool, how it is classic and all, but it was a little bland imo and i think maybe others might not leave spawn because of the way the map is

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That all makes sense. I can easily rearrange the machines and spawn location. Making graphics for the machines and instructions might take a little longer, but it would be an improvement. Same for the map; there is a lot of room for improvement, but that also might take some time. I think it would be most important to focus on getting players into the arcade and improving instructions, before working on graphics.

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Oh wow, I was just guessing about the 2011 look, but you did it well!
It’s pretty good and the simplistic style may attract some players. I didn’t explore the whole map, but while I was doing it the TP button disappeared from my top bar which made it a little more difficult to explore.

It seems like it’d be fun to play with others, but when I was the only one playing it got a little boring.

One suggestion I have is making the mouse control on the video games not as sensitive. I found it felt like I couldn’t move the joystick smoothly enough to enjoy the games or get a score higher than 1 token.

The tutorial is pretty good.

I think it just needs a little more to it. Sure you can grind away and make minimum tokens, but it pretty much gives me the feel that it’s a pay to play game if you want to be able to afford to build anything or buy a car.

A way to level up so you get a bigger payout when you play or work at the burger factory might be a way of keeping players wanting to reach the next level.

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oh another thing i wanted to say tho. i thought the pull lever for the potato mode was rly cool. it had a nice animation

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Thanks for the feedback! The only place I can think where the TP button disappears is the battle arena. Maybe I should remove the arena to avoid confusion? I saw one player get stuck there and leave.

I can change the sensitivity, and maybe even add a custom sensitivity slider.

I could look into a level-up system, but I also want to keep the UI simple. Maybe in the form of token multipliers players can buy when they get enough tokens?

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Thanks! I thought that would be a fun addition!

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I was in the battle arena and reset because I couldn’t get out. That may be when my teleport button quit working.

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Yes, this will cause confusion for new players. I will remove the battle arena eventually; I had a better idea that involves players using the houses they built as their own battle arenas.

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I started adding some of the feedback I received to my game. The first change is moving the spawn area a little closer to the arcade, and adding big signs with arrows pointing to important locations. I also added instructions that appear when players do certain actions, such as enter the arcade or start a game they never played before. This should also save as they play, so the same instructions don’t appear more than once. I kept the original tutorial for those who want a small tour. If anyone gets the chance, please let me know how well these changes work!

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Game is littered with free models and none go with the actual style to your game.

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I’m one person working with the assets I was given; I can’t make every decoration myself. All the free models that were used are purely for decoration. I built the most important components (arcade machines, buildings, vehicles) and spent a lot of time scripting everything.

I do see that the map itself could use some work, so I will try to improve that aspect of the game after improving the instructions and making the gameplay more rewarding.

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In response to the feedback I received, I started replacing free-model landscape decorations with more classic-looking models (which I built). The decorations I replaced so far include: trees, trampolines, benches, and the fountain. I also added more potatoes around the entrance to the cloud land to add a little more variety to the landscape. I don’t know if I will replace the background trees yet, as those have a functionality closer to a sky box than other objects.

Additionally, I removed the battle arena, as it was confusing players who were exploring. I will replace it later with something that will add more variety to the world.

Hopefully having more cohesive decorations will give better initial reactions so players don’t immediately leave.

I also added the EXP bar and token multiplier, which makes it easier to earn tokens as the game is played more. It hasn’t been tested for balance, but it should help the game feel more satisfying and help keep players interested.

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In addition to showing players more detailed instructions for games they have not played before, I added graphics that appear on the “insert tokens” screens of the machines:

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I played a bit of your game! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect because the introduction of the game gave me a completely different impression from what I assume is the actual “core” of your game–which is the simulation of arcade cabinet games. To me, every other part of the game felt like the common “buy and sell” Roblox game genre, until I stepped up to the Breakout arcade cabinet. Then suddenly I was extremely impressed with the work you put into it, like my controls directly affecting the movement of the diegetic analog stick and button press. The arcade cabinets are the most impressive part of the game to me, because this is what makes it stand out from other Roblox games that I have played, and gives it a distinct action.

However, the game’s introduction and tutorial gave me the impression that this is a “buy and sell” type game, with the main actions being buying and selling (earning money and spending that money). I did not feel that there was much importance placed on the actual arcade games.

What is the core of your game supposed to be? Is it supposed to be focused on spending tokens, or is it focused on playing the arcade games? Is it supposed to be about driving cars or building houses? I don’t think that it can be all of these at once, or else it’s adding bloat to your game. The different parts of this game don’t seem to support one single “core”.

It’s like the arcade itself is extremely small compared to the rest of the game, and that shops such as the morph shop, vehicle shop, and cheeseburger factory are much more important, based on the tutorial. The game’s progression seems to be about getting money to… eventually avoid playing more arcade games?

I think engagement might be plummeting because of a lack of a single core or theme in the game. In my opinion, you don’t need an AFK farm, tons of shops, or random mechanics such as driving or building, if all your progression can be focused solely on the act of playing arcade games.

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Thanks for the feedback!

I see what you mean about the bloat - there are a lot of other buildings, and the arcade could use an expansion. I thought all these different shops would be fun rewards for playing arcade games, but the game seems to emphasize these over the arcade. Maybe if I upgrade the arcade and add more machines, this problems would be lessened? I spent time on the driving and building mechanics too, so it would be too bad if I had to completely remove them…

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