Introduction

The first step in building targeting is to instrument your game to support the different interactions that you want to deliver. This might sounds like the wrong way round, but once you have the environment which targeting can interact in, it is much easier to build and test the various targets and create the strategy.

To do this you need to identify two things in your game, where you want to interact with users (Decision Points) and what you do at these points (Interventions).

 

Decision Points

You need to identify each of the points where you will interact with the user through targeting. These are generally points where the player is at rest, so the main menu, mission select, start and end of missions and the store are all good places in a game where you would want to catch the player and either make them an offer or change the game in a meaningful way.

What you don’t want to do is to interact with players in the middle of gameplay or at a point where the player has to make important decisions, especially if there is a time element to the decision they have to make.

These points in the game are called decision points and ideally there should be 3-4 of these points. As multiple targets can be attached to any decision point, you can reuse a decision point for multiple interactions. Also a decision point does not need to be connected to an event, sometimes these will coincide such as a missionStarted point, but often they will not.

 

Interventions

The Interventions defines what will happen to the player and should include the variables that you will use to customise the interaction. Interventions can be modal messages that stop the player and forces them to complete an interaction before they can move forward. It can be passive messages that appear but do not require the player to interact and it can be changes that alter an aspect of the game without the player being aware of the intervention.

Modal Messages
These are generally pop up dialogs that appear in the game and make the player either choose something or inform the user that something has happened. An example of a pop up is a sales dialog which makes a special offer to a player, such as a 50% discount on gold if the buy now. These dialogs require the player to make a decision at the point the offer is made to the player.

Passive Messages
These are messages that appear but do not require the user to interact, they will generally either appear on a timer or simply disappear when the player moves to a different screen. These are closer to adverts for offers within the game.

Changes
This is where information is sent back to the game which impacts how the game will react to the player without the player being informed of the change. This could be a change of difficulty or game parameter which makes the game more rewarding. It can also be changes in prices in the store so segments of players gets a slightly different price for specific items based on their behaviour.

 

Instrumentation Grid

The best approach is to build out a grid which details out each type of intervention and where they will be implemented.

Example:

In this example we have identified five points in the game where a player can be interacted with. We have seven different types of intervention, each designed to be as flexible as possible.

Decision Point Modal Message Passive Message Change
Welcome Screen Reward
Gold Special Offer
Help tip
Todays Special Tutorial Switch
Mission Select Reward
Gold Special Offer
Help tip
Todays Special
Mission Start Help tip Mission Difficulty
Mission End Reward
Gold Special Offer
Help tip
Store Help tip Todays Special Price Change

 

Reward
The reward dialog would give a simple piece of text and reward the player with X amount of ether grind or premium currency. The text, type and amount of currency will be driven by the targeting system.

Gold Special Offer
This gives the player the ability to buy the premium currency (in this case gold) at some level of discount. The dialog would accept a piece of text and the discount level as a %. It would then display the offer to the player.

Help Tip
This is simply a dialog that shows a piece of help text.

Today’s Special
This is a passive advert that is displayed at the bottom of the screen and details a special offer that is available in the store. It would require a piece of text that details out the offer and would appear for as long as the player is on the screen.

Tutorial Switch
This is a parameter that defines which tutorial the player is offered. It allows some users to be offered the whole tutorial, some to skip to a later tutorial and some players not to receive a tutorial at all.

Mission Difficulty
This changes the difficulty of a specific mission, it accepts a number from -100 to 100 with 0 being the current difficulty.

Price Change
This changes the price of a single item and requires an item id and the new price.