UX Consultant & Community Manager
Chrono Wars: Light of Darkness
Palo Alto, CA
Ranging from developing, consulting, and to publishing games, Narvalous seeks to distribute quality international games to the US market. At the company, I distributed and managed Chrono Wars: Light of Darkness (a web-based MMORPG that attracted 5 million+ players in China) within the US market and tailored the UX to fit American gamers' needs and expectations.
I wore multiple hats working at Narvalous. As the UX Consultant for the company:
- Conducted multivariable testing to identify causes for large drop-offs in new user flow
- Ran usability studies and made recommendations to improve clarity in marketing messages & increase conversion rate during FTU (first time use)
- Made landing page suggestions to improve clickthrough rates
- Run weekly meetings with Gamemasters (GMs) to identify users' pain points during gameplay and made recommendations to developers in China
- Implemented user satisfaction surveys and delivered the results to the rest of the team
The Community Manager side of me:
- Held responsible for the game's customer support: support ticket system, GM accounts, user forums on Kongregate and xGamePortal, social media channels
- Created and standardized the customer support protocols
- Gathered users' feedback and communicated key action items back to the developers
- Conducted video chats with key players to make their voice heard
- Managed social media marketing (Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter) by executing user-centered events and providing information on gameplay
- Tracked reach & engagement numbers for social media channels to evaluate marketing progress and improve on messages delivered to users
- Planned email marketing campaigns in collaboration with the post-production artist
- Held responsible for game feature translations
For Partnership Management:
- Communicated with partner websites in order to provide up-to-date information & press release on our features
- Worked with Kongregate to publish the game on their platform and set up the user forum
- Planned and executed a company-wide community volunteer project: Worked in collaboration with a local elderly home to visit them and to teach them how to use social media and play community-based games
Impact + Challenges
Upon signing the NDA, I am not able to disclose information on numbers. However, I'm able to say that the valuable feedback from users I've communicated with the team greatly improved the usability around the game features & FTU experience. During my time there, I also evangelized the importance of UX to the rest of the team by being a strong users' advocate. The output of my work had a long-lasting impact on the team, allowing them to deliver better messages & better tailored gameplay to the users.
At the same time, constraints remained. Fundamental differences between cultures in terms of their use of technology imposed challenges that weren't easy to deal with. For example, in September 2015, Chrome rolled out a new version that disabled the NPAPI (plug-in based contents). Since our product could only run via PC and via plug-ins, this had a long-term negative effect on our user retention and acquisition. Through these times I learned that, in order to successfully transfer over great user experience from one country to another, understanding the technology landscape of the target culture and the group of users is crucial.
What I Learned
- International perspective on UX: Users from different cultures want, need, and expect different things. Pay close attention to what users do and say to find out where the incongruity occurs, and see how the gaps can be closed.
- Listen, listen and listen: Especially in gaming, users' voices are more than invaluable. First, make them know that they're heard. Identify patterns in their feedback and find important actionable insights. The faster those can be improved, the more satisfied users will be.
- Impress the users, not the team. As the users' advocate, I represent their needs and frustrations. If a user is angry, there's a reason and it's probably a recurring one. Translate that frustration to the rest of the team.
- I've learned to deliver to various stakeholders within limited resources. Handling multiple roles within a start-up environment was incredibly difficult and yet incredibly rewarding, which also was a tremendous learning experience.