Warcry.com: You have said that you all have a psychologist on staff to help you answer questions designers might not know need to be asked. Can you give an example of something the social scientists have shown you that you did not expect?
Mark Kern: Dr. Sebastian Koenig is very helpful to our team. He has been tracking all sorts of data in the game and correlating it with extensive testing in his lab. He also writes all the cool surveys that we send out to our testers. His background and skills let us have very high confidence in our survey results and data analysis. We've been really surprised at what gamers pick up on or miss in tutorial missions. Some of the simplest tasks turned out to be the most frustrating (jetpack jump puzzle), while some complicated tasks, such as crafting your first items (like health packs), turned out to be a non-issue for gamers of all levels.
We love data and analysis and have been expanding our data collection. We are also starting to track economic data, and we can see down to the second how many resources are being harvested, for example. We've been helped by a recent addition to the team, Peter Earle, who is our resident professional economist. He authored an interesting article on the Diablo 3 auction house (http://mises.org/daily/6435/) and after reading it, we decided to reach out to him to work together on our player marketplace and in-game economy. So far, the results have been excellent, and our resource based economy is thriving in-game.
Warcry.com: MMO's these days have a billion features that gamers expect these days. What is a feature that players have demanded from other games that you didn't expect?
Mark Kern: Mustaches. We had so many requests for epic facial hair...no, really, it was one of the first things we had to create for the store, because players demanded it.