Aldin Dynamics has released a detailed breakdown of user data gathered during over 300,000 sessions of Waltz of the Wizard gameplay. Launched in May 2016, the motion-controlled VR game was developed with the insights gained from using Aldin’s own data visualisation tool Ghostline.

ghostline-logoDedicated to VR software development since early 2013, Aldin Dynamics is one of the most experienced studios in the world, launching software on Oculus developer kits and Gear VR. In May 2016, their motion control game Waltz of the Wizard launched on Steam for free, and quickly became a popular showcase for the HTC Vive, having seen over 300,000 sessions from over 100,000 players. It is currently the highest-rated VR app on Steam.

Editor Update 11/03/2017: Aldin Dynamics reached out after this article was published and asked us to clarify Ghostline’s data gathering scope and methodology. “Aldin would like to clarify that the Polygon article referenced [in this article] is written about an early version of the tool used in local testing and quality assurance. Motion data in Waltz of the Wizard is only sampled in few second clips at strategic places where developers need to ensure that game mechanics are functioning as intended.”

However, the wizardry is more than skin deep. The game acts as a test bed for Aldin’s real flagship software, Ghostline. This large-scale analytics and visualisation tool has been in development in since January 2015, served a vital role in prototyping Waltz of the Wizard’s level design and gameplay, and now acts as a rich data source for VR user habits within the released game. As described in this Polygon feature, Ghostline has the ability to record the actions of every user (via automatic, anonymous data collection), which can be replayed and viewed from any perspective, including from the original first person view. This ‘user ghost’ visualisation is far more efficient and less intrusive than shooting video of people playing in VR, and has many other benefits of in terms of detailed analysis of usage patterns and behaviour.

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'Waltz of the Wizard' Preview

waltz of the wizard2Aldin Dynamics has now shared some of the data created within Waltz of the Wizard using their Ghostline technology. As a game designed to demonstrate room-scale VR while accommodating standing VR, some of these stats aren’t too surprising – with 87% of players using a room-scale space. Understandably, play time is higher in room-scale, with session lengths 19% longer and lifetime averages 72% longer; the game is simply more engaging when given more freedom to move around.

Ghostline's Analytical View of WotW's Playspace
Ghostline’s Analytical View of WotW’s Playspace

The detailed room-scale space breakdowns by country follow some logical patterns too, as countries with vast land mass like China, USA and Canada have the largest average play areas (China is highest at 5.9m²), and the densely-populated Japan has the smallest at 4.4m². Some of the less-specialised stats such as audience and hardware data are already available through Steam’s own tools, but Ghostline’s ability to combine every metric in such detail is unprecedented.

One of the most critical stats is that room-scale players physically look around 18% more than standing players, which has many implications for level/gameplay design – trying to cater to the standing player who is on average more reluctant to turn their head. The vast quantity of interaction/movement data available to Ghostline allows for a granular analysis of players’ physical behaviour. Within each scene from the game, it displays data relating to the amount of physical locomotion, button presses and head movement in degrees. The Wizard’s Tower scene, which contains the spell mixing table, scores the highest on interactivity, while the Hallway, which presents a sudden change of atmosphere ‘designed to induce a fight or flight response’, results in the highest level of physical movement.

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VR Analytics for Playtesting & Optimization with Cognitive VR

waltz of the wizard4The granularity continues into the more amusing stats. Of course, nobody can resist causing damage – over 19 million crossbow bolts have been fired, and over 14 million fireballs have been cast. The wizard’s assistant has been shot over 29,000 times, and ‘Skully’ has been thrown out of the window by 5% of players, and drowned in the cauldron 17% of the time. Some stats may seem trivial, but as Aldin explains, “the smallest of details can make or break an experience. For this reason it is absolutely vital to pay careful attention to the user experience and ensure that your content is having the exact impact that you envision”. Aldin believes that analysing at the level Ghostline provides is key to making a great experience, and Waltz of the Wizards’ unmatched 99% approval rating on Steam is testament to that theory.

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  • NooYawker

    I’m ok with anonymous data gathering as long as it truly is anonymous. Or even if it’s not anonymous but used solely to improve the app. But not if they try to monetize it.

    • yexi

      Agree, but let be honest: if developers general only use data to make the game better, facebook or google have another idea in mind…

      I think country need to make protective law very fast, because it’s absolutely impossible to control your reflex movement or your eye direction, and good algorithm can create psychological pattern of players very easily.

      I’m ok with anonymous data gathering too, but I think we need to create rules very fast, or a lot of problem will appear.

      • Tadd Seiff

        Which country? If you played this, you agreed to this data being collected, I 100% guarantee that, and in the US, that agreement means this is no law is needed, except to require an agreement.

        • yexi

          Well, of course you have the right to accept everything, but did you really understand what you agree ?

          I’m not in love with ‘classic’ data gathering, but it’s generally not a big deal… with AR/VR, it’s different. When Youtube give you a recommendation, you can choose between click or not, or even to move your mouse or not.
          With eye tracking (body tracking have the same issue, but it’s harder to make algorithm for that), it’s absolutely impossible to controls your eyes movements, and it allows some algorithms to create a very precise list of want to will love, like, or hate.

          You seems to prone that everyone can do what they want, but with tools like that (bad used), you can make people vulnerable, and trick them easily…

          I’m not against data gathering, I don’t want it to be use to trick peoples.

          • Tadd Seiff

            I agree with you mostly.

            Honestly no, I wouldn’t read this and I would not have seen the disclosure, and even if I had I wouldn’t have really understood the full usage explained here.

            That’s beside the point, you were asking for laws…against what? Allowing people to agree to things?

          • Perhaps some laws about enforcing informed consent would be prudent. Like an in-game panel, for instance, that displays in plain language what the user has agreed to and what is being tracked and recorded.

          • J.C.

            Good luck with that. Do you see plainly displayed information about the general tracking being done on your cellphone? Or how about the tracking that most cities have on major roads? How do you think the “traffic slowed 2 miles ahead” signs work? Large retail stores have foot-traffic tracking systems so they can better plan their layout. If you’re in a city, you are being anonymously tracked in some form ALL THE TIME.

            Tracking systems in place that we’ve ignored for years have no EULA or mentions of what they’re doing, and until they do, don’t expect lawmakers to care about VR tracking. The people who vote laws into existence are, on average, tech-blind. Expect them to care when they use VR systems…you know…NEVER.

          • It’s not out of the realm of possibility. There was a law enacted recently in Europe that requires websites to inform users about the use of cookies on their site.

            Also, it only helps matters to discuss the topic online, whereas just saying “it’ll never happen” shuts down conversation. The more people care, the more likely policymakers are to care. So please consider that it might be in your interests to encourage others to think about the topic rather than disparage them for even considering it.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            It sounds like you believe this is a good state of affairs for people. Is that true?

          • NooYawker

            I saw a report about the DOT putting sensors around NYC to track you through your ezpass. They claim it’s to monitor traffic conditions.

          • MainFragger

            Especially now that I summoned that sexy new elf assistant.. You don’t want to KNOW some of the things I’ve done with her..

      • NooYawker

        That’s a given, if you buy a product from FB or Google, you should know what you’re getting into.
        I agree that there seriously needs to be some updated laws pertaining to our privacy. I don’t our government just doesn’t understand the scope of the intrusiveness of these companies or tech in general. I mean, oculus uses webcams as sensors and explicitly states they can record and maintain and data gathered on these sensors.

    • Tadd Seiff

      Improving the app is implicitly monetizing…no $ incentive => no (good) apps. Improving apps is only important to sell more.

      But you’re saying as long it’s for the common good non-anonymous surveillance is ok…sounds like the end of a Batman movie or a discussion about the NSA…

    • crim3

      I’m ok as long as the application prompts the user for permission to gather and send the data. Why can’t it be that way?

    • dmbfk

      I would pay good money for your monetized data. It must be traceable to you though and not anonymous. I want max invasion of privacy.

      • NooYawker

        Are the CEO of google?

  • Graham J ⭐️

    Well that’s disturbing. If I knew the game was going to spy on me and phone home I would never have installed it.

    • Bryan Ischo

      People who think they are being spied on have an inflated sense of self importance. Do you really think that any of your personal details mean anything other than as one data point in a very large aggregate?

      • NooYawker

        One valuable data point, Google didn’t become the 2nd most valuable company on the planet by selling products. they did it by monetizing your private data.

        • Bryan Ischo

          Who cares? I wasn’t about to make money off it. Also, they made their money selling advertising, not personal data.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            I and many others care. The differential between your and others’ ability to make money with a given piece of data does not govern its importance nor whether it is considered private to the person who owned or generated it.

          • NooYawker

            Most people care about their privacy.

          • Bryan Ischo

            According to Graham J, by making a blanket statement about a group of people, you have just expressed prejudice.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            Corporations are considered entities so speaking about the actions of one does not constitute a blanket statement.

      • Graham J ⭐️

        Making blanket statements about a group of people is called prejudice. I decide what data of mine is personal or private and what value it has to me. What you think of my perspective is irrelevant.

        • Bryan Ischo

          Making a blanket statement about a group of people is not prejudice. Look up the definition of prejudice in a dictionary if you need to understand what it really means.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            If your opinion had any merit you would have debated the topic at hand instead of assuming the role of grammar police. That might have been tolerable if done correctly.

            You’re grouping people by their beliefs and judging them all collectively. That amounts to prejudice.

    • Foreign Devil

      I don’t have this game but plan to install it. I don’t care if they keep data on my movements in the game. I’m not that special.

    • Tadd Seiff

      you should more closely examine all of the FREE apps you have installed. There is no free lunch, companies don’t give out games for free, they always have some motive.

      • James Hall

        Legalities aside, no body reads those. He might have clicked through it but it’s not like he would know what was in it.

        • Tadd Seiff

          Oh but I agree, that EULAs are stupid and no one understands them. But neither is it alright for someone to say “they should have told me” or “if only I’d know”, this was not hidden from anyone.

          I agree that he had the experience you described, and I admit that I never read EULAs or would even understand most of them.

          Here’s the problem: he obviously cares enough about his privacy for this to bother him, yet downloaded and loaded FREE software with a EULA. It’s not ok to say “if only they would have told me” in this case, and I’m trying to provide a service of saying “well, if you didn’t like that, guess what, MOST FREE APPS are free for a reason, because the provider benefits from you in other ways.” Maybe this will help him in the future not be offended by another piece of software.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            I didn’t say “if only they had told me” I said “if only I had known”. I didn’t know because I didn’t read the EULA, I acknowlege that. Regardless, since the terms were unusual and this app was created for the sole purpose of collecting data it should have been more clear, not buried in the middle in a EULA that cannot be seen alongside the Agree button.

      • Graham J ⭐️

        What other apps do is irrelevant. Clicking Agree doesn’t indicate that you know, it indicates that you clicked Agree.

      • NooYawker

        You mean those agreements that is ridiculously long? Who reads those? It shouldn’t be an all or nothing agreement anyway. Here should be a law that allows you to use a program without being forced to give up your privacy to use it. Especially the ones you pay for.

  • DougP

    Very interesting article – thanks for posting!

    I’m not surprised about the room-scale experiences being more engaging & having active users.
    It demonstrates how wrong Oculus was about the whole – “people don’t really want 360-degree roomscale”. Instead that 360-degree & room-scale is what VR is all about – immersion!

    Really interesting read.

  • ॐ Ethan

    They could have at least told us first cuz that’s a little creepy. I don’t really care but now I know the future is not gonna be very private for vr. NSA will get involved lol

    • Tadd Seiff

      Oh man, they DID, in the license you agreed to when you downloaded/launched the game.

      I can’t go on like this, so this is the last time I’ll mention it ;)

      • ॐ Ethan

        Nobody reads that shit. I need it in front of my face before the game starts lol

        • Graham J ⭐️

          Exactly. It’s easy to say “you should have read it” but the fact is most people don’t so things like biometric data collection should be spelled out more clearly – and in VR.

          • J.C.

            Fact is, most people claim they value their privacy, yet are simultaneously too lazy to guard it. Your sloth is YOUR fault, no one else’s. It’s insanely unlikely that any info about whether or not you shot a fireball at the talking skull could possibly be used against you in some way.

            Now, when headsets all use eye tracking, that MIGHT be used to track who looks at an in-game ad and who doesn’t. Or who shoots at each one presented. Game companies routinely gather stats on their games, it helps them design their next game to focus more on the content that people gravitated toward.

            This early into VR’s lifespan, data regarding what people do and don’t do is INCREDIBLY important for developers. They’re not interested in YOU, they’re interested in what the majority of people did or didn’t do. Imagining that they give even the tiniest shit about any one account in particular is absurd. You’re not that important. Period.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            I already acknowledged that most people don’t read the EULA; that doesn’t invalidate a debate about transparency. Your guesses about how collected biometric data might be used and what types of data are ok to collect are entirely irrelevant to such debate.

            How much of a shit you guess devs (of which I am one btw) give about it and how important you guess I might be, doubly so.

          • J.C.

            Good lord, I hope you don’t have a cellphone, they send out WAY more data on you than a game does. If they cared, your cellphone carrier can very easily determine your daily routine, and be able to predict your whereabouts at any given time with surprising accuracy. But they don’t care.
            Just because a company collects data doesn’t mean they’re doing something nefarious with it. It also doesn’t mean they AREN’T! But your argument is hollow; if you were really so worried about being machine-tracked, you’d live Internet-free on a farm.

            Could they have made their data collection portion of the EULA more obvious? Well, of course. As always, Buyer Beware. It’s like signing up for those car raffles in the mall and being mad that you now get tons of solicitations for time shares and cruise packages. At least with WotW, they’re only using the data to understand HOW people play VR games. VR changes the “rules” of gameplay to the point that devs honestly aren’t really sure HOW to make a large-scale engaging game. Part of why most games are short experiences is because it’s to test what people do and don’t like, or what keeps their attention. They can’t rely on traditional game design.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            Cell providers do collect and sell such information actually and the difficulty of getting away from such tracking illustrates the problem. However I don’t know why you’re so focused on me in particular, as if I’m representative of everybody. The issue isn’t what you or I do or believe, it’s about what is acceptable in principle.

            Regardless of the presumed good intentions of this particular company and what it may be doing for VR, which I agree might be positive, in general corporations exist to make money and they will do so only within the bounds of the law. Many countries do not have laws that protect people from types of tracking that some people find unacceptable so it’s important that the topic is discussed regardless of your or my particular opinions.

          • J.C.

            Mmm, I will admit I forgot any sort of worldview on the tracking. In the US, any proof of even SORT-of nefarious tracking use would cause the press to go bonkers…but there are places where it would simply be covered up.

            As for why I’m focusing on you…don’t take it personally. You’re the squeakiest wheel in this particular forum thread is all.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            I just updated my above post to point out that and the Republican FCC are about to repeal laws preventing ISP sharing of such information. No worldview required.

            I wasn’t taking personally, just pointing out that we need to look beyond our own personal opinion of the value of information when considering policy.

          • NooYawker

            The new administration makes me sick that they’re going to allow isps to collect literally everything you do online and monetize it.

          • Graham J ⭐️

            I wish that was the only way it made me sick ;)

          • NooYawker

            Just one of many but I didn’t want to bring that up here. Wanted to keep it about VR here. :D

          • NooYawker

            It shouldn’t be live in the dark ages or use technology and lose privacy.

  • Foreign Devil

    China only has the largest playing spaces because of the popularity of VR arcades there. Almost nobody in China has VR at home. If they did the stats would be similar to Japan. Yes China is a huge landmass but the urban population is very dense and live in stacked small apartments. People outside of those urban centers would be too poor to afford VR. Just giving some back info behind raw data.

    • Andrew McEvoy

      You sure? When I was in China with my wife who is Chinese most peoples houses that we visited had plenty of space. This was in Beijing, a couple of hours outside Beijing and far away from Beijing (4-5 hours). Theyre werent particularly rich either seemed standard. Affording vr itself is another matter but most had decent pcs in their house mainly the younger crowd.

      • J.C.

        I imagine in the bigger cities, people ARE stacked on top of each other. But saying ALL of China is like that, or even MOST of it, is too broad of a stroke. People who live in New York City have NO room for Roomscale VR, on average. In the Midwest, where you can get a 2,000 square foot house for less than renting a single room in NYC, people *have* room. Both locations are considered “The U.S.”, yet are so different as to cause people from one location to have minor panic attacks when visiting the other.

        I’ve never been to China, and so can only make assumptions from media I’ve seen, which never give a proper idea of a country as a whole.

        I do find metrics like this interesting, and developers will use them to focus their efforts better for their audience.

  • Tadd Seiff

    Just for those paranoids here (whom I do respect), you all agreed to ALL OF THIS when you launched the game. Steam makes it very clear when a game requires a EULA (End-User License Agreement).

    There are no laws needed, we agreed to this explicitly.

    From the WotW EULA linked on the game page:
    “Information Collection & Usage
    By installing and using the Product, you consent to information collection as set forth herein, including transfer of data to the Licensor and affiliated companies anywhere in the world. If you connect to the internet during use of the Product, Licensor may automatically collect information relating to the usage of the product. The information collected by Licensor may be shared with Licensor collaborators and partners or used by Licensor for lawful commercial purposes. This information may include, but is not limited to; product performance, computer hardware performance, headset and controller tracking and performance data, internet protocol address, and additional information relating to the usage of Product features. Licensor will not share any personally identifiable information with third parties for marketing purposes without your consent.”

    • Graham J ⭐️

      IP is personally identifiable. We gave consent by clicking Agree. What other purposes than marketing? What else “may include”? Mic? Camera?

      • Tadd Seiff

        There’s an implied distinction between information “collected” and information “shared”. Thus, the developer knows your IP. But I would assume that the clause about “Licensor will not share personally identifiable information…for marketing purposes…” means they could not, per the agreement, share the IP, even though it was collected….for “marketing” purposes.

        Purposes besides marketing would be, for example, this article which obviously uses some of that data to make generalizations about usage, for the benefit of public information and future development, which, I agree, could all be extrapolated to profitable pursuits, which is arguably marketing.

  • MainFragger

    I’m surprised there was no shot something at the Giant Ogre peeping through the window stat..I’ve shot arrows and fireballs at him and thrown other things, as well..