Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marvel Puzzle Quest: The One-Year Check-In! An interview with MPQ's Kevin Teich  


It’s hard to believe that @MarvelPuzzle Quest has been around for a whole year, but my favorite mobile game did indeed celebrate its first anniversary last week. Now that it’s reached the ripe old age of one, I thought it would be good to touch base with the developers and see how things have grown and changed since its debut. 

Fortunately, MPQ executive producer Kevin Teich was good enough to take a few minutes and fill me in.

Here’s what he had to say!


Happy birthday to MPQ! A year after launch, how is the game doing?

RKT: Thanks! It’s doing super well! We just had our best week ever in terms of number of players playing the game, number of downloads, and sales. Our feedback is also better than ever. It’s really encouraging, and we’re psyched that so many people are enjoying the game.

Cap's about to open a can of whoop-ass on these goons. 

What are some of the biggest lessons the team learned during the last year?

RKT: Listen to the players! That may seem obvious, but we’ve learned it’s really hard to balance making the features that we want and understanding what players want.

It’s also important to know how listen to  different kinds of players; our experienced, hardcore players posting in the forums may be asking for one thing, while at the same time, we see thousands of players not making it through our tutorial missions.

We’re a small team and can only do so much, and it’s impossible to listen to everybody. But we’re trying!

What were the biggest assumptions you had at the beginning that eventually proved wrong?

RKT: I underestimated the importance of our live events.

I remember the day after we went live, our producer told me that he’d need a few hours of work from one of our designers to see what was going on in the live version of the game and make some tweaks. Now, we have a developers who are dedicated to making content that goes live right away.

We also try to make as many improvements and bug fixes to the live version as we can, instead of waiting for the next version to ship.

Modern Hawkeye's new Speed Shot ability makes him a solid choice!

The team seems to have become quite a bit more sophisticated in how the new characters are designed. The gap in usability between new faces and old is quite large at times… Are there Modern Hawkeye-style revamps planned for old characters that just aren’t seeing action?

RKT: I’d love to freshen up some of those characters that don’t seem to be used that much. There are also some characters that are unbalanced right now, and those are higher priority.

We’ve learned a lot of making characters for our game, and what kinds of character features players like, and we love applying those lessons to our older designs. I can’t talk about specifics, but we definitely keep a close eye on this stuff.

Nobody but Brandon Bales loves this loser. 

Speaking of unloved characters, which ones have been used the least over the last year? Bag-Man seems the obvious non-starter, but any others who’ve been ignored by players? Who have been the most popular?

RKT: Our forums are a great source for this kind of information. Our players run polls on all kinds of subjects, including character popularity. Yelena Belova is another unpopular character.

When we were making the first batch of characters before the game launched, it was hard to look at them all in relation to the rest of the game, because there wasn’t much to rest of the game yet. Now, it’s easier to evaluate how a new character will fit into somebody’s existing roster.

Thor, Goddess of Thunder has garnered a huge amount of interest. We’re really excited to bring her to the playing field in Season 7.

On a more macro level, what’s the team’s philosophy when designing characters? Is the intention that each one should be roughly equal in power/ability, or if not, what sort of roles are you looking towards when creating new heroes and villains?

RKT: We start by digging into the character as they appear in the comics, and identify elements about the character that we want to capture in powers and mechanics. Sometimes this means the character gets a brand new type of power never seen in the game, and sometimes it means they get a simpler power that reflects their personality.

We also look for roles and color combinations that are under-represented in the current roster of characters. We always want characters to be balanced; part of our efforts to make this a deeply strategic game is to not have any one character be clearly superior. Some characters have great synergy with other characters; we also have to consider how characters will be used in combinations.

The most recent implementation of Team-Up info before a battle. 

The addition of Team-Ups was a big change to the game. How have they been received by the players, and how happy is the team with their current implementation? Also, will we ever see location-specific tiles/effects again in the future?

RKT: The initial roll-out of Team-Ups was not received very well. Part of our development philosophy is to get new features out to our players as fast as possible, and sometimes this means that we deliver features who promise in the fullness of time aren’t readily apparent. Team-Ups was an unfortunate example of that. 

We have lots of plans for them, and have been steadily rolling out features to make them better. In R63, you’re able to see what Team-Up your opponent is using before you select your own Team-Ups, which will make it a more strategic choice.

As a cool side effect of Team-Ups, people were able to collect Thor, Goddess of Thunder Team-Ups in the Lightning Rounds we ran last week, so they can call her in for help before she’s available as a full roster character.

I have several EU/UK players in my Alliance, and they often mention that the start and end times of events are usually incredibly inconvenient for them, putting them at a disadvantage compared to NA players. Any word on whether something can be done for them? EU/UK-specific servers, perhaps?

RKT: We are actively working on a feature that will make this better, not only for EU/UK players, but all players with busy lives who can’t stay up until midnight. No details yet, but stay tuned.

Those teeth aren't just for show!
After asking for him since the start, Devil Dinosaur was finally made a playable character. You have no idea how happy this makes me! What other characters have been heavily requested, and who’s on the team’s unconfirmed wish list for future characters?

RKT: This is another area in which forum polls give us a wealth of information. X-Men characters are hugely popular. Deadpool was a top request; we were really excited to bring him into the game.

Thanks so much for your time and answers. On a final note,what would you say to get someone to try MPQ if they haven’t yet, a full year after it’s been out?

RKT: It’s an authentic Marvel experience with dozens of characters and a uniquely strategic match-3 game at its heart, and new events every week. What’s not to love?


Infinite thanks to Kevin Teich for the interview and to the whole MPQ team for giving me high-quality entertainment while stuck in boring places for the last year.  Also, mega thanks to Albert Reed for making this interview happen! 

What next?

You can also bookmark this post using your favorite bookmarking service:

Related Posts by Categories