This was a personal project where I explore the issue of a diminishing player base for the game Among Us. My findings suggest that new players are not being adequately prepared to compete in online games against more veteran players which is leading to frustration. I propose a number of enhancements to the game’s onboarding experience and game menu. I have no connection with InnerSloth LLC.
The monthly player count for Among Us has been on a steady decline since July 2021. Is this natural attrition, or is there something else going on? Games don’t always stay relevant forever but Among Us is still Innersloth’s flagship game and most valuable IP, so I thought this was a question worth exploring.
Exploring the Problem with Playtesting
Just like with any other product, users are quick to judge and are more likely to come back if they enjoy their experience. So what do players experience in the first 20 minutes of playing Among Us?
- 4 Participants - all new players
- Two possible paths for users to follow during a semi-structured play test and interview
Warning - this video has audio!
Challenge can be a powerful tool to facilitate ‘fun’. The game designers for Among Us use the feeling of urgency to create a satisfying challenge, but if the player doesn’t know the rules and procedures of the game then it quickly becomes a feeling of frustration.
What I discovered was that, even after players read through the slides in the ‘How to Play’ section and take time to explore the map in the ‘Freeplay’ section, they are not retaining enough information to feel challenged and have fun on their first session in a public online game.
The REAL Problem
Players are not retaining enough information about the game to feel like they’re having during their first session in a public online game.
How might we improve the onboarding experience so that players can better retain the game's mechanics?
- Retool the How to play section with a Backwards Design approach.
- Offer an optional onboarding experience within the Freeplay section of the game
- Enhance the game the menu to improve navigability
- Abbreviated menu options quickly show a use case for the quick chat
- A walkthrough of the HUD introduces the player to vital game resources
Onboarding experience & tasks
- A narrative, provided by the Sensei character, offers context to the game’s objectives
- Keeping the hint optional allows the player to explore the problem themselves before asking for help
- Guiding the player through their first emergency meeting introduces the player to a non-intuitive UI without the pressure of time
- An on-the-rails experience with the quick chat menu teaches the player that their words have consequences
Game menu & server finder improvements
- ‘Information’ icons open modals that explain each menu option
- Table headers provide context for server finder items