Kulpreet उर्फ Jungly

Game Intelligence

In this post I argue for the need for an open source analytics engine for use in games and any other gamified (or just a regular web application).

Why not just use Google Analytics (or any such analytics)

  1. Only tracks front end events, like page loads and clicks. Does a fantastic job of handling country, browser etc. We need to able to track back end events, creating equivalent front end events for google analytics might be too much?

  2. Can’t really be used as a business intelligence tool. For example, we can’t answer the question, “How many users have reached level 10” or even a more complex question to answer “What percentage of users have reached level 10 - split by the week number they joined our system.”

The latter is what is called Cohort Analysis and Google Analytics tools and other ‘web analytics’ tools (for example Piwik) don’t help us do cohort analysis.

Open Source Cohort Analysis

So the next question is what is on offer for a self hosted free, open source cohort analysis tool that we can use. I really can’t find anything useful out there. The closest I came to was aarrr a Ruby library backed by MongoDB to track cohorts.

It seems a lot of people build their own little tools for such analysis. Could it be cause

  1. Describing cohorts and tracking activity along cohorts can result in a lot of data replication, so no one is releasing a framework, or

  2. Most of the analysis is carried out in an Business Intelligence ETL manner.

So Why Not an ETL Business Intelligence Tool?

  1. Not open source and can be pretty expensive

  2. Mostly written in Java, and have a painful learning curve, especially the wysiwg query editors. The whole thing stinks of ‘enterprise’ I must say.

  3. ETL might not be flexible and dynamic enough. With databases like mongodb, we don’t need to run cron jobs hogging the database to return analytics results. Instead, we can try and set up a small db to collect events from the backend as users/players hit certain landmarks.

MongoDB and Analytics

A lot has been written on how Mongo can be used to aggregate analytics data. The difference is very clear, no more ETL, just simple ’pings’ to mongodb to track analytics. Late the aggregated results can be shown using any of the freely available graphing libraries - google charts or rgraph come to mind.