Differentia: Visualizing Incremental Game Design Changes

  • Kenneth Chang University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Adam Smith University of California, Santa Cruz


Small changes in the code and assets of a videogame can have drastic impacts on the player experience. The primary way to discover these impacts is with extensive human playtesting. However, the time and effort expended for playtesting is costly enough that it cannot be conducted after every incremental build of a game. We propose an information visualization technique that approximately reifies a game’s space of interactivity as a static image. Considering incremental changes to the game, our visualizations can suggest what has been effectively added, preserved, or removed from the space by those changes. These visual summary reports would ideally be used in the continuous integration (CI) software development process. We demonstrate a prototype implementation of this visualization on two commercial games, considering both minor and major design changes.