Nels Anderson has a great series of posts going which touches on data. In it, he links to a surprisingly interesting talk by Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce and making your customers happy by not listening to them.
He also mentions a GDC talk by Valve's Mike Ambinder, which goes into some detail about just how many different kinds of user testing Valve actually does.
Speaking of Valve, Left 4 Dead Stats have gone live, and there also seem to be some surprising changes to TF2 coming up soon. According to Robin Walker, you can try just about anything as long as you've got good enough communication with your players:
For those of you who have had your fill of data for awhile, don't worry. I plan to wrap up the black box series with the next installment, and then we'll find something new to fixate on for awhile.
Shacknews: Any plans for consumable items? And will these items be tied to each class, or carried over to all of your classes?
Robin Walker: The short answer is: possibly. Part of the reason we want to do this kind of design work in TF2 is because it's a product in which players send us a ton of great feedback. This means we'll quickly find out if we're screwing up, which is an amazingly useful thing when we want to try new things.
Shacknews: Should we expect to see more item slots--chest, feet, elbows--added in the future?
Robin Walker: See the "possibly" answer above.
Shacknews: Will players be able to trade these items?
Robin Walker: This is a good example of the kind of decision we'll be listening to the players around. If it's something they all want to do, then yep, you can expect us to do it.
Since I'm breaking my first cardinal rule (don't just post a bunch of links to things), I may as well break my second cardinal rule (don't post to apologize for a lack of posting), just this once. Sorry about the two week lag there.
Generally I prefer to write more substantial posts less often rather than lots of short posts, but hopefully I'll settle into a bit of a better rhythm soon. Apparently getting too busy to post just as your blog receives a huge influx of readers is a tale as old as time. In the meantime, please subscribe!