User experience design

Written by Robert Dunlap on 06/10/2016

A game is structured form of play undertaken for enjoyment. As game developers we strive to build amazing games. We build games that we wish to play. Fun games that others will love!

User Experience Design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. In this guide I’ll be going over some of the practical aspects that you should employ during your game development!

Research

Our path and our goals for what it is what we plan on building can be cloudy. A lot of time, energy, and heartache can be saved by doing proper Market and User Research. Successful companies spend a significant amount of resources understanding what the market landscape and forecast looks like, customer behaviors, and needs.

Keep in mind this famous quote from Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Customers might not have discovered what it is that they truly want, as a designer it’s your time to shine with bringing innovation and novelty to life.

Market research

SteamSpy (Guide) is one of the best tools out there to help you do market research; it allows you to compare review and sales data across various tags easily.Its accompanying blog has an amazing market trends, and analysis; a must read.

You should buy and play the top selling games; specifically those related to your genre / tags, along with those that aren’t to see what features and other things they do right. Play games that didn’t sell well, take note of what they didn’t do well and avoid it!

User research and testing

Read user reviews on related games. Find out what those users love and hate about those products. Interview fans of your target genre about what features they want, what features they feel are missing, and what could be improved.

Put together early prototypes. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, a prototype would be worth over a million. Put your prototype in front of your target audience; observe and ask them directed questions on the look, feel, design, and what they would change; then iterate and repeat.

Game feel

Here are a few awesome videos on the subject matter:

Game Feel: Why Your Death Animation Sucks
Vlambeer: The art of Screenshake
The 6 game UX roles
Juice it or lose it

Accessibility

About 15% of the population are disabled in a way that could prevent them from enjoying your game. Accessibility features gnerally tend to serve one of five types of disabilities:

  • Vision: Blindness, inability to distinguish colors, blurred Vision.
  • Hearing: Hard-of-hearing, deafness.
  • Speech: Speech impairments, language differences.
  • Mobility: Wrist, arm, leg, and hand impairments.
  • Cognitive: Learning impairments and reasoning challenges, including Dyslexia.

Here are some basic functions you can add to your game to allow disabled gamers to play;

Controls

Allow controls to be remapped / reconfigured, ensure that all UI options can be accessed using the same input as the gameplay, add sensitivity options to controls and ensure that controls are as simple as possible.

Visual

Ensure that no essential information is conveyed by a colour alone, use easily readable fonts (non-decorative) and provide high contrast between text and backgrounds.

Audio

Provide separate volume controls for effects, speech and ambience/music. Provide subtitles or captions for voice-overs.

More in-depth guidelines can be found here.

Localization

(Data from SteamSpy)

The world is very diverse, with a wide range of languages and cultures. Providing localization for your game could help people in those countries enjoy your game. While professional translation services might be too expensive for smaller game projects you can source players of your game to help in the translation process.

Just need to translate a few common words and lines? Take a peek at Polyglot, a crowdsourced document that contains over 500 common lines in 25 languages.

Further reading

Want to read more about user experience design? Here's a few good sources;

Making Video Games Accessible
Game Feel
How to Make Sense of Any Mess
Don’t Make Me Think


Loading comments...