Undergraduate Interaction Design Practice at IU
Making a Better User Experience for Game Interactions
The first part of this project was to redesign a game called PeaceMaker, which can be found here. The second part of this project was to create our own game along the same theme of Peacemaker. This game had to have an power struggle of two or more groups, whose ultimate goal was to achieve peace. Our goal for this project was to work within a group of 5 and create our own gaming system and interface with a paper prototype.
A full brief of the project can be found here.
We worked for an entire month on this project. The parameters laid the groundwork for how our game’s story was to play out, but we had to create a plot and an interface system that made sense to the user. I was tasked with creating a plot and backstory of the game that enhanced the player interactions. During the beginning stages I realized that the game had to have a heavily integrated backstory with a lot of emotion. If the backstory didn’t make sense and the plot didn’t carry enough emotion, the user would not feel inclined to continue through the game. There also needed to be a sense of “fiero” (an Italian word meaning ‘pride’) within the game, which means that the user needed to feel a sense of emotional accomplishment when completing an interaction and triumphing over difficulty. I worked with this in mind when designing how the plot and interactions were going to be revealed to the user as well.
The biggest challenge we ran into as a group was deciding on how our plot was to be presented to the audience. We didn’t want to pull a Star-Wars and have mounds of text for the user to read, but we also didn’t want the user to have absolutely no background revealed because the plot had to be integral to the gameplay. We decided that the user would begin in the home base of the ship, and as events unfolded and the user interacted with more characters, they would be the ones to reveal plot information. Besides exploration, we designed the player to also have a tablet in-game in which they could make decisions and retrieve information (in case of memory fatigue, or a pick-back-up situation).
We learned through our users that it was better to test our ideas early and often, because it allowed us to have users comment on individual aspects of the game and how they could change according to what made the most sense to them. This method of testing gave us the time to ideate more and gave the user less of a cognitive load when testing. The user testing specifically revealed to us how we could constrain the players into following a set list of interactions that we needed them to complete in order to advance through the plot of the game.
Throughout this project I acquired a lot of knowledge on game design and plot construction. Through my own creativity and that of my team, we were able to create an interesting and unique game prototype that followed within the parameters set by our instructors. I specifically learned that it is very easy to overload a user with complex interactions within a game, and when testing it is better to show a cue visually than to explain it with words. As a group, we recognized the importance of player interactions, emotional drive, and cognitive load for games.
The final project deliverable can be found here: IDF Project 1.2
*This deliverable includes the final sketches, user personas, any mockups or ideations, and the results from user testing.