01 Branding & Visual Design

  • The first challenge I came across was aligning the art style & UI design to better fit the brand and story.

    To preserve storage space, our initial game demo was released using low-poly blocks in Unity. The low-poly, blocky art style complemented the characters that we had designed for the game which was based on Funko Pop! toys and figurines. We wanted to foster a lighthearted, meme-inspired environment that didn’t take itself too seriously.

    Following the release of the demo, I surveyed our Discord community of avid players to get some feedback. Initial user feedback indicated that the existing art style made the game feel too unelevated & simple - and there were already an exorbitant amount of similar browser games using low-poly aesthetics. What differentiated our game from theirs? How can we stand out?

    In response to our users’ feedback, we undertook a comprehensive artistic overhaul, transitioning to a more sophisticated and mature style.

  • The Double Jump brand & story was dystopian, adventurous, and mechanical - full of steampunk blimps sailing in the air, plasma tiles to jump on, and fiery lanterns to light the way at dusk amongst dilapidated buildings on mountains. As the lead designer at Double Jump, I crafted a more intricate lore, revised all the characters to fit the lore (they were now human-robot), and worked with a third party advisor to create 3 distinct art kits for the 3 different environments.

    Art Kit 1 was during my favorite hour of the day - golden hour, with an orange tint over the world, desert landscape, and steampunk obstacles. Art Kit 2 was our daylight kit - mid-day lighting, with a lush green landscape, Zhangjiajie-inspired tall craggy mountains, and floating plasma balls intermixed with glass platforms. Art Kit 3 was our nighttime kit - purple haze during dusk, lit up by lanterns and ember posts, with metal buildings built on the side of dome-like mountains. We had a total of 20 game maps and dispersed them evenly throughout the 3 kits.

    With our mockup images of our new art style, we once again surveyed our Discord community to see what they thought - we were met with positive reviews, so we decided to move forward with the implementation.

  • We hired an in-house 3D artist and a VFX designer for the team that I was leading. Working with them, I came up with a 2-month long comprehensive plan to replace every single 3D asset in the game with a new and improved asset. I documented each map’s obstacles and illustrated how they would look within the parameters of the new art styles. I also studied each game map and conjured up a list of 40 VFXs that were necessary to bring the game up to a more “realistic” level - this included plasma, fire, jumping effects, punch effects, footsteps, etc. Using Jira, we implemented agile workstreams so that the art could be incorporated efficiently by the level designers, and our VFXs could be implemented by our developers.

02 Usability Testing & User Interveiws

I launched another series of usability tests - 2 tests per week with a group of 30+ playtesters each time recruited from online gaming communities. I gave our playtesters a survey to fill out at the end of each playtest session that rated the overall enjoyment of the game.

I crafted up a survey that was easy to fill and gave an overall metric to each map. The survey form consisted of 4 questions: 1) rate the map easy to hard (1-5), 2) rate how fun the map was (1-5), 3) rate the obstacle variety (1-5), and 4) give the map an overall rating (1-5). We wanted to hit an average of 4.2 points for each game map. We then conducted user interviews after the playtest to delve deeper into some of the playtesters’ answers.

While I had thought that my priority was the gameplay, I realized that navigating the main menu was continually referenced as the biggest initial roadblock amongst our users. Thus, I had to create a more simplified main menu UI.