03 UX/UI

After all, the game interface was very important, serving as the player’s initial point of interaction with our browser game. We wanted to simplify the typically complex and information-heavy game interfaces commonly seen on indie games to avoid overwhelming users. Our initial UX/UI was cluttered and confusing - a symptom of us mindlessly throwing things together and prioritizing our game level designs instead. Our new approach was to group similar items together and employ a modular design to enhance a sense of organization.

But we struggled with assigning the correct priority to which buttons. Naturally, a game interface included many buttons: the shop, loadouts, leaderboard, friends & chat screens, settings, profile, tournaments, daily prizes, free items, amongst others. These are some of the things I decided on:

  1. As this was a multiplayer browser game, we wanted to draw attention to the “multiplayer” part of the game - hence, we decided that most of the screen will be taken up by a visual display of the player’s team (i.e. 5 characters seen in a row in the middle of the screen). 
  2. We decided that the left-side buttons will be items-related (shop, loadouts) and the right-side buttons will be game-related. With this grouping, it was easier for players to tell which buttons were associated with each other. 
  3. We made the “play” button (bottom left hand corner) the largest - this was the most important button and, prior to this revamp, it had been confusing to find.

04 Game Design

The next big challenge was to figure out an alluring game loop that kept the players engaged. In other words, how do I make the game more fun?

After talking to multiple playtesters, I realized that a player’s first impression and last impression of the game mattered the most in their decision on whether or not a game level was fun. Additionally, there’s also a fine line between skill-based obstacles and luck-based obstacles, and game maps typically needed a good balance of both of these to appeal to the most players. High-skilled players liked skill-based obstacles, whiole low-skilled players liked luck-based obstacles. We needed a good mix of both.

We had two other findings while conducting the user interviews. We realized that:
  1. It’s particularly frustrating when a player starts or ends a game on an obstacle they struggle with. 
  2. A player remembers the ending of the game the most, This is their most lasting impession of each map level.
Hence, I concluded that having an exciting beginning and/or ending obstacle was the best solution to making the game more fun.

But what made an obstacle “exciting”? Remember, we have to bridge the gap between skill & luck to appeal to a broad range of player types. I realized that players felt like it was “fun” during high-velocity moments with high success rates - 1) being launched somewhere or 2) sliding somewhere. It needed to be slightly skill-based but not too difficult. For example, being launched somewhere - we made it so that the player needed to hit a target to be successful.

By implementing either an exciting start or end to the game maps, the “fun” rating of the maps skyrocketed. See above videos of how we implemented the ending launcher for Jungle Map (top video) and the beginning launcher + slide for Laser Map (bottom video). I used Cinema 4D to make the 3D assets and implement them in Unity, then worked with our 3D artist to create textures for our 3D assets.