User experience is an area that game artists and developers don’t know much about. Considering how important it is to provide players with a clear and user-friendly interface, almost every experienced concept art studio has several UX designers on its staff.
Creating a good, interesting game is not an easy task. But it doesn’t end with creating code and beautiful art. It is important to be able to convey your idea to the players in a way that will not confuse, discourage or alienate them. The interface should be intuitive so that the player can start playing without thinking about the next step or experiencing difficulties in the settings.
What do you need to know about the user interface to be able to make it flawless? We’ve put together some valuable tips.
Define Your Target Audience
Despite the rather trivial wording of the advice, it is difficult to imagine something more useful and effective for creating good UX. You are not making a game for the whole world. It won’t work anyway: everyone has their taste and preferences. You create it for a specific category of players. And you should know them.
Avoid vague language like a man between 25 and 60. This approach will not be useful to you in any way. Targeting should be more specific and narrow since these are the people you will turn to for advice when testing your game. The best feedback is from those people who will later be your main users.
How do you find your players? Use analytics tools from social media and online game distribution platforms. There you will see not only age and gender characteristics, but also genre preferences and other subjective data.
The best option is to collect several different types of players that suit you and invite them to test your game. In reality, people with different preferences, tastes and approach to the gameplay will play it. Therefore, it is important for you to ensure the convenience of the game for all of them, so that later you do not lose players who are faced with a critical problem.
Get Rid of the Excess
You’ve probably heard about the principle of Occam’s razor: you should not multiply things unnecessarily. This rule fits perfectly with UX design in game development. If during the creation of the game you gradually add new functions, gameplay elements, levels and locations, then with the interface everything should be the other way around. Remove everything unnecessary from there.
This is somewhat similar to a brainstorming procedure. In the beginning, you have a huge number of options, but in the end, you leave only one, with which further work lies ahead.
If you understand that one of the information windows in the transition between levels has no semantic value, then feel free to remove it. Make sure that the player does not have difficulty finding maps and inventory. If an element raises additional questions and can become an obstacle to the user experience, it should be reworked or removed.
The best feature of UX design is maximum conciseness, bordering on a lack of understanding of what UX is all about. If players are so comfortable and easy to navigate the gameplay that they do not even think about the concept of UX design, then you can consider that the battle is won.
Personalize Your UX
It’s amazing how often developers make the same mistake. When they find a successful game, they completely copy its user interface, slightly adapting the colors and possibly changing the fonts. An especially large-scale disaster becomes if all this is copied from a very famous game, and players instantly draw parallels.
Individual style is something to strive for. Game genres make many games similar, but not the same: that’s the point of creating new products. If you are not going to copy the game itself and the gameplay, then why do you think this can be done with UX?
A great way to liven up the interface is to add animation and sound to it. It is important not to overdo it here. Large-scale fireworks at the touch of a button or some sharp frightening sounds are not the best choice. Remember to be laconic. The interface must match the style of the game and be seamlessly embedded into it.
If you need to draw the player’s attention to a certain button, use a light swinging animation. An important message may flash in some color. Sound can also play a useful auxiliary role: a confirmation signal, for example, will show that the changes have been saved, and an interrogative one will make you think again before taking any action.
Armed with these tips, you can better understand the principles of creating optimal UX. If you are going to collaborate with an animation outsourcing company that will also deal with the user interface, be sure to discuss in advance how the team sees it. Doing well from the start is much better than reworking after. In addition, this is a significant saving in time and money.
When faced with a controversial issue, try to put yourself in the shoes of the player. What would you offer without being a game developer? Often, the simplest solutions are the best.