A mobile game usability assessment of Hacker

Hacker is a small puzzle game in which the player needs to connect computers to a power source by rotating pieces of wire to create a fully connected network.

Tested on Android / Samsung Galaxy S3

61_EmoticonsHDcomWhile the game starts-up quickly, it shows an add before the game is even seen. This sends a negative message to the player: you already send him away from your app before he even tried it out.

Screenshot_2015-02-07-00-39-0901_EmoticonsHDcomDespite this, the games starts up extremely fast, directly to a tutorial on the first launch. The first screen explain the basics of the game. The second screen puts the player in a game session directly.

01_EmoticonsHDcomFor mobile, the target sizes of the interactive items are exactly the minimal recommendation, and are relatively easy to manipulate even though they seem small. The same size is used for both beginner and expert levels, which means the game doesn’t get less usable with the player’s progression in difficulty. The game is also rendered more consistent this way, and can reuse the same assets for all levels.

 

Screenshot_2015-02-07-00-40-5901_EmoticonsHDcomThe game status gives clear feedback on rotations, and clearly shows which wires and computers are connected to the power source, and how the power flows through them.

72_EmoticonsHDcomIt is not clear from the start that the game will take completion time for setting highscores. A timer is visible on the screen, in the lower right corner. Yes, that’s right, just where the user can’t see anything because that area is usually hidden behind his right thumb. As a result the option to pause the game may also be a bit confusing and seem useless at first.

Screenshot_2015-02-07-00-41-4872_EmoticonsHDcomWhen the player has completed his first game, a dialogue will congratulate him and explain the score. In that dialogue is a continue button.

The player will expect this button to take him to the next levels, as seen in many other games. However, this only closes the dialogue and leaves the player on the previously competed game. He then has to manually launch a new game from the menu, using the device’s button.

Screenshot_2015-02-07-00-46-57In the menu, the player has the possibility to change the game’s difficulty. When a difficulty is selected, the game will explain in a modal window what the difficulty level implies in terms of new rules and constrains. This requires the player to try all difficulties if he wants to set the game directly to something harder, but doesn’t know what level would be right for him. Many taps that could have been avoided with a small description next to each choice.

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