Cupcake 2048 usability evaluation

As part of a benchmark series, we will look at many 2048 games out there to see how they compare, and highlight best practices swell as common pitfalls for this type of games.

Next up, Cupcake 2048.

Tutorials

cupcake2048-tutorialCupcake 2048 has opted for a more classical type of slider, clearly displayed above the content as a modal window (pop in, in the foreground with opacity effect over the background). The player navigates the tutorial pages with actual buttons.

It does not teach the player how to interact with the game by interacting in the same fashion with the tutorial, but it also avoids any confusion.

 

Interactions

cupcake2048-itemstoosimilar

Globally the game interactions are smooth, but they sometimes seem too slow compared to the player’s expectations and movements.

This can be a little frustrating when playing, specially if the player makes a different move before the previous one was really taken in account.

Specially in games where many quick interactions compose the natural way of playing, the game should allow the player to be as fast as he wants.

Interactive areas have an appropriate size for mobile interaction and the spacing makes it even more comfortable to use, avoiding errors.

Feedback & signs

cupcake2048-feedbackThe feedback when merging tiles is a zoom motion, like in many similar games. New tiles fade in while growing in size.

The main difference is the zoom motion is applied only to the content of the tile, instead of the whole tile. This makes the animation more subtle, but still visible enough to help understand the changes in the game state and the impact of the player’ interactions.

The scoring changes however are hardly noticeable, and doesn’t seem to bear much importance in the game. In cupcake 2048, the progress in unlocking more and more impressive cupcakes is more important, and a reward in its own.

Menus and interfaces

cupcake2048-gameovercupcake2048-quitThe menus and interfaces benefit from a pleasant design. Messages are clear and understandable, both concise and precise. Visual elements help to assess the player’s progress, and choices are globally clear.

One icon, the cupcake, is impossible to understand and even when opening the menu, its goal isn’t clear. The invite friends interaction is explicit but what to make of the blank cupcake spaces, or the icons on to?

It also uses similar icons to before, though at different locations, which leads the player to wonder of those same icons have the same meaning, or after all might not.

The font is legible and stylish, but the text sometimes lacks contrast for easy reading, specially when playing outside for example. The accessibility of the game could be improved there.

What did we learn from this game ?

  • A step by step tutorial navigated with “next” buttons can clearly explain the game interactions without using them: the player doesn’t benefit from the “training” but it avoids the confusion sometimes experienced when they do.
  • In games like this one, where many fast, short interactions are at the core of the gameplay, the player should be able to play at the maximum speed he can manage without it causing errors or detection issues. Waiting or repeating actions for them to be taken in account is disruptive of the player’s experience and can disengage him.
  • A zoom on the content of a tile, rather than on the entire tile, can work as a noticeable feedback, while being more subtle.
  • Without animations to highlight score increases, the changes are hardly noticed by players. This works when the game puts the emphase on the cupcake design and progress in unlocking the next design, and scoring isn’t the main motivation to keep playing the game.
  • Lack of consistency in menus can make them confusing even when they mix text and icons appropriately. The player will question the icons meanings, and wonder about this that he would have understood easily otherwise. It also forces him to learn how to interact with each screen, with less help from what he has learnt from other screens he already explored.

 

 

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