Full Indie 2016 : How to create 4D games

At Full Indie Summit 2016, Marc ten Bosch taught the audience to think in 4 dimensions. Now most of you probably have no idea what that means, and no, the 4rth dimension is not time. So how does it work ?

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How to teach players your game?

In this article, we’ll have a brief look at different types of tutorials and typical player behaviour when they encounter them. We will use the 2048 games as a reference because they exist in many forms and shapes and are simple enough to illustrate typical situations.

While creating efficient tutorials for more complex games may require more, the fundamental points this article aims to highlight are valid no matter the complexity of what needs to be taught.

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Does your game user experience suffer from blindness to change ?

Change Blindness is a perception phenomenon where  theobserver does not notice a change in a visual stimilus. It was first studied as part of memory and eye movement studies, and became largely researched for its applications in eyewitness testimony and distractions white driving.

This common perception phenomenon can greatly influence your user’s experience.  In interfaces, this means people often overlook changes in the design. It can affect error messages, or information in menus for example, and lead users to fail their tasks. Web users fail to notice errors or changes in products, or player can completely miss out on your games features.

So does your game suffer from change blindness?

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How games user research lead us to make our game harder

Making user friendly games doesn’t mean making them easier. Regardless, developpers still often make this mistake. The purpose of games user research is to ensure the player’s experience matches the designer’s intent. This can lead to simplify interfaces and remove unwanted challenges from the game, such as confusing controls. It does not imply removing any meaningful challenge though.

To illustrate that games user research can actually lead to making games harder, I will tell you the story of Olympus Naumachia. Game user research made this game quite a bit harder, yet less complicated.

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Mobile user interaction behaviors

The user’s position and context greatly influences their interaction with their mobile device.

Walking users almost exclusively use their mobile one handed. Walking mobile users are commonly finishing an activity they started before walking, and putting their phones away afterwards, or walking on with the phone in their hand, but without interacting with it. Walking mobile users usually do so while walking more slowly than usual, and pick up speed as soon as they are finished with their interaction. Walking users can also be found on the phone in conversation or looking at maps for orientation, as a help for their primary activity : reaching their destination point “B”.

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6 month of social network activity on game accessibility

A study based on the analysis of 856 mentions online – excluding facebook and linkedin

The hype started begin of august and the rush lasted half a month. Accessibility became a huge topic until begin of October, and fell back to regular levels of mentions. Begin January show a new increase in mensions. Articles on the topic were massively shared on twitter and on websites mainly in the USA but also in UK (not so much on blogs and forums). Canada and France don’t seem to have noticed anything really – or remained quieter about it on those networks at least.

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Study methodology about player multitasking behavior and task-interruptions while playing

In a previous article, we had a look at how multi-tasking influences the player experience. We found that most of the alternative tasks were of a social nature (talking, texting, checking emails), involved another media (surfing the web, watching tv or listening to music), or were related to physical needs (eating, drinking, smoking…). These were declared to be either neutral, positive or negative experiences.

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Where there is a will, there is a way : playtesting during the pre-production phase

A while ago, I was talking with one of the students in game user research from ENJMIN. He was eagerly waiting to have the first game prototype to start testing and had a lot of ideas. He was at a loss however as to what to do meanwhile.

In my experience, not having a game prototype is a non issue : that’s when everything can still be changed, it’s the perfect time for testing! Many solutions exist to be able to test concepts and gameplay mecanics even without a prototype. With little help from the developers, game designers it is possible to design a test and anticipate some or most of the major usability issues before having a game to playtest. This article proposes an overview of solutions to still be able to conduct tests early in the development process.

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Insights on interaction patterns using mobile devices

After having a look at how users hold their mobile devices, how they interact with their mobile devices, which hand they use to interact with their smartphones, and what their attention span might be…. let’s have a look at how this all plays out through time.

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