Hexic 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, Hexic 2048.

Tutorial

hexic2048-tutothe game starts with a slider showing the tutorial. While the images are very clear and the game is easy to pick up, the swipe to slide is not always understood right away.

Seeing the arrows, the player sometimes assumes he’s in a playable tutorial and doesn’t see the small dots at the bottom of the screen. They’ll probably be hidden behind his hand anyway.

This might seem like a non-issue, but we’re in the first seconds of the game, where the player forms his first impression. This first impression will influence all others, positively or negatively. Small details like these can seem harmless, but can contribute to form a negative first impression.

To make the experience seamless, the first tutorial slide should require movement in the same direction as required to pass to the next slide. Even if the user makes an error, the result will still be good, and since the player will see what happened was not what he expected, he understands and doesn’t make the same mistake a second time. The overall experience would be more smooth and positive that way.

Interactions

hexic2048-merge-sequence

To move the tiles in this 2048 game, the player needs to perform oblique interactions, which we saw in other reviews, the player does naturally. This makes the interactions comfortable and natural.

hexic2048-input-not-recognisedThe inputs are not always taken in account though, and prevents some players to play as fast as they would like. Possibly, managing 3 directions for the tiles movements rather than 2 in a square version of the game gives less freedom to handle errors in a transparent way for the player.

hexic2048-gameoverWhen losing, the game offers the option to undo the last action, but it is not very visible, despite the red marking, players I observed using this game often just start a new session, and aren’t aware of the feature when questionned.

hexic2048-howdoiquitTo exit the game, the player needs to go back to the menu after losing, which is as intuitive as clicking start to end your session in windows. It goes fast though, and most users would kill the app or go back to their home screen with their device’s hard button, so it’s a very minor issue in this game.

What have we learnt from this game ?

  • Slides presenting the tutorial are a good visual way to quickly introduce the gameplay without being tedious for players already familiar with the concepts
  • In this case, the first slide would work better if the interaction presented was the same direction as the one required to use the slider. Don’t make the user think.
  • The oblique layout of the grid is more in line with the natural movements the players make to interact with the screen when they play 2048, but the fact there are 3 possible directions makes it more prone to detection errors.
  • The game offers an undo feature, but doesn’t emphasise it enough for the novice player to really use it. It’s likely to be ignored, where it could be treated as a special bonus, being in itself rewarding and a positive experience for the player who just thought he lost the game to have a second chance at it.

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