Doge 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, Doge 2048.

Feedback & signs

doge2048-feedbackThe game provides clear feedback of tiles appearing and merging, using a typical zoom effect, to highlight the merging
times, and make the new ones move into the board.

doge2048-itemprogressWhile doge 2048 has a unique style, this style makes it harder to understand the game’s progress. There is no natural hierarchy between the different types of dog pictures, to help the player understand his progress through the game.

Menus and interfaces

doge2048-gameoverThe interface and menu items are all placed above the gameplay area, which makes them visible at any time. They small size and low contrast can make them hard to interact with or identity. For example, one arrow stands for retry, and the other for undo, but they could also mean, go back to the start and repeat last action.

While the game might actually be accessible to play thanks to the dog’s alterations and distinguishable backgrounds, the menu lacks better accessibility features.

The end-game screen shows the heart of the game, but fails to propose actions to the player. In fact, he can still restart the game through the menu buttons on top of the screen, but since they’ve always been there, he doesn’t think about it. Nothing guides the player’s attention towards the menu, or encourages him to start a new game clearly. The player is likely to leave it at that and exit this funny game, that he has seen now.

What have we learnt from this game ?

  • The original design of the game makes is fun, but harder for the player to assess his progress and engage in long, meaningful sessions to challenge himself to do better.
  • It is possible to allow anyone to play a game, even with a funny, alternative or even artsy theme. Using simple features like patterns instead of only color or altering shapes makes the game more accessible.
  • Icon based menus are more visual, take less space, and avoid localization costs, but the icons should be clearly identifiable, and different enough from one another that there can be no confusion.
  • When the player ends a game session, just having the menu there isn’t enough to make him play again, or even know how to if they really want to. The player shouldn’t have to wonder what to do next, but be proposed meaningful options to make their life easier, and allow them to focus on the gameplay, not how to get to play.