Cats 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, Cats 2048.

Tutorials

cats2048-notuto-levelselectcats2048-errormessageThe game doesn’t provide a tutorial, which can make the first time user experience sub-optimal for new players.

Bugs don’t inspire confidence in the product. Even if they are not blocking, they give a negative first experience to this game that will prime players to perceive further experiences more negatively.

The error message is also not clear. Here the player was simply offline, but the error message reads “unknown issue”. Offline play should be the rule, as many players will use their phones to pass time when they can’t access the internet ! Online is the exception :)

Interactions

cats2048-input-notrecognisedcats2048-input-not-working-or-timingWhen trying to swipe in a correct direction, there are sometimes input errors. Unlike other games, it is not a diagonal swipe that creates this input error.

With some experimentation, one  cause of this input errors is the starting point of the swipe motion. When starting to swipe on the edge of the grid, the input isn’t taken in account. Players expect to be able to make swipe motions anywhere on the screen, specially with this type of game that doesn’t require to drag or swipe specific items on the screen.

Player strategies

cats2048-inputfail

Player strategies in this 2048 game are similar to the other ones.

Players will repeatedly swipe up, commit multiple errors before changing movement to a sideways swipe.

Either they keep swiping sideways until they are stuck, or they only use one sideway swipe to get unstuck and continue with up swipes.

The fact players commit multiple errors before changing their strategy suggests they may need a more visible feedback when they make an invalid gesture.

Feedback

cats2048-feedback-merge

Merging items has a very clear feedback in the game. Increasing the size of the tile when it merges is usually visible and explicit.

The score changes however are not highlighted at all. Users will be blind to the changes and not realise their progress. This means they miss out on the reward of seeing their progress and feeling accomplishment when they get a lot of points.

Player also need to compute the score change by themselfves. There’s nothing telling the player how many points he gets from different actions, so the game fails to guide and motivate them to reach further levels and merge higher scoring tiles.

The game also provides an audio feedback : mieuwing, which adds to the feel of the game.

Menus & options

cats2048-quit-no-confirm

Leaving the game doesn’t require a confirmation. that would be okay only if the game saves your progress and allows you to pick it up later.

 

 What did we learn from this game ?

  • Although 2048 games have been popular recently, and most people will know how to play it, there should still be a non intrusive tutorial for new players to be at ease.
  • Bugs are a no go, players won’t try to understand or be patient with bugs, they will just leave the game, so QA is very important for mobile games. PC and console games could be fixed with a patch, but a mobile user won’t give a second try to your game if it was bugged the first time.
  • Interactions should be reactive and a player shouldn’t have to try several times the same interaction before it is taken in account. In this game, players can have trouble getting an interaction right even when they pay attention to do it slowly and in a straight vertical or horizontal line.
  • Audio feedback is good and eases the player’s visual attention. Players often turn off sound in mobile games though, so it should not be the only feedback provided.
  • The scoring changes will be completely missed when they are neither calculated, nor highlighted.
  • The game doesn”t ask a confirmation before quitting, this is ok because the player won’t lose his game progress with this game.

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