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We’re In Motion

January 15, 2014, Sophia Baldonado

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

After a few months of preproduction and concept creation, production is finally in full swing here at Siphon. I mean, brainstorming is fun and all, but now it’s time for the good stuff — partially working, insanely buggy, REAL gameplay! There really is nothing like seeing the beloved character you’ve been talking about for months suddenly alive, moving and jumping around. With some good advice in mind, we want to keep the development of Siphon an iterative process so now we playtest, analyze, modify, repeat.

Infographic about UI and UX design in video game development

UI and UX

As we move to this new phase in development, I find myself extremely curious (maybe obsessed) about the player experience. I’m responsible for User Interface design and all I can think about is whether the end user will know what to do to progress through the level, or if the keys will feel right when playing, or whether the inventory graphic will break people out of the experience they’re having. So in an effort to keep myself on track without over thinking every aspect, I made this infographic based on an article by Desi Quintans. Now I can simply compare what I’m designing to this image and see if I’ve gone astray. It’s not perfect, but I think it will help me keep some of my sanity after this video game is finished.

Playtest or Bust

In the end, we can try to predict how the software will work and how the players will react within the game all we want, but what it comes down to is the actual responses we get from playtests. Being a fairly small, student group we have a lot to do to finish Siphon by May, but one thing we shouldn’t find difficult is finding playtesters around campus — what college kid doesn’t want to skip class to play video games?! — but obtaining the right information from the playtests will take some preplanning.

Our main goals are to address the overall experience had by players. First, we must ask ourselves “What does the dev team want to take away from the playtest session?” For us, it’s anything we can use to make Siphon FUN! Next, we want to get an idea of the players’ gaming experience going into the playtest. Finally, we let them play Siphon. Like others, the main elements we want to analyze are the players’ understanding of the game, the usability, and the user experience. We ask questions like:

  • What part of the game did you find enjoyable?
  • Were you ever confused or stuck during the game? At what point?
  • Did you find the controls easy to use?
  • Did any part of the game behave differently than you expected? How?

Believe it or not, game development takes a good amount of research and I can’t wait to start our player “experiments”, as our mentor so amusingly put it. According to Valve,

“We don’t know what’s best (players do).”

Private playtests will begin in early February, feel free to contact us to get involved.