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Exploratory Game Design for New User Interfaces

New devices and user interfaces are coming thick and fast these days: motion control, tangible computers, hybrid toys, 3D, etc. These devices all have great potential for inspiring fun, but a bad or confusing first experience can sour a player on the idea of trying new things. Designing just the right game to introduce people to an unfamiliar UI can be a daunting task for any designer. In this session, we dig into a number of strategies for designing games that make the most of a new device's unique capabilities while helping the player to master the interface.

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Exploratory Game Design for New User Interfaces

  1. 1. Exploratory Design forNew User InterfacesJosh Lee, Floor Is LavaGame Design Conference, September 2012
  2. 2. Introduction ‣ Josh Lee ‣ Floor Is Lava ‣ Experience ‣ Sifteo ‣ Excite Truck
  3. 3. User interface‣ UI = Input + Output
  4. 4. User interface‣ UI = Input + Output + Context
  5. 5. Innovations in UI‣ Then: Focus on outputs‣ Now: Inputs ahoy!
  6. 6. Pop quiz‣ Q: What are the most important games in Microsoft’s history?
  7. 7. Pop quiz‣ Q: What are the most important games in Microsoft’s history?‣ A: Minesweeper and Solitaire
  8. 8. Learning to mouse
  9. 9. Designing for new userinterfaces‣ Design to Discover‣ Design to Teach‣ Design for the Body‣ Design for the Environment‣ Design to Inspire
  10. 10. Design to discover‣ Be humble‣ Become an expert‣ Make games. Lots of games!
  11. 11. Sketch all the ideas‣ Get all your ideas on paper‣ Flesh out details‣ Figure out what doesn’t work
  12. 12. Focus on mechanics‣ Bottom-up design‣ Worry about the other stuff later‣ Explore the unknown
  13. 13. Small is beautiful‣ Simple mechanics lead to small games‣ Look for the Minesweeper, not the Starcraft
  14. 14. Develop the interactionlanguage‣ Give names to gestures‣ Simple vs. Compound gestures
  15. 15. The most important question‣ “Would this game work better in another interface?”
  16. 16. The even more importantquestion‣ “Would this game even be possible in another interface?”
  17. 17. Design to teach‣ Teaching ≠ tutorials‣ Teaching = sharing discoveries‣ Let the player explore‣ Design each game as if it’s the first thing the user has ever seen in the interface
  18. 18. Keep it simple ‣ Simple gestures first ‣ Compound gestures later
  19. 19. Learning and difficulty curves‣ Normally: steady upward movement
  20. 20. Learning and difficulty curves‣ Unfamiliar UI introduces early spikes‣ The interface is hard; your game doesn’t need to make it harder
  21. 21. Learning and difficulty curves‣ Reduce cognitive load while players get over the hump‣ Raise difficulty organically
  22. 22. Design for the body ‣ Then: minimal body movement ‣ Now: full body UIs
  23. 23. Design for the body‣ A human is not just a brain with fingers
  24. 24. Watch for fatigue‣ Physical fatigue ‣ Changing controller usage‣ Eye strain
  25. 25. Playtest Playtest Playtest‣ Observational vs. metrics, interviews‣ Watch the player ‣ Face ‣ Hands ‣ Posture
  26. 26. Design for the environment‣ There is no virtual world, there is only this world.
  27. 27. Awareness of space‣ Where is the game being played?‣ Who is playing? Who is observing?‣ How does the site of play affect the activity of play?
  28. 28. Playtesting in the home‣ More comfortable for the player‣ Examine the sites of play ‣ Site of play affects ergonomics ‣ Inquire about when play happens‣ Investigate the scene!
  29. 29. Wait a minute...‣ Why are we doing all this again?
  30. 30. New UI: Sifteo
  31. 31. New UI: Second screens
  32. 32. New UI: Sphero‣ Smartphone-controlled robot roller balls
  33. 33. New UI: VR goggles (again!)
  34. 34. New UI: Personal telemetry ‣ Fitbit, Fuelband, etc. ‣ Is that a bundle of sensors in your pocket, or are you just... oh. That’s a bundle of sensors in your pocket.
  35. 35. New UI: 3D printers
  36. 36. New UI: Emotiv‣ OMG brain control
  37. 37. New UI: Makey Makey‣ Turn any conductive surface into a controller
  38. 38. Design to inspire designers‣ Lead, don’t follow‣ Draw the map for other designers
  39. 39. Design to inspire players‣ Show players new possibilities‣ Explore new spaces with them
  40. 40. Thanks!‣ Josh Lee‣‣