DevDays Games UX Talk

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My talk on video game usability and user experience from DevDays event in Belfast. The videos I presented are not included.

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  • I am an academic at Sussex Uni, but I’m also Director at a new spin out called Vertical Slice. Vertical Slice is the UK’s first company to focus on games usability / user experience.

    Poll the audience, for developers, artists, sound design, PM/ QA




  • if you don’t believe this, your app is unlikely to be as successful as it could be
  • if you don’t believe this, your app is unlikely to be as successful as it could be
  • if you don’t believe this, your app is unlikely to be as successful as it could be
  • if you don’t believe this, your app is unlikely to be as successful as it could be
  • Reviewers may not explicitly be conscious of these issues, but they are all factors
  • Reviewers may not explicitly be conscious of these issues, but they are all factors
  • Reviewers may not explicitly be conscious of these issues, but they are all factors
  • Reviewers may not explicitly be conscious of these issues, but they are all factors
  • Reviewers may not explicitly be conscious of these issues, but they are all factors
  • It’s the human experience of your programming that is being evaluated, not the code itself
    The UI / IxD / UX, is the assessment of your programming

    Nielsen would agree that the top 4 reasons why software projects fail are usability-related reasons.
  • It’s the human experience of your programming that is being evaluated, not the code itself
    The UI / IxD / UX, is the assessment of your programming

    Nielsen would agree that the top 4 reasons why software projects fail are usability-related reasons.
  • In the news, Metacritic
  • In the news, Metacritic
  • In the news, Metacritic
  • In the news, Metacritic
  • In the news, Metacritic
  • In the news, Metacritic
  • - Metacritic rating on vertical axis
    - looks +ve, shows relationship that better games sell more units.
  • No game less that 60% sold more than 1 million units
    - bad games (less than 60%) have an upper bound regardless of license or marketing





  • Audience may laugh, probably in recognition - they’ve been there
    This is the wrong sort of frustration, the unfair kind











  • what to expect - your app / game experience starts before people see it - it starts with your brand
  • what to expect - your app / game experience starts before people see it - it starts with your brand
  • what to expect - your app / game experience starts before people see it - it starts with your brand
  • what to expect - your app / game experience starts before people see it - it starts with your brand





















  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.
  • Slide on profits of AAA games and iPhone games.
    Interesting to note that the publisher slice is identical in both cases.






























  • If your core value isn’t user-oriented, your app / game may be focussing on the wrong aspects

  • All these four things are human factors oriented
  • All these four things are human factors oriented
  • All these four things are human factors oriented
  • All these four things are human factors oriented
  • All these four things are human factors oriented
  • All these four things are human factors oriented
  • All these four things are human factors oriented

  • DevDays Games UX Talk

    1. 1. Making Games Better Graham McAllister
    2. 2. Based in Brighton, first company in the UK to focus on games from a human perspective
    3. 3. Based in Brighton, first company in the UK to focus on games from a human perspective Not QA
    4. 4. Based in Brighton, first company in the UK to focus on games from a human perspective Not QA Clients are AAA ($M) game industry
    5. 5. Based in Brighton, first company in the UK to focus on games from a human perspective Not QA Clients are AAA ($M) game industry Interest from iPhone studios
    6. 6. It’s about people
    7. 7. It’s about people The value of an idea lies in the using of it (Edison)
    8. 8. It’s about people The value of an idea lies in the using of it (Edison) Programming is difficult ...
    9. 9. It’s about people The value of an idea lies in the using of it (Edison) Programming is difficult ... ... but understanding your users is harder
    10. 10. It’s about people The value of an idea lies in the using of it (Edison) Programming is difficult ... ... but understanding your users is harder Analyze your reaction to this last statement
    11. 11. Jargon
    12. 12. Jargon Usability - “can I do it?”
    13. 13. Jargon Usability - “can I do it?” User Experience (UX) - “do I like it?”
    14. 14. Jargon Usability - “can I do it?” User Experience (UX) - “do I like it?” User Interface (UI) - the look of an app
    15. 15. Jargon Usability - “can I do it?” User Experience (UX) - “do I like it?” User Interface (UI) - the look of an app Interaction Design (IxD) - how the interface is used
    16. 16. Jargon Usability - “can I do it?” User Experience (UX) - “do I like it?” User Interface (UI) - the look of an app Interaction Design (IxD) - how the interface is used ALL of these affect the ratings of your app
    17. 17. Game reviews
    18. 18. Game reviews Very rare for a technical reason to be mentioned as a key reason for a bad review
    19. 19. Game reviews Very rare for a technical reason to be mentioned as a key reason for a bad review Usability / UX almost always most significant factor
    20. 20. Reviews
    21. 21. Reviews Why it so important to get good reviews?
    22. 22. Reviews Why it so important to get good reviews? Reviews drive sales
    23. 23. Reviews Why it so important to get good reviews? Reviews drive sales Sales gives you
    24. 24. Reviews Why it so important to get good reviews? Reviews drive sales Sales gives you - $$
    25. 25. Reviews Why it so important to get good reviews? Reviews drive sales Sales gives you - $$ - opportunity to try new original IP
    26. 26. Reviews Why it so important to get good reviews? Reviews drive sales Sales gives you - $$ - opportunity to try new original IP - Build brand identity / loyalty
    27. 27. Reviews / Sales 1,281 PS2 games sold in N. America in 2006 http://www.dreamdawn.com/sh/features/sales_vs_score.php
    28. 28. Marketing Ceiling
    29. 29. Marketing effect
    30. 30. Quality vs sales - lessons
    31. 31. Quality vs sales - lessons Good games can fail (high score, low sales) 19 games sold > 2M units, only 1 < 80%
    32. 32. Quality vs sales - lessons Good games can fail (high score, low sales) 19 games sold > 2M units, only 1 < 80% However, difficult for bad games to do well No bad games sold > 1 million units
    33. 33. Quality vs sales - lessons Good games can fail (high score, low sales) 19 games sold > 2M units, only 1 < 80% However, difficult for bad games to do well No bad games sold > 1 million units Strong motivation to get above 60%, but how?
    34. 34. Quality vs sales - lessons Good games can fail (high score, low sales) 19 games sold > 2M units, only 1 < 80% However, difficult for bad games to do well No bad games sold > 1 million units Strong motivation to get above 60%, but how? Let’s look at what we’re trying to avoid ... (video)
    35. 35. Video showing a gamer experiencing frustration
    36. 36. So we’ve learned?
    37. 37. Design intent
    38. 38. Design intent experience game interface game play time
    39. 39. Design intent experience game interface game play time experience game interface game play time
    40. 40. All change
    41. 41. All change Episodic game content is coming
    42. 42. All change Episodic game content is coming In a micro-payment model, Bioshock and Assassin’s Creed could have been financial failures
    43. 43. All change Episodic game content is coming In a micro-payment model, Bioshock and Assassin’s Creed could have been financial failures Both have serious usability / UX errors early in the game
    44. 44. All change Episodic game content is coming In a micro-payment model, Bioshock and Assassin’s Creed could have been financial failures Both have serious usability / UX errors early in the game Downloadable demos (or lite versions on the app store)
    45. 45. Shellshock 2
    46. 46. Shellshock 2 “Gun sight obscures the target”
    47. 47. Shellshock 2 “Gun sight obscures the target” “Stop making games like this or stop making the good ones so we know what to expect”
    48. 48. Shellshock 2 “Gun sight obscures the target” “Stop making games like this or stop making the good ones so we know what to expect” “One almighty dung- heap of a game”
    49. 49. Shellshock 2 “Gun sight obscures the target” “Stop making games like this or stop making the good ones so we know what to expect” “One almighty dung- heap of a game” 2
    50. 50. Stormrise
    51. 51. Stormrise “Units are woefully indistinct from one another”
    52. 52. Stormrise “Units are woefully indistinct from one another” “Nondescript icons”
    53. 53. Stormrise “Units are woefully indistinct from one another” “Nondescript icons” “Over-complicated controls”
    54. 54. Stormrise “Units are woefully indistinct from one another” “Nondescript icons” “Over-complicated controls” Lacks finesse”
    55. 55. Stormrise “Units are woefully indistinct from one another” “Nondescript icons” “Over-complicated controls” Lacks finesse” 4
    56. 56. HAWX
    57. 57. HAWX “It’s the missions themselves where HAWX shows it’s major limitations”
    58. 58. HAWX “It’s the missions themselves where HAWX shows it’s major limitations” 6
    59. 59. Res Evil 5
    60. 60. Res Evil 5 “The core focus of the game rubs the wrong way against the series fundamental, the control system”
    61. 61. Res Evil 5 “The core focus of the game rubs the wrong way against the series fundamental, the control system” “The control system is never worse than serviceable, but it’s a baseline that the game should have aimed beyond”
    62. 62. Res Evil 5 “The core focus of the game rubs the wrong way against the series fundamental, the control system” “The control system is never worse than serviceable, but it’s a baseline that the game should have aimed beyond” 7
    63. 63. Warhammer
    64. 64. Warhammer “Relic seems afraid to let any of its ideas meaningfully vary your experience”
    65. 65. Warhammer “Relic seems afraid to let any of its ideas meaningfully vary your experience” 7
    66. 66. Empire
    67. 67. Empire “most accessible game in the series”
    68. 68. Empire “most accessible game in the series” “immersed slowly enough to give you time to evolve”
    69. 69. Empire “most accessible game in the series” “immersed slowly enough to give you time to evolve” “slick, intelligent, accessible, opens up to a new crowd”
    70. 70. Empire “most accessible game in the series” “immersed slowly enough to give you time to evolve” “slick, intelligent, accessible, opens up to a new crowd” 9
    71. 71. Usability and User Experience
    72. 72. Usability and User Experience Edge scores last month:
    73. 73. Usability and User Experience Edge scores last month: 2 - 4 - fatal usability issues
    74. 74. Usability and User Experience Edge scores last month: 2 - 4 - fatal usability issues 5 - 6 - key usability issues, impacts enjoyment
    75. 75. Usability and User Experience Edge scores last month: 2 - 4 - fatal usability issues 5 - 6 - key usability issues, impacts enjoyment 7 - 8 - no usability issues, but UX was lacking
    76. 76. Usability and User Experience Edge scores last month: 2 - 4 - fatal usability issues 5 - 6 - key usability issues, impacts enjoyment 7 - 8 - no usability issues, but UX was lacking 9 - 10 - praised for how accessible the game was, good tutorials, player feedback
    77. 77. Profits of AAA vs App Store
    78. 78. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game
    79. 79. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £4.50 VAT (15%)
    80. 80. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £4.50 VAT (15%) £6 distribution (20%)
    81. 81. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £4.50 VAT (15%) £6 distribution (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%)
    82. 82. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £4.50 VAT (15%) £6 distribution (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%) £5.75 Cost of goods (19%)
    83. 83. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £4.50 VAT (15%) £6 distribution (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%) £5.75 Cost of goods (19%) £2.50 Licensor (8%)
    84. 84. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £4.50 VAT (15%) £6 distribution (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%) £5.75 Cost of goods (19%) £2.50 Licensor (8%) £2.50 Developer (8%)
    85. 85. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £2.99 app £4.50 VAT (15%) £6 distribution (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%) £5.75 Cost of goods (19%) £2.50 Licensor (8%) £2.50 Developer (8%)
    86. 86. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £2.99 app £4.50 VAT (15%) £0.90 Apple £6 distribution (30%) (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%) £5.75 Cost of goods (19%) £2.50 Licensor (8%) £2.50 Developer (8%)
    87. 87. Profits of AAA vs App Store £30 game £2.99 app £4.50 VAT (15%) £0.90 Apple £6 distribution (30%) (20%) £8.75 Publisher (30%) £2.10 Developer (70%) £5.75 Cost of goods (19%) £2.50 Licensor (8%) £2.50 Developer (8%)
    88. 88. dev - today
    89. 89. dev - today Pitch Prototype Pre-production Production Alpha, beta, release AAA Vertical Slice QA
    90. 90. dev - today Pitch Prototype Pre-production Production Alpha, beta, release AAA Vertical Slice QA Pitch Prototype Production release iPhone tested with developer or friends
    91. 91. Case study - Launchball
    92. 92. Case study - Launchball Approached by Bright AI
    93. 93. Case study - Launchball Approached by Bright AI Porting a web game called Launchball
    94. 94. Case study - Launchball Approached by Bright AI Porting a web game called Launchball Client is Science Museum, London
    95. 95. Case study - Launchball Approached by Bright AI Porting a web game called Launchball Client is Science Museum, London Have games on App store ...
    96. 96. Keepy Uppy
    97. 97. Developer
    98. 98. Developer James
    99. 99. Developer James 23
    100. 100. Developer James 23 PhD student in compiler design
    101. 101. Developer James 23 PhD student in compiler design Has apps on App store
    102. 102. Developer James 23 PhD student in compiler design Has apps on App store UX question - what if you only test with people like yourself?
    103. 103. Casual user
    104. 104. Casual user Jeremy
    105. 105. Casual user Jeremy 34
    106. 106. Casual user Jeremy 34 BSc in Psychology
    107. 107. Casual user Jeremy 34 BSc in Psychology MSc in HCI
    108. 108. Casual user Jeremy 34 BSc in Psychology MSc in HCI iPhone owner, doesn’t play games on it
    109. 109. Gamer
    110. 110. Gamer Ed
    111. 111. Gamer Ed iPhone owner
    112. 112. Gamer Ed iPhone owner Gamer
    113. 113. Gamer Ed iPhone owner Gamer MSc in HCI
    114. 114. PC gamer
    115. 115. PC gamer Simon
    116. 116. PC gamer Simon 21
    117. 117. PC gamer Simon 21 MSc in HCI
    118. 118. PC gamer Simon 21 MSc in HCI Former iPod Touch owner
    119. 119. PC gamer Simon 21 MSc in HCI Former iPod Touch owner Plays PC games
    120. 120. Core values
    121. 121. Video showing Sussex University research into games UX. We show a combined image of eye tracking, brainwave monitoring, GSR and heart rate.
    122. 122. Take-away
    123. 123. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users
    124. 124. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users Your game is assessed from a human factors point of view
    125. 125. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users Your game is assessed from a human factors point of view What’s going to sell your app / game
    126. 126. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users Your game is assessed from a human factors point of view What’s going to sell your app / game - Usability
    127. 127. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users Your game is assessed from a human factors point of view What’s going to sell your app / game - Usability - UX
    128. 128. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users Your game is assessed from a human factors point of view What’s going to sell your app / game - Usability - UX - UI
    129. 129. Take-away Test as soon as possible with real users Your game is assessed from a human factors point of view What’s going to sell your app / game - Usability - UX - UI - IxD
    130. 130. Contact g.mcallister@sussex.ac.uk grmcall vsgr (Vertical Slice)

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