Deep Dive: Evolving the UX/UI of A Total War Story: Troy using user testing & feedback

The Gamasutra Deep Dives are an ongoing collection with the function of losing mild on explicit design, artwork, or technical options inside of a online game, in an effort to display how apparently easy, elementary design choices don’t seem to be actually that straightforward in any respect.

Previous installments duvet subjects corresponding to construction an adaptive tech tree in Daybreak of Guy, reaching seamless branching in Watch Canine 2’s Invasion of Privateness missions, growing the intricate stage design of Dishonored 2‘s Clockwork Mansion, and the tech at the back of Gears Ways.

On this version, Alex Tomakchiev, Lead UI/UX Recreation Clothier at Inventive Meeting Sofia, stocks how consumer trying out and participant comments helped tell the UI/UX pushed design of A Overall Warfare Saga: Troy‘s ‘Finish Flip’ button.

The Starting (Iteration #1)

Let’s get started through taking a look at one of the vital essential UI components in turn-based video games – the Finish Flip button. For a very long time all over building, our Finish Flip button regarded and behaved very a lot love it does in Overall Warfare: Warhammer II. It used an hourglass icon and in case you had pending movements it could display you a distinct icon for each and every motion. 

The top flip button represented through the hourglass.

Whilst you clicked at the button, it could make a selection a recreation object or open a panel to recommended you to behave at the corresponding motion earlier than finishing your flip. 

An instance of the Royal Decrees notification proven on most sensible of the Finish Flip button.

This used to be a just right quality-of-life function that helped remind gamers of all of the movements they hadn’t but finished, however it additionally had a drawback. We might simplest show the Finish Flip button after you had resolved or skipped your entire pending notifications, which in mid-to-late recreation intended that you may have to head via 20+ clicks earlier than even seeing the Finish Flip button. 

On the other hand, we did not give this a lot concept since we had gotten used to this habits ever since WH2. Our core gamers had additionally apparently gotten used to it, however then we began doing consumer assessments and briefly bumped into surprising issues. 

The Check

One in all our assessments used to be with a gaggle of avid gamers who had by no means performed a Overall Warfare recreation earlier than and had little to no revel in with turn-based technique video games. Now, I do know what you can say. “Why would you take a look at individuals who’ve by no means performed Overall Warfare you probably have individuals who’ve been taking part in it for 20 years?” Don’t fear, we requested them, too. However Troy used to be first of all launched without cost at the Epic platform which intended that we might have an enormous inflow of gamers who have been totally new to the franchise. We wanted knowledge on what the participant revel in can be for the ones other folks. 

Spoiler alert – it wasn’t nice. 

So, we ready a construct, arranged the take a look at, invited other folks and began staring at them as they performed. At this level we have been feeling beautiful assured with the sport, however then other folks began taking part in and truth hit us within the face.

  • One individual has spent 40(!) mins on their first flip as a result of they couldn’t work out the way to finish their flip. 
  • Some other requested “What do I do now?” after they have got finished maximum of what might be finished on flip one. 
  • A 3rd identified the significance of the Finish Flip button, however as a result of they’d pending movements, they have been seeing an icon to factor a Royal Decree. When they did that, they totally not noted the button for the remainder of the playthrough as a result of they concept it used to be a button for decrees, now not for finishing a flip.

Clearly, this used to be now not the primary time consumer revel in we have been hoping for. New gamers had a troublesome time finishing their flip. In a turn-based recreation. 

So, we began scratching our heads and it grew to become out we have been going through a couple of key problems that every one contributed to other folks now not finishing their first flip.

The Street to Unencumber (Iteration #2)

Factor 1: It grew to become out that appearing a number of notifications and having gamers undergo them earlier than they may be able to finish their flip used to be reasonably complicated. Common Overall Warfare gamers have been used to it, however new ones? Nope.

Answer 1: We explored two answers geared toward detaching notifications from the Finish Flip button so we will have it visual all the time. 

The primary used to be merely to make a separate button for notifications and transfer it subsequent to the Finish Flip button. It regarded slightly like this:

An preliminary mockup of notifications along the tip flip button

Answer 2: The second one resolution used to be to transport all notifications to a brand new menu and deal with it as a “to-do” listing. In the end, we went with this as a result of we felt it could be extra precious for gamers to peer them all of sudden as an alternative of clicking via them one-by-one. It additionally allowed us to extend the textual content strings and be extra explicit. If in the past we had “Hero now not moved” as a notification, now we might additionally display the hero’s title, so gamers may briefly scan and make a decision which of them they sought after to transport and which of them they didn’t.

An preliminary mockup of the ‘to-do listing’ taste of notification menu

On the other hand, this transformation additionally intended we not had the rest to prevent gamers from finishing their flip IF they’d pending notifications. Positive, there used to be a listing of them, however there used to be no ensure they might open the listing within the first position, we simply assumed they’d. 

We carried out the alternate, even including some animations and states to the brand new Notification button, considering that might be sufficient to catch gamers’ consideration.

Factor 2: Keep in mind how I mentioned that first of all our Finish Flip icon used to be an hourglass?

Now ask your self: in case you see this ⌛ on a button, what would you suppose that button’s serve as is? One in all our QAs raised that query in a while earlier than liberate and my jaw dropped. 

I arranged a handy guide a rough survey to invite other folks precisely that. 100% of the solutions have been “loading”, “ready”, “buffering”, “in development”, “accelerate time”, “sluggish time”… You get the purpose. It used to be correct in entrance of our eyes, however we could not see it as a result of we have been so used to it. 

One in all my explanations used to be that as avid gamers, we one way or the other jointly agreed that the hourglass would constitute the tip of a flip when Heroes three used it again in 1999 and we simply roughly rolled with it. However for any individual who hasn’t performed Heroes or some other turn-based recreation it might be very complicated.

A screenshot of Heroes of May and Magic, appearing the hourglass icon used to finish your flip

Answer: We modified the icon to a right-pointing arrow like the only utilized in each and every media participant ever to turn the motion of “Subsequent”. We have been so used to how issues have been that any individual needed to in reality ask “Why?” to make us even consider it. That is what we ended up the usage of:

The notification listing along the brand new arrow icon used for finishing a participant’s flip

Unencumber And Past (Iteration #three)

Then got here the discharge. TROY used to be claimed through over 7.5m other folks and we have been ecstatic for them to in the end play it! They did and so they began sharing comments. Gamers not had an issue finishing their turns, however now it used to be really easy to do it that we began seeing them finishing a flip simply to then say “Oh, wait! I forgot to transport my military!“.

Naturally, common TW gamers spotted this and mentioned “Why did you take away my finish flip notifications? It helped me when I used to be taking part in and now I put out of your mind to do issues repeatedly!“. And so they have been correct! We made a mistake through taking out an invaluable function simply to mend some other factor.

The issue used to be that the notifications have been nonetheless within the recreation, BUT, gamers simply were not opening the listing to peer them. And why would they? We did not make any effort to attract their consideration to the listing. 

As soon as once more, we went again to the planning stage and it grew to become out the answer used to be fairly easy.

All we needed to do used to be to appear again on the unique implementation and take what used to be just right about it (on this case, the contextual button earlier than the Finish Flip button). Handiest this time, we might display it simply as soon as, with an exclamation mark icon and upon clicking it could open the notifications listing. Accomplished.

This allowed us to get to the bottom of each problems on the identical time – now not obfuscating the Finish Flip button at the back of 20 different ones, whilst nonetheless holding the “whats up, do not put out of your mind these items you’ll nonetheless do” capability. We additionally carried out a bit growth to the structure of the Notifications listing – we offered notifications teams.

The present implementation of the Finish Flip and Notifications listing within the recreation

On account of the time it took to send those ultimate iterations, (3 months had handed since liberate) we knew that some gamers would’ve gotten used to how issues now labored and it shouldn’t have been correct for us to power this new iteration on them. So we added it as an possibility as an alternative.

The brand new notification menu possibility present in Recreation Settings

And that is the place we are actually. It’s a just right position. Or so we expect for now.

Confidently this tale presentations you ways one UI component can take such a lot of iterations to get correct, in addition to percentage one of the courses we discovered alongside the way in which (or no less than bolstered our wisdom of) corresponding to:

  • Person trying out will display you stuff you haven’t even thought to be
  • By no means suppose
  • Search for answers that paintings for every type of gamers
  • Whilst getting your design correct first time must at all times be the target; iteration is a need to make enhancements and to in reality succeed in a just right design resolution! 
  • If you’ll, give gamers a call, don’t lock them into your judgement of what’s correct

And we’re finished! I’ll see you subsequent time.

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