Friday, 9 January 2015

Clarity's the word

We have, in the past, made some absolutely terrible design decisions. We have even been told by a number of people that they are terrible ideas and yet we have gone forward with them. Looking back at these decisions, I cannot believe how thick we have been at times.

During the past month or so, we have been working on a Permia – Duels facelift. Most of the feedback we have received from players (in terms of the game’s appearances) has been positive but we still felt that we could do better now than when we first designed the game. We also felt that we could make the game more accessible to a wider player base by addressing some of the usability/design issues, which is why the update goes beyond being just a facelift.

By far, the most problematic part for us has been the actual game board and specifically the hexagonal tile design. Our game unit tiles carry a lot of information which we have to fit into a very small space and still ensure that it is legible on a small mobile display. Unit type, special attributes, unit rarity etc. are all emblazoned on the small hexagonal tile.

Possibly the most grotesque design mistake in the old design is the unit’s border we use to mark the card’s rarity level. What possessed us to think that it was a good idea to have a “blue player” and a blue border that denotes something completely different, I do not know. We have even used a different shade of blue in different parts of the UI. Fantastically confusing but not very player friendly.

After the update, the unit’s border finally stands for what it should’ve stood for from day one: whose unit it is. Unit rarity, an attribute with no intrinsic gameplay value, will now take a step back and assume a smaller role in the unit’s design. It will still be visible, but far less dominant. Because of these changes, we can drop the gradient we have previously used to indicate “ownership” and make more room for the actual unit illustrations. These changes should make the situation in the game much easier to read.

Unit design evolution (left old, right new. Not necesarily final graphics)
This is not the only change we have made but it is possibly the most important one and we hope that it will help new players get a grasp of the game quicker than before. We still have many other areas of the game to address (the tutorial comes to mind). The update should go live within a couple weeks. Once again, we would then love to hear what you think of the update? Are we headed in the right direction or has it all gone horribly wrong?

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