Dreadnought is a AAA spaceship combat simulator. The players embody captains of capital spaceships. There are several ship classes. Each with their manoeuvrability and fire power drawbacks or advantages. As a result, gameplay involves careful positioning and ship management.
The Context
PRODUCT QUALITY 
Dreadnought have been in development three long years before I was hired. Built with the Unreal Engine, supported by a brilliant art direction, it landed among the most gorgeous games in the industrie. It is also an incredible game concept and amassed a solid fan base right from announcement.
UX CHALLENGES
Unfortunately very little care was given to Dreadnought's UI/UX. Basicaly, the game designers acted as the IxD team. While skilled at building game mechanics, their limited knowledge in UX translated in many frictions: there were unidirectional selection paths with no way back unless canceling and starting over again, some critical actions had no confirmation step, and navigation buttons could change location from screen to screen, etc…

what i delivered
MY ROLE
As the Lead UX Designer across three studios and two platforms my role involved:
• Review and validate IxD made by Yager’s Game Designers
• Review and validate designs from Iron Galaxy’s UI/UX team (Playstation version)
• Review and validate proposals from Six Foot's UX team (Publisher’s studio) 
• Initiate User Research tasks and Business Intelligence enquiries.
• Review and support Yager’s UI artists on usability and art direction
• Support UI Engineers on UI implementation involving IxD and IA.
Direct collaborators
I was reporting directly to the Game Director and the Head of Design, collaborating closely with the Lead Game Designer and the Lead UI Engineer.

Work sample : The Nav Bar
Previous Version
• Main navigation
One of the first candidate for a redesign was the top navigation bar. It's the back bone of Dreadnought's pre-battle experience. The previous version missed to provide access points to monetisation and social interaction features (Squads, Friends and Chat). Overall the entire structure usability lacked a clear hierarchy as most buttons were rectangles in various shades of greyish Blue and Orange.
• Battle editor
Furthermore, unlike what would be expected the Play button was in fact the access point to the game mode and fleet selection pop-up. Thus,  after clicking the first "Play" button, players still had to click another "Play" button to actually get in battle. To not help, when at the fleet selection step, players had no other choice then canceling and restarting the process if they changed their mind for another game mode.

THE Redesign
• Early ideation
I envisioned to make the resource scores clickable and turn them into access points. The GP score would take directly to the GP store where players can purchase GP packs with real money. In the same manner: the Free XP score takes to the XP-to-credits convertor screen, the Credit score to the credit purchase store (XP conversion required GPs and so did purchasing credit packs).
Following the F reading pattern best practices, I knew I had to keep the left side of the bar for the core gameplay access points (e.g. Tech Tree, Market, etc). But I wasn't sure where to put the button giving access to the Elite scheme purchase screen. 
Last but not least, I brought the social features (Squads, Friends and Chat) to this bar as well. Analytics showed few players used them as they were lost in the so called Z pattern dead zone, the central right-side of the screen.
In parallel, I explored ways to present the whole choice of modes and fleets in a row. The idea was to save players unnecessary clicks and of course to make the process more flexible. The once "Play" button would leave the top bar, become "Battle Plan" and sit on top of the Fleet tabs. It would expand on click to reveal the game modes and PVE events. 
• Wireframing and tests
After a few feedbacks and iterations, I finally brought the Play button back to the top navigation bar. I added a "Plus" icon next to the resource score to strengthen the stores access points visibility.
Despite many attempt to reduce the battle editor to one screen, I decided however to keep a two section articulation. This is for scalability, more game modes were in the making and I didn't want to overwhelm players with a wall of content (which would have been the case by combining Fleets and Game Modes in a single screen). 

THE REDesign Execution
I supported UI artists with my usability and accessibility expertise. This meant improving button affordance or introducing visual articulation following the Gestalt principles. Most notably, I used my Art Director background expertise to lead the UI Art towards a more appealing and immersive style.

WHAT I LEARNT

While seeking solutions to improve paying users retention, I learnt about two key researches on the psychology of gaming and VR worlds:
Gamer Motivation
This is a research on what motivates people to play games. It demonstrates how these motivations are grouped in three high-level clusters, how they vary by gender and age, and how they correlate with personality traits (OCEAN). It is based on findings from a survey conducted on gamers worldwide. 
This is obviously valuable knowledge for Game Designers but I think it is mostly of interest for UX and Product Designers.
Here is talk given by Nick Yee (co-researcher on the topic) at GamesUR Conference 2017:
Player Experience of need Satisfaction (P.E.N.S.) 
This model applies Self Determination Theory to video games. It demonstrates how games are satisfying basic human psychological needs that are:
Competence: the sense of progress towards mastery, the feel of abilities to solve problems, etc 
Autonomy: the feel of control, that one drives his own path or writes his own history, etc
• Relatedness: the sense of purpose and social interactions, the feeling that one matters to his peer, etc
This other model is mainly of Game Design matter but I believe it is relevant for IxD on subjects such as user onboarding, cognitive load management and of course gamification. You can as well watch this talk by Scott Rigby (the creator of the model) at Games For Change 2012:

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