Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sidhe's Mario Wynands on Usability

Designing usability into games ...

"At the 2007 GC Developers Conference, held August 20-22 in Leipzig, Germany, Sidhe Interactive (GripShift, Jackass The Game) co-founder and managing director Mario Wynands -- who's also the president of the New Zealand Game Developers Association -- gave a talk about usability, along with a case study from Sidhe's experience.

Wynands used the definition of usability as stated in Wikipedia: "a term used to denote the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal."

Many games use the entire slate of buttons on a single controller, Wynands said, calling XBox 360's "the bad example," owing to its many buttons, some with differing functions within the same game.

Poor usability has consequences, and Wynands' list of potentials included user frustration, annoyance and lack of trust in the system, even "wasteful or destructive actions" -- ultimately, he says, users may even seek out alternatives for play.

The key areas of video game usability, according to Wynands, are the game's controls, UI/HUD design, help text, understandability of game concepts, color and sound cues, clarity and consistency of language, and good artificial intelligence.

Almost everyone in the development process, from the game designer to the lead programmer, should consider usability, he added, laying out some basic requirements for usability testing. First, it needs a usability advocate -- someone who is involved in the development process, and a facilitator to run the test.

Second, Wynands recommended a private test area, consumer test subjects and at least two cameras to film the test subjects' spontaneous reactions.

For the test process, Wynands offered a to-do list: assign a test plan and task list, then recruit subjects and facilitate one-on-one test sessions. The next step is to collate the results and report them, and then make the necessary changes to the game. Lastly, iterate the impact of changes to the test."    (Continued via )    [Usability Resources]

GripShift, Jackass The Game - Usability, User Interface Design

GripShift, Jackass The Game

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