Sunday, September 02, 2007

Designing games for the Wiimote

Usability design issues with the Wii ...

In this exclusive report based on research derived from player feedback, Ben Weedon at Serce Usability Services looks at how developers should be designing game concepts for the Nintendo Wii's innovative remote…

The Nintendo Wii has created a whole series of brilliant challenges and opportunities for game control development. The Wiimote and Nunchuck have practically offered a blank slate for designers to harness, giving huge potential for inventing and developing different methods of interacting with games.

But this is a very unusual moment in games development. Game control mechanisms have tended to evolve gradually over time, from eight-direction keypads, to analogue sticks, then the addition of extra buttons and triggers, and rumblepacks. However, the movement-sensing functions of the Wiimote do not have any precedents to help designers understand which make most intuitive sense to users for different actions. For example, what is the best way to allow users to open a door? Wiggle the Nunchuck or press a button?

So this novelty may be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand it means that there are multiple new ways of allowing users to interact with games, which is a whole new world of fun; a massive potential. But, on the other hand, there are no conventions yet for how users expect the controller’s actions to be used in a game.

For example, on a more conventional controller, there are some pretty well-established expectations: in a first-person shooter the left analogue stick tends to drive the direction of the protagonist, the right deals with finer movements, such as head direction. Also certain buttons tend to do the same things across different games, e.g., X, Y, A and B buttons on the Xbox and the shapes on the Playstation controller.

The last time we remember such a blank canvas for interactive design was in the early days of the internet. Pages were colourful, flashing and had different fonts. Standards, such as top- and left-hand navigation were not in place, and often people used patterned backgrounds to their pages, which made it hard to read the writing on top. Sites were exciting, but hard to use. However, gradually, over the years, the fun of the web remained, but design conventions were derived from the sites that people found easiest to use (and consequently used most).

USER EXPECTATIONS OF WIIMOTE FUNCTIONS

... 1. Nunchuck stick: to most users it is the left analogue stick from any orthodox controller. Therefore, they expect it to be the fundamental means of navigation of the protagonist; forward, back, left and right."    (Continued via develop magazine)    [Usability Resources]

Wii Remote - Usability, User Interface Design

Wii Remote

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