Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Videogame Usability 101 : Next Generation - Interactive Entertainment Today

Usability tips for game developers with wider application ...

"Here's a look at ten standard features that we think every videogame should employ.

Steve Krug argues in his book Don't Make Me Think! that a good program or product should let users accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible. The less time it takes a person to complete a desired task (even if only by a few seconds), the more satisfying it becomes. When that happens, people are more likely to use a product in greater frequency and return for more. So in the spirit of improved usability, here are ten standard features every videogame designer should embrace.

1. Never ask a player if they want to save their game.
Should you give players the option to save their game (and that's entirely up to you), don't ask them if they want to save upon reaching a designated checkpoint. Of course players want to save a game when given the privilege! Asking a gamer if he wants to save his progress is like asking a movie buff if they want to watch subsequent chapters of a DVD. Don't disrupt the game experience with an obtrusive pop-up. Simply display subtle on-screen text that says "Saving..." as popularized on consoles by Halo and be done with it. To ensure gamers can play back their favorite levels, don't overwrite level data. Rather, keep tabs on a gamer's progress and grant them access to the areas they have already visited.

2. Always say "press any button" to start a game.
This may seem fastidious, but in the real world, I've seen both casual players and experienced gamers unnecessarily stop and think about the start screen. A game specifically asks a player to "press start to begin." When prompted, the newbie gamer looks down at a confusing set of buttons, thinks for a second as to which button they need to press, then they hit it. The intimidation process has already begun. This is bad usability. Any button should do. "But I don't develop games for newbies, I develop them for gamers," you say. Fine, then you just forced a gamer to unnecessarily think if the actual start button is required, or any button would suffice as is the case with most games. Obviously as a designer you want to leverage thinking to enhance the value of completing a task, but what entertainment value can be found in complicating a start menu? Some games wisely display "press any button to start." Every game should."    (Continued via Edge Online)    [Usability Resources]

Easy Button - Usability, User Interface Design

Easy Button

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