Over the last few weeks the design team and I have been exploring different areas and tools to help us in the process of creating the serious game for New Intelligence. After we’d done the training course and analyzed a few different types of games and how they present information we came together and found the commonalities between what NI thought needed the most attention and what we thought needed attention. One of the tools that has actually been extremely handy to have is a giant whiteboard (which is the size of a wall) to quickly dump a large sum and variation of information.
After we identified the commonalities we all ended up having a half hour rapid brainstorm session. The brainstorm session was to jot down as many different ideas that we could, that was the summation of all of the content we had learnt and what needed to be in the app but in-game form. This was the time to start transferring all of this knowledge into activities that can played/used by players in the app. We wrote down our ideas on post-it notes. Post-it notes worked really well for a few reasons.
- They work well in a collaborative work space. You can all end up putting them in a specific area within a room like a pin board for everyone to see while brainstorming and afterwards.
- They limit the amount of information you can put on one, so it ends up being a more condensed version and somewhat easily decipherable by others.
- Because they limit the amount of information it means there’s less time spent sitting on a single idea, it almost forces you to push onto another.
- It makes you constantly move to put the post-it note onto the ‘pin board’. Makes you stimulate body and mind. I find that this gets all kinds of creative juices flowing and improves workflow.
Then after that, we each wrote on the whiteboard which ideas we liked best out of all of them. As well as another consolidation of the most frequent ideas that came up.
After we had commonalities, we assigned particular tasks and split up to start drafting up how particular exercises on post it notes and how they’d work within the app. To testing if any of these ideas could possibly work or what they felt like to operate. And much like what we’ve done in other stages of game development is paper prototype!
There were large sheets of paper to test on and post it notes along with a whole box of goodies that can used for paper prototyping. In Adam’s case, he was using some of the large sheets of paper with lots of goodies from the box. Having physical objects that can moved around, simulating what the apps screen might look like. Us others stuck to post-it notes, because these sized post it notes are almost the same size as what 2016-2017 modern-day mobile screen sizes are. If we could fit our prototype content onto these similar size post-it notes, we know it could translate onto phones in a similar fashion. If it fits onto these sizes, it’s only going to be easier to interpret and decipher on larger screens such as tablets.
Eventually it came to a point in time where we should start seeing where these elements fit into the app and how the app flowed. This was/is another ongoing conversation because this is iterative design. It was back to the drawing board – literally. We started to figure out how and where each of the game elements worked. Using the bit white board ‘wall’ as a plotting space to compile all of the common aspects and activities we wanted to be in the app.
Once there was enough knowledge on how the app could flow and some of the prototype content could fit in it was about time to move onto testing how this would actually look/feel/operate on a digital device. So luckily being in the 21st century and having technology at the finger tips, instead of blasting straight into unity which is what we’re pretty much used to doing, we took another approach. The internet has plenty of places to do “proper” or “mockup” UI designs. And one of the greatest things about using one of these sites is that if we made this quick prototype in unity it might have felt like this was the beginning of design. Sure it could be iterated on but we might have been afraid to discard it. Being on an external site means we have to discard it. Rather than sticking with the first thing we try, explore different ways of doing things. Here’s a few sites that we tested that enabled us to do what we wanted for free:
Now without going into great detail about whats so good and bad about each of them I’m going to do a quick summary. They all do what they’re supposed to. Some have minor differences in aesthetics and what it enables you to do or what is available to use. Some were Mac only. The one that stood out was Marvelapp. For a number of reasons.
- Multiple people can be invited to the project and work simultaneously.
- There’s an app that you can download and view your project on.
- Within the app you can play through your design.
- The app is free also.
- You can send links to people to play through your design!
- You can record exactly what users do!
- It updates live (when there aren’t any syncing problems).
- It updates live on mobile devices (when there aren’t syncing problems).
- It can be used on both PC and Mac.
Here’s a list of cool features that it can do. It lacks a few features that makes the difference like simple copy and paste or drag and drop functionality in play mode. Parts of the simple functionality was missing which makes it a little more time-consuming to make it do VERY simple screen changes which gets the idea across, but the app itself makes accessibility a breeze. But when it came to sending the link to NI and getting them to run through the app in its most basic form and to get the message across and for them to understand it confirms it was the right choice.
Until next time –