Thursday
Dec092010

Games on Maemo (Linux) - Device UI

Role: Head of Concept and Design
Contribution: Led four person team to design new games experience for Games on Maemo (Linux device)

Design Challenge: Evolve the N-Gage games platform, taking what was successful (social connected games) and bring that to the new Nokia Maemo (Linux) platform. The design challenge included building a full new UI and UX for a platform that itself was not finished, creating moving target for design to hit. An additional goal was to find holes and limitation in the new platform that the various services would need resolved before final release. Unfortunately games would be cut as a key service for this device and much of this would would be shelved, awaiting a new device. 



Concept wire frames for Games on Maemo

This project would last four "Sprints" (not true agile development), each lasting about two weeks. During each iteration the design was simplified to shorten development time and to align with both the overall device UX and the other Nokia Services (Messaging, Music, Imagery, etc). The above image was made using a new technique for the team, (a variation on paper prototype), hand drawing UI on stickies cut to screen aspect ratio. This allowed us to quickly manipulate order and arrangement to iterate on the design with user feedback. New concepts could be made rapidly and inserted into the design and tested with users.

 

Detail wireframe (first pass) for Games on Maemo 

This was the first wire frame done to aligned the games service UX with the device UX. As we iterated on the design we removed extraneous features and improved consistency within our own service and consistency with the other services. We also found holes in the overall UX of the device, specifically with how native, vs. downloaded apps were to be handled. These lead to significant changes to the device UX paradigm.

 


Detail wireframe (Second pass) for Games on Maemo 

This final iteration was done to further align with device requirements and other services to create a completely seamless experience for our service with others. At this stage we were meeting with our own development team sizing the amount of development work this would be and preparing for building interactive flash prototypes to be tested with users in short user research studies. Unfortunately at this stage the games service as pulled as a key selling point for this device and the device itself was delayed. 

 

Portrait wireframe for Games on Maemo 

In designing our portrait solution for Games on Maemo, we chose to use a combination of limiting data visualization (Game library goes from 9 to 6 displayed games) and curated stacking of elements, (Games above social info). We felt this gaves us the best balance of information and consistency.

Thursday
Dec092010

N-Gage - Website

Role: Head of Concept and Design
Contribution: Led a team of UX and visual designers to maintain and update the site

Design Challenge: Details coming soon.

Thursday
Dec092010

N-Gage - Device UI Symbian S60

Role: Head of Concept and Design
Contribution: Led a team of UX and visual designers to maintain and update the device UI

Design Challenge: The N-Gage Application was the main experience for the service were a user would spend the vast majority of their time, playing games, finding new games, and chatting with friends.

N-Gage S60 Device UI - Home and Games Tabs

Designed to address the short comings of the original N-Gage Hardware platform and to expand the experience to multiple S60 devices. This would be Nokia’s first move into the service industry, challenging it’s internal system of just building devices. The original design and concept was done by IDEO and handed off to Nokia for development and release. I was brought in at this time to analyze what was implemented vs. what was designed and to prioritize new feature development.

N-Gage S60 Device UI - Profile and Store Tabs

While working on this, we expanded the number of supported devices from 3 to 20 and dramatically, download, purchases and user activity (rating / reviewing games, chatting, playing online.

Thursday
Dec092010

For the Love of Gaming (Reset Generation) - Marketing

Role: Producer
Contribution: As Producer on Reset Generation I worked with the Marketing team to create this campaign.

Design Challenge: Reset Generation needed a marketing campaign theme that captured the soul of the product so we created the concept - For the Love of Gaming. This fit perfectly for the unique game that was about games.

Marketing Logo of the Reset Generation Campaign

For this marketing campaign to work we needed to take our low resolution, 8bit pixel inspired art and make it scalable for print and other large format usage. Before we did this though, we had to go through the process of converting our individual concept artist's work, (another marketing story for Reset Generation), into a unified art style of the game.

Sci-Fi Knight Evolution From Concept Art to Unified Game Style

In the above image the amazing work of Christian Gosset is made consistent with the game's own style. This this work would be further refined into 8 bit pixel art and then finally into print ready vector work for marketing needs. 

Sci-Fi Knight Evolution From In-Game Art to Marketing Vector Art

This evolution of styles was how the original design principles were applied and a consistent visual language maintained throughout the design, development and final marketing phase of the product.

Booth and Arcade Cabinet at the PAX Event

Reset Generation would be featured at the PAX Event in Seattle, GDC and other trade shows. The marketing assets would include additional items like an album for 8Bit Weapon and a full function multiplayer Reset Generation arcade cabinet.

Album Cover for 8Bit Weapon - Reset Generation

 

Final Design for Full Arcade Cabinet - Reset Generation

Thursday
Dec092010

Pocket Kingdom - Game (Symbian S60)

Role: Art Director
Contribution: All visual design and UX work.

Design Challenge: To create the first ever massively mutliplayer mobile online game - MMMOG. Pocket Kingdom was a designed to be a deep RPG, including creating and army, crafting gear and units, supported by an online auction, upgrading your castle and doing battle against other players from around the world. This game would go on to win numerous awards, including 4.5/5 from Gamespy.com and 9/10 from 1up.com

Pocket Kingdom - Game Banner

Pocket Kingdom is truly unique and truly exceptional. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying, habit-forming game experience anywhere. It does for N-Gage Arena what Halo 2 did for Xbox Live ...

-- GameSpy.com

Pocket Kingdom - N-Gage QD

On a technical level, one of the huge challenges with Pocket Kingdom was the very small screen resolution - 176 x 208 pixels and the 12 bit color palette that only allowed for 1 bit alpha channels. This was some seriously old school programming and I had the great fortune of working with industry legend Ed Rotberg of Battle Zone and other game fame.

Pocket Kingdom - Battle Screens

One major distinction of Pocket Kingdom to the genre of RPGs was the breaking of the, "fourth wall" in videogames, by having a player's units speak in L33t speak, like online gamers at the time, including, "Pwn!", "Grief" and "OMG". This really helped the game stand out from the crowd of generic RPG fodder. 

Pocket Kingdom - Unit Screen and Battle Screen

One of the secondary design challenges was dealing with information overload for such data rich areas as crafting, unit upgrading and party management. All of these areas were stat heavy and lacked an connection to the actual units and items they were meant to represent. By simply adding in small images of the units similar to in the battle screens the player had a much better sense of relationship of the unit and it's related data. 

Pocket Kingdom - Main Menu and Notification Screen

Because of a relatively short development cycle we were not able to fully overhaul the existing IA for the game menu, so instead we created a work around of a personal fairy character who explained the various features of the game as the player accessed them. This character also acted as comic relief and set the tone of the tongue and cheek style of humor the game became famous for.