Creating a Better User Experience with our Game’s Character

Since I began making video games, I have found viewing art assets before implementing them in the game a challenge. What I mean by this is that art assets may look great on “paper”, but when they are finally imported into the game they may not fit in with the design and ultimately the game’s experience. This occurred recently when we finally implemented our new character only to find issues with it in game.

For one, we designed the new character to shoot projectiles from its chest. The reasoning for this change was that our previous character threw minions to capture territory. Since we changed themes as well as pushed our camera back to see more of the playing field, we decided the effort to create a wonderfully detailed minion was not worth our time. Therefore, we decided to redesign the character and the position in which it shoots projectiles.

As we moved forward, our artist conceptualized the character reminiscent of the borg from Star Trek. Using this as inspiration, he created long tubes that ascended high above the character’s head. Initially, I very much liked the character and it’s look, especially when looking at it up close. However, when we finally inserted the alpha version of the character into the game, the player experienced difficulties viewing the projectiles being fired because the tube-like objects above the character’s head obstructed seeing the projectiles. As a result, the game and the shooting mechanic felt broken and unresponsive.

Second, since the camera was pulled back to show more of the environment, it was very difficult to view the detail on the character. The character looked great up close as noted above, but from afar the detail was wiped away. And it even played against seeing our character since the detail muddled its appearance. It just didn’t look or feel right.

Taking the problems into account, we decided to make a slight pivot on our character and simplify its design. This would ensure that it would communicate more effectively to the player. Now we could assure that the communication problems would be lessened moving forward and thus make the shooting mechanic feel more fluid and natural. Hopefully for GDC we will have the new character in place.

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