As game developers, we don’t often delve into the domain of user experience (UX). However, this aspect of game design is becoming increasingly prominent, thanks in no small part to the meteoric rise of mobile gaming.
You can think of UX design as the bridge between your creative vision and the player. Its role is to make your mobile game as straightforward and intuitive as possible. The objective is to enable the player to pick the game up and seamlessly transition into the experience.
We are not talking about making the game easy — we are talking about improving its flow, its controls, and its interface. For a game to be enjoyable, it must be understandable, digestible, and above all, playable.
What follows is a set of tips from experts from top Chicago mobile app development companies on how to make the user experience of your mobile games better.
1. Know Your Audience
There are too many types of players out there, and you can’t hope to please them all. Instead, you want to target a specific group of users and design the best possible game for that group. The game can always take on a life of its own and expand beyond the core target, but a laser focus on a particular market will enable you to get things rolling in the right direction.
Decide whom you're making the game for, then find them and test extensively. In other words, this approach ensures that you get relevant and helpful feedback.
2. Understand That Less Is More
You want to apply the subtractive nature of UX design to your work. Designing a game usually involves adding new features, obstacles, patterns, mechanics, etc. This is all part of the process. Initially, UX design feels unnatural since we are not used to removing components.
However, subtraction is the heart of the discipline. Designers must add extra mechanics to make a game feel rich and surprising. UX design is not exactly the opposite, but it acts as the counterweight to bring your projects into balance.
3. Be Consistent
Find the principles governing your game's UX and UI throughout the production process. For example, if all interactive elements have a blue outline on the first level, stick to that choice for anything you add later.
A consistent approach makes your players feel smarter. It makes it easier for them to understand the game because there are only a few rules to learn. It's also for this reason that we tend to reuse conventions.
The player's life bar is typically green, and an enemy's life bar is red. Collectible items that heal you include red hearts and potions. You get points for coins and elements in yellow. These ideas will be intuitive to anybody who has played other games.
4. Focus on Immersion
UX designers strive to prevent discontinuities in the player's experience. To keep the game rolling, the gameplay must be compelling, and the feedback must be instantaneous. This is the first step to getting players immersed in the game.
The touchscreen controls on mobile devices can be a considerable asset in capturing people’s attention from the get-go. The icons bulge up when you touch them; the menus move when you swipe — you become physically engaged with the game.
There should be visual or audio cues for anything the player interacts with. This will do wonders for the immersion factor and the overall user experience.
5. Breathe Life into the UX
Adding audio and visual cues to your game characters makes them more engaging. The same applies to your user interface. Each time players press a button, they should hear a sound and see a simple animation letting them know that the game’s interface registered the action.
Draw the player's attention to a specific button with animation, color contrast, and different effects. Your interface will look more organized this way. This is where web design and motion design come into play, particularly for mobile games.
6. Use Gestures
Using a smartphone involves certain habits. You should respect those habits and use them in your mobile game if you want to deliver a superior experience.
For example, users can swipe from left to right to go back on iPhones. In your game, you should include the back button at the top of the screen but also support this gesture. Various other gestures are available, including pinching to zoom, using three-dimensional touch, and so on.
Taking advantage of these gestures will make your game more user-friendly.
7. Keep Testing
Most people think that testing a game is about finding bugs and seeing if there are any lags or problems. But the primary goal of testing should be to ensure that the game delivers the required user experience. Remote user testing is the best method for achieving this.
Through recording software, gamers will record their experiences while playing the game. Ideally, you should be satisfied with the results, but if the user experience is unsatisfactory, you can try making a few changes.
Many mobile games nowadays offer similar gameplay mechanics and themes. Still, even if you manage to come up with something truly original, you won’t get far without a top-quality user experience.
A great user experience will delight your players and make them return to the game more frequently. Ensure your mobile game’s UX is as good as possible by following the tips outlined in this article.