After the success of Psych!, Ellen Digital Ventures approached Munkyfun Inc. for another social app game which catered to scenarios where users weren’t able to be in the same room for a party game like Psych!.
I took on the responsibilities of UI UX design for this project when it was half way through. While the fundamental concepts were decided, the product was still at a skeleton stage in many ways when I joined the project.
Visual design was not reflecting the desired branding direction
Game flows were messy, and consequently the user flows as well
Undecided user flow for inviting friends
Coin store monetization didn't have a clear trade value
Simplify and Clarify game flows
Decide the user flow(s) for inviting friends
Clarify information architecture and interface communication
Revising visual design direction, so the content and the mood of the game can better align with the brand direction
Clarify product positioning and determine most suitable monetization direction and methods
My role and contribution
While most of the game design aspect lied with the game designers and the publisher, I as the sole UI UX designer participated in the discussions throughout the iteration process, and helped keep the game designs in line with the product direction by pointing out the priority of features and information flow.
Despite the fast paced schedule and joggling between two projects , I managed to bring myself up to speed with the current progress, and constantly supply mockups, wireflows, high-fidelity UI screens to help test the design decisions and visualize desired brand mood, and quickly turned around adjustments based on feedback.
Moreover, in order to quickly iterate on the prototype and final product, I also took on the responsibility of implementing UI screens and animations. and making adjustments in Unity.
Through listening tours with the team members, I further discovered that the two main competitive games in the market are Evil Apples and Words with Friends 2. Therefore, I conducted a comparative research based on the challenges identified earlier.
Although I also did research on other games which I found related, such as Draw Something and UNO, I realized that the information I distilled from the two main games turned out to be most relevant.
The item “First Time User“ was derived from the challenge “Invite Friends“ because:
We didn’t force players to connect with social media accounts, but the main game needed players having friends in game.
We, however, wanted to emphasize the main game, as opposed to how Evil Apples treated both game modes equally.
The previous research and the discussions with team members and the publisher helped me form a clearer image of the direction and mood of the product.
The keywords identified were:
The listening tour with the publisher provided many important insights regarding what their goal was with this product. I then boiled the information down to the Persona and the scenario board as reference for future decision making.
The game has two game modes like Evil Apples, one for playing with friends, and the other with strangers around the world, which is called Question Of The Day.
main game flow
The old main game flow emphasized too much on the “asynchronism” aspect of the direction and allowed players moving to next game action without waiting for other players.
The result was that the players would experience a different game flow for each game based on how fast or slow they were.
The game designers cleaned up the game progression by introducing the concept of “phases“, so the players stop at the end of each phase to wait for other players to complete their actions.
By doing so, managing the game flow became much easier, even with “sleepers“, the players who took too long to respond.
In order to clearly indicate which game action the players are about to take, we also developed the “intro card” idea to notify the players and help them keep track.
question of the day game flow
Per the publisher’s goal, the purposes for this secondary game mode were:
filling in the gaps when all the main games were in waiting stage
letting the players to vote for answers from around the world in pairs, and to have an stress relieving affect similar to the swiping design in Tinder.
Therefore, except for the rare case in the the early morning when there weren’t enough answers yet, the first action available to the players would always be voting, with leaderboards to create a positive feedback loop.
Per the publisher’s goal, in order to loop the flow back to the main focus of this product, the “main game”, we added “create game” function in the voting screen as an installed next possible action.
One of the critical aspect of this product was the “invite friends” flow because the primary gain of this product was for the players to have intimate jokes with their friends.
However, per publisher’s desire, the players shouldn’t feel stuck or blocked at the beginning if they didn’t wish to login with social media account right away.
Although we counter proposed with a few other approaches to avoid screen clutter and unnecessary complexity of the flows, we eventually respected the publisher’s desire to go with the approach of “as many reasonable and technically doable touch points as possible“.
Once the flows of the two game modes and inviting friends were defined, the sitemap became clearer. Although the final sitemap still went through several smaller iterations regarding leaderboards and monetization, the overall structure was decided.
By the end of the discussions regarding monetization, both the team and the publisher realized the pointless nature of the coin store because:
there wasn’t a right or wrong answer to this game
this is a game about bonding and joking, not about winning
most showoff worthy decoration items would make the UI more cluttered and distracting
There were more debates and discussions regarding other monetization methods, mostly between subscription, pay per use or both.
Considering what the Minimum Viable Product should be like and avoiding feature creep, we eventually decided to go with two methods for the first release, and both cost real money for simplicity:
the Adult Supervision monthly subscription allows the players to have access to the deck of more wild questions with distinguished visual change.
the Interstitial Ads interrupts the game a couple times, and the players can pay a small fee to remove the ads.
I discussed and worked with the publisher to further understand their intended mood for the product.
Developed upon the core visual design concept of “passing secret notes", I overhauled UI re-design to make the game look more exciting and fun in sync with the publisher’s product goal.
user testing & adjustments
Because of the rapid change requests from the publisher, the product was tested by external users a little late in the production. Even with as many internal testings as we and the publisher did, there were situations which we could never think of.
One of the most prominent case was when the players still hadn’t had any friends yet, but already proceeded to the home screen with no active games.
The original design was to hide the “My Games“ section completely to reduce cognitive load. However, that caused a serious problem of the players not aware of its existence and mistaking the QOTD being the primary game.
The solutions I provided were to keep the “My Games“ section, even when no games, but with clear text reminder and instruction.
In addition, when there are active games, I used the font sizes and colors, element sizes and additional user-friendly text to further prioritize the importance of the two game modes
In order to keep up with the tight deadlines, I took on the responsibility of implementing UI screens and changes, as well as using in-house tools to implement the animations for screen transitions.
UI implementation & adjustments
Go download the game and see the results!