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eelke_folmer

usability in games

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I would like some critique on my interaction design pattern / usability pattern collection that I am creating on Interaction design patterns in games An interaction design pattern (sometimes also known as a usability pattern) is in general a repeatable solution to a commonly-occurring usability problem in interface design or interaction design. A bit different from OO patterns, however they both try to capture design experience in a form suitable to inform design. For examples of ID patterns see Design Patterns in Interaction Design|PoINTER|Patterns for Effective Interaction Design I think games are different from other forms of software: they aim to entertain rather then improve productivity, hence resulting in different usability requirements; more focusing on attributes of usability such as satisfation & reliability & learnability rather then efficiency of use. I believe this collection is useful as there are plenty of games that do not provide these patterns (that may be for a good reason however): for example final fantasy X does not allow one to pause or skip cutscenes; very annoying if you have to beat an end boss and the autosave game is before the cutscene. With my pattern collection i try to collect interaction design patterns that are unique for the games domain and that mainly address to the 'subjective'(satisfaction) part of usability. Some issues:
  • Some of you may find the patterns pretty "obvious" but writing patterns is all about capturing the "obvious" (see also the Gang of Four trial at OOPSLA '94). The GoF book is no doubt the most popular SE book and patterns in the GoF book were used way before the GoF started describing the "obvious"
  • With my patterns I present no "silver bullet", I'm just collecting best practices in the area of usability and games so game designers may think, "hey that's a useful usability feature I might consider that for my game"
  • .
  • There is a very thin line between usability and functionality. I described my patterns in such a way that they address to an usability problem although for some patterns the definition of the usability problem is open for discussion.
  • usually patterns are based on a principle. I'n trying to shoehorn my patterns to fit in nielsen's heuristics but they are a bit of a poor fit.
  • Feedback appreciated! know of any useful patterns that could be added to my collection? let me know! note some patterns are still lacking in description. changes/updates March 28 -made collection available in HTML for opera browsers as they have no support for XML / XSLT March 29 - checked spelling, decreased font-spacing [Edited by - eelke_folmer on March 29, 2006 2:59:08 PM]

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    Havn't read through the rest of it yet, but just noticed 'preloader game' on your list of developed patterns - doesn't some company have (and defends) a patent on that?

    The page doesn't work well in Opera (8.51). Is there any particular reason you chose to mark it up with XML rather than XHTML?

    Things I've noticed so far:
    Quote:
    from autosave
    One can consider to implementimplementing background saves.

    Neverwinter Nights™ - In the RTSRPG game never winter nights auto save has been implemented which automatically saves the game when the player has completed a certain chapter.
    Quote:
    from Control assistence
    AssistenceAssistance

    Hrm, it seems a simple run through a spellchecker might be in order to fix it up a bit, but I guess that can wait while you're still working on it.

    I'll give some comments on the patterns themselves once I've had time to actually read them all.

    [Edited by - Kazgoroth on March 28, 2006 11:43:34 PM]

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    Thanks for the feedback so far

    Quote:
    Original post by Kazgoroth
    Havn't read through the rest of it yet, but just noticed 'preloader game' on your list of developed patterns - doesn't some company have (and defends) a patent on that?


    probably the same guys that hold the patent for "selling stuff on this so called internet". ;-)

    Quote:
    The page doesn't work well in Opera (8.51). Is there any particular reason you chose to mark it up with XML rather than XHTML?


    yes, I'm using the PLML markup language for describing my patterns, it allows for a litte more flexibility when creating a pattern language (links between patterns). Although its a pain in the ass that opera does not support it and dreamweaver does not support spellchecking in xml files.

    Hrm, it seems a simple run through a spellchecker might be in order to fix it up a bit, but I guess that can wait while you're still working on it.


    I'm running it through the spellchecker of xmlspy now.

    Quote:

    I'll give some comments on the patterns themselves once I've had time to actually read them all.

    allright looking forward to your feedback.

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    A great idea - I like it! Something like that will need to be kept up to date and refined the whole time, but has the potential to be a great resource.

    There are quite a few visual problems with the site that make it a bit of pain, however. I'm using Firefox 1.5, the text has quite large spacing between the letters that makes it hard to scan, and several entries get cut off half way through (e.g. http://www.eelke.com/research/IDP/controlassistence.html (control assistance) - the Grim Fandango entry has no text)

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    Quote:
    Original post by eelke_folmer
    Quote:
    Original post by Kazgoroth
    Havn't read through the rest of it yet, but just noticed 'preloader game' on your list of developed patterns - doesn't some company have (and defends) a patent on that?


    probably the same guys that hold the patent for "selling stuff on this so called internet". ;-)


    No. Having any type of game on the loading screen, believe it or not, also falls under current patent coverage. Hence one of the major reasons why loading in games doesn't involve anything particularly entertaining in the interim.

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    Quote:
    Time manipulation cannot be implemented in multiplayer games

    The specialists (a mp mod for hl) implements slow/bullet time(s/bt). The s/bt can't be used that often, but the one who uses it remains speedy while evrerything else that can see him/her slows down.

    Sometimes(most often?) the playground is combined with the tutorial agent, as far as I can see, this isn't mentioned, perhaps it should be?

    Quote:
    Terminator: Futureshock - The first first person shooter to implement full 3D graphics and freelook using the mouse.

    Is this true?
    The game was released in 1995. According to wikipedia there were atleast a few other games with freelook and 3d(3d monster maze, Driller and Elite if im not mistaken). Unsure of the mouse-thingy though.

    Edit:
    Quote:
    Having any type of game on the loading screen, believe it or not, also falls under current patent coverage. Hence one of the major reasons why loading in games doesn't involve anything particularly entertaining in the interim.

    Did some research: More stupid patents and a discussion about the game/loading screen patent.

    [Edited by - sirGustav on April 15, 2006 1:24:38 AM]

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