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Nokia Mobile Game Design Guide

Nokia Mobile Game Design Guide

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Published by smallbug005
Things to look out when designing a mobile game
Things to look out when designing a mobile game

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Published by: smallbug005 on Dec 22, 2009
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This section describes usability and user experience issues that are specific to game design.
Mobile game usability
Usability is not a one-dimensional property. It has many overlapping components; some evencontradict one another. In most cases, usability is associated with the following attributes:
Table:
Usability factors
Satisfaction
A subjective feeling of contentment.
Efficiency
A minimal amount of time wasted.
Learnability
Degree of ease when starting to use the system.
Errors
 Number of errors the user makes and degree of seriousness.
Memorability
How well the user remembers the system when returning toit.
Game usability needs to be differentiated from playability
, which refers to a user's overallexperience with a certain game. The most comprehensive definition of playability states:
The degree towhich a game is fun to play, with an emphasis on the interaction style and plot-quality of the game; thequality of gameplay
.Playability is affected by the quality of the storyline, responsiveness, pace, usability, customisability,control, intensity of interaction, intricacy, and strategy, as well as the degree of realism and the qualityof the graphics and sound.The importance of the usability factors mentioned in the table above varies. For example, in a flight- booking system for expert use, efficiency and lack of errors are very important, but for an informationkiosk, learnability, memorability, and satisfaction are higher priorities.
Game applications are not terribly complicated
when compared with word-processing applications,for example. Mobile games are typically played for quite brief periods of time. They are played for enjoyment or challenge, which pose different usability needs. The special nature of games, especiallymobile games with their small screens, creates special needs for their user interface.
 
Care must be taken to ensure that the
game interface and concept are pleasing to the user
. This alsomeans lack of distress and irritation. The key to usability is simplicity - a complex solution is itself a problem. Efficiency is not a particularly important usability attribute for games, at least not in and of itself. In the end, of course, efficiency produces satisfaction and it must not be ignored; however, theuser is not usually trying to leave the game as soon as possible.The most important of all usability criteria is simple:
 Know the user 
. In order to design a product, adesigner must know the audience. Making guesses about the age or education level of the users is arisky foundation for a business.Even with demographic data at hand, it is not always clear what conclusions to draw. With mobilegames, it is essential to know where they are being played, for how long at a sitting, in what situations,how they are paid for, what the function of playing is, and so on. All of these factors need to beconsidered in the design.See also;
 
Usability return on investment
Jakob Nielsen, a usability pioneer and guru, states that developers should invest 10% of their projectcosts in usability for maximum payoff. However, return on investment (ROI) is more difficult to assesswith usability, since costs are measured in money while usability is measured in increased use, moreefficient use, or greater user satisfaction.Converting usability improvements to dollars is easy in e-commerce, where doubled sales have animmediate value. For intranets, productivity gains are also fairly easy to convert into monetaryestimates: simply multiply the time saved by the hourly cost of employees.Other types of design projects are harder to convert into an exact ROI. What is the value of increasedcustomer satisfaction? Of more traffic or increased use of a Web site's target features? These estimatesvary between companies, and thus the monetary value of doubled usability also varies. However, it will be substantial in most cases.Typically, the more people use a design, the bigger the usability ROI, since the benefits come from theadded value that ease of use brings to each user. For an application with many users the benefits aregreater than for an application with a limited user base. Typically games, especially successful ones,have a very large and variable user base. This translates into making usability a high priority, since the benefits are substantial.
Game user experience guidelines
Developing good games is not an easy task. Good playability and usability is often a result of hardwork in all design phases. This section contains game experience-related information, tools, andexamples to assist game developers in developing usable games.
S60: Top ten usability guidelines for gamescontains one-page summarizations of the mostimportant game usability guidelines.
Main menu designcontains visual presentations of main menu design recommendations.
Pre-game guidelines, Game experience guidelines,andPost-game guidelinescontain detailed design recommendations about different topics in game development.
Case: Mobile action games, Case: One button games,andCase: Mixed reality gamescontain information about the challenges and possibilities of designing different kinds of games.In this section, the following symbols are used to highlight issues that are especially important incertain platforms or technologies:
Java
Java™ Platform, Micro Edition (Java™ ME) games
Symbian
Symbian C++ games

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