Sunday, May 25, 2014

Iterative External Feedback and Upgrader UI Re-design

Dual Revolving Feedback Loop (or The Double-Pen Combo)

One thing that's been immensely valuable during the development of Mothership is having a group of external valued opinionators to evaluate iterative changes on a bi-weekly basis. It's something that +Josh Sutphin (@invicticide) and +Lyle Cox (@LyleCox) set up and were kind enough to include me in.

Since inception, Mothership has been meeting weekly. Every Saturday for 2+ hours we go over what we did the previous week week, what we like and dislike about the changes, what needs to be done / changed for the upcoming week, and, usually, what happened in Game of Thrones. For side-project game developers, this is often enough to keep us motivated and productive, but sparse enough to avoid getting overwhelmed. And this system has worked pretty well so far.

A couple of months ago, Lyle approached me about getting together with a couple of local game developers to critique each other's projects. Every two weeks, we meet up at a public library, bring our builds, go over what's changed, play test the new builds, then give honest and, sometimes brutal, feedback. It really helps break up the tunnel-vision echo chamber that occurs when working with the same team and the same ideas in the same space for so long. Another benefit is that, as a tight knit group, other benefits spawn from the relationship (such as the Utah Games Guild).

Upgrade UI Cometh!

Something that spawned from the bi-weekly meetings was that the UI for upgrading sucked. It was something we knew from the weekly meetings, but didn't have a real good solution until Josh and Lyle dug their design claws into it. The final result can be seen here:

Trees! In order to re-enforce the idea that Minion upgrades stick to a Port and have a linear upgrade path, a tree/graph structure was suggested to retain current port state as well as showing the upgrade path in a clear manner. This same paradigm can be used (without the edges between odes) for Mothership repairs and (maybe!) Mothership upgrades.

Also, three new pixel portraits were added this week by Stryker. A huge thanks again to all the brave souls who donated their faces for the cause.