Millennium Wars Mobile

Unity // iOS + Android

MY ROLE

UX Designer / Tech Artist

TEAM SIZE

30​

TOOLS

Sketch / Framer / Adobe CS

ABOUT THE PROJECT

 

This freemium mobile massively multiplayer online strategy game focuses on complex research and economic cycle. Inspired by Mobile Strike and Game of War, it still takes its own direction with additional gameplay layers (e.g. mining, rallying). 

(Empire: Millennium Wars)

CHALLENGE

  • A 30+ team with fluctuations and changing scopes

  • Technical limitations for new interface elements

  • Up to 5 UI artists were working together without a proper style guide or scalable design pipelines

  • Advanced development progress when UX entered the field

  • The whole game was "reverse engineered by game design" beforehand 

PROJECT STATUS

 

When I joined the team, five UI Artists were working on the product. The main architecture was already developed and a lot of interface elements were implemented. The design team was working without a style guide and without a shared UI library. Different tools let to different deliverables and developers were often not sure which was the latest version of a design. Five game designers were doing the wireframes which were approved by sometimes three different Leads. Before I could take care of any UX related tasks, I knew that I had to remedy this situation.

REDEFINING THE DESIGN PROCESS Pt.I

 

After observing the project dynamics and sprint results for two weeks, I set up a meeting with the design team to discuss and agree on several necessary action items:

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  • Creating and committing to a single product vision

  • Establishing a single source of truth for any design deliverable (including update loops)

  • Simplify approval loops

  • Integrate UX as a facilitator between product management, UI artists, Game Design and Development

  • Regular small sync meetings for the first couple of weeks to align all designers

 

 

REDEFINING THE DESIGN PROCESS Pt.II

 

After a couple of days playing the game and analyzing competitors with a similar core loop and UI cycle, I wrote a 20 pages report with live examples of all crucial pain points. Together with Game Design and Product Management, we went through the list and prioritized the action items.

Based on the approved list, I could start working on solutions and new features.

Hunting down the pain points

BEGINNING

During the first couple of weeks I mainly dealt with:

  • Playtesting

  • Product vision & team feedback

  • Design pipeline analysis

  • User test examination

  • Competitor analysis

TYING YOUR SHOES WHILE RUNNING

 

A big challenge for the project was the complete lack of mobile patterns. Since the game was heavily inspired by Mobile Strike, designers tended to use similar design patterns, which was a huge step back. It was a challenge to prove that there was much room for improvement for the user experience. From simple Balsamiq sketches to interactive high fidelity prototypes, I used a broad palette of deliverables to communicate the positive impact of certain design changes. It is never easy to fix broken UX flows while working on new features at the same time. My takeaway from this experience was always get your "foundation" right first!

IMPROVEMENTS

Effort vs. Impact

Improving the UX often followed the same process:

  • Define the current situation

  • Collect user feedback --> play insights & expectations

  • Provide solutions within the given requirements

  • Check feasibility with Development

  • Present & document solution 

Prototyping

Cut the Fluff

Interactive demos were crucial for:

  • Advocating interface animations 

  • Providing meaningful feedback for the player

  • Supporting UI interactions

  • Testing different patterns

TRY IT THEN BUY IT

 

Once the product vision was defined, I had a better understanding of how the interface should be recognized. Interactive demos helped us with internal playtests and feature evaluations. A better interface feedback allowed us to minimize certain areas that were necessary beforehand to guide the player through the task. The whole onboarding flow was iteratively prototyped with Framer before implementation.

Highlights

Achievements and Lessons Learned

It was a tough project and mainly good for learning:

  • Style guides and communication plans are crucial

  • Documentation is only as good as its maintenance

  • Animations are not "fluff", they are essential on a broad scale for every digital product

  • Aiming for a real app dialogue pays off