User Research & Innovation
Local User Testing
UX / Lead Ideation Unit
Paper, Trello, Brain
ABOUT THE PROJECT
I was in charge of establishing a studio-wide prototyping & ideation unit to create new game ideas based on a rough product scope. The results of this three-month project were five new game ideas for pre-production. Most were paused due to limited resources but one product passed the internal green light for production.
Establishing an ideation unit for prototyping and new game ideas.
A 35 people team with different backgrounds and only a little experience in ideation and prototyping
2.5 months time frame
Free-To-Play Mobile First game as the foundation
A company-wide Greenlight process would evaluate the potential later
SET UP & VISION
We created 7 teams with 5 members. To make sure that everybody was heading in the right direction, we created the following deliverables:
Creative Briefing / Direction
Requirements / Goals
Presentation Templates / Communication of Results
Ideation Library / Inspirational Source
The creative briefing contained information regarding 'Genre' and it's 'Game Pattern Scope', 'Target audience', 'Genre Competitors Analysis', and 'Product Research Insights'.
The whole ideation process was basically a looped spiral with a fixed time frame -two days for the initial idea followed by a presentation. Some teams started prototyping, while others established a strong narrative first. Most of the ideas were very open-minded and unique, which became especially evident in the second phase, after trimming out the "casual ideas".
IDEATION AND REFINEMENT
Each team presented their progress - either an iteration of an older idea or a completely new one depending on the outcome of the last voting. We kept the product vision consistent because according to product research, the chosen proposed genre had a lot of potential on mobile. Another team of specialists voted on the ideas weekly, and in the event of . an idea refinement, the team responsible for editing received a refinement briefing with points to improve or underline.
After about 2.5 months, we had roughly 30 game prototypes, resulting in five greenlighted for pre-production. During the whole process, we spoke individually with folks to figure out what they liked and did not like, with the goal of keeping 10% of the team as a consistent innovation unit to solve game/UX issues or generate new ideas.
In the end, two products received production status and proceeded into "Tech Launch". Unfortunately, the production was later paused, due to complex internal company restructuring.
It was a fun project and we inspired a lot of people in the company to try new skills and speak more open-mindedly about ideas and feedback. Everyone also learned more about other departments within the company and ultimately better understood the complex dependencies of balancing, game design, technical requirements, and business perspective.
The ideation process contained these phases:
Set Up & Vision
Ideation / Refinement
Presentation + Public Evaluation
Continue OR New
THE TESTING DEVICES
In order to provide a secure and controlled platform for playtesting of games in early development, we came up with two installations. The first was a stationary booth in a prominent public space within the company (e.g. cafeteria) as well as a mobile booth for flexible placement (e.g. conferences and events).
The booth smartphones were detachable and wire-secured, and the users were able to play through test scenarios and prototypes.Often, the UX researcher conducted live interviews with the users about new games or features.
During Winter 2016, we started an internal high score competition for two of our pilot games and were rewarded with thousands of playing hours by employees.
The first test-competition was a huge success and brought a lot of awareness towards the internal products and development.
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How to Activate Your Own People
To test a product in your company you might think about:
Distribution & update
Data collection & evaluation
The feedback loop to the team
Measurement and motivation