Ballistics was a free-to-play multiplayer action game for Android. The best way to describe it is that it was a combination of Worms and League of Legends. Players select a team of three heroes and battle another player in turn-based combat. My role was to design and developer the user experience of the game. Our team participated in daily playtesting sessions and I collaborated heavily with them to help launch this project.
As the project grew and we added more features, I created wireframes to help architect some of the features that existed outside of the main gameplay. Even though it was easy to add new UI to the game directly within Unity 4.6, I found it easier to generate wireframes for features that had not yet been implemented. This made it easier to start a discussion before any code or in-game assets were necessary.
I am very familiar with the Worms series of games, which our game was loosely based on. I also played games like League of Legends and Vainglory to learn more about the MOBA genre. These games were all major influences on our project so it was important to the team that everyone understand how they work.
I iterated on the user interface and interactions in order to create the most intuitive gameplay experience possible. In our initial playtesting sessions we mostly played with other members of the team. We got very good at playing the game! Once we opened up the playtesting sessions to our colleagues a couple of problems became immediately clear. One: the game was played in real time, which was only more chaotic when more players were added. Two: we needed to standardize the controls for all moves and abilities in order to make learning new characters require less guesswork.
The game itself was playable very early on, so most rapid prototyping was done within the project on a daily basis. However, I did make a few animatics to quickly illustrate my thoughts and share them with the team. For example, I created an animated targeting reticule in Flash that would have taken a considerable amount of time to program in Unity.
I learned about creating an original game based heavily on lengthy and thorough playtesting sessions. Typically the games I have worked on have been more or less “figured out” before I draw my first sketch, so it was exciting to work on something more free-form and experimental.
I initially was not enthused about changing from real-time to turn-based gameplay. The team found the chaos of the real-time combat to be one of the game’s strong points, yet new players found it very frustrating. Once we changed the game to turn-based and tweaked the rules a bit, new players seemed much more engaged. It had a dramatic impact on the user experience.
Most of our team was new to Unity. For me, learning Unity’s new UI system while trying to learn Unity was a daunting task. There were quite a few bugs with the software but overall it was a great experience. I spent a lot of time taking online tutorials in order to learn as much as I could about developing in Unity.
I truly enjoyed our playtesting sessions. They were very eye-opening and we learned a lot about what type of game we were making and what players expected from it. The team was unafraid of making drastic changes in order to really find the most enjoyable experience.