Facade: the advanced concepts of designing a game

As most other game, the first thing you see when you open the game is the loading screen. The loading interface of this game is more thoughtful. It tells you the proximate loading time in words, which is up to 60 seconds. Even nowadays most games have progress bar instead, the bar can stuck anywhere. If it stuck at 99% then you know you should wait much more time for the last 1%, which makes the progress bar no sense. The loading screen in this game makes player patient and comfortable for at least 60 second in the simplest way. No animation, no vague expression, just kind of label, is the simplest but most effective way to achieve the goal. And this feature has played a role for us. Some mac owners including me couldn’t load and play the game earlier. As it says the loading time should be up to 60 second, after a while, we all know there’s something wrong. What if it doesn’t say it? I may spend much more time to wait for it and thought this is what it should be. So this label is very helpful. Even pure words is not perfectly compatible with artistic environment, we should still make the interface tell enough information that is most important to the players. We shouldn’t compromise to artistic background and just make a progress bar or a turning circle instead, even it looks better, it may push players away.

Rather than the advantage, after the loading screen here comes the bad thing. The screen turned entirely black and I just hear the talking. It’s frustrated after many tries I thought I fixed this game, but now the whole black screen is a good reason to worry. Audio but no display, many games can cause this thing easily for the graphic issue, but only this game is designed to be like this.. I strongly suggest the developers to add at least a subtitle. The rest of the background can stay black to create an atmosphere, but if players are worrying about the setting as they don’t know it’s normal, who would like to listen carefully to the conversation you designed.

The next screen is ok.  Just a small problem, when the instruction says use you keyboard to do something, after few plays, I realized that mouse can do much more things including accessing to a screen that teach you how to use your mouse. Maybe they just want to adjust the instruction.

Then I came into the game world. I’m used to press enter to say something in game(w,a,s,d to walk probably). But for this one every letter just means a letter, which is good for a game mainly focused on typing.

The game story is about a coupe fighting with each other, which is smart. I say this because after playing for a while I was thinking what if the game story is just about friends meeting each other? First, that can be boring, the greeting words can weight so much. Second, it’s hard to design reactions, because you can talk football, game, dance, politics and weather what so ever, it’s impossible to design an AI that reacts to all these topics. A fighting story is just right.

The facial reaction is impressive. I noticed there’s only 3 things on the face that can move, eyebrows, eyes and mouth. But by changing the appearance thousands facial expression can be issued. And this is the first reaction after you do something, even earlier than the talking. But the best thing of this game is once you see the facial expression you almost know what they’re saying. This interaction is not based on the interface but obviously the reactions directly expressed in the game world are more advanced and more effective than the traditional ways of reactions.

I’m also impressed by the game interface because there’s no interface at all. As in this game you don’t kill, don’t jump and you just do what you do in the real world, a real-world-like interface can help a lot for you to enjoy the game. It also doesn’t like SIM that it doesn’t have “friendly rate”, “angry rate” etc. All you need to do is to feel the vague reaction when you said something. I believe there are many numerical programming parameters accumulating behind the game but just none of them is supposed to be noticed by the player.  Making a game numeric-free is really the most effective way to make the game world looks real. I can remember a shooting game doesn’t have a heath bar, the damage you took is indicated by appearing more serious bloodshot on the screen. This is another advanced concept of designing a game.



  1. Nolan Manning

    This is a very thorough breakdown of the flaws and strengths of this game’s UI. I agree with you that the developer’s choice to remove all numbers from the interface was a smart idea, though I think it would have been interesting to see some of the numbers and calculations that are going on under the hood. It definitely brings you more quickly and more deeply into the experience. I also think that the way they handled the facial expressions was very smart. It makes it really easy to tell what kind of reaction your comment just caused, and helps you plan your next conversational move.

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