A long time favourite artist of mine that I’ve never shared on here is Medusa Dollmaker. You can find her amazing artwork on medusathedollmaker.com as well as available to buy across the internet.
Games UI Series
For some time I have written about both my professional and social interests on this blog; covering user experience and gaming, but I want to combine them and look at user interface design in games. I think this is an oft-neglected part of games, especially with the usual budget and time constraints, however as with any software design the usability of the user interface can have a profound effect on the user’s experience.
An advanced user experience on World of Warcraft
Usability in games is not restricted to on screen interactions, there is a such diversity of ways to interact with your gaming platform of choice; be it joypad, keyboard, touch screen, or no controller at all. This makes the platform and method of interaction a key part of the user experience in games, as such I will explore the strengths and weaknesses of these human-computer interfaces.
Some games designers and developers think that creating games is completely different to creating other software, because they are creating entertainment rather than tools. However recently as we have seen an increasing overlap between games and applications e.g. Epic Win we can see that these lines are far more blurred than previously considered. Software development has only recently realised the commercial value of user experience, but games developers often consider themselves the audience as well as the creators, failing to realise that their familiarity with their game hampers their ability to see their product impartially; perhaps more frustrated by the focus groups that require them to “dumb down” games than they are in the issues that may cause that confusion in the first place. While games do need to offer challenges in order to evoke a sense of achievement, these challenges should be designed and deliberate and not a hurdle of a poorly designed interface.
I was delighted to see that Edge has added to its staff Graham McAllister; the CEO of Vertical Slice, the UK’s first usability testing company to focus solely on games. This recognition of the need for usability in an industry leading publication can only help raise the profile of the value of understanding your users.
I’m hoping to write a series of game reviews, which look specifically at the UI and give a heuristic review on their strengths and weaknesses as well as offering possible alternative solutions where appropriate.Read More »User Interfaces in Games
For the last two weeks, my HTC Desire has been off for repair, and Nokia very kindly sent me an N8 to try for two weeks, so I wasn’t stuck with the terrible handset T-Mobile gave me. The only condition…. this review. So here it is the highs and lows of my first Nokia handset, from a user experience designer’s perspective. I was impressed at first, the N8 offers some… Read More »My fortnight affair with Nokia – a review of the N8
I recently acquired a HTC Desire running Android 2.1 and it has significantly changed the way I use my mobile phone. The primary reason for this can easily be attributed to Android. I knew when selecting a new phone that the apps would make or break it. So why not go with iPhone? Because HTC make the best hardware on the market. [more] Hardware vs Software I have been a… Read More »Android and HTC: The mobile power couple
Pivot is a tool for browsing large collections of data, such as Wikipedia, and really shows the value of a good API and semantic data. It contains a filtering system on the left to help you dig into and out of the data, combined with a smooth zoom interface as we’ve seen implemented before in Seadragon and Photosynth and some very familiar browser elements such as tabs, most visited history… Read More »Pivot – interesting data navigation from Microsoft Labs.
Project Natal was announced by Microsoft at E3 as new interface peripheral for the Xbox 360, which removes the need for a joypad, instead body movement, facial recognition and voice are used for interaction. We have seen similar innovations with the EyeToy for the PS2 and the notion detection in the Wii, but both have severe limitations. The EyeToy is a single lens camera, so it is easily affected by… Read More »Project Natal
Puddnhead is the 'secret' identity that artist Kevin Llewelyn uses for his commercial work. But both his commercial work and his personal work are amazing and worth checking out. He is an amazing figure and creature artist and I love his use of colour. Be warned though his work is dark, offbeat and are almost exclusively NSFW. If you want to see more of Kevin's work then take a peak… Read More »Puddnhead (Kevin Llewelyn)
Microsoft has released it's first iPhone application and its a good one. Some of the more interesting things that are coming out of Microsoft labs are Photosynth and Seadragon, you can see an excellent demo of this at a TED talk from 2007: In brief Seadragon allows you to zoom quickly and smoothly through a great deal of visual information, so much information infact that when I originally saw the… Read More »Seadragon on the iPhone
While reading Derren Brown’s book 'Tricks of the Mind' (thanks Simon) I began to see some overlap between performing close-up magic and designing user interfaces; it comes down to understanding and predicting your audience’s attention. The approach however is from opposite sides of the problem; while the interface designer tries to focus the attention of the user to enable them to achieve a task, the magician relies on our inability… Read More »The Magic of Interface Design