I was bought in after the Director of UX had already done the heavy lifting work, created the approach, defined the outcome parameters, met the business needs, it was my job to join the dots. If only life worked that easily. This was another fast-moving project, with many rapid developments. Luckily, we were working Agile so development, creative, gaming strategists and UX were coordinating approaches every day, often every hour.
The existing user / gamer knowledge was well embedded in the team and knowledge of user research on the proposed gaming mechanisms was well documented. I used this to create several proto-personas, to understand the nature of the audience being targeted, largely for my own benefit but also for any newcomers to the project so they could see who we were designing for.
The next step was to understand the gaming principles involved and to apply established game theory to the original concept to see how robust the concept was. Working with dedicated gaming strategists and utilising the established interaction and engagement model of Magic: The Gathering, one of the most successful online games ever. Naturally the concepts proved to be quite robust, this wasn't their first game development. Some of the elements of the game were being used in a different context to real life and gaming environment had interaction and technical restrictions that required changes that had to be made as the design progressed and we guerrilla tested the evolving game play to esure that our direction was valid.
I started to plan the user journeys and working with the UI designers scamping out the initial UIs, and mapping them out on the walls in the 'War Room' so that an end-to-end journey could be easily seen in one place.
I storyboarded the processes from start to finish, both for the development and design teams as well as for Intel to show proof of concept. A series of online workshops were held with Intel in the US to show progress and to explain design decisions and tyo take on any concerns.
There are no hard and fast rules for communicating complexity to stakeholders, yet when it comes to explaining a narrative visually I find that storyboarding pays dividends so this was where I started. This way decisiona could be easily seen and sanity checked in context with screen flow illustrating the suggested interactions to both technical and non-technical stakeholders of the new game. It sped the design time considerably.
Finally, a set of high fidelity wireframes, with annotated interactions, were produced for the final game before handing over to the development and creative teams.
What would I change in retrospect?
More direct usability testing would have really cut down on the assumptions we made and working on paper, while an absolutely necessity due to the speed of the development. did mean there was no time for indepth interactive prototyping, which I think would have helped make the game more real in development.