Norfolk warriors is a turn-based game that pays homage to the old-school play-by-mail systems whilst emulating a tabletop board game. Set in a fictional medieval fantasy universe, it offers a rich and deep setting for stories to be created, quests to be discovered and adventures to be had.
Norfolk warriors was in its beta stage when I joined the project. During the release of the beta phase players expressed confusion and frustration towards the game’s general level of complexity. I wasn’t brought on board to look at anything specific but to instead consult and advise on the game's lack of intuitiveness.
Main game interface before changes
Opting to take a completely unconditioned look at the game I decided to jump in and play it. My opinion alone was not enough to suggest ways forward, I needed to understand what the game designer was trying to accomplish, who the target audience was and what the players were thinking and feeling during gameplay.
The general consensus was that the interface was cluttered; there was an overwhelming number of options that provided no context or direction in the steps needed to progress. To reduce the number of character options, only the actions that were available to the character would be displayed, this also applied to any skill points that would affect discission making that turn. As a result, it was a much cleaner looking interface. For the purpose of this game, we agreed on a tutorial approach. Instead of delivering high volumes of information in one fell swoop, the player would be taught how to approach each turn and new elements would only be explained when encountered for the first time.
Originally players needed to set up five characters to begin the game, each required a deity, clan, skill set, character points etc. There were a few fundamental issues with this approach; no logical order was provided, a lack of context surrounding the reasons and implications of setting up a character in a specific way, unexplained iconography and point allocation system, and any prerequisite help and guidance were hidden away in a rule book document, similar to that of a board game.
This screen went through a series of iterations to address the onboarding issues that were raised during feedback. The player now starts with one character which provides a primary focus and reduces setup time considerably. The overwhelming pages of iconography were reduced dramatically, limiting options made selections easier because there was less to choose from. Hovers were added to provide context and the player receives feedback once the character setup is complete so they aren't left pondering whether they have forgotten to do something.
Players needed to be able to transfer items between the characters, equip items and be able to view a list of attributes associated with each item. The number of items that can be equipped at any one time is limited and item types have been allocated specific slots. To make this clearer when an item has been selected the slots that can accept that item highlight. A drag and drop system was also implemented to make this process easier, which inadvertently reduced the number of clicks it took to complete multiple transfers.
“Sandy took the time to research various solutions, streamlining a complex and unwieldy interface into something that is consistent and easily approachable.”
Mouchet Software Corporation started off by providing software solutions to the public and private sectors in Canada, today it can be found operating with the games industry. Cohorts: Veil of Entropy is the first in a series of games that provide a solution for players who do not have the time to be online all the time.
For more information, visit https://www.mouchetsoftware.ca/