TechnoLive: Player and game, interface as a link, Olga Schubert
We continue to publish transcripts of our broadcasts about game development. How to make the gaming experience as comfortable as possible? This will be told by UX / UI-designer of the Game direction Mail.Ru Group Olga Schubert, who has nine years of experience in developing interfaces and game mechanics.
- How to promote your game among thousands of competitors, Maxim Samoilenko
- How to create a successful mobile game, Ivan Fedyanin
- History of the gaming industry, Alexander Kuzmenko
Alexander Kuzmenko: Good evening, dear viewers. On the air "Technostream" and today we have the final part of our series on video games. Today we have the last guest, but not the last one in importance related to the development of electronic games - today we have Olga Schubert, a specialist in UX-design of game projects of Mail.Ru Group, visiting us. Sorry, we all have very long posts. Olga is the most important person in our company who understands UX in relation to games. Hey.
Olga Schubert: Hello!
A.K .:Listen, UX is something new in the gaming industry. Usually they start from the plow: "30 years ago, the video game industry appeared in Japan." It is clear that UX did not exist then. We have streams with a human approach. That is, we do not immediately begin to pour technological terms and so on. A lot of people, not only among our viewers, but also among just people or employees of our company who love games, do not even know what UX is. Can you say in a nutshell what it is?
OS: Yes, the first thing they ask me is when I try to explain who I work in general. Usually they say: "Ah, you are a programmer, probably." I say: “No” - “But you are a computer man.” I say "No".
A.K .: Plumber for iron.
O.SH .:Yes, something like that. In fact, for now, I’ll tell you a little background about how I generally came to the gaming industry. How UX appeared in my life and then smoothly proceed to answer the question, if you do not mind.
AK: That was just my second question. Excellent. I adore such guests who can not even ask questions.
O.SH .: Yes. I came to the gaming industry 9 years ago. Then there were a lot of games on the Russian market, and then the browser-based game Legends of the Dragon Heritage just appeared.
I'm not a gamer at all, but someone accidentally showed it to me. I like this: “What-what? Wait". And she terribly hooked me. And so it went, went. I began to play, become active on the forum and take a lively part in some kind of game social life. I have not worked here, but I was already drawn to analyze what is happening. The game market was pulling me this way.
A.K .: It turns out an unusual phenomenon. Usually, boys like to open a bear to see how it works. And the train is being taken apart.
O.SH .:Yes. Then I, as a boy, decided to make out, and from that it all began. Some player wrote some quests for the forum and offered them to the developers, as usual: “Now I’ll tell you how it should be.” And I wrote a thunderous crushing article on this subject: "Everything here is wrong with you, everything is wrong, everything is working wrong." By this time I was already reaching here, I wrote a letter for a vacancy that I want to work as a writer. She came as a writer-editor. By this time, a devastating article appeared on the forum, and a bearspeaker of the bears woke up in me. Since then, whatever I did. My path was long and thorny. I was engaged in the development of quests, and large game scenarios, and just game design, administrator, production.
A.K .:I just wanted to say that after going through all the professions in the gaming industry, you can become a producer. Now you can do everything.
O.SH .: Yes. Then I became the producer of the browser game "Territory".
Then we did the surgery. In general, we did a lot of things. And along this path, I was still reaching for a beating of bears. Ta Dam! I still wanted to understand the essence of things. And at the same time, together with me, as successfully as possible, UX-designing in games began to develop. And I touched this quite tightly a few years ago when I began to develop mobile games. I realized that it’s time. Now I’m smoothly moving on to the question of what UX is.
A.K .: What is UX?
O.SH .:Very often UX is confused with UI. It is believed that this is all connected with the development of the interface as such. In fact, this is not the case. UX is short for user experience. If translated into Russian, it turns out that this is a study of user experience. That is, it is a development that is built on the behavior of the user, on his expectation, on understanding these expectations and trying to meet these expectations.
A.K .: And the UI is the user interface, this is the development of the interface itself.
O.SH .:Everything is just like that. They began to understand, dig. In fact, when interfaces were developed in our products, they were invented by different game designers. It just so happened. Each game designer, trying to somehow visualize their ideas, who cares. As a result, something reached the end user. But when we compared our products with top foreign competitors, the quality went to the benefit of competitors.
AK: Then were there any comparison criteria? Or compared like this: like it, no?
O.SH .:Well, not so much I liked ... After all, we are talking about user experience. We played ours, played someone else's, and it became obvious that it’s tastier here, more convenient here, more informative here, there is nothing superfluous. And we still have some outdated solutions taken from browser games. Of course, we analyzed this from all points of view. We watched as users play in our and foreign products. And gradually we came to the conclusion that we need to develop a different development concept. And, as it turned out, our foreign colleagues are already doing this. In general, they began to study.
It turned out that almost no one is doing this in Russia. We have UX laboratories, absolutely amazing technologies that allow us to examine the user and his reaction to what is happening. But not every developer can afford it, and not every development can implement it correctly.
UX design involves an iterative approach to development. What does it mean? Here I want to clarify. When we create a product, we focus on its image for the end user. The way this idea was originally dry, of a game designer, mathematics (which deals with balance there), artists, will meet our expectations. How it will solve some of our business problems, and how the user will solve their problems in order to enjoy it.
A.K .:But is there an eternal contradiction in this? Often, you know how that happens. Let's start with great ones like Facebook. We all know very well that the column on the right is needed so that when you flip on the iPad, you constantly poke a finger at this ad. Is it a business task or is it just a mis-designed interface? I'm sorry to kill you. You tell me very interestingly, but I will periodically revive our dialogue with some questions, because Olya is very hard to stop, and she has very cool stories. And by the way, I suggest that we have a chat room during the stream. Please use this not as a place to find out which UX is better, which approaches, but in order to ask our wonderful guest questions.
So, Ol, I interrupted you.
OS: Yes, thanks.
A.K .:I'm sorry. You have such a cool monologue that I will be silent for another 15 minutes now.
O.S.: I can talk for a long time. I want to say that each developer makes some appropriate decisions in one direction or another. Sometimes he drags to make himself comfortable, sometimes in a different way. But, as a rule, all this happens at the junction. UX design is necessary in order to connect the task of the developer and the task of the user. This is just the middle ground to find. In essence, an interface is a way of interaction between a developer and an end user.
A.K .: This is obvious.
O.SH .:But here I must say that here very often confused approaches to the development of interfaces as such, the development of usability. Just recently we talked with one of our teams, and it turned out that some kind of game design idea was being developed, on the basis of it a game designer, or maybe the team’s chief designer forms some very conditional prototype, some kind of “fish”. Further, this "fish" goes to the designer, he does not understand the initial task that the game designer (the author of this is some kind of macrophysics) set himself. So the end user does not get at all what was intended. And this is just what does not solve the problem of either the developer or the user.
This is why it is very important to feel the difference between UX and UI.
A.K .:When we talked about the difference between UX and UI, then several questions appeared at once. From a chat room I read out all sorts of provocative questions or educational ones. Here they write that why fool over the development of the interface (in projects not some mega-innovative ones), when it can, I quote, “be stolen from more successful developers”?
O.SH .: You can steal. Of course, research is a very important thing. And I would even say that it’s very harmful to reinvent the wheel.
A.K .: Not stolen, but inspired.
O.SH .: Absolutely. It is very harmful to reinvent the wheel, and spend resources on what has already been done, ready, understandable. To once again derive the Pythagorean theorem is an expensive task that no one needs.
AK: It’s easier to buy a textbook.
O.SH .:Here it is absolutely certain.
AK: Isn’t it easier to steal?
O.SH .:When spiraling, you need to understand that we are spiraling. All developers - the good and the bad, the big top companies, and some indie developers - have bad and good solutions. I can not name a single product that is made perfectly, that nothing bad can be found in it. There is always something bad. And I can always find it. And here you need to understand very clearly what we are inspired with. If we tear apart someone else’s experience without understanding, then we can break firewood due to a damaged phone. If you take some decisions, and without understanding transfer them to another product, then there they can behave very differently. There may be other users, and off we go. In general, it turns out some kind of snowball, and this can ruin the product.
Why is it important to do this? I am often asked the question: “Why do UX at all? Somehow everything works without it. ” I want to say that this is the quality of the product. You can spend a lot of money on development, hire the coolest programmer in the world, hire just a brilliant marketer, invest a bunch of money, a bunch of resources ...
AK: But then you won’t find the “enable” button.
O.SH .: ... yes. As a result, users will not find the “enable” button, they won’t find the bank, they won’t understand how to use your game. This can spoil all efforts.
A.K .:You remember the games of 15, 20, 30 years ago. The first game was to understand how to play it. And it was not filed in an easy learning process, and you had to get through 1000 interfaces. Everything was done on the knee, and no one cared for you.
Oh, an interesting question. Here he is asked in the framework of “What is UX?”, But already: “How is UX-design going?” Dmitry Valykhin asks us. How is Olga working day? Very interesting. In UX design, how, by what processes do you bring such tremendous benefits, as we now find out?
O.SH .:In fact, this is an endless process. I always say that not a single task of a UX designer can be considered finalized. This is a stumbling block, the eternal serious headache of the linear producer in the project, because he wants to complete the task. This is part of his area of responsibility. I started talking about the iterative approach, and now I’ll make it a little clearer. In theory, when we solve the problem ... A game designer comes to us with some kind of technical specifications (Talmud of documents), that is, he invented and developed some feature. And the first question that needs to be answered is what business tasks do we initially solve? What problems in the project do we solve this feature and what will it give users? How do users want to see this?
It is very important not to forget the question of whether this task is really needed. Sometimes it is relevant.
A.K .:Can you give a concrete example?
O.SH .: There is some kind of subjective approach by a game designer. He believes that we do ratings. He believes that there is some kind of complex filter in the ranking. That is, he plays, he has some kind of subjective assessment. He says: "Let's cut it here." Then you begin to understand in the process that only he needs it. Everyone else does not need it. You need to understand that developers think completely differently than users. Therefore, this assessment is needed. We need UX-expertise, because we are trying to impose some kind of our own patterns on the user, and he does not understand us.
We started with the task: “What are we doing here?” There are situations when I look at documents for a week ... They bring me such a document, and I understand that this is a gigantic task. The first thing you need to understand. And to understand even deeper than the game designer understands it. I will ask him 3 million questions, I will breathe into his pipe day and night. I’m sitting down like a mad professor, I’ll cover myself with pieces of paper and I will look at the document for a week. Naturally, this does not always happen. As a rule, we have a very lively and dynamic development. We do not have time, and all this needs to be done very quickly. We make a business product, not just a product for our pleasure. But some tasks require such attention and time. I sit, delve into the document, am silent, and then as I ask the stream of questions, it’s just endless.
When I get all the answers to these questions for myself, I proceed to the design. I use fairly simple graphic editors, some prototyping tools. Why is that? Many people ask me: "What tools do you use?" Never ...
AK: Talking well with you. You are raising all the banal questions that I prepared in advance about tools and so on. I think I will go.
OS: Yes, yes, yes.
AK: So what about the tools?
O.SH .:I do not like to advise tools. There are a lot of them - paid and free. I have a lot, but - they have limited libraries. This is all good for some non-gaming projects. And the game is such an invented world, where most often some additional things are used that are not in the library. And it takes half a day to expand the library of this tool in order to make a normal detailed prototype. Or fish will turn out - this is a conditional prototype where I conditionally visualize my idea. But as a result, I will not convey it to the designer. He will not be able to do what I came up with, and even more so what the game designer came up with. The essence will be lost.
Когда мы разрабатываем этот прототип, когда мы уже поняли, как все это визуально будет выглядеть, раскладываем предварительно информационную архитектуру. То что это значит? Мы понимаем, какие сценарии в рамках решения задачи есть у пользователя: что он будет делать, в какой последовательности, какие взаимосвязи могут быть между окнами, сколько окон нужно будет пройти, сделать этапов, и так далее. Когда мы все это поняли, то начинаем присваивать каждому окну какие-то конкретные задачи. Понимать, что «Вот-вот давайте еще сюда добавим вот это, потому что оно нужно для решения этой задачи, и хорошо бы это видеть перед глазами. А это давайте уберем. А тут давайте сократим. А это вообще сейчас отпилим, отрежем и больше не вспомним». Вся эта гигантская работа делается достаточно долго. Почему? Потому что в результате от этого зависит, поймет ли это юзер.
At the prototype stage, the formation of information architecture, we check on users whether our ideas are clear. How correct they are, flexible and how well they solve the task.
Finally we got the prototype architecture. Be sure to check, check with the game designer. I must say that the constant reference at every stage of the work is a constant return to the game designer. He is the author of the idea, he is the keeper of knowledge within the framework of one feature, and therefore you need to constantly synchronize with him. Here we have completed the task - we visualized the game-design idea that he was trying to introduce.
AK: Here I’ll clarify a little. In this process, you are not a substitute for a game designer? That is, do you communicate directly with the project in the process?
O.SH .:Naturally. I definitely communicate with the game designer.
AK: No, I mean with the project. Do you play directly at the moment when ...?
O.SH .: Mandatory.
AK: Because, you never know, maybe this is a specially third-party approach.
O.SH .: No. It is impossible, without knowing the project, to introduce some particular feature into it.
AK: We immediately answered several questions that have just been asked.
O.SH .: Excellent.
AK: Since you are ready to answer questions, I will periodically interrupt your monologue.
OS: Yes, please.
A.K .:We are still interactive. I remind you that today our guest is Olga Schubert, a specialist in UX-designing game projects in the gaming direction of Mail.Ru Group. That is, a person is extremely exceptional in the market; you will not find such people anywhere else. How do you like this question from Yuri Chumakov: "Is there something like a tradition in the game interfaces, depending on the genre, type, maybe engine?"
O.SH .:Yes, of course, there are traditions. These are the very patterns that I'm talking about. Moreover, it is very important to be able to work with these patterns. The user, if he is used to it - we are talking about the user experience - then he already got this experience somewhere. In some products or using some platforms. We very often take some ready-made platform solutions, which are originally available. Be sure to look at the genre, trying to understand how hardcore the audience of this genre is, and how ready it is for some changes. Sometimes it happens that you can’t travel all the time on old solutions. Sometimes an innovative product requires innovative approaches. And in this case, you need to very carefully check the audience, test it for the possibility of some innovations that it may or may not accept. All this is definitely being tested. At the stage when we give our prototype to the game designer, it is already tested. We are confident that it will work correctly, and that it will be correctly perceived by the end user. When it is given to the game designer, then everything is already there on the shelves. We know that this part of the window is the highest priority. It must have such and such characteristics. It should be bright here, highlighted here, and here the animation is conceived.
Why is all this important to keep in mind? Because when a person makes a single window, the designer simply visualizes one window. What is important in it, what doesn’t matter what the animation will be, how it will all be voiced, where we will come from this window further. Apart from all this, the designer is unable to solve the problem correctly. Therefore, it is necessary to study both users, and other people's solutions, and some own developments. There must be some kind of experience, some kind of expertise of the designer. I very often see young developers, communicate with young teams who say the right decisions, but do not have their own expertise. They do not know the market well, and as a result, the solution sounds right, but I know that the user does not eat it. He will not understand and master it.
A.K .:It turns out something too innovative?
OS: In general, yes.
AK: Have there been cases when interfaces were invented much earlier and gained popularity?
OS: Yes, that’s all. What does too innovative mean? There is a moot point. No too innovative. There is something that the user is ready or not ready for within a specific product.
AK: She said too neutral. For instance?
OS: You can experiment somewhere in tanks. This is a more complex game, it is somewhere midcore, somewhere hardcore. Compare, for example, tanks and some Match 3.
AK game : For example, “Armored Warfare: Armata Project” or “World of Tanks”? Or no matter what?
O.SH .:Never mind. We are comparing the audience.
Everything is completely different. Although there are probably intersections somewhere between the ages of 30 and 40. When some men like to stick on the phone, but do not want to have hardcore on the phone.
A.K .: Maybe yes.
O.SH .: But at the same time, they don’t necessarily hold on to midcore, because balls can be viewed in different ways.
A.K .:The intersection is quite small. I am convinced that there is some intersection, but it is small. As for solutions, we can do something complicated in tanks. So we will understand that the user is ready to live with it, ready to realize it. And even if something didn’t work out somewhere, he is ready to think and make decisions that we offer him. If the same thing happens with Match 3, then the user prefers not to realize it, not to struggle with it and not to think about it. It’s easier for him to say: “Oh, what is this? I don’t understand anything here, ”and quickly get out of this game. Here, the user’s perseverance and readiness for some more complex things matters.
O.SH .:Even within the framework of one project, if we talk about midcore, we work with users in different ways. Naturally, at lower levels. We give the most casual casinos as much as possible to simplify the process. And at higher levels, we allow ourselves to take a little walk, to undermine this mechanism. And here we understand that there the user behaves differently. He is already attached to the game, and is familiar with its main part, and therefore some new, more complex things will not scare him.
A.K .:Before that, you had a great phrase in your conversation that it is very difficult to apply some ready-made patterns to an innovative thing, completely new and not invented. We’ll not talk about superinnovations, but this question is very interesting, especially in the framework of our previous Tenostream about games. Yuri Dorofeev asks us: “Are there any cardinal differences between UX in ordinary games and VR?”
OS: A good question, because I have not yet developed VR products. But I have some thoughts about this. Of course, VR looks a little different. In VR, the user feels differently, so there are some differences.
A.K .:You know, we had the last stream with our developers, our VR guys. They said that the worst problem was the sight problem. How far should it be from you? 5 centimeters, 10, 15? And if you hit the wall, where will the sight be? And they beat the whole laboratory because they cannot solve this problem.
O.SH .:I am sure that they will cope with this task. But I want to say that now VR has huge opportunities in terms of not even interfaces, but interfaces as an interaction environment. There are great opportunities, but it all comes down to the sensations. If it was possible to convey some tactile sensations to a person ... For example, he didn’t just come up and just press a button with his hand, but he grasped the handle, turned the handle, opened the door by the handle. This would lead us to a completely different format. And here we would begin some new development phase, for which there was no solution yet.
AK: I would say even more that a new stage in the development of mankind has begun, in the event of the appearance of such technologies.
O.SH .:Yes. In the meantime, this has not happened, and we are attached to technology. We are forced to limit ourselves. A lot of decisions in VR are taken from the usual development, from the usual projects, but there are nuances. You yourself know that there are more opportunities.
AK: Dmitry Gryazin asks us a logical question: “How do you test ideas, fish, prototypes on users? How often is it worth doing in case of developing your project? ”
O.SH .: I'll start from the end, as I love.
AK: And about innovation.
O.SH .: And about innovation, yes. How often is a very tricky question. It all depends on the project, timing. If the development is in a quiet mode, then you can afford to accelerate, test from the heart.
A.K .:And where is such development going?
O.SH .: In some fabulous game.
AK: I heard something about Blizzard. But it seems to me that everyone is telling.
OS: Yes, I think that they are also not so simple.
AK: This is just a showcase, it seems to me.
O.SH .: Yes. In general, in a fabulous country, you can accelerate and fabulously test.
And, as a rule, it all comes down to timelines, some business tasks, and planning. Thus, we are forced to limit ourselves. Naturally, it is impossible to test everything at all. If we talk about testing in the UX-laboratory, then it is limited by some small amount. For example, we take a piece from the game, test it and get answers to some specific questions asked in advance. It's not easy: “Let's test the game.” And this is really the front that we want to study. Some specific hypotheses that we want to confirm or refute. And on the basis of this, to draw some further conclusions, somehow redo this piece of the game that confused us the most. It will be necessary to sit in the laboratory around the clock, kick everyone out, stand up and say: “I won’t let it go!” And don't get out of there in order to test everything you can in non-stop mode all the time. But it is expensive and cheerful.
AK: You mentioned the UX Lab several times. Most people, when they say the word "laboratory", imagine something with flasks, test tubes, measuring instruments, an oscilloscope in the corner. And what is a UX laboratory in the modern sense of the word? What technologies are used there?
OS: There was a lot of talk about our laboratory, and not only about ours.
A.K .: It wasn’t just walking, even the federal press wrote about it.
OS: Yes, yes, yes. You can google a lot of things about it. This is such a room.
A.K .: Secret.
O.SH .: Secret, yes. A.K .
: Half-secret, okay, good.
O.SH .:Yes. Where can our experimental testees be brought and test our hypotheses on them? Testing is different. But this is a separate topic for discussion. I think for this we will need a few more hours.
A.K .: Great, we have time. This is a genre called Stream. 8, 10 hours each.
O.SH .:A person is given a chance to play a product. This can be a mobile version of a product, a browser version of a product, or a client game. Depends on what we are testing. Then we observe the behavior of this person. We can examine his psychophysiological indicators, communicate with him, or simply follow where he clicks, where he looks, and so on. How to understand in general what scenario and how he is moving, how much he understands the task, which is facing him? There are a lot of variations in laboratory behavior.
As a rule, the laboratory is available only to a narrow circle of fat developers. And they constantly ask me: "What to do when the laboratory is inaccessible?" And most of the research on the project takes place outside the laboratory, small local studies. This is an expensive and lengthy process, it involves some time for research. And it slows down, in general, the subsequent development. Or we understand that we have exactly two days to solve some urgent task, and we have a problem that the user does not understand what is happening.
Not everything can be tested in advance. I said that we often test at the prototype stage. We follow the script, trying to understand how the subject behaves. But in a live game on real content, on a calculated balance, on real users, all this happens a little differently than was intended.
A.K .: Suddenly it does not work.
O.SH .:Yes, than it was conceived. When a certain fraction of the effort was initially invested in research, the risks are minimized so much that in battle it will not fly. More precisely, it will fly, but somewhere there may be some roughness, which then I want to finish, somehow add. And in this case, we use all methods available to us, we attract friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, and grandmothers on the street. Depending on the task. Sometimes I just ambush at a coffee point. I catch all my colleagues passing by, show them the phone number, and say: “So, what is drawn here, what does this mean?”
A.K .: And click where you want, right?
O.SH .:Yes. If I understand that a person answers correctly ... We somehow argued with one of the teams. There were icons that were on the list of daily quests. And we tried to understand whether they look like a quest icon or is it perceived as a quest reward. You can argue for a long time or just catch people at a coffee point, show them. And here you need to very clearly formulate a task for yourself ...
AK: It all depends on the level of this task.
O.SH .: Yes. It is necessary to articulate the problem very clearly. Put it very clearly in front of the user and catch the right users in this study. If you ask well-worn colleagues, they immediately include some of their analytical abilities. Will not work.
A.K .: It is better to do this outside the Mail.Ru Group office, after all?
O.SH .: Yes. They want to disassociate a toy. When you show them a window, you expect them to tell you: "Well, probably this is a quest reward." Instead, they say: “Well, it could be a reward for the quest, but here the frame is not the right color, and in general, here everything is slightly shifted by 3 pixels, so probably this is not connected with this.” In general, some kind of thought process begins, the developer turns on.
A.K .: In general, I saw this in World of Warcraft in 2004.
O.Sh .:Yes. And you do not expect this from him at all. Therefore, you need to choose the right audience for such issues. And when it comes to some fundamental tasks. For example, some completely basic ones: the backbone, something needs to be tested - for example, battle, core gameplay. We want to understand that the battle is the most important, key feature in our game. It should cling, constantly returning people to the game. This battle should cling to all its parameters. It is clear that all this is not taken from the ceiling. The subjective experience of the developer here does not channel absolutely nothing. And then we need a laboratory, we need a clear understanding of the audience, attracting the right people with the right devices, the right questions and the right approach to research. Usually it is complex and is developed in advance. What and how we will check, based on the task that we are facing.
A.K .: If you draw an analogy, then your work is similar to the work of a criminal investigator. On the one hand, you work in the field if the tasks are not very complex. And on the other hand, you apply technology, all these gadgets that are hung on a person and determine something. By the way, there are such things, my favorite ones, when I look at some UX studies, they are called “heat maps”.
OS: I also adore them.
A.K .:I love it too. Especially on their some projects. For example, on a site or something else. You look like this: “Lord, why are they staring here? Here the green button is drawn. ” Think after that. That is, UX, in principle, shows the psychology of behavior. The way a person behaves on your site, in your game, in your project, and so on.
O.SH .: Absolutely. And you, in general, ask me about technology, right?
A.K .: Of course. And what kind of technology? You are now saying the very right things: what the user should do, and that we solve business problems. But how do we solve them? Are we launching protons into space? We still hang a helmet on his head.
O.SH .: We hang a helmet and launch protons into space.
A.K .:And at that moment we launch it on a proton into space.
O.SH .: Yes.
A.K .: Very similar, by the way, to the methodology of developing video games.
O.SH .: We can check a lot of things: follow the user's emotions, changes in his facial expressions in the process. See where he is looking, analyze where he is trying to click. Track his behavior in the framework of some scenario, that is, he constantly returns to the same task. You saw how all kinds of robots are being tested. When he tries, but cannot step on the step.
A.K .: They push him with a mop from behind.
O.SH .: Yes. And sometimes the user behaves in much the same way. Before him lies a decision, and he begins to blunt.
A.K .:I have a saying that I have been playing video games for a very long time. If I dulled at some place for more than 15 minutes, then I'm not a fool, but somewhere the game designer was mistaken.
O.SH .:Yes. It's not even 15 minutes. If you have blunted at all, then the chance is very high that another person will blunt in this place. Therefore, I try to pay attention to such moments. If even my colleagues come up to me with the question: “Listen, this icon has appeared here. What does he mean? ”, For me it will already be a bell. If he did not understand, then we must pay attention to this. And here we return to iterative development. When we launch all this into the game, we begin to test our some ready-made things, features. We understand that they do not work as much as we would like. We return to them. Then some new things are introduced into the game, which break the previous ones. Or that should somehow properly interact with ready-made solutions. We come back again, do something and test. Why is this an endless process? Because the game is changing. The game is changeable, the user is changing, the market is changing, our tasks are changing. And you have to react dynamically to everything. In general, development is needed ...
A.K .: Adjust to the situation.
O.S.: Of course. Development is an elastic thing.
AK: It is endless when it comes to online projects. The question is in different iterations, but it is constantly repeated. Are there any examples of how UX solved a problem that everyone struggled with? And could you solve it with UX methods?
OS: Yes, there are many such tasks. I like to tell the story with our splint when they removed the blackout in our splint.
A.K .: Training.
O.SH .:Yes, there is training in the game. As part of this training, the screen darkened. Everything superfluous was removed so that a person saw only a specific area in which he needed to work. So we tried to facilitate his task and directly emphasized: “Click here, look here, read here. Everything else is dark, invisible and unimportant. ” At some point, some man said: "No, dimming is ugly." I still don’t know who it was. He was lucky because the blackout was removed from the game. This led to the fact that the user did not know where to click ...
AK: And they left a small green arrow.
O.SH .:Not. They left large enough animated circles, but they worked in a city in which all the objects were large and animated. The element that should be noticeable is lost in the environment. The user did not understand where to click. I clicked to other places, nothing happened, and our conversions fell by 50%. This story is not about how to do better. And how to make it worse.
We checked how to keep the user in the game. Once we introduced the storyline into the game, and realized that it increased our performance. This is just win, although during testing people ... This, incidentally, is a separate interesting situation. During testing, while we tested the splint in the laboratory, people accepted its fundamental task and went into battle.
What did people do? People clicked on the plot, did not read the tutorial’s hints, but at the same time they all said: “It’s very bad that there is no plot in the game.” We increased the storyline, worked on its presentation. We directly worked on this front separately, once again tested and verified. People said, also exclaiming: "It's so good that there is a plot." Nobody really reads, but everyone says: “It’s good that there is a plot.” Conversions increased very much. I don’t presume to talk about specific numbers, because I’m not sure I can. We will not go into details.
AK: Many percent up.
O.SH .: Yes. For example, we introduced a custom window for connecting push notifications. Increased the number of connections from 25% to 70%, if not mistaken.
For example, we tested the application evaluation window. Increased the rating for the week ... Here I must also say why there was initially a low rating. And all because a slightly problematic build turned out. And I really wanted to quickly raise the rating. But we reacted correctly, entered the correct application evaluation window and raised the rating from 3 to 5 in a week. This shows itself perfectly. Many decisions can be measured and counted today. We do not always set ourselves such a goal. It is important that people do not fall off. We cannot calculate within each task: “And let's calculate. So we just made the button not red, but blue. How has this affected our income? ” Naturally, UX does not solve these problems. It is important for us that the user feels comfortable in the game, so that our tasks are solved. This is paramount.
A.K .:You said very correctly that there is a balance between solving a business problem and user comfort.
O.SH .: Yes. Therefore, it cannot be counted in everything in its purest form. There are some things that I voiced that are clearly understood. We did it, redid it, and changed the statistics.
A.K .:I just remember how site changes were made in the era of the first commercial Internet. About this, even a few books have been written. When a project is being developed, a large boss appears and says: “Why is this button green? Let's make her red. Can you imagine how many registrations with a red button will go right away? ” And then it evolved a bit into the fact that "Let's make red, but roll it out to 5% of the audience." Relatively speaking, if you still repaint the buttons in red in your games. And if you think that what is pleasant and convenient for the game designer or your senior programmer, then it will be convenient for at least 5% of your users, then you should know: this is not so. There are more interesting and modern research methods. But, as I understand it, not everyone is admitted to them. Including within our company.
OS: Yes, no. Why so? No one limits. As part of our company, our laboratory operates. There are independent laboratories, quite a few that can be accessed. But it’s clear that not all developers are allowed to do this. But there are many other ways to check. As I already said, these are interviews, and polls, and A / B testing, linking statistics. And these resources are free.
A.K .: Relatively speaking, nobody canceled focus groups for 10 people?
OS: Yes, of course.
AK: If they cannot show, then at least they will tell something.
There is already a whole discussion about a tool called VIM. This is the case where the UX is far ahead of the UI. Can you say something here? Ask for your advice.
O.SH .: I would like to clarify with the author of this question what he wants to hear from me? What does UX stand before UI?
A.K .: This is a joke. And the author asked what do you think about this tool? If you do not think, this is also the answer.
O.SH .: Honestly, I do not use this. I did not come across him in any way. But it will be very interesting for me to look at him.
A.K .:Another question: "Please tell us about VIM and about games for programmers." Why I love our chat is because a parallel world is developing here, a parallel discussion. On the one hand, it is extremely interesting for me to listen to you ...
O.SH .: You know, I myself will be interested to see, because ...
A.K .: Of course. Then see, read. I remind you that Olga Schubert, a specialist in UX design and development in the gaming department of Mail.Ru Group, is our guest today. Ask us questions about UX. Just don’t ask how UX differs from UI. UX is what the user gets while communicating with the interface. And UI is the interface itself. The farther, the more difficult the development of games. Three terms in our time will not get off.
With technology, we all understood. In principle, what we want from people also understood. We even understood that even patterns exist. Are there any difficulties associated with some genres of games? I heard somewhere recently that an integrated MMO and even a small 5-button mobile phone are equally complex things in terms of interface. Only in one there is a lot of it, and therefore it is difficult to fit on one screen. And in the second it is extremely small, and therefore it is difficult to make it so that they simply do not let it through. Something like this. Is there a big difference?
O.SH .:Each product is complex in its own way. There are genres that are simpler in terms of interface development. But this does not mean that they are really as simple as they seem. If we talk about games in which the main role is played by the battle ... I generally work a lot with students who make small project teams. They always say: “C'mon, there, in general, there is only a battle and a launch window, and that’s all.” And then we begin to understand what else is this, this, this, and this. What they see is the tip of the iceberg. All this lies on the surface. And if you dig, then there hoo. And we must take into account that UX is not only working with buttons that you can touch. UX is not only an interface, but also work with emotions, with user expectations. And it is more resource-intensive at deeper levels.
AK: Some questions of psychology are starting to connect.
O.SH .: Yes.
AK: You somehow, probably, separate users. This one was sad here, and this one began to laugh for some reason.
O.SH .: We are preparing .
AK: To some extent, dissect. If you hang them all this business and also observe emotions. I am sure that this is happening on three cameras.
O.SH .:Yes. The fact is that when the game has several windows and a battle. It seems that this is all easy to do. You have a chance to hook the user with only a few windows and battle. You need to understand that if your product is small, then it should not be less significant from this. He should still cling to something. And here it is already required ... This does not mean that a big product needs deep development, an in-depth approach, the study of emotions, expectations and so on. It is mandatory both there and there. And this is the most difficult thing that is in games, regardless of genre.
As for the interfaces as such, when the game is complex, multi-tasking. When it has some kind of complex mechanisms. When there is a whole bunch of information in it that you need to work with - of course, this is a big headache for both the developer and the player. But the player, he is a fan of a particular genre, he is getting used to it, he is ready to work with it. A.K .
: Forgive 700 windows.
O.SH .:Yes. He knows this genre and loves it for something. He already had some patterns. As for the developer, his task is to optimize those products that he saw, knows, tried and probed. Streamline your own processes within your own product. And this means that even when we have someone to borrow and see, we still want to facilitate this process. We still want to simplify the task. To make the interface more understandable, well scalable, memorable and so on. And this is just a larger volume and a more furious task. But it happens when we talk about interfaces. And in terms of emotions, I will not say that one game is easier than another. Not at all. There are a huge number of Match 3 games, but some of them shot, and some did not. If you think about why, then this also answers my question a little.
AK: There open up whole jungle. It is easy to compare two MMOs, there are a lot of features, but here it already begins.
Questions rained down. You spoke so incendiary today. What is our criteria? If people finally start asking: “And where do you have to go to study, what skills do you need to have in order to finally do this business?”, Then this means that it was possible. Such questions already exist. Our viewer Kirill Borisov thought that you can draw. I don’t know, maybe you can draw. And he asks: “Where did you learn to draw? Correctly I understand that such a mid-level skill is needed compared to a designer? ” Should a person be able to draw in order to deal with interfaces. Is this true or not?
OS: In fact, no.
A.K .:We saw technical directors who do not know how to program. Whoever they have seen on these streams.
OS: In fact, I am a UX specialist who grew up from a game designer. I don’t know how to draw, this is not my profession. I have to understand the intricacies in the process. When I was just starting to do all this, I was scared by scary words: some kind of shaders.
A.K .: Teraflops.
O.SH .:Yes. I looked at it and thought: "My God, what does this all mean?" But you have to understand, because I lead the task from beginning to end. I work with a designer, layout, then with animation, then with sound. All these things lie in the zone of my responsibility, because all of them ultimately result in the final product with which the user works. I am responsible for how this product will be, what it is, how high-quality it will be, how cool and understandable. This suggests that I need to understand all the processes that I encounter along the way. From and to. But this does not mean that I should be both an artist, and a designer, and an animator, and a sound engineer, and everything else. Not.
AK: You must understand how each of them works.
O.SH .:Yes, I have to understand how it all works. And sometimes I have to stick on ...
AK: Calculate Newton's binomial.
O.SH .: Yes. I have a vision in my head about what the task should be. At the stage when I designed it, when I stuck it in the document for a week, I was at that moment ...
AK: At that moment I was presenting “Mind Games”. You are sitting, and around you flicker only these pieces of paper glued in different angles.
O.SH .:Yes, that’s about what happens. I'm at that moment like a mad dog. I can’t be approached because I’ll say: “Go away, everybody, don’t interfere.” At this moment, I have formed the final vision of the product, or rather the specific task that now lies before me. I can already see how the button lights up there, it starts to shine, and here, the djin, the sound, and I have it all in my head now so cooked, cooked. I imagine the whole scenario, and in my head I press on these invisible buttons. I’m trying to understand whether this is convenient or not. This is a little crazy process. But as a result of all this, I understand how all this should work. And I can explain and say at each stage: “There should be a larger font, here there is a higher contrast, but here let's remove it and do it.” And I understand that we have a limited number of colors in the game. Understand, that we technically cannot stroke, so we need to use some other solutions. All this needs to be kept in mind; it should all be in the process. Therefore, I sometimes sin and try to work with the hands of specialists. I tell them what to do if I’m directly convinced that this is the only way we will achieve the result. I directly know that here you need to make a big such-and-such window with a green button.
Then I come to the artovik and begin to draw some crooked things on a piece of paper. They have already begun to collect a collection of my creepy cave paintings. I show them to students all the time. I use a tablet, I draw something. But what I draw is better not to see anyone.
AK: We all draw some kind of diagram.
O.SH .: Yes. We all draw some kind of diagram. But I'm still trying to explain how this should look from an art point of view. I’m trying to draw some kind of art, but, as you know ...
A.K .: The dragon should be like this.
O.SH .: Yes. You can collect a separate art book.
AK: It's like retelling movies in your own words. Also a cool genre.
O.SH .:Yes, that's about it. "Here like this, here like that." Something tore, something painted, some terrible things. All this is ridiculous, but it must be done because it conveys my thought very well further. The less corrupted the phone, the better. The more detailed I visualize my idea, the better it will go to the next developers. And you know that she has a chance at the exit to reach the user in the form in which I came up with it all. Why is this so? Well, I'll draw a five-legged goat. And then I come to the animator, and then it starts even more fun. Because I start to wave my hands and say: “Thousand-Thousands, wacky! Here so here. ” I’m galloping around him like crazy and explaining that now here it’s like this, and here it’s like that. And then I put some pieces of paper and say: “Well, is it clear now?” And the man is: “Yeah, Yes. Well yes…"
AK: To some extent, you are a production designer. Not a director, like in a movie.
O.SH .: Yes.
A.K .: In general, an artist and director. And there let the people on the ground do it. The installer and the operator will understand better, for that they are professionals.
We have many detailed questions. For example: “Olga, tell me the principle of the basics of creating UI in IMO. What should be in quick access, what should lie far in the wilds of the menu? ” Let’s expand the question a little. And for those classic genres that you do literally every day, is there any kind of golden law? Free tips for a young developer for UI.
O.SH .:In fact, there is no universal golden law that can be taken and implemented in its pure form in the product. Therefore, I never advise any literature. This will definitely be the next question.
AK: I was even afraid to assume that about UX there is generally literature. What about the UI is, I still guess. I even saw a couple of books in an interview. There is no such literature, study yourself, come to Mail.Ru Group to work.
O.SH .: It is not true that there is no literature about UX. There is a wagon and a small trolley. But this literature is not about games. Ta Dam!
AK: Are you interested in sites? About sites, come to me, I'll tell you.
O.SH .:There is literature about games too, but it becomes outdated very quickly. The market is very dynamic, the industry is growing and developing superfast. The user also changes his behavior superfast. Even if you look at last year’s books or the year before last, they are already so-so.
A.K .: Literature. It’s even more likely not books, I mean, because we understand that literature ...
O.SH .: No, directly books, directly printed publications.
AK: All this on the Internet can be.
OS: But at some point they begin to work to the detriment, because it's like books about management. When in pure form I read and went to lead.
A.K .:They look: “Fool, this was written for an American company. And here, through vodka, this issue is being resolved, ”relatively speaking.
O.SH .:Yes, that’s it. It’s the same here. You will read the book and do as it is. And each product is absolutely unique. There cannot be the only right decisions. Not at all like that. Right in Match 3, everything should look like this, no other way. And the registration window for games is only this, the other will not work. Yes, nothing like that, absolutely everything is wrong, because the user is different. It so happened that this setting, this genre, this audience, this moment in time, some type of presentation, it all came together. This may or may not work. Each case is absolutely unique. That is why we test every case. If there were any decisions that we made and knew that they would behave well ... Yes, if there are some simple things - we know what is accepted. We understand that user experience is based on something, he is not taken from the air. And we know that some things will work fine, because they have already been tested in other games or on other platforms. But they periodically give out some surprises.
That is, some things that ... But because we know that lists should be like that. And we took the list, tore it from one place and put it in another place. And the fact that it is inconvenient to click there, the inscriptions are poorly read there. The fact that this list is not the information that the user needs and that this list is not needed at all is another question. Although it would seem that there are lists, they work for others. But there’s a list right there. Why do not we have?
AK: He is a list in Africa too.
O.SH .: Yes.
A.K .:So what is UX? This is a scientific approach. We study all the data, then analyze it, collect, recall the previous experience, the same patterns. Although you say that everything is unique, but I think that there are some template rules. But is there a moment of “divine revelation” in this analytical, I am not afraid of this word? You look at this interface and such: “Here is the green button!”, And it immediately increases the target by two. There have been such cases?
O.SH .:Not certainly in that way. What's here, time, and the green button is not. But it happens that when I am struggling with a task, I’m directly seriously hacking it. I’m sitting there, there’s no solution or we are redoing 10 times, and something is not right. And here we understand that this option is vulnerable, this is vulnerable, this is vulnerable. Right, everything is not very. We put off this business, come in three days, and then divine revelation ensues. In general, I am the same person who can at some point in a restaurant begin to draw on a napkin. This is really something that never leaves me. At some point, I saw something somewhere, and this may not be a game, or a mobile interface. Somewhere I saw a button on the TV. I look at her, and I understand: "Now the light is on!", I drop everything, and draw on a napkin.
A.K .: Class! Awesome feeling.
O.SH .:Yes. Especially when all this is tested, it justifies itself and really starts to work - it's just super.
AK: Let's all hope that Olya in a few years, somehow in a dream, like Mendeleev, will see, for example, the VR interface of the future. He wakes up and says: "That's it, now I know how to do it perfectly."
O.SH .: And we very often talk on this topic with colleagues about the interfaces of the future, about VR. I really love games ... I always loved quest games, where very often the game itself is the interface.
A.K .: Pixel hunting.
O.SH .:Yes. It is very cool. And this love did not just begin in ancient times. I really liked to analyze all this, to sort through the bones, to dissect the bear. And I understand that not the interfaces per se, but the future lies with UX. I understand that now a product cannot exist without it. If you do not study all this, do not use and do not apply, then your product will not cost anything at the output. It may be somehow innovative, you can do something ingenious that no one has ever done before you. Score on the UX approach and it will fire. But then there are competitors.
AK: In the 1990s, this would have worked, but now. Hundreds of games come out every day.
O.SH .: Yes. Competitors will immediately appear who take this idea for themselves. And using the UX approach will make it better.
A.K .: Как приятно, дорогие зрители, видеть хороших людей на правильных местах. Закругляя нашу серию «Техностримов», добавлю немножко философии. 90% людей — это факт, что у нас в стране, что в других — находятся не на своем месте. Люди сидят на работе и страдают. Им скучно. А я очень редко видел людей, бухгалтеров, которые сидят и тащатся от цифр. Есть такие. Видел гениальных врачей, которые не просто принимают, а которые рады работать с этой опухолью. Извини, что взял контекст с опухолью. Но Ольга, мне кажется, одна из немногих людей в стране, которая была создана для интерфейсов. Я тебе дико завидую, потому что у тебя столько энтузиазма в такой крайне редкой, очень специфической профессии. Мы разговаривали с тобой про нее час, я понял только верхи, потому что у нас не длинная лекция. Но мы в таких форматах еще поработаем. Но теперь, я думаю, что вы понимаете, что UX — это круто. У нас была сегодня в гостях Ольга Шуберт, специалист UX-разработки в игровом направлении компании Mail.Ru Group. Как мы поняли, она просто уникальный специалист в стране. Я вообще никогда не видел человека, который бы с таким энтузиазмом рассказывал про интерфейс. Надо с тобой придумать еще какой-то формат. Например, взять взять 10 игр и разобрать, что здесь не так.
OS: You have to meet, yes. I have a lot to tell.
AK: Write to us at Sportloto and at the same time to all other authorities. If you really want us to arrange any series of such “Technostreams” dedicated to video games, then expand our list of topics. Because UX is awesome. Initially, we did not even think that it was worth including. But in the end, it turned out to be one of our best programs.
I was with you today, Alexander Kuzmenko. Visiting me, again, I recall, was a wonderful Olga Schubert. See you again. Thank you for being with us. Till!