I currently lead a team of incredible XD Designers on the Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells. My primary focus is to improve pipeline efficiency, quality of deliverables and being the XD voice in the Senior Leads group. I partner across disciplines to ensure all current and future features on the roadmap are achievable and are completed in high quality. I often connect with other discipline leads from Production, Product, Design, Art, Engineering, QA to make sure they understand what deliverables are to be expected from XD while keeping my team accountable.
Our Role as UI / UX Designer
At a high level, in context of gaming, UX determines and pieces the skeleton together, UI is the skin. As XD designers on Harry Potter, we hone the skills required to excel in both disciplines. Though there’s certainly overlaps and most often times work might be redundant. A key aspect in making an ideal designer is knowing where the division of labor lies within the team.
At Harry Potter, we have a basic spectrum of our roles:
At the core, we need to make money. The Production Team and the Product Team are ultimately responsible for the timing and the what respectively. There are many business decisions and priorities that are beyond our influence. As XD Designers, our influence in this spectrum is to offer our costings to aid decision making.
Many 1-pagers are written in this spectrum by the Creative Director, Product Managers and even XD Designers (often paired with a Product Manager to consult on business goals.) These 1-pagers will get vetted by the VP of Product which then propose how all the initiatives are stacked up on the roadmap.
When roadmap priorities are set and expectations are communicated upward/downward, we began the pre-production phase by diving into more detailed specs. XD involvement will be more hands-on with wireframes, screen flows and edge cases reviews while working closely with whoever is the Product Manager to ensure general directions are aligned. Once the wireframes and the general approach are ready, T-shirt size costings from all disciplines are requested.
Eventually the spec will be fully flushed out with details to the the best of our abilities. There’s always going to be questions left unanswered but the goal is to address all the big questions.
Concept Art, VFX Artists, Animators, SFX Artists will began the cycle – to fill in the detailed gaps in order to create coherently high quality art. As you’d imagine, many syncs and communications need to happen between the XD Designer and other content artists as there’re many moving parts. Commonly, when/where should vfx appear? How long should the screen transition be? By using Orc’s animation, it’ll block interactions.. etc. Many small and detailed interaction decisions are made all the time.
Between UI and Engineer, there’s constant communications on priority of screens to be built, how each interaction functions, edge cases that arise (offline, disconnection.. etc). We built the game in Unity, so UI designers take on the ownership of assembling the UI in engine. We deal with sprites cut up, sizes optimizations, image compressions, we need to be aware of performance implications, we become experts in anchoring our UI everything will look correct in different screen aspect ratio.
Our Production Pipeline
We operate in a fast-paced, multi-timezone team. Our development approach is therefore fully written out and followed faithfully. In a big picture, XD’s involvement covers 100% of the entire production process from 1-pagers all the way to QA sign-off.
Our XD Workflow
The workflow can be broken down into pre-production work and production work.
In general, the further down the time spent, the harder it is to make big changes. Thus the earlier in the process, the more wild iterative / ideas are explored. Where as oppose in the later development stage, we would be fixing alignment, overlap, animation timing issues..etc
More often to our best of our knowledge and experience, we want to answer all major questions upfront, for example, Is this something our players want? Are the players familiar with the feature concept? Would they find this fun as oppose to something else? (opportunity cost) Is this feature achievable within this timeframe?
OUR CHOICE OF TOOLS
We use Miro Boards as a collective presentation haven:
- Competitive Research
- User Flows
- Wireframes (Initial, Lo-Fi, Hi-Fi)
- Edge Case Reviews
- Links to specs, costing sheets, prototypes
Preferences are Sketch and Photoshop. Recently, other teams are experimenting with Figma. Most designers would prefer Sketch but due to the nature of requiring to make edits to highly rendered images, our team still needs to use Photoshop for our Hi-Fidelity mocks.
Depending on the fidelity and the goal of the prototype, we default to Invision, XD or even creating an Unity build if more complex interactions are required.
Lately other teams have had good experience with Figma as a combo tool for both wireframing and prototyping.
A Playful Mischief
Prank Box (internal name) is an extended Club Feature that allows Clubs to send Pranks to another Club to knock down points in the Leaderboard.
The primary drive for engagement is the motivation to become one of top Clubs in the current leaderboard. The reward for achieving such is the promotion to a higher club tier – which grants more bonuses and benefits that aid normal play.