1st Edition

Designing the User Experience of Game Development Tools

By David Lightbown Copyright 2015
    188 Pages 105 B/W Illustrations
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    188 Pages
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    Most tools developers want to improve the user experience but are not given the time, lack the techniques, or don’t know where to begin.Designing the User Experience of Game Development Tools addresses these issues to empower tools developers to make positive steps toward improving the user experience of their tools.

    The book explains how to improve the user experience of game development tools. The first part of the book details the logic behind why the user experience of game tools must be improved. The second part introduces the concept of user-centered design, a process that revolves around understanding people’s goals, watching them work, learning the context in which they work, and understanding how they think.

    Ideal for anyone who makes, uses, or benefits from game development tools, the book presents complex concepts in a manner that is accessible to those new to user experience design. The book illustrates many proven concepts and techniques using before-and-after examples from tools development to supply you with the real-world understanding you need to become a better game developer. It also describes how to get buy-in from your team.

    Although concepts have been simplified to make the information more easily accessible, the text includes resources in the footnotes if you want more details.

    The book includes access to a companion website, www.UXofGameTools.com, that contains the latest revisions for the book as well as contact information. You can also follow the official Twitter account @UXofGameTools to see the latest updates and articles related to the improvement of the user experience.

    The Big Green Button
    My Story
    Who Should Read this Book?
    Companion Website and Twitter Account
    Before we Begin

    Welcome to Designing the User Experience of Game Development Tools
    What Will We Learn in This Chapter?
    What Is This Book About?
    Defining User Experience
    The Value of Improving the User Experience of Our Tools
    Parallels Between User Experience and Game Design
    How Do People Benefit From an Improved User Experience?
    Finding the Right Balance
    Wrapping Up

    The User-Centered Design Process
    What Will We Learn in This Chapter?
    What Is the User-Centered Design Process?
    The Phases of the User-Centered Design Process
    The Power of Pre-Visualization
    Getting to a Better User Experience Faster
    Integrating the User-Centered Design Process into Agile
    Who Has the Time to Do All of This?
    Wrapping Up

    What Does It Mean to Be User-Centered?
    What Will We Learn in This Chapter?
    Start With the Users
    Focus on the Right Users
    Features Versus Goals
    Do One Thing Really Well
    Choose the Right Features
    Wrapping Up

    What Will We Learn in This Chapter?
    The Importance of Watching Users Work
    Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
    Understanding the Mental Model
    Interview Stakeholders
    Perform Contextual Analyses
    Create Task Flows
    Discover the Users Mental Model
    Establish Measurements
    Advanced Techniques
    Wrapping Up

    What Will We Learn in This Chapter?
    How the Brain and the Eyes Work Together
    Visual Language
    Interaction Patterns
    Natural Mapping
    Progressive Disclosure
    Wrapping Up

    What Will We Learn in This Chapter?
    How Do We Evaluate the Design?
    Choosing Between Code or Pre-Visualization
    Pre-Visualize the Interface
    Perform a Heuristic Evaluation
    Do User Tests
    Wrapping Up

    Back to Analysis
    Deja  Vu
    Comparing Measurements

    Real-World User-Centered Design
    The Process in Action
    Calculating the Return on Investment

    Closing word

    Works Cited & Recommended Reading


    After spending most of his formative years in his parents’ basement trying to clone 8-bit console games on an Apple IIGS, David Lightbown got a job in the games industry. Since then, he has dedicated the majority of his career to working on content creation tools and pipelines.

    In addition to contributing to a variety of games as a technical director, David has delivered presentations at the Game Developers Conference, Montreal International Game Summit, and SIGGRAPH, in various cities within Canada, the United States, and Europe.

    He has also collaborated with Autodesk to create product reviews, training manuals, tutorial videos, and masterclasses. In 2010, he received the Autodesk Master Award for his contributions to the 3D community.

    David currently holds the title of technical director at Ubisoft Montreal.

    "What you are reading now is the result of David Lightbown’s first big mission on [a] very long quest. The rest is a co-op campaign and he has brought along these weapons to get us started."
    —From the Foreword by Mike Acton, Engine Director, Insomniac Games

    "[David’s] acclaimed lectures, now demonstrated and elaborated in this book, are brilliant and very appropriate to our industry."
    —Jason Parks, Owner, Continuity AI (former Technical Artist for SCEA, THQ, and Volition)

    "Lightbown tackles some complicated cognitive and scientific concepts, but does so in a completely conversational manner that is not only approachable, but fun and interesting to read."
    —Jim Brown, Epic Games

    "All developers owe it to their future selves to learn to apply the process presented in this book to their tools."
    —Corey Johnson, Unity Technologies

    "If you build games tools and are not familiar with user-centered design, then you should read this book."
    —Tom Hoferek, Principal User Experience Designer, Autodesk

    "David not only delivers the concepts and techniques that can be used to improve the user experience of game development tools, he also outlines … the return on investment for doing so. A must read."
    —Liam Grieg, Senior UX Designer, Atlassian

    "In this easy-to-read, comprehensive guide, David Lightbown applies classic principles of user-centered design to the tool-building process. ... A must-read, even if you’re not in the games industry."
    —AJ Kandy, Co-Founder/Director of Design, Peterson/Kandy