Lollipop Chainsaw: The Information Scent of Notifications

The concept of “information scent” is relatively simple: when a user is trying to find some information, they rely on clues in the environment to tell them if a given path is going to be worthwhile (wikipedia link on information scent). This is why link titles in websites are so important – hopefully, that link in the last sentence gives you a very good idea of what’s to come on the other side.

Lollipop Chainsaw - Juliet Starling's face

Juliet Starling, our hero

Lollipop Chainsaw is a hack-and-slash title that has the player playing a zombie-killing cheerleader (this makes total sense). While the game’s UI is super stylish in its comic book motif, I’m going to talk about probably the lamest possible part of this game – how it tells the player that there is new content in one of the menus. I know, with so many rainbows, sparkles, and other awesome touches on this game, it’s a bit of a tragedy…but somebody has to do it.

It’s a nitpick about how notifications are a little weird in the game, and a quick discussion on how information scent factors into in the UI of Lollipop Chainsaw.

Continue reading

Borderlands 2: Mission Information When You Need It

Borderlands 2 logoIn comparison with the original, Borderlands 2 hasn’t changed all that much. Gameplay-wise it’s more of the same, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are definitely a few tweaks in the game’s framework – obviously new classes and skills, 87 bazillion guns, at least one new currency, and a lot more shininess in the UI.

And speaking of the UI – there was one relatively minor change that caught my attention. The Fast Travel Network screen shows players where the missions are that they need to complete right where they need to see it. I really appreciate tiny changes that make big improvements from game to game, and this definitely falls into that category. It’s not a new concept for sure, and it’s even been featured on That Game’s UX before from another game, but it’s still worth celebrating. Read on to find out more!

Continue reading

Borderlands 2: Thoughts on Usability

Borderlands 2 logoIn last week’s article, I talked about how the crazy amount of loot and the lack of a good, simple method to compare items can make an otherwise great Borderlands 2 a sluggish inventory-management fest. After a little bit more playtime, I’ve come up with a few more usability related thoughts on this game including:

  1. Various methods of picking up loot
  2. How much I love the world map in Borderlands 2
  3. Scroll bars are your friend
  4. The skill tree is more focused, but probably less useful
  5. Some unnecessarily sexy visual effects in the menu screen
Read on to find out more!

Continue reading

Borderlands 2: Can There Be Too Much Loot?

Borderlands is a series that’s absolutely driven by the desire to collect loot. When the original Borderlands was released back in 2009, I heard it referred to frequently as “the Diablo 2 of shooters”. It’s fitting then, that Borderlands 2 has a limited edition that comes with a replica loot chest.

All of the guns and other loot in the Borderlands series are randomly generated, and while the story is great, finding a legendary rocket launcher is really the reason to play. Collecting more and better guns is as good a driving force as any to play a game, right? But managing all that loot can be a challenge, and for a game that’s as loot-driven as Borderlands 2 is, Gearbox could have dealing with all of those sweet, sweet guns a little bit easier.

Continue reading

Diablo 3: Auction House Usability Revisited

It’s been a few months now since Diablo 3 was finally released. In that time we’ve covered usability issues with the Diablo 3 auction house twice now. And Blizzard hasn’t been resting either; a frequent stream of patches has brought changes large and small. Most recently, patch 1.0.4 made a handful of changes with the auction house aimed at improving its usability.

So lets take a look back at our previous articles on the topic and see what has and hasn’t been addressed in the original list of complaints.

Continue reading