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 housetwice 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.
So gameaccessibilityguidelines.com gives game developers a simple, understandable checklist of ways to improve the accessibility of their games, ranging from easy to hard. This is awesome particularly for disabled gamers, but implementing many of the guidelines will benefit everybody. I’d like to take a quick look at a few of my favorite guidelines that I wish more games had just for the sake of usability. Continue reading →
One of the many game modes in the EA’s Madden NFL football series is the “Create a Superstar” mode. It puts an RPG-esque twist on winning the Lombardi Trophy by letting you “level up” your superstar’s skills as you gain experience. This concept certainly isn’t novel though – I’ve talked a little bit about a similar mode in MLB 2K12 recently.
Since you are creating a superstar after all, there are quite a few details to be worked out – from hair style to shoe color and all kinds of things in between. Madden NFL even includes an extensive list of colleges that your superstar could have attended. I’m not sure exactly how many there are, but it’s a ludicrous amount. And this is where the problem comes in – EA might have picked the worst possible way for players to select a college.
I may have to ask this dwarf for directions, but he looks pretty angry…
Nobody likes getting lost, let’s be honest. It’s frustrating, because there’s usually somewhere else that you’d rather be, and unless you happen to be lost on a beach in Hawaii somewhere, you just want to get to your destination. Even worse is when you keep ending up going in circles – at least if you’re seeing new territory, it feels like progress is being made.
Being lost isn’t any more fun in video games. Last week I talked about how Dice Poker in The Witcher 2 features a UI that is an exercise in needless frustration. The Witcher 2 makes another appearance on that game’s ux this week because the game makes it nearly impossible to figure out where you’re going. And there’s not even anybody that you can ask for directions.
Metaphors are used in interfaces all the time. The metaphor of the desktop is perhaps the most commonly cited. We don’t talk about the desktop a lot these days, but the collective we does talk a ton about the skeuomorphism that is running rampant in Apple’s various products. Your opinion on that topic may vary, but I’ll take stab in the dark and say your opinion of the Microsoft Briefcase is either 1) what is that? or 2) ugh that’s a terrible metaphor (fun fact: Briefcase is available in MS Windows 7, but has finally been retired from Windows 8. A sad day indeed…)
Metaphors in gaming interfaces are used frequently too, and not always well. Grand Theft Auto IV makes frequent use of a cell phone for contacting other in-game characters. Being set in 2008, as text messaging was on the rise, this totally makes sense. Unfortunately, being an appropriate metaphor doesn’t mean that it’s an easy to use interface, and here’s where the game runs into all kinds of trouble.