Mobile UI, UX Writing
Calculator 2: The Game
Calculator 2: The Game is a math-based puzzle game for iOS and Android. I was involved in designing the user interface, developing the game, and both designing the onboarding and levels.
Background & Overview
Another sequel! When I joined Simple Machine, I started out fixing bugs for Calculator: The Game. Eventually, I prototyped a new mode for the game which grew and became the sequel. I was the lead developer on this game, and while I could go on about level design and creating generative math puzzles, this case study is going to focus specifically on the design of the initial onboarding, and subsequent tutorials throughout the game.
The onboarding and tutorial requirements included:
For this project, I worked with a lead designer who provided feedback and outlined the project requirements. Being both the product designer and developer on this project was a tough balance because I had to design within the constraints of my own coding skills. I knew whatever solution and final design we came to was gonna be handed off to me in the end.
1 Game Designer, 1 Developer, 1 Artist,
1 UX/UI Designer, 1 Level Designer
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD, Unity
Design the initial onboarding process for a math puzzle game
Design the levels and copy for tutorial levels where a new feature is introduced
I wanted the design to be instantly recognizable, which left me very little wiggle room in terms of visual design. There was never a question of how it was supposed to look.
A problem that came up was, what if a player had never used one of these calculators before? This solution was based on an assumption that might not be true, especially given that some of our users were under the age of 13. The solution was too literal.
Thematically this worked and was fun, but overall it was not the best way to convey all the game info. Some feedback I got:
With the notes that I received, I worked with the level designer to design an "intro level" that would walk players through the different features of the game. A similar tutorial experience can be found in Monument Valley which slowly teaches the player about the features in the game and only when they need to see them.
Dot is the chatbot that we designed to walk players through Calculator 2: The Game. I had the pleasure of writing most of her dialogue. Here's some notes I had for writing her text:
She brought a lot of levity and life to the game. Because she's only speaking to you in the second person, it feels very friendly.
The level design was the most complicated part of the process. I love puzzles and I LOVE a good challenge so, the initial levels I designed for these were way too hard and jumped in too fast for a new user. Some feedback I got was to:
We brought the game to PAX East, a gaming convention, to get some feedback. Our goal was to be able to watch a user go through the onboarding without having to guide them or point them in any way. Overall, it worked! We ended up trimming the text down based on the then shipped the game with these tutorials.
If I were to continue working on this project, I would love to explore:
A chatbot interface could work really well with the character and the existing dialogue system. Audio tutorials could move the users along without using screen space to show text.