At Sprung Studios, we pride ourselves on promoting a work environment where staff can succeed. Sprung Studios’ offers an atmosphere where UX/UI Designers feel confident and comfortable taking creative risks, through the cultivation of innovative individuals and guidance of our creative mentors.
Patrick Green is the Creative Director at Sprung Studios and has been with the company since 2009. He has identified several attributes he feels all UX/UI Designers working in the games industry should focus on. Being in the right environment can facilitate increased productivity and growth, but a model designer must still have these qualities in order to excel in the field:
1. PASSION FOR GAMES
To be successful in any industry, you must have a deep connection with what you do. This connection or passion is especially relevant in the games industry. A passion for gaming allows the professional to fully appreciate what differentiates a positive gaming experience from a negative one. Get excited about upcoming consoles, frequently check industry-related news, and routinely play video games. If you already do a combination of these activities, you’re on the right course.
Analyzing and dissecting the medium from a UX/UI perspective is just as crucial. When you get stuck within a game’s navigation, take notes and understand why this happened and how you would fix it, if it were your design. This analysis will enable you to think more in-depth about design decisions and better comprehend the optimal player experience.
When you understand the gaming sector better, you will be able to converse with industry professionals and clients in a language that they understand.
If you aren’t immersed in the culture, you won’t fully grasp what is expected from your work, which will hinder your designs overall.
2. CONTEXTUAL THINKER
When players purchase a game in a specific genre, they have preconceptions about the content and the gameplay. If there were a sci-fi inspired storefront in a medieval role-playing game, it would confuse most players (unless used for creative purposes). Stay true to the expectations and conventions of a genre as this enables the player to remain uninhibited and creates a more intuitive experience overall.
The game’s platform and inputs also affect your design decisions. A player’s interaction with a mobile shooter is different from interacting with a first-person console shooter. When playing an FPS on a console, for example, most players are accustomed to pressing the left trigger to aim down the weapon’s sights. This is a well-known convention of that platform, and a designer would need a good reason to break it.
For example, there is a fishing mechanic within a game, and the player is reeling in a fish. Rather than pressing a button repeatedly, it fits the context far more to have the player rotate their controller’s analogue sticks. While pressing a button to reel in the fish would achieve the same result, turning the analogue sticks draws comparisons to fishing in real life and provides a much more intuitive experience.
Understand the player’s perspective, the genre they are playing with and the platform being used. You will then gain better insights into your subsequent design decisions.
3. COLLABORATE AND COMMUNICATE
It is essential to know how to collaborate and communicate appropriately with the parties involved in a game’s creation. An individual doesn’t make a game; a team does. Establish yourself as part of the team and understand the project’s requirements while working closely with your colleagues to achieve the established targets. Don’t think you have to solve problems independently; utilize your colleagues as a resource and ask for assistance.
A successful UX/UI Designer has confidence in their written and verbal communication, but professional communication is more than just speaking and writing well. Your primary focus is to communicate your vision and ideas clearly and succinctly. To excel in the space of communication and collaboration, you need to be able to share your thoughts in a variety of different ways to different audiences in different situations.
You must understand how to give and take feedback appropriately. This is essential for your own growth and development. A designer needs to work closely with the motion team, the games design team, and the development team to ensure their design is appropriate for the game.
Receiving criticism from experts in these fields, whether positive or negative, gives you new perspectives that yield strengthened ideas and better outcomes.
4. INNOVATE WITH INGENUITY
Having a design problem that needs solving is the root of why clients hire Sprung Studios. Our job is to provide various premium solutions to their problems that range from conventional to innovative.
Often the most traditional solution is the best direction. This can be for many reasons, with player expectations or technical limitations being two of the most common. A successful UX/UI Designer also incorporates original and inventive ideas that move the concept a step forward. You must explore how your concepts can work within the context of specific games, but also go further and try to reimagine and innovate.
Few people are inspired to innovate by just staring at a screen. More often than not, great ideas come when discussing concepts with colleagues and teammates. You should gain inspiration from as many different perspectives and sources as possible, from online research to your local park. The more origins for ingenuity, the better.
Once an idea is solidified, do not stop there; try your best to break it. Attempt to find gaps in your concept and ways it may not work as soon as possible. The worst-case scenario is thinking your idea is foolproof, only to present it to a client and have it break down.
Give your design to prototypers and gather feedback from other members of your team. If it doesn’t break, you know you have a great design; if it does, you know you need to keep working on it.
5. ARTISTICALLY SKILLED
Having the concept alone is not enough to be a great UX/UI Designer. You must also convey your visions through technical and artistic skills. Technical and art skills such as typography, lighting and colour need to be fully understood before considering a job as a UX/UI Designer. Utilizing these skills to bring your vision to life through Photoshop is crucial in communicating a concept to your team and clients.
While it may be beneficial to generate a mood board and initial sketches, creating your specific idea within Photoshop will provide deeper insights and understanding of what you are trying to design.
If you don’t know how to create a particular style or texture necessary for your idea, don’t compromise. Learn how to do it through research or by asking your colleagues. Don’t give up until you have your exact idea on the screen.
While various environmental or personal factors may play a part in a UX/UI Designer’s success, a proven portfolio combined with the attributes mentioned above consistently provides the strongest foundation. At Sprung Studios, we are always looking for new, creative, and like-minded individuals who appreciate both the artistry and technical skill required to thrive within this industry. If you are interested in growing your UX/UI career within video games, check out all of the available and upcoming job opportunities at our Sprung Studios Careers page.
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