Deep Dive: Total War Saga UX / UI Evolution: Troy with Player Feedback

Gamasutra Deep Dives is a continuous series aimed at shedding light on a particular design, art, or technical feature within a video game, making seemingly simple and basic design decisions really that simple. Indicates that it is not.

Previous articles covered topics such as building an adaptive technology tree in the Dawn of Man, achieving seamless branching in the Watch Dogs 2 Invasion of Privacy mission, and creating complex-level designs. Disgrace 2Clockwork mansion, and the technology behind it Gear tactics.

In this edition, Creative Assembly Sofia’s lead UI / UX game designer, Alex Tomakchiev, shares how user testing and player feedback can help with UI / UX-driven design. Total War Saga: Troy“End of turn” button.

Beginning (repetition # 1)

One of the most important UI elements in turn-based games[ターン終了]Let’s take a look at the button. For a long time during development, the End Turn button looked and behaved very much like it did. Total War: Warhammer II.. If you are using an hourglass icon and there are pending actions, you will see a different icon for each action.

The end-of-turn button represented by an hourglass.

When you click the button, a GameObject is selected or a panel opens, prompting you to take the corresponding action before the end of the turn.

An example of a Royal Decrees notification that appears above the end-of-turn button.

This was a great quality of life feature that helped players remind them of all actions they hadn’t completed yet, but it also had its drawbacks. Only after resolving or skipping all pending notifications[ターン終了]A button is displayed. This means that in mid-to-late games you may need to click 20 or more times. look End of turn button.

However, I’ve become accustomed to this behavior since WH2, so I didn’t think much about it. Core players seem to be accustomed to it, but soon after starting user testing, they ran into an unexpected problem.


One of our tests was a group of gamers who had never played. Total War In previous games, I had little or no experience with turn-based strategy games. Now I know what you say. “”Why test people who have never played Total War What if someone has been playing for 20 years?Don’t worry, we asked them too.But Troy Initially released for free on the Epic platform, it was flooded with players who were completely new to the franchise. We needed data on what the player’s experience would be for those people.

Spoiler Note-It was great.

So I started preparing builds, organizing tests, inviting people and observing them playing. At this point we were pretty confident in the game, but then people started playing and reality faced us.

  • Some people spent 40 (!) Minutes on the first turn because they didn’t know how to end their turn.
  • Another asked, “What am I doing now?” After doing most of what they can do in Turn 1.
  • The third person[ターン終了]I was aware of the importance of the button, but because of the pending action, I was seeing an icon to issue a royal decree. When I did that, I thought it was a button for the law, not for the end of the turn, so I completely ignored the button for the rest of the playthrough.

Obviously, this wasn’t the first user experience we wanted. The new player had a hard time ending his turn. In a turn-based game.

So we started to bother and found that we were facing some important issues that contributed all to those who did not end the first turn.

Road to release (repetition # 2)

Question 1: I’ve seen a lot of notifications and found it quite confusing for players to get through the notifications before the end of the turn. Regular Total War players were used to it, but are they new players? No.

Solution 1: Solution 1: Notification[ターン終了]We considered two solutions aimed at detaching from the button and making it visible at any time.

The first is to create another button for notifications and[ターン終了]It was to move to the side of the button. It looked a bit like this:

First mockup of notifications next to the end of turn button

Solution 2: Solution 2: The second solution was to move all notifications to a new menu and treat it as a “to do” list. In the end, I chose this because I thought it would be more valuable for the player to see everything at once rather than clicking one by one. We could also extend the text string to make it more specific. If the notification previously says “Hero is not moving”, the hero’s name is now also displayed. This allows the player to quickly scan to determine what they want to move and what they didn’t.

The first mockup of a “to-do list” style notification menu

However, this change also means that there is nothing to prevent the player from ending the turn. IF There was a pending notification. Sure, I had those lists, but there was no guarantee that they would open in the first place.

We thought it was enough to get the player’s attention and implemented the change by adding some animations and states to the new notification button.

Problem 2: Remember that at first you said the end turn icon was an hourglass?

Ask yourself here. If you see this ⌛ on a button, what do you think the button does? One of our QA raised the question shortly before the release and my chin fell.

I organized a simple survey to ask people exactly that. 100% of the answers were “loading”, “waiting”, “buffering”, “in progress”, “speedup time”, “slow time” … you get points. It was right in front of me, but I couldn’t see it because I was used to it.

One of my explanations was that, as a gamer, when Heroes 3 used an hourglass in 1999, he somehow collectively agreed that the hourglass would represent the end of the turn. But for those who have never played a hero or other turn-based game, it can be very confusing.

Screenshots of Heroes of Might and Magic. The hourglass icon used to end the turn is displayed.

Solution: We’ve changed the icon to a right-pointing arrow, as previously used in all media players, to show the “Next” action. We were so used to what things were like that someone had to actually ask “why”. To make us think about it. This is what we finally used:

Notification list next to the new arrow icon used to end a player’s turn

Release and Beyond (Repeat # 3)

Then it was released. TROY has been demanded by over 7.5 million people and we are finally hooked on them playing it! They did so and began sharing feedback. Players were no longer having trouble ending the turn, but now that it’s so easy to do, we started watching them end the turn.Oh wait a minute! I forgot to move the army!“.

Naturally, a normal TW player noticed this and said, “Why did you remove my end turn notification? It helped me when I was playing, and now I forget to keep things going!“And they were right! We made a mistake by removing useful features just to fix another problem.

The problem was that the notification was still in-game, but the player wasn’t opening the list to see the notification. And why do they do so? We made no effort to draw their attention to the list.

I went back to the blueprints again and found that the solution was very simple.

All we had to do was look back at the original implementation and what was good about it (in this case)[ターン終了]I just got the context button before the button). Only this time, display it once with an exclamation mark icon and click to open the notification list. Done.

This allowed us to solve both problems at the same time. “Hey, don’t forget what you can do yet,” without obfuscating the end-of-turn button behind the other 20 issues. We also made some improvements to the notification list layout. Introduced a notification group.

Current implementation of in-game end turns and notification lists

Due to the time it took to ship these last iterations (three months after their release), some players are accustomed to the current behavior and it is not appropriate to force this new iteration. Probably. On them. So I added it as an option instead.

New notification menu option in game settings

And this is where we are now. It’s a good place. Or think for now.

I hope this story shows how to make so many iterations for a UI element to work properly, and share some lessons learned (or at least enhanced) in the process: hoping.

  • User tests show that you haven’t thought about it yet
  • never Assuming
  • Find a solution that works for all types of players
  • Getting the design right for the first time should always be the goal. Iteration It is necessary to make improvements and achieve truly superior design solutions.
  • If possible, give players choices and don’t tie them to deciding what’s right

And it’s done! See you next time.

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