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Fingeance Usability Review




(Testing and reporting originally from Spring 2016)
Fingeance, by Escape Industries, is a 4-player shoot-em-up game in which the fish (you) are trying to get back your gills that have been taken from you. The game relies heavily on a teamwork dynamic which requires strategically choosing which characters to play, as some play different roles.




The game is to be released in early 2017. Although there is much to be done, the game is still quite polished. The two main problems are the overwhelming text and the team dynamic awareness aspect of the game.




Overwhelming Text





After you’ve chosen your characters and have completed the first level, you’re shown the screen above. The screen above has three players, but ideally would have four. Players felt overwhelmed by the options and confused at the same time as to what items, known as gadgets, do for them. 

A: “I guess I was a little confused as to which abilities boosted my current gadgets and which changed my gadgets. I guess it did say. I don’t know, I guess I didn’t read that.” 
A: “This says gadget free but it’s the same color. I guess it doesn't change the gadget it makes bullets freeze”

The most important take-away from the above quote is that the player did not read the options. People don’t like to read if they don’t have to. And when it’s not clearly shown what information is priority, players aren’t sure where to start and will instead choose to read information arbitrarily.

Recommendations
  • One recommendation is to use icons/heuristics. Images that everyone universally knows could be useful so they can bypass having to take the time and cognitive energy to read more than they have to.
  • An example would be to use a “+” sign to demonstrate that an item related to healing properties. The downside of this recommendation is that it would have to be tested in order to ensure players understand what icons stand for. 
  • Another recommendation is to enlarge the highlighted areas and limit the amount of text so players can more easily process what they’re looking at. (Medium priority)

Team Dynamic Awareness


When choosing beginning characters, it’s not obvious that selecting different roles matter. There’s is no initially incentive to choose a healer and a tank. It’s assumed that players will know that they should be choosing different roles in order to work together. This may not always be the case. I would not necessarily know the difference between a “tank” and a “bruiser” or “assault”.

All players observed were familiar with team dynamic games. All admitted that they did not initially understand that teamwork was a critical part of the gameplay. This could lead to completion issues and player frustration. 

Recommendation:
  • I recommend including an initial blurb that encourages players to select varying characters and by doing so will help them best achieve their goal (Medium priority).
  • An example would be when players are initially selecting their characters, a blurb pops up that succinctly explains that teamwork is imperative. This could be done by emphasizing different character roles by moving them above the paragraph that explains each gadget so it’s located under the name, making it easier to see.

Final Thoughts


Player A had 12 deaths, B 15 deaths, and C had 5 deaths. Perhaps consider what an ideal range of deaths would be. If the current players are all experienced and are still dying this often, perhaps some changes to health should be considered. 

While I was watching gameplay, I noticed that some characters look extremely similar. This, combined with the fast pace of gameplay makes it difficult to differentiate the characters. Consider contrasting the colors more by making one dark blue and the other teal.

Finally, consider prioritizizng learning. Currently players are learning as they go. By not explaining more about characters and goals on the front end, this takes away from quality gameplay since players are learning while playing. Gameplay would run smoother is players were not forced to multitask and given a short introduction at the beginning.


The shop menu shows the “Close” button on the right. Consider moving this to the left, swapping it with the 'Purchase' button. Since people move from left to right as they read this should help make the flow feel more natural when purchasing items.



Summary

Fingeance needs some work on clarity and efficiency when it comes to communicating character traits and upgrade details to it's audience. With some changes, the game will be more accessible to less experienced players. Overall, the game looks promising and I look forward to watching it grow into an even better game.

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