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Verdant Skies Usability Report


Verdant Skies is a life simulation which takes place in a world called Viridis Primus. Influenced by games like Harvest Moon, your character helps aid in the success of the colony in which you live by growing crops and building machines that help you manufacture new and useful materials. In addition to the focus of building and creating things to help your character survive, Verdant Skies also has quality storytelling.



I played an alpha version of the game Verdant Skies for about 2 hours. This heuristic analysis includes my findings along with recommendations.


Key Findings/Recommendations:
·         Sometimes items overlapped and this made it difficult to select the correct item. This would
often lead to selection of the wrong item.

My watering hose was in front of a plant and therefore made it difficult to put away. For some reason, it was not so difficult to pick up the hose. When I would hover over the plant behind the watering hose and then back over the hose, the plant would still be highlighted by the mouse and I would have to drag my cursor elsewhere and then back over the hose carefully as to not accidentally highlight the plant.
Hearthstone

Recommendation: I would recommend highlighting the two more when they are selected. I would then be able to more accurately differentiate the plant and the hose and be able to better select correctly. (Hearthstone does a good job at this)


·         On the map, not having labeled buildings made it difficult to know where I was going at times.

For example, when I was told I needed to go and meet someone at the Administration Building, I thought I remembered which one it was on the map, but not feeling certain made this slightly frustrating. I’ve also missed the name when entering the building. Also, I kept confusing the red house (which is mine) for the administration building since it’s red.
Animal Crossing

Recommendation: Label/differentiate the houses in some way so I have more of an idea of whose house belongs to whom. This could be done by labeling them directly with the name when the cursor hovers over the house or having the owners face on their house. This will make it more effortless for players when looking where they need to go. (Animal crossing does a good demonstration of this)

·         When I was tasked with making boots, I thought that I could not build any item that was grayed out.

Even though all I had to do was select the boot icon, which was gray before I constructed them, I thought I was not able to build the boots. I therefore left and returned a few times before finally clicking on the gray boot icon and constructing them.

Recommendation: The menu in the kitchen communicates what I am able to build by highlighting items that I currently have enough materials to construct. The other items are colored but shadowed so this communicates that I don’t have the necessary items to construct them. This is better than the prior menu since it minimizes confusing as to what I can construct.

·         Some of the tasks in the game were vague and I would get stuck for a while. Some examples are shipping items and meeting the doctor.

The task is to ship $100 worth of items to someone. Since I’m not sure where I do this, I wander around for a long time and explore different buildings. It’s not until I decided to move onto something else that I happened to notice the yellow arrow pointing to a box where I can ship items. Also, I’m not entirely sure how often the yellow arrow shows up since I only notice it occasionally. I’m not sure if this is because it’s not showing up very often or the lack of color contrast isn’t usually that noticeable to me.

Recommendation: Highlight the arrow to make it stand out from the background more than it currently does. Right now it’s not very noticeable.

·         An issue I noticed in the mailing box is how to select a certain amount of items to send rather than sending all. Of one item. For example, I want to send only 10 pieces of lumber instead of all 20 of mine. Since I only needed to send $100 worth of items, it felt impossible to get to this amount without going over.

Summary:

Overall, Verdant Skies requires some smoothing out with mechanics and clarity. I worry that lacking these will discourage players from completing the game. Building items gave me motivation to continue playing and was genuinely enjoyable. However, without understanding more of the context behind goals, it is somewhat difficult to grasp. I enjoyed this game and look forward to playing the full experience.

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