Have you ever pulled on a door that was meant to be pushed?
It’s a frustrating mistake that often leaves you blaming yourself, ultimately bringing your intelligence into question! HOWEVER, the fault is not yours! It lies in a failure in the door’s design to communicate the action you should take.
Hi, my name is Levin [ luh–vin ] Sadsad. 😊 I’m the Lead UX/UI Designer here at Intercept Games. Welcome to my Ted Kerbal Talk!
“What even is UX/UI?” one might ask. Well, it stands for User Experience and User Interface. Where Game Design provides KSP2’s vision, the UX Team delivers the look & feel. Generally speaking, we’re the architects for the game in that we make the Game Designer’s ideas tangible. We work alongside them to create and construct the tools and equipment the player interacts with to play the game! Fun fact, it’s often said around the office that we’re the “Yang” to Game Design’s “Yin.” [*]
[*] No one actually says this 😞
Anyway! I mentioned we maintain the look and the feel of the game—feeling in the tangible items, but also the emotional senses. How do we deliver on the latter? Emotions are directly linked to cognition, or one’s means of collecting and understanding information. Simply stated, when an action is taken, and the result doesn’t line up with expectations, the player experiences frustration. We want to align expectations of how a player perceives things working to how Game Design envisions them working.
“But WAIT! What does that have to do with pulling on doors and communication? 😕” I’m glad you asked! A common misconception is that our profession is solely associated with how things look: buttons, icons, etc. While the presentation is essential, UX is more of a conversation, one between the player and the game. Our goal is to make that dialogue feel as fluent as possible to be clear about the actions a player can take, can’t take, or has taken.
We achieve this by addressing the player’s senses: sight, sound, and touch. We converse, not only through the user interface, but the game inputs, player camera, visual FX, sound FX, animation, and environment. An example of this multidisciplinary effort can be found in KSP2’s VAB among the part interactions. For the player to understand all the actions they can do or have done, we’re providing several new assists. This’ll allow the player to focus on their build and not be concerned with proper part connection or different camera behaviors across scenes. Those assists are:
- Expose both stack and surface attach nodes to distinguish the differences between the two.
- Add welding spark FX and following sound effects once a successful part connection is made.
- Display a part connection line to show when and where attachments can be made.
- Provide an on-object icon of the Assembly Anchor (prev. known as the Root Tool). Without having to interact with an assembly, a player can identify what part to grab to move the group as a whole.
- Unify the camera interactions across the build experiences of the vehicle assembly and colony assembly editors to remove camera confusion between the different builds.
- Enlarge the assembly buildings to provide more space within which to work.
These are a subset of small refinements that add up to allow the player to spend more time enjoying the game’s experience instead of figuring out how to play it. We like to think of every interaction the player makes as a series of tiny trust falls between them and the game. The more clear the conversation between the two, the greater the feelings of understanding, control, and satisfaction!
Ultimately we, at Intercept Games, believe in the importance of space exploration and Kerbal Space Program’s potential to deliver that message to the community as a whole. From the seasoned Kerbonauts to the budding cadets, we want everyone to enjoy their journey through our game and not get caught up at the door. 😉
💛 UX Team
We Fight for the User! (That’s you!)