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User Friendliness... What Does it Mean?

Guest Writer Posted:
Developer Journals 0

CremeBrulee here from Gamania Digital Entertainment (US), what’s up? 


So we’ve got this little game called Hero: 108 Online ready to burst through the gates and onto your computer screens.  Well, it’s not really little.  It’s been in development for a few years, even before that crazy Hero: 108 cartoon hit your television screens.  What?!  You haven’t seen it yet?!  What’s wrong with you?!  Fail.


If you want to be one of the cool kids, head on over to http://www.hero108online.com to learn more about the game.  If you have a hankerin’ to find out what everyone’s raving about, namely the cartoon, check out http://www.hero108.tv.


Okay, have I sold you yet? No? Meh, I’ll convince you through one of these here blogs.  One way or another, I’m gonna win ya’, I’ll get ya’, I’ll get ya (epic Blondie reference).  Ya, I just dated myself, so what, deal with it!


In all seriousness though, let’s get down to what this blog entry is all about, user-friendliness.  We’ve all heard it, every company tries to use it, but really, isn’t it quite relative to who the “user” is?  If Microsoft moves an icon around and labels it more user-friendly, is it going to teach my Great Aunt Sally to send an email?  No sir… or ma’am (gotta be PC).  I’m going to set the bar, the gold standard if you will, for using the term.  Ready?  Here we go.


For Hero: 108 Online, understanding our core demographic was really important to the development of the game.  We didn’t want to have to backtrack and delay the launch because we didn’t forsee possible gameplay obsticles our players may encounter.  Even going into our Closed Beta, we knew there was a good possibility we’d need to make tweaks to the client based on our player response.  Wait, what?  We were anticipating making changes to the game based on community response and have those changes ready for the next phase of launch?  Get out of here.  Are you serious?  Yah.  No you aren’t.  Yah I am (I’m my own best friend).  Although we’ve plastered the game with user-friendliness at every turn, for this specific blog entry, I’ll focus on one very important element found in MMOs, quests.  I’m going to walk you through a few things that we did to make the game EVEN better!  Is that possible?  The game is good, but we made it gooder.  “Great” is so boring.  I wanted to be grammatically incorrect.


Quests are a big part of Hero: 108 Online and therefore, a major factor in whether a player wants to stick around and play our game.  Having a hit TV show helps, so why not take full advantage of it?  In the latest build of the game, we’ve really taken time to weave the Hero: 108 story into each of the quests so that our players really feel immersed in the environment that we’ve created for them.  The “retrieve” and “defeat this many” quests are a part of every MMO out there, but only a few games that I have played really kept me motivated, no, excited to fetch that stick, or make that enemy dead as a doornail.  LOL, what does that even mean?  Well, when you hammer a nail through a piece of wood and then flatten the end of the nail on the other side, it is said to be dead because you can’t use the nail again.  Interesting fact, right?  You’re welcome.  So the enemies that you fight, the items you retrieve, the quest NPC’s you encounter, everything in that quest, has a purpose, a reason for being. Theeeeeen, if you tie everything together and make each quest link together in an interesting and thought-provoking way, you make the quest fun, no, dare I say, funner (see what I did there?), than if you just treated each quest as an individual task that a player must slog through in order to obtain the reward.

 Okay, so Creme, good stuff and all, but how does that make it more user-friendly?  If quests are related, they are easier to follow.  If you understand the story and the questline, you tend know where things are without in-depth research therefore making it less of a chore and more of an adventure like those books where you had to turn to page 32 to find out whether the Giant Sloth mauled you to death or you survived by the skin of your teeth.  Teeth have skin?!  Well, if you don’t brush your teeth, a thin film which is sometimes considered “skin” covers them.  You’re welcome.


But wait, there’s more!


We wanted to take it a step further so we added the “Quest Path” function.  DISCLAIMER!  All you hardcores out there may want to cover your eyes as this may throw you into rage-mode.  Ready?  So this Quest Path shows you EVERY QUEST IN THE GAME, what level it requires you to be, who you get it from, and where they are location-wise, all in a flowchart format so that you can never say, “Umm.  How now Brown Cow?”  Not only that, but it tracks what quests are available to you, what you’re working on, and what you’ve completed already.  Now before you get your panties in a bunch, remember that this feature is optional.  You don’t have to use it.  Again, we put ourselves into the shoes of our core demographic and understand that it is very easy to get lost in a large-scale MMO, especially if it may be your first one.  We wanted to streamline the quest process and make it about experiencing more content, quicker, in a fun and exciting way.


I’m gonna include some screenies by yours truly.  Photoshop is for suckas.  MS Paint represent!



Sit down, I’m not done!


So you’ve got these awesome quests that link together, you’ve seen the entire quest chain, and you think you’re the master of your domain now.  Not so fast, slow down there turbo.  We’ve heaped on another generous helping of user-friendliness to the quests.  I know you just about can’t take anymore but hang in there, we’re almost done. 


So let’s say you’ve received the next quest in the chain, you know who you are supposed to talk to or beat down, you know the map where they are located, but these maps are kinda big and you really don’t want to dissect the quest text to figure out exactly which corner of the map they are hiding.  No problem Kimosabe!  If you open your quest window and click on the button with the red arrow, guess what?  A big ‘ole spinning arrow will appear on the screen and will dynamically direct you to exactly where you need to go.  Crazy, right?  I know!  Hello?  You fainted, great…

I guess that ends this blog entry then. When you wake up, head over to http://www.hero108online.com and see what all the fuss is about. Toodaloo!


Guest Writer