Interaction Design to show available “hands” in dice game
Playdom created Lucky Farkle, a variant of the dice game Farkle that would be playable on Facebook. I joined the Lucky Farkle team as the front-end developer. I had never played, or even heard of, Farkle, so I began playing a number of our competitors’ versions of the game.
I was surprised to find that these games were quite hard on inexperienced users. Either they had a much too short in-game tutorial, or they only explained the rules via help screens. Personally, after grinding through a few frustrating games I caught on to the rules, but I didn’t believe the average Facebook user would be so tenacious.
Additionally, our variation on the Farkle game combined Farkle with a lottery style scratch card, with hidden prizes for each dice combination. Unfortunately, we were unsure when to reveal the prizes during the game. Revealing them too early could confuse and irritate the user, since they it was possible for them to subsequently lose the prizes. Revealing them too late didn’t seem to connect them to the dice combination.
- User research
- Interaction design
To find out what our game could do to ease the learning curve, I conducted an impromptu test with a user who had never played Farkle before. Based on that research, I produced sketches to demonstrate possible improvements to the game interactions and pitched them to the game designer. He gave me some feedback, and also requested a suggestion for when to reveal the prizes.
I spent some time integrating his feedback and designing a solution to the prizes issue, and finally pitched all the ideas to the whole team.
To help the player learn which dice combinations could be scored upon, I designed the scratch card to highlight all the dice combinations that could be scored with the dice the user had just rolled. My sketch is on the left, and part of the final version of the game is on the right.
The question of when to reveal the prizes was solved by highlighting the prize when the user earned it, and revealing it after they had ended the round (at which point they could no longer lose the prize). If they lost the prize before they ended the round, the highlight was removed, and the prize could be earned again later.