The alarm from my mobile phone interrupts the pleasant silence in my study to remind me that it’s time to head out for my evening jog. The melody is soothing, and I let it continue for a bit.
I really should get up from this desk and go for that jog.
As I push my chair back to stand up, I get an email from the team asking me to review the latest version of the game’s notification system.
During our last playtest, many testers experienced difficulties navigating the system. The team has been working hard at redesigning it since then.
Notifications System Overview
You can think of the notification system as the player’s business dairy. It automatically logs, in real-time, all essential activities in their business including:
- Customer interaction and employee performance
- Current loans and short-term debts
- Food truck upgrades
- Inventory and cost of goods sold
Everything the player needs. It’s all there. The notifications help to keep track of all the moving parts of a business across the city.
This is how it looked before:
Problems with the old design
After watching different testers struggle to find and use the notifications section during the alpha test in October, I knew it was begging for an overhaul.
Some of their observations were:
- The arrow that expands the notifications wasn’t obvious.
- The messages didn’t scroll on their own during gameplay
- The notifications section returned to earlier messages when the player started the day.
- There was no way to ignore activity notifications from customer segments the player wasn’t interested in.
With our work cut out for us, the team had a group brainstorming session to modify the design. The image below is what we initially came up with:
In this design, we:
- Changed the position and size of the arrow that expands the section.
- Increased the maximum expansion size to cover almost the entire screen.
- Replaced the scrolling function with buttons
- Added an upward-seeking control to the medium expansion view
- Increased the size of the medium expansion view
- Implemented automatic text scrolling
- Renamed the notification filters
First, the team got rid of the scroll bar and modified the components to accommodate the minimum, medium, and maximum views.
Then they configured the upward and downward scroll buttons to handle variable view sizes. They also ensured the information presented while scrolling through old and new messages is ordered correctly.
The first implementation in-game didn’t look quite like we wanted it:
We wanted all the notifications to fit into just one line, and the space between the messages looked way too much.
We went at it again for a couple more days. In the end, while we couldn’t get all the notifications into one line, we managed to get most of them. After trimming the space between the messages, the team added the function to filter information by customer group.
This looked much better, and I asked them to complete the redesign. It is for this last version I just got notified.
As I launch the game, I realize I won’t be going for that jog after all. 😆
The final look:
And that’s a wrap for today, Cheers 🥂
Don’t forget to Wishlist the game if you haven’t: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1429080/Business_Heroes_Food_Truck_Simulation/
Live Long and Prosper 👋,
Kunal & the team