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How Sucker Punch told their story through individual characters rather than sweeping narrative

While Ghost of Tsushima is recieving rave reviews for its action-packed gameplay and stunning visual representation of ancient Japan, I’ve been surprised to see so few people talking about its storyline. While on the surface Ghost of Tsushima’s story can be dismissed as a somewhat typical revenge-by-numbers tale, and its protagonist Jin Sakai hand-waved as a relatively one-note action hero, I don’t think that’s all there is in the tale Tsushima tells.

The reason, I think, that people are missing the depth that Tsushima has to offer is because it doesn’t tell its most important stories during the main plot. Jin’s hunt for Kotun Khan is the bombastic, action set-piece that sits atop a narrative that is driven through it’s accompanying characters. Likewise, while Jin is likeable enough and has a relatively strong character arc, even his own story is more told in his relationships and how he is reflected in those around him. …


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Here’s how I used Figma to build a complete Star Trek Adventures tabletop RPG experience

My gaming group loves board games, but we’ve never managed to break into Dungeons and Dragons, or any other tabletop RPG, for that matter. It wasn’t any single specific aspect of tabletop RPGs that prevented us from diving in — for some of us, the medieval fantasy theme didn’t do the trick, while others struggled with the lack of visual elements that would accompany classic board games.

Once COVID hit, I really started to feel the itch to play roleplaying games, however. …


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GAMES UX

We’ve seen the outside — let’s have a think about the inside

Yesterday’s Sony presentation showed us the final look of the PlayStation 5, as well as an impressive of next-gen games that will be released with it. What we didn’t get to see, however, is the new operating system and it’s user interface.

As UX designer, I’m incredibly curious about the look, feel, and features of the new operating system. After all, this generation brought us built-in streaming platforms like Netflix and Spotify, built-in sharing and streaming, and even the advent of cross-play thanks to Fortnite turning it on “by accident”.


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Spoiler: It’s pretty sweet.

A few months ago, the evil geniuses at Figma tweeted this teaser image:

Many of us guessed that this was probably hinting at the ability to rearrange components in a group based on their size. Well, we were right (yay), and Figma calls this feature auto-layout.

Let’s see what it can do!

First, let’s talk about fundamentals. For most people, auto layout is going to allow you to design elements that contain text without having to redesign them when the text changes. …


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Exploring subtitles in games, especially when applied to multiple screen sizes

I recently completed playing through Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It’s a great game. You should play it.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Three Houses. If you jump online, you’ll mostly see discussions around which member of the enormous cast is ‘most bae’. Naturally, the answer is Felix.

However, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that there’s one element of the game that is getting a lot of backlash: the tiny, tiny text sizing.


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Exploring the design behind character selection, hero profiles, and catering for handheld mode

So, this whole Marvel thing is getting pretty popular, right? I hear that Endgame movie did relatively well. People seem to really like that Tony Stank character.

Well, in truth, I’m a massive Marvel fan, so the news that we were finally getting another Ultimate Alliance game was extremely exciting to me. After all, the last Ultimate Alliance game was released in 2009. 2009!

If you’re not familiar with the game, feel free to watch the E3 reveal trailer:

If you hate videos and/or fun, then I will explain the game to you very quickly: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (MUA3) is a four-player cooperative beat-em-up game. You form a team of heroes from Marvel’s popular superhero franchises, including the Avengers, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and …Elsa Bloodstone? …


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Has it really been a year already?

In June last year, I wrote about what I felt were the top UX design tools at that time. At the time, it felt like an important topic, because there were simply so many options for new designers who are looking to find the right tool for the job.

I’d thought that the landscape of UX tools would settle, and that’s somewhat true — last year we had the arrival of big-name software like Adobe UX and InVision Studio, and the ascension of new tools like Figma, that really changed the game. …


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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But this one’s broke, so let’s go!

Easily far the most exciting news out of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s announcement was that every single character would be returning to the game.

Around the world, Smash fans shouted “Yay!”

And, at the same time, UX designers shouted: “How’re you gonna fit all that in the UX!?”

And Nintendo, in their infinite wisdom, answered: “By using 75 tiny icons, of course”.

I’m mostly joking. Mostly. But really, let’s take a look at how Nintendo tackled this colossus challenge of fitting 75 smashable characters onto your Switch:


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Why Heroes of the Storm deserved better

The life of Heroes of the Storm hasn’t been an easy one. In 2010, Blizzard announced a new game called Blizzard DOTA. The intention for Blizzard DOTA was to compete in the ‘Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’ (or MOBA) genre, which at the time included the extremely popular League of Legends and Heroes of Newarth.

The announcement trailer for Blizzard DOTA

Shortly after Blizzard DOTA was announced, Valve followed suit by revealing DOTA 2, a spiritual successor to the first game in the MOBA genre: Defense of the Ancients.

Over the next three years, Valve and Blizzard would enter a lengthy legal battle over the name and rights to the DOTA legacy. Blizzard would eventually rename Blizzard DOTA to Blizzard All-Stars, only to rename it once more to Heroes of the Storm.


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Exploring strange, new worlds — with a strange, new interface

When Super Jump Magazine put out the call for new writers, I was quick to put my hand up. I’ve always enjoyed trying to mix my love for games with my professional interest in UI/UX design, and Super Jump seemed like a great place for me to explore that.

It’s a very natural instinct for all of us to play the role of ‘armchair designer’ when interacting with a product — after all, we’re the consumer. We know what we want.

This is equally true for games, and as a UX designer by trade, I’m constantly finding myself thinking about what games could have done differently in their interface and systems. Sometimes games get it so, so right; Dead Space is a great example of this. …

About

Chris Bam Harrison

UX Designer at ME Bank. I talk a lot about design, design tools, and video games. Always looking for ways to sneak soccer into conversations, too.

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