Game

The Clot Thickens

An addictive arcade timing based game about infecting healthy body cells.

Essence Statement

You: A zombacteria-carrying microbe hell-bent on destroying the world or, at the very least, this one guy you’ve hacked your way inside of. Avoid antibiotic enemies in this 2D web-based arcade game, where you solve each level by taking over cells, destroying life and limb, all on your way to infect and kill the host.

Game Overview

The player selects a bacteria character and customizes its look before choosing the first level from a map of the human body. Level 1 is at the feet, and Level 10 is the head. The player needs to win the level they are currently on before unlocking the next one. Each level consists of a field of healthy red blood cells and obstacles. The player must jump from cell to cell, avoiding various obstacles, and ultimately encircle each red blood cell on the field in order to “claim” it (thereby infecting it and spelling certain doom for the poor human it lives inside). Once the player infects/captures all the blood cells on a given field, the level is over. Players can earn bonuses by collecting as many oxygen bubbles (for a maximum of three) per level as they can.

My Role

I was the Lead UX Designer where I worked on the concept design and user testing. The main objective of my work was to design pre-visualization of our conceptualized game, do user testing on core game functionalities, design affordances in interaction, create art consistency, and keep the overall design minimal in terms of navigation. The overall aim was to retain users and keep them engaged, which was achieved through positive encouragement and a steep difficulty curve in level progression.

Game flow map design

Concept Design

My team had a number of brainstorming sessions and eventually we were sure on what direction to take. That’s when I started with a basic on board pre-visualization of each level and user interface. After we translated it to mockups and compiled a high fidelity version of all the art assets, it allowed us to make the art consistent through iterations before everything was finalized for development. This process helped us immensely with the user flow.

Game levels concept design
Game mechanics concept design

User Testing

Our user tests were focused on core game functionalities. For that reason we performed 2 tests to validate our assumptions and get user feedback. User testing helped us with game balancing, macro calibrations, user engagement and interaction design. I setup online and in person user tests, created interview spreadsheets, lead user tests and performed data analysis.

Even in design we had multiple iterations to keep the art consistent and to have the right colors for different game elements (cells, bacteria, antibiotics).

Usability testing setup
Game play testing
User testing results

Challenges

Results

The MVP for “The Clot Thickens” focuses on the core mechanic of jumping. In addition, basic environment and User Interface visuals are used to enhance user experience. There are only 10 levels, where difficulty increases as the levels progress.

Mechanics included Jumping: user can jump from one cell to another. Reverse direction: user can switch the rotation direction on a cell. Avoiding obstacles: user has to avoid collision with obstacles to stay alive. Collecting oxygen bubbles: user can collect oxygen bubbles to get level points. The final version was released as an HTML5 web based game for PCs.

46 users tried our demo. 20% users completed all 10 levels. 9m 12s average game play session.

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