"We drove about for another hour or two after that, and by this point dad was hooked. Not hooked on L.A. Noire's narrative, perhaps, or caught up in the complex chains of missions, but hooked on the city, on the fascinating, insightful job that Rockstar had done in stitching the past together. Even though I can't actually drive, and the car we were in wasn't a real car anyway, I had a strong sense that I was in the front seat, turning the wheel beneath my hands, and he was riding low in the back, face pressed to the glass. Role reversal. It happens to all fathers and sons eventually, I guess. Why shouldn't it happen because of games?" Chris Donlan takes his Dad – who grew up in late-40s/early-50s LA – on a tour of LA Noire's Los Angeles, and what happens is a remarkable piece of virtual psychogeography. Perhaps my favourite piece of games writing this year.
17 October 2012
I did a few days working with the Good Night Lamp team this week, on some interaction design explorations. A couple of days of talking, thinking and sketching with Adrian and Alex led to some writing, wireframes, storyboards, and animatics.
Alex asked me to write a bit more about the work, for the Good Night Lamp blog, and there’s now a post over there about it.
Out of all this work, common strands emerged; in particular, a focus on the vocabulary of the product. One of the things I find most important to pin down early in projects – and which design exploration like this helps with a lot – is the naming of things. How are core product concepts communicated to an end-user? How are they made explained? Making sure nomenclature is clear, understandable, and doesn’t raise the wrong associations in a user’s mind, is, for me, a really core part of product design. Even though many of the core concepts of GNL were clear in our head, by sitting down and drawing things out in detail, I started having to discover what to call things, often bringing Alex and Adrian back to my screen to discuss those ideas.
This kind of design work initially appears very tactical. It focuses on small areas almost in isolation from one another, exploring the edges and seams of the product. But by forcing oneself to confirm what things are called, confirm what interactions or graphic language are repeated throughout the product, it turns into a much more strategic form of design, which impacts many areas of a product.