Guardians of Middle Earth

Platforms

Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Date

2012

Guardians of Middle Earth is a game of the "Massive Online Battle Arena" type, similar to Riot Games' League of Legends and Valve's DOTA 2. Players take control of one of many famous characters from Tolkien's Legendarium such as Gandalf, Sauron, or Galadriel, and fight with in a five-versus-five battle for control of the arena.

Role

UX design, control design, systems writing.

Goals

Making Guardians was an incredibly challenging project, because all other traditional MOBAs are PC-only - they rely heavily on mouse based mechanics, keyboard input, and close physical proximity to a monitor. The goal was to retain as much of the genre's core gameplay as possible while reducing unnecessary complexity, so as to make the game more appealing to players new to the genre. This involved re-thinking traditional game mechanics, screen layout, and interaction methods. We had to design a completely new way of controlling a MOBA character, and all the attendant HUD changes that required.



Gameplay Overview
UI Map

Everything started with the UI roadmap for the game. This was updated constantly as scope changed, features were added and cut, and usability feedback gathered. Obviously, there were other, smaller-scale flow documents for things like matchmaking, but this is the high level overview.

Targeting Explorations

The first challenge was to explore how players would physically interact with the game - how they would move, how targeting would work, how was the camera affixed to the player object, et cetera. The solution we came up with was that unlike in traditional MOBAs, all attacks in our game would affect a wide area, and any enemies within the target zone would be hit.

Implementation of Targeting

As time passed, we revised and refined our "area of effect" targeting scheme, and developed alternate control schemes for players.

Wireframing the UI

Wireframing out the menu system was a big task as well. Every area was mocked up and laid out, experimented with before prototyping began.

First Menu Prototypes

The prototype layouts were fairly similar to what we have in the game today.

Revisions of the Menu

The Relic Belt system was tweaked right up until launch.

Usability Test Plans

During this whole time, I wrote usability test plans, assisted our user researchers, and developed plans of attack and revision based on test feedback.