In the world of user experience (UX) design, no challenge is bigger than the one presented by a complex, action-loaded video game. And that goes triple for a game like Fortnite.
This online-gaming sensation combines three very complex ideas—high-speed combat, incessant equipment upgrades, and a make-your-own-buildings system—into one experience. How do you make it easy for gamers to juggle so much, all while they’re battling 99 other people at once? For developer Epic Games, the answer lies with a carefully designed user experience full of secrets and subtleties.
Although Fortnite gets something of a bad rap from the “curmudgeonly gamers” demographic (“The kids play it on their iPhones, so I automatically hate it!”), the game’s popularity is impossible to argue with. We are firmly in the era of the battle royale, and with Fortnite currently riding high at that genre’s apex, it’s worth looking at how the game does what it does so successfully.
“When you create a game, you want to make sure players don’t have to remember too much stuff,” Celia Hodent says about her work on Fortnite. She was Epic Games’ UX Director during Fortnite’s lengthy development, and that means she knows how the game does smart things to help players without them even realizing it. Hodent was kind enough to sit down with us to chat, and she was able to use her Fortnite-like pickaxe and dig through some of the game’s subtlest, most helpful ideas—everything from a HUD that’s both readable and also packed with information to how to pin and organize your crafting blueprints while you’re being shot at.
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