Stellaris Dev Diary #154 - UX Design in Stellaris

Stellaris Dev Diary #154 - UX Design in Stellaris

  • Hey, Guest! We’re glad you are a part of the Paradox Community and want to know what you think about it. Please let us know by filling out this short survey. We appreciate it!
  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Showing developer posts only. Show all posts in this thread.

HildorAnduv

UX Designer
Dec 10, 2018
6
0
Hello all, this is Hildor Anduv, the UX Designer on Stellaris. I’ve been with the team since December, and have really enjoyed working on such a great game. With my first Dev Diary I’m going to be sharing how I have been approaching UX Design on Stellaris.

Disclaimer: We're not quite ready to announce our plans just yet (we're saving that for the big stage, PDXCon), so this is going to be more process oriented without delving into specifics about any new feature. If that's not your thing, you can safely give it a miss, but if you're interested in the nuts and bolts of how games are designed and made, let us lift the curtain a bit.

Whiteboarding: The UX Corner
Whiteboards are a great place for getting your ideas out quickly. When whiteboarding I try to get team members from multiple disciplines and rough out ideas, together. It’s a great way to discover gameplay and player needs, as well as find any potential development pitfalls early on.

We wanted to create a permanent space for this, and thus the UX Corner was born. Here we come together and iterate on ideas in real-time as a group. Having the permanent space has helped facilitate conversion and increased cross-discipline communication within the team,.





Wireframing & Prototyping.
From the whiteboard sketches, I then move onto creating more detailed wireframes, the skeletal mockup of a UI design. Keeping your wireframes simple lets you iterate quickly, but more importantly allows you to nail down what content should be displayed, and how best to lay it out visually for the player.

I typically try to nail down one key screen, and from there I build out a User flow of the entire experience.

When Designing the Archeology UI for Ancient Relics, I had some key pillars I wanted to nail.

  • The stories are linked, and I can revisit past chapters for context. (Also experience the great artwork again!)
  • When I come back here, I have a sense of the progress my scientist has made.
  • The challenge of the site feels ‘game-y’.

Once I nailed an overall layout for the Archaeology UI, I then broke it out into a User Flow to capture the full breadth of a player’s journey while excavating a site.





With the User flow complete I then link it up and create an interactive Prototype. The prototype allows team members to experience what we are trying to create before we set out to develop it. It’s a great low cost way to identify issues in the flow, and fix them here before investing in development.





After we agree on the UX design, we then get to finally create it in game. As you can see below, the design mostly held through to release. The text window was increased to accommodate larger story text, and ‘difficulty’ was changed to ‘breakthrough chance’ to help better understand the ‘die roll mechanic’.





User Testing
So, even though the design has now gone through many gates, we must test our designs with players and iterate based on player feedback. Luckily Paradox has a great User Research department, and so we were able to run playtests and get vital feedback which we could respond to before launch.

----------

Well, I hope this was an informative window into how UX Design is done here on Stellaris.

Also, I read the forums and look out for your feedback as well. You all have been very helpful, so thank you for that!
 

Jamor

Imperator: Rome Producer
28 Badges
Mar 7, 2017
606
1.052
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
Sorry folks, posting error meant the first one got binned. I assure you this is the correct DD in the only canon, official timeline.
 

HildorAnduv

UX Designer
Dec 10, 2018
6
0
Aye sorry everyone, it was my first post and I missed a check box to post it as a Developer. Had to pull it and re-post it, whooops! :confused:
 

Harlot

Captain
150 Badges
Dec 10, 2011
397
13
  • War of the Vikings
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Magicka 2: Ice, Death and Fury
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Knights of Pen and Paper 2
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Prison Architect
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic
  • Steel Division: Normandy 44
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • BATTLETECH
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • Crusader Kings Complete
  • BATTLETECH - Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • Victoria 2
  • War of the Roses
  • Cities: Skylines
Sorry folks, posting error meant the first one got binned. I assure you this is the correct DD in the only canon, official timeline.
What? No ambitious crossovers between the two timelines? :(
 

Jamor

Imperator: Rome Producer
28 Badges
Mar 7, 2017
606
1.052
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
No, why the blurred whiteboard? Is there such important info on it that you couldn't tease us? It would have been such a great opportunity to hint some of the new/reworked UI or features!
Stand by for a big announcement at PDXCon next month. Until then we will have to remain mysterious.
 

HildorAnduv

UX Designer
Dec 10, 2018
6
0
Yes seeing scrapped tries would be cool. Something that you guys thought would work, but at some time in development showed to be flawed.

Also since you aren't that long working on stellaris, how do you think about the UI previously done? What would you change if given the chance?

Also most importantly can we get an UI background color that changes depending on empire color? I don't want the green anymore and I don't want to rely on mods for different colors.
I did showcase a few scrapped designs in the larger image. I showed versions A & B that eventually evolved into version C that we went with for the Archeology UI.

Stellaris has a great UI, though there is always something that can be improved. I created the designs for the updated Planet View, for example. I'm on the look out for community feedback on features, though. You all help give direction on what to improve, and how.
 

HildorAnduv

UX Designer
Dec 10, 2018
6
0
I wonder though, does your user testing and user research department take into account issues for players with limited mobility?
Because Stellaris is the game with the most issues by far on that front (of the ones I've played), and even when I want to play it I often decide not to because of this.
With regards to testing for colour-blindness and/or limited mobility, this is something that we'd absolutely love to do! This becomes tricky to accomplish, however, with restrictions that we cannot ask participants to give out information about any of these specifications due to GDPR regulations.

We'd have to investigate further on how this sort of testing can be conducted, but would likely involve outsourcing this - and ultimately not being as involved in the process - to an external agency based where this is not a limitation or restriction to the process.

Feedback, on the other hand, is always very much appreciated on this front and absolutely welcomed should you have any.
 

HildorAnduv

UX Designer
Dec 10, 2018
6
0
May I ask what software are you using to make an interactable prototype? Me want.

Another big question: will we ever get custom hotkeys? In any of Paradox games? Is there a technical reason they aren't implemented yet?
I use Sketch and Adobe XD. Sketch right now has basic functionality, but with XD you can set up transition animations as well as test your designs with a controller.
 

Jamor

Imperator: Rome Producer
28 Badges
Mar 7, 2017
606
1.052
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
Hi all, I'm Jamor and I'm the producer on Stellaris. I run the team's time and budget, the boring biz bit, while grekulf is the creative and design lead.

I publicly acknowledge there are AI and performance issues in the game right now.

I want you to know that maintaining things like AI and performance is a big and neverending struggle, especially on a game that is growing as large as Stellaris has. There's no one-button magic bullet solution that will fix it overnight. In some patches it is stronger, in others it lags behind. I have to follow my agreed release schedule and juggle the not-unlimited time and personnel I have to deliver that, but I can tell you that whatever I can possibly spare goes in to bug fixes and improvements. We're Paradox, we don't release a game and patch it twice and call it a day, we are in it for the full marathon. I was a PDX fan for a decade before I worked here (HOI 2 and onward) and maintaining that long term commitment is my personal guarantee to you, as a fellow fan.

The reason there's been no public news about fixes or improvements on AI and performance is simple: there are none yet. I'm not going to pull the wool over your eyes and promise something until it's done and dusted and in my hand to give. That's not my style. When we have it, you'll see it in a patch note. Until then I don't want to string people along with false optimism and empty promises.

About the process focused dev diaries: we don't want to go completely radio silent in those times before official announcements. Right now, we have our biggest max visibility PR event on the calendar coming up, PDXCon, and we naturally want to get the most eyes on us when we reveal our future plans. We need to get the word out with highest public impact so we can keep supporting this game and others, for ever. So, in moments like these, dev diaries and official communication will have to be about other things that won't spoil our planned reveal. Process stuff, an under the hood glimpse at how games are made, is interesting to some, but not all. If you don't dig it, just please bear with us for the official announcement and then you'll get a ton of in-depth feature DDs after that. The alternative is for us to just go completely quiet during those pre-announce high intensity dev periods, and I don't think anyone wants that.

We're here, we're working every day to make this thing better for you, our fans and supporters. We tell you as much as we can consistent with the needs of basic business security, and really prize our unusually close contact with our community, certainly unprecedented for a developer of our size. We want to keep that, so please be decent to my staff, and each other. Thanks for sticking with us through this journey, and there's much more to come.