We’ve made considerable progress on the new user interface and I’ve provided a snapshot of where we’re going. Thomas Lynge from Tenteo has been great and our new Art Director Will Capellaro really has a great feel for where we want to go with having a unique design. A design that brings Interactive Fiction into the 21st century, but also doesn’t take away from the text.

The artwork in the snapshot is just rough drawings and do not represent the final look and feel. Will and I met on Monday night for dinner and worked through exactly how the user interface will function and what artwork is going to be required to get there. In the end we will be able to provide all of the UI functionality from within the book metaphor. There will be bent corners to turn the page for various tasks like reviewing achievements, viewing the map, and viewing hint topics. There will be a standard menu for save/load, and application help. The screen will also be resizable. I’m not sure how flexible we can make the font usage, but we’ll do whatever we can to make it as user-friendly as possible.

We will use more or less the same metaphor for Klockwerk and then Giant Leaps will probably change to something more like a standard high school assignment notebook with extra information on the right side. Paul O’Brian is going to help design the Giant Leaps user interface.

We’re also going to hire live actors for a modeling session to nail down the look of the main characters. This should help make our characters look like real people and give the artwork more consistency.

We’re plugging along and a lot of things are starting to come together. Stay tuned.

  1. furiouscoder says:

    What’s your usability study plan?

    Now that you have something at least partly functional, you should absolutely get people with fresh eyes to look at the design and layout, and give honest feedback on what they think. In my opinion, the Usability department at MS is the most valuable yet least utilized group we have. I’m sure you’ll get some valuable feedback from half a dozen random people, a video camera, and some uninterrupted feedback. Plus, you can pay them off in gift cards or something, which winds up being very inexpensive for the information you get.

  2. jeremy says:

    (Long time lurker who is cheering for your company.) I think this looks wonderful, but if you are going to have text on one side of what looks like an open book, shouldn’t it be on the right?

  3. To furiouscoder:

    We definitely plan to work throught he UI issues with our target market and more. Initially it will be kids around 10 to 12, parents, language arts teachers, and school administrators. After that I think we’re going roll out a random “mall test” where we pull people off the street (maybe at Borders, BN, malls, minor league baseball games) and ask them what they think.

    To jeremy:

    We’ve talked about that. We may set it up so that it can be swapped by the user. I think this will depend on market research, but making it swappable is trivial so I don’t think this is a major issue.

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