Responsibilities: UX & UI designer, artist
Client: Sega, Relic Entertainment
Tools: Essence Engine 3, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, Actionscript, Axure, Perforce, Agile, Post-its, pen & paper
Locales: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian
The Western Front Armies and Ardennes Assault are both expansion packs for Company of Heroes 2. With the successful launch of the base game, my role transitioned from lead UX and UI designer to being solely focused on conceptualization and rapid prototyping of early ideas for the two products. This meant furthering the visual language and user-experience concepts established in the initial title in order to facilitate new gameplay features and evolving content requirements. I was in this role for about half a year before moving to the Dawn of War III team, as the UX & UI lead on that project.
Extending the Conceptual Model and Visual Language
Both The Western Front Armies and Ardennes Assault introduced a myriad of user-experience and interface design challenges. These needed to be solved in a similar manner to the base game, leveraging from the design decisions made then so as to keep the experience feeling holistic and intuitive. The meta-map feature was an entirely new component to the experience, and required its own unique design and driving technology.
Maintaining Interface Conventions With New Content
Company of Heroes 2 saw the introduction of entirely new interface elements and conventions in a real-time strategy game, designed to help players exercise their command and control of the battlefield. For the two game expansions, it was critical not to alter or disrupt these established features and design decisions, otherwise the experience could become disjointed and confusing. This meant that new gameplay content had to be carefully crafted to look and feel like a natural extension of what player’s were already used to seeing and using.
A Completely New Meta-map Experience
The the biggest design challenge out of these expansions was the meta-map introduced with the campaign for Ardennes Assault. This massive feature had to fit within the existing conceptual model of the game’s interface, a military style dossier, while providing a clear and intuitive experience unique to that part of the game. The meta-map had to track and reflect player decisions as they progressed through the narrative experience.
Wireframing, Rapid Prototyping and Creative Process
As I was ramping down from Company of Heroes 2 and about to join the Dawn of War III team, my role became much more focused on conceptual development and rapid prototyping. This gave me more bandwidth to conduct thorough research, competitive analysis and strategic design planning around how we would facilitate expanding the user-experience of the base game into the expansions. Most of the exploratory work revolved around mitigating user expectations and functionality design, aesthetic development and meta-map prototyping.