Epoch AI

Crafting a realistic inventory system for gamers
Role

Sole Contributor

Timeline

March 21 - 28, 2022

Deliverables

Full Design Process

Overview

I worked on this design challenge as part of the interview process for Epoch AI. I was tasked with addressing and designing the inventory system for a crafting based, open-world game. In this project, I followed my human-centered design process to help craft and design the interface, as well as the experience, a gamer would go through when interacting with an inventory system.

The Problem
Problem Statement

Modern video games are creating unrealistic expectations for gamers when playing open world games. The inventory systems of these games does not force players to make difficult decisions about which item to keep and which to let go of. As a result players are left with overfilled inventories that they have to spend ages digging through to find the item they need

Design Challenge

How might we create an upgradable, realistic inventory system for players to easily access while allowing players to quickly organize and recognize the items in their inventory?

Initial Research

I started off the project by conducting user research utilizing various methods in order to get an understanding of how people feel about open world game inventory systems. By conducting user research with gamers directly I was able to gain a better understanding of user interactions and pain points they had.

Qualitative Research

I found multiple gaming forums and sites that had topics on inventory systems. I compiled the common themes to help me identify the pros and cons of a good inventory system.

Interviews

I interviewed 6 gamers about their experience with open world game inventory systems. Based on these interviews I identified their goals, pain points, and feedback on these systems.

Affinity Diagram

I took the main takeaways from my interviews and qualitative research by choosing the most important aspects from my research. I then synthesized the research into various groups based on pain point, suggestions, likes, and navigation aspects. From these groups I was able to clearly see what the overall consensus was from my interviews and qualitative research. By being able to see exactly what could be improved upon and what worked I was able to use these to help develop insights.

Key Insights
Realism

Players want to be challenged and make thought proving decisions when deciding what items to keep in their inventory when coming across new ones.

Unique Slots

Players are frustrated when they have to spend extra time to find important story based items buried and lost in their inventory.

Easy Accessibility

Players want the freedom to access their inventory and preform simple inventory tasks quickly when traveling throughout the overworld.

Simplify Organization

Players have been plagued with games forcing them to sort through a mess in their inventory and want the process to be streamlined and clear as possible.

Player Persona

Using my research and insights, I created two primary personas: the casual gamer and the hardcore gamer. Throughout my design process, I made sure to always refer back to these personas when making design decisions.

Ideation

I sketched out our ideas on how we could improve the open world inventory system in my design. I focused on making sure to incorporate the topics from my insights as I felt those were the most important aspects to improve upon.

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

After sketching out my low-fidelity mockups, I thought through the preliminary user flow and went over what parts were important, unnecessary, and what areas I could make better. I turned my sketches into a rough digital outline and got user feedback from the people I interviewed to make sure I was staying on the right path.

User Interface Design Layout

User Testing

After incorporating the feedback from our user testing, I created the final prototype with high-fidelity screens and a simple interactive prototype. I spent quite a bit of time going through and iterating on the ideas I had when going through this prototype, always making sure to check in my users on their thoughts

What Users Liked
  • Buttons are easy to click
  • Bigger text option is a plus
  • Navigation of app is done well
  • Very clear, simple, and easy to read
What Needs To Be Fixed
  • More menu prompts
  • Onboarding / Tutorial
  • Potential map of office locations
  • Homepage option needed in menu
High-Fidelity Prototype

After incorporating the feedback from our user testing, we created our final prototype with high-fidelity screens and a revamped interactive prototype. I spent quite a bit of time going through and iterating on the ideas I had when going through this prototype, always making sure to check in my users on their thoughts

Final User Interface Design Click Here For An Interactive Prototype

Swapping Item

Right Click Item

Hovering Item

Next Steps & Reflection
A New Career Path

This was my first ever experience in the design world; I worked on this project during my first semester in my student run design consultancy, Berkeley Innovation. This project is what made me excited to pursue a career as a ux designer. I had just switched from pursuing software engineering to now pursuing design during my sophomore year and I was unsure if it was the right fit for me. Growing up I always wanted to be able to help people whenever I could and as a ux designer I would get to do that everyday. After, doing this project I quickly realized how much I loved solving real world problems using the human-centered design process.

Getting My Feet Wet

Looking back on the project I learned that you can quickly pick up the skills and abilities necessary to do such a project even if it is your first time doing so, such was the case for myself. Through this real world experience, I was able to build the foundation for future consulting projects that would help impact the lives of real people.

Pivoting

A major takeaway I learned from this project is that people change their minds and you have to learn to roll with it. These type of shifts happen in the workplace and it requires you to learn to how deal with unexpected circumstances and re-frame the situation. When the founders of Aybell changed our target user halfway through our timeline my team and I had to quickly adept and pivot to make sure our work so far was not wasted. By using the research we gathered from the veterans, as well as our previous research, we were able to help redesign Aybell's app into not just an app accessible by veterans, but also allowed for the Aybell team to translate the app into a product for the daily student or working professional.