Nordeus is an award-winning independent mobile game developer, with 160 employees based in Belgrade and international offices in London and Dublin. Their mobile game, Top Eleven, is the one of the most successful online sports games ever made, boasting over 140 million registered users.
We teamed up with Nordeus to conduct heuristic reviews and user research on their new game, Spellsouls, to discover opportunities for gameplay improvement.
We concluded the project by delivering a comprehensive findings deck, a presentation that outlined our process, usability insights, issues we surfaced, how we prioritized them, and ultimately our recommendations for how the Nordeus team should continue with the design and development of Spellsouls. By applying a modified take on heuristic review to the gaming experience, we were able to dive deep into usability and retrieve qualitative insights that will guide not only future iterations of the Spellsouls mobile game, but inform the creation of new gameplays and stories for Nordeus’ future products.
Based on Nordeus’ needs we suggested conducting a heuristic evaluation — a quick way to find usability issues of your UI in a short period of time by having usability experts review the product and compare it with a set of heuristic principles.
This method can provide some quick and relatively inexpensive feedback to designers anytime in the design process. While the concept of heuristic review has been around for almost 30 years, it has largely only been applied to software design. In our case, we applied the method to video games.
Customization was involved to adapt standard heuristics to evaluate games. After investigating existing literature around the topic, we developed our own set of heuristics — similar to Nielsen’s, but with the consideration and inclusion of gaming elements.
We wanted to look out specifically for areas where gaming elements are missing, or not appropriate. For example, does the game engage users by establishing a background story? Does it provide the right amount of guidance to allow players to level up, or is there too much hand-holding? Does the game feel repetitive after a while? What are the reasons/mechanics behind the repetitiveness?
In our heuristic review, six usability experts played the game for one to two hours, and individually took notes on usability and playability. We then consolidated feedback and attributed surfaced issues with severity rankings, as to let the Nordeus team get an idea of what issues they should prioritize in the upcoming Spellsouls redesign.