Dell Derby Dash 

BACKGROUND

Client: Dell OEM Consumer Devices

Request: The client had a specific desire for a game that could be used on web and at trade shows in order educate potential customers on how Dell OEM could provide value for new and existing businesses.

Challenges: A relatively short timeline

Budget: $50k

Timeline: 3 months

PROCESS

Creative Strategy: The client already had a concept in mind of using a "racing" metaphor to differentiate its OEM services from existing white box and retail store options. With knowledge that a full racing game would be too challenging for many of the target audience, we explored everything from text-based concepts, turn-based concepts, and full twitch-based real time play. With input from the client, we finally settled on simplifying the mechanic into a single button timing-based experience with a 2D downhill soapbox race that could run on web and mobile devices. The meat of the messaging, however, was in the multiple ways the soapbox racer could be designed and built.

Experiential Design: As the design lead and UX specialist, I was charged with charting the user's flow through the game. Initial flow diagrams were created and shared with the client for their understanding and approval. This documentation was used by the design and development teams later to plan for errors and edge cases.

 

Prototypes/Wireframes: Based on the user flow diagrams, I created a set of sketches leading to higher fidelity wireframes to capture the preliminary interface layout. Prior to development occurring, we brought the client in to experience a paper prototype created based on the wireframes. We observed his actions as he tapped through the interactive prototype of the soapbox building system. Gameplay testing would occur at a later time. 

 

Design/Production: I worked with a team of designers to develop the style and assets for the game. In the meantime, I worked with the development team to begin designing the interface and game play system. Ultimately, we settled on a physics system created in Javascript with a set of values we could tweak in an XML document. This system was tested and tweaked prior to skinning of the game in order to balance the mechanics as well as possible. It was important to me that the gameplay be as fair and transparent as possible within the conceit of the metaphor. That meant not automatically helping the player win if they chose to go through the Dell OEM build path, but instead giving the player more tools to help them win while still giving them the control to fail.

 

QA/Testing: We ran through alpha, beta, and final release cycles with testing sessions at each stage in order to collect feedback and continue improving the game play. We had very few QA team members with experience with game design. Because of this, it was necessary to rely heavily on myself as well as the development team to participate in long testing sessions in order to find bugs and make fine adjustments to mechanics and balancing.

RESULTS

Our team had no access to analytics after the release of the game, but the client expressed their pleasure with the final result. Engagement during tradeshows, especially, had gone up as players returned to try and post better scores to the leaderboard. The main risks that I had brought up during the early design process of creating an experience focused on dynamic game play, however, did prove to be a challenge. The desired messaging tended to get lost by players, the cost of increasing the "fun" factor for a more engaging experience. However, it did help with Dell OEM brand recognition and with bringing potential customers by the tradeshow booth.

 

Role: Design Lead

Client: Dell

Agency: Somnio Solutions

Responsibilities:

  • Art Direction
  • User Experience
  • Technical Documentation
  • Game Design

 

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