FIFA MOBILE - Process changes and a new season
When I was brought aboard FIFA Mobile I had a very large amount of work in front of me. I was responsible for integrating UX more effectively in an already set engineering workflow, as well as designing a whole new user experience for the next season of the game.
When I began we had around 2.2 million daily average users, the next season was meant to eclipse this number and the game designers had large features to reach this goal. It was up to me to understand how all of these features fed into the overall architecture of the game and to distill each one into a tangible experiences that would allow the player to do new things never before seen in our game.
In previous seasons, we were in complete control over which players were the best to play with and dictated the power creep of the game by releasing better items. My first job was to uproot this entire manner of thinking and create a system that allows you to level any of your items up to be the very best. This had profound effects across the entire game and I had to keep them all in mind as I brought this feature through the entirety of our development process.
Another large issue with the previous season of our game was the unfocused way we surfaced activities to the player. Our solution to this problem was to connect objectives by lines on sega style maps, to give the user a good understanding of where they are, as well as where we expect them to go. The layout of these maps needed to be incredibly flexible to meet the demand of the live content team, who would use the technology to create many different types of programs and events for our players. I began to encourage game designers to think of the live team as our clients as we moved through the design phase to ensure we were building something robust enough for their vision.
A Change in Process
When I began UX was relegated to a gate in the engineering process. After the producers, game designers and engineers had created and planned features UX would be brought in to create a wireframe. Needless to say this lead to issues as this wireframe pass always led to the unearthing of additional problems and lead to churn. What UX was doing in that case was seen as a great asset, and led to better features being produced. I provided feedback that led us to restructure our process in a more UX centric manner. I was brought into the planning of features at the earliest possible opportunity. Working with producers and game designers to understand the problems we were trying to address. I used rapid prototyping to produce assets that could then be used in combination with engineering and UI expertise to get more accurate planning estimates. As the feature developed through engineering I would be a point of contact for any usability issues the team found and to assess the best way forward when scope limited our choices.
The change in process was applauded in sprint retrospective by all of the disciplines after a large and unwieldy feature was brought to completion under a tough timeline.