Last night, Jeff Green gave a special presentation at The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of ACM SIGCHI in which he dicussed his time spent on SimAnimals Africa and MySims Agents.  He spent 15 years in the journalism field before jumping over and spending ‘1 year of hell’ before jumping back out and becoming a writer and podcast editor for EA.  I was digging around on Twitter and found someone live blogging the event.  It’s not that interesting, but I enjoy Jeff’s humor so I’d figure I’d go ahead and post it.  Keep in mind that some of these tweets may not make any sense as…well the person was tweeting live.

Second #BayCHI talk: “Easier Said Than Done: One Critic’s Painful Transition to Interface Design” Jeff Green, EA

Green: critics vs. artists (by Spinal Tap)


Green: … those who can’t teach PE review video games for a living

Green: Spent 15 years as a critic. Wanted to move on.

Green: “rotting rat in a shoebox for $20” review

Green: “Game design is easy” search YouTube for Westwood College for game design

Green: Designed SimAnimals, MySims Agents

Green: lessons learned:

Green: Wii has unique problems: hard when game actions don’t correspond to input device actions

Green: had to find things to do justify being on the wii, but not feel contrived

Green: kids not paitent when devices don’t work reliably

Green: button controls serve as a good backup when other input modalities fail

Green: hard to deal with controller and still have a good user experience

Green: plumbob: a design accident

Green: plumbob started as placeholder art. needed to identify player, mood visually Wanted to use smiley face. Weren’t ready in time

Green: execs loved it!

Green: spent a long time designing interactions around actions and objects

Green: never told players what blue plumbob meant; assumed players would figure it out

Green: how to design interaction with other characters? Tried many plumbob solutions.

Green: Adopted exclamation point as icon. (Stolen from WoW) despite being inconsistent with rest of design.

Green: players got exclamation, didn’t get blue plumbob

Green: SimsAfrica: teaching kids to pet and feed lions.

Green: characters have motives; player needs to take care of them.

Green: how to get kids to understand motives?

Green: icons hard to understand.

Green: focus testing puzzle example didn’t produce consistent results.

Green: hard to motivate complex tasks without any instructions on the screen

Green: feedback of actions in another puzzle proved effective at guiding interaction without explicit instructions

Green: press doesn’t know and doesn’t care (and shouldn’t care) about the amount of effort goes into interaction design.

Green: things that affect experience, cost, people were often arbitrary, based on interpersonal relations of design teams

Green: hard to agree on what makes a good game

Green: not thinking about the greater good (of the team) often lead to failure

Green: technical opinion vs. manager’s priorities

Green: advice: think of the consumer frist, ALWAYS.

Green: if they have to “figure it out” you failed

Green: just because you did it, doesn’t mean it’s good

Green: just because it’s good, doesn’t mean a critic has to care. (That’s what you’re momma is for)

Green: manuals were written well before design was completed.