Interview with Vicky Lo, an interaction designer at NetEase Games

Vicky Lo has been working as UX designer and game designer in different companies for years. She studied information systems management in university and accumulated a wealth of experience in the video game and live streaming industry. She has her own work methods and practical experience in the game design field, which can help us get some insightful and new ideas on UX design in game.

Q1: Can you describe the job requirements of a game UX designer?

For the game UX designers with 3 to 5 years of experience, the job responsibilities include: 

First, come up with suitable interaction design solutions based on the product requirements. As game UX designers, one should have a deep understanding of the game field. And the interaction of games is much more different from that of common mobile internet products.

Second, cooperate with game planners, game arts and developers to implement the functions. This puts forward higher requirements for designers’ teamwork capabilities. Not only communication skills, but also time management skills.

Third, the ability to make in-depth analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of product interface, and to provide optimization direction for interface design. Through the communication within and outside of design teams, offer persuasive solutions that meet the demands of users and coincide with game worldview.

Fourth, deep understanding of ideas and principles of UX design. In addition to mining user needs through user research, a variety of methods to improve user experience should be used, such as attracting users to increase length of use, simulating users’ willingness to pay, increasing click rate, managing users’ desired goals, and so on.

Fifth, the mastery of necessary UX design skills and the proficiency in usage of softwares.

Q2: What are the biggest challenges in your work?

For game products, identifying users’ pain points, finding design opportunity points and coming up with solutions of my own is the biggest challenge. In the team, I think whether the outputs align with the team expectation is the biggest challenge. I need high-quality communication and agreement with the team in the early stage, so as to produce the output that meets the requirement of game planner, game art and developer in shorter work hours. In the meantime, a commonplace, how to prove the value of design? There are two widely used methods, one is to measure the effect of design with data feedback, another is to prove using scientific design theories.

Q3: How do you collaborate within and outside design teams and make decisions as a team?

In general, a big scale mobile game takes one or two years to complete. The UX designers in a team are responsible to follow up the functions of different parts, multiple designers collaborate on overall output. The first version of design need to be reviewed within design team, and then entering formal design review after iteration. When cooperating with colleagues from different functions, it’s important to document our daily work, clearly record product requirement, time nodes, iteration details, etc. Such documents include PRD, user feedback pool, timeline and so on.

Q4: How do you come up with ideas and iterate products?

First method is brainstorming. I come up with new ideas with game planners, art designers and developers, and then begin to make plans according to the feasibility and implementing difficulty. Second method is more reasonable, I study the current data feedback and make iteration based on users experiencing problems.

Q5: What kind of design skills does a game UX designer need?

Basically, UX design softwares, Photoshop, Illustrator and Unity can satisfy the basic needs. AE for dynamic effect is the extra point. Meanwhile, mobile games are growing faster than webpage games in recent years, therefore it’s necessary to become proficient with mobile design systems, such as the design guideline of iOS and Android.

Q6: What processes and exercises you use to ensure better design outputs, efficiency and collaboration?

In daily work, I need to convey the working system and procedures to increase efficiency. The common ways include daily report, week report, time management, collaboration document and so on. For self development, I think the ability to learn quickly and keen observation are essential, such as experiencing the latest games, paying close attention to competitives, learning new design trends and forming one’s own understanding of UX design. Better design outputs require good capability of handling product needs and greater creation awareness. As UX designers, we can’t regard us as only order followers, we should contribute our own value to product in practice.

Q7: Could you give some advice on the career plan of game UX designers?

Game UX designer is a more specialized job position compared with common UX designer. And because of the different position scope and responsibilities of different companies, there exists many game companies which have no single game UX designer position, so if we are pursuing the long time development of this field, we need to master visual design and game art knowledge and skills, also product thinking and industry thinking, making preparations and accumulation for higher level career development.

Q8: Could you elaborate on a specific project you participated in to give some information about how the process plays out?

During the design process of Fantasy Westward Journey web version,  the main UX design and acceptance flow can be attributed to: In the early stage, strengthen the communication with planner, UE/US/GAC and front end to ensure full understanding of requirements, and think about the implementation and continuity of requirements based on game as a whole. In the mid-term, when launching design plan, move ahead rapidly through process optimization and productivity tools within the team. After completion of development, work with planner and QA to check and accept the final effect of requirements. When launched, perform data validation to judge the value of iteration and the direction of next iteration. Through the above flow to work on design and ensure the progress and quality of product.