Provinces is a medieval geolocation game — play with your friends, collect resources, build your own Province, and travel the world doing it.
Product (UX/UI) Design Case Study
Why? 
Provinces was created during my CareerFoundry UX specialization course. The task was 'Scavenger Hunt', which traditionally involves people hunting for things to scavenge, such as hunting for objects in the city or collection games such as Pokémon Go.
I researched how and why people play geolocation games and what makes games exciting, in order to develop a satisfying gaming experience.
How?
As lead (and sole) product designer, I made every decision.
Combining my years of design experience as an architect, with a human-centred design approach, I equipped myself with User Research and the right tools to provide solid reasoning behind every decision and produce a beautiful end product.
I followed the Double Diamond design process model
Research, analyse, synthesize
I began by researching potential competitors. From Pokémon Go to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, from The Walking Dead: Our World to Ghostbusters World. 
They all attach to an existing franchise. It's easy, people who like Harry Potter will give it a go, virtually regardless of content. We all saw Pokémon Go at launch, with incredible popularity despite lacking any content.
However, they all have the same weakness. Strong early adoption with a massive fall-off when players realised how shallow the features are. 
Why not try building a game which fleshes out it's own franchise, and features few but deep game and rewarding mechanics?
Potential Problems
1. The scope of the features needs to be small and realistic. Apps like Pokémon Go had initial success due to mass appeal and global availability, the user base collapsed once they realised the lack of depth of the features. It is more effective to deliver a few well-designed features, than many basic features.
2. Selection of wrong initial features which don’t drive player engagement or growth.
3. Augmented Reality (AR), worth it?
4. The social sharing aspect needs to be
well integrated and fun because this is a
feature which not only engages existing users, but creates new ones.•
5. As outlined in the Design Hierarchy of 
Needs, it is essential to reach the
“Creativity” hierarchy with the app, as this will be the main driver for continued support and success.
6. No vision for monetization or badly integrated which disowns players.
Potential Solutions
1. Focus on a few well-designed features, which are geographically independent and allow for regional player bases to develop naturally.
2. Outline an idea of future features to build the app in such a way that future developments can be integrated seamlessly.
3. Unfortunately AR is in its infancy; it provides only very little benefits while being a battery drain, requiring more permissions, limiting user hardware
4. Let's try "Invite-only" beta tests for initial word-of-mouth natural growth and hype. It's worked before (Gmail, World of Warcraft)
5. Define features which are customizable. Encourage players to think creatively. 
6. Let's try and make money ethically and while delighting users. Focus on cosmetics upgrades.
SWOT Profile: Harry Potters: Wizards Unite
Strengths
—Building on the already highly successful Pokémon Go app
—Supported by J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore lends credibility
—Has the same automatically generated features in any location worldwide.
—Encourages addictive collecting tendencies.
Opportunities
—The game is tailored to Harry Potter fans, just like Pokémon Go was tailored to Pokémon fans. A game with its own characters would start up slowly but may attract a wider audience.
—Very few features which are highly repetitive. The social aspect is very basic. Thoroughly developed features may blow these out of the water.
Weaknesses
—Poor variety and depth of features.
—Constantly demands payments for a variety of in-game content, does not allow players to simply enjoy the game.
—Is focused on a single franchise, so appeals only to existing fans.
Threats
—Are geolocation games actually popular — or is it a short-term hype?
—The Harry Potter universe is "finished", with spin-offs happening. It may be that new fans are never built to the same extent as while the books and movies were current.

Problem Statement
The players need to feel engaged, surprised and rewarded for the time they invest into the game.
Surveys & Interviews
Based on the competitor analysis, I gathered enough information to synthesize a SWOT Profile and from that a Problem Statement. Sounds easy enough, right? Now let's define what engaging, surprising and rewarding players actually means. In order to understand what is valuable to potential players, I crafted a survey using Surveymonkey for insight.
— 25% are 18-24, 60% are 25-43 years old
— 80% of participants enjoy mobile games
— 65% want to play on their commute
— 60% want a good story
— 50% want nice graphics
— 45% want to be rewarded for the time they invest, to learn new things
— 30% want to be able to play with friends
— 90% want challenges/tasks
— 55% want to build something
— 40% want teamwork
— 35% want to collect and trade things
— 35% would financially support games via cosmetic microtransactions
— participants overwhelmingly reject paid microtransactions to gain advantages
— participants overwhelmingly reject advertisements in games

Affinity Mapping
Personas
Mike
33 years old, lives in Munich, plays games casually, is married and works as a software engineer
Mike’s Goals and Needs
—Wants a fun game to play on the go
—Wants to play casually and stop at any moment
—Wants to feel fair progression and rewards
—Can’t dedicate too much time to games
Mike’s Motivations
—Wants to play a game on his commute or while walking around during weekends
—Wants to occasionally play with some friends and meet up for it
Mike’s Frustrations
—He doesn’t want to have to spend lots of money on the game
—Doesn’t want to feel like he’s wasting his time
—Strongly dislikes microtransactions
Device and internet usage
—Regularly checks the news and social media, always mobile
—Uses a laptop when doing work related things and casual games
Notable quotes
—I’m always carrying stuff in one hand so I’d like a game I can play vertically on my phone to use one-handed
—I’m out and about a lot so if a game can be included in that, I’d visit certain places if it’s convenient
—I want a trial before buying anything, I’m skeptical about mobile games due to microtransactions
—I used to play a lot of Pokémon Go, it kept me active, but now it keeps asking for money so I stopped playing
User Journey
IA Framework
Development of a Site Map based on Card Sorting and several iterative improvements. Being a map-based geolocation game, the World Map is at the centre of all things, with stems growing outwards. The goal is clarity and simplicity.
Prototype, test, refine
Throughout the surveys and interviews certain comments were recurring; the aversion to microtransactions, the need for meaningful goals and stories, being able to play on the go and to put down the games immediately, being able to go places and build things. 
How can you deliver that? Pokémon Go doesn't have a good story, they can't build anything and the game requires constant microtransactions. 
What delivers a fantastic storytelling experience? In recent memory, nothing has captivated audiences like Game of Thrones (until the final seasons…) with their expertly crafted worldbuilding. Research showed there are currently no popular GPS scavenger hunt games based on the Middle Ages(!). The value proposition is there, but the product isn't. Let's see if we can change that.
Polishing the design
The sketches were developed into low-,mid-, and high-fidelity prototypes, and tested with users along every iteration. Problematic was the discovery of content and the radial navigation, which lead to several redesigns until users intuitively used the navigation because it felt more natural to them.
And the result
Provinces Style Guide
Lato is the system font. It is to be used exclusively in menus which aren't contextual to Provinces, to avoid any reduction in immersion. Welcome, signup, login, settings, etc.
Lekton is the game font. It is to be used exclusively in contextual moments to provide immersion. Quests, chats, story, building menus, etc.
Colour
Red, beige, greens, greys form the identity of Provinces. Province Red is the main highlight, used for the logo and various important names. Menu Beige is used for all windows and menus, with Lush Green or grey text laid onto it. Weak Grey for faded text, Strong Grey for active text.
Components
Popup Windows in general follow have generous drop-shadows to provide depth, as if players have a parchment in their hands while playing.
Popup Windows are horizontally formatted when they are navigational items which lead to another stage. Popup Windows are vertically formatted when they are individual items for selection, like in a shop, in the build menu, or individual player characters.
Contextual text as mentioned is Lekton, System text is Lato.
Icons
Icons are to be simple and beautiful and become a part of the world. It's important to consider their states, and fluid transitions and animations. 
The final game should feature elegantly animated resources and player icons for a polished feel. There are currently 4 resources, with rarer and regional resources to be added as the game develops.
Language
Language is one of the most important aspects of Provinces. 
A large majority of survey participants indicated the importance of a good story, and that's where Provinces can shine. The language should be intricate, befitting both the medieval context and the modern player-base. 
Quests must speak to the player's name (e.g. Alexander) when appropriate. Recurring characters must flesh out continuity in the world. The world should introduce punishments for certain deeds, which teaches players that this game has consequences (which can be fun!)
During the continued development of Provinces, a Custom Quest builder should be developed to allow players to create quests for other players. For example, as you walk around your town, you find a wooded forest where a hermit challenges you to a game of logic. Players should be able to create their own interactive quest to populate the world with interesting and unique narratives. Each quest could be peer-reviewed by the selected content curators.
Tone of voice
—A narrator describes the world
—Interactive narrative
—Players respond in first person
The text should be clear, use contextual language (lordship, inn, squire, etc.) but not overwhelming. Formal and informal as required by the story or characters. Mix with modern terminology is acceptable in menus and clues. 
The tone should also be humourous, with moments to make players laugh or smile and if possible, build relationships with characters in the game.
Imagery
Provinces is a geolocation GPS game, overlaid onto the real world. Roads and public squares, forests and lakes represented in the game will be as they are in the real world. Where the beauty comes in, is the stylizing of these elements and the placement of beautiful 3d artwork. A player Province can be placed freely, and other players can see it in their game, even as it grows and expands. Customizing Provinces should be a priority for monetization, with various types of Provinces, various colours, various architectures for different regions, all to encourage player exploration and discovery. 
Art Direction
The current concept proposes a simple Italian countryside, with a stone fort and cypress trees representing elements in the world. 
With time, players should be able to build individual special buildings in any location, timed/rare buildings should appear throughout the world and allow for player interactivity. For example, an animated sprite pond could appear in the city centre, and players who go there to inspect it are rewarded with a special item.
Animation
Since Provinces is a slow medieval game, it is important to develop satisfying and delightful animations. Cinematic moments should be used sparingly, but be rewarding when they appear.
Content is to be delivered in Popup Windows which slide in from below when it's interactive, and from above when it's information.
Grids
Devices
Provinces is to be fully playable on any GSM and GPS compatible devices. As such, Provinces is optimized for all iOS, Android et al. mobile devices and tablets.
The map real-estate is bigger on larger devices, while individual buttons and navigation remains the same size (or slightly scaled up for comfort).
Accessibility
Provinces considers accessibility for a wide variety of users. The game is fully playable in one hand on phone devices, features clear contrasts and large buttons.
Hierarchy
Content is delivered with clear hierarchy: from titles, subtitles and text to menus, submenus and items.
Navigation
The game is built to be fully playable with one hand, and from that hand using only the thumb. Interactive elements are always a minimum of 30x30px.
Contrast
Special attention is paid to AAA luminosity contrast ratios. The game features strong colours, and therefore special attention needs to be paid to text legibility. The main text colour #262626 is 85% black and is thereby legible on most backgrounds. 
Location
The game features geolocation GPS. The player portrait is always centred on the screen, the map represents the real world map, so players may always orient themselves. The map is not to be rotated, it always points North. This is both for graphics and orientation purposes.
Interactions
Feedback is provided with all interactions. To avoid unwanted interactions, a 'Press and hold' function on important decisions is provided, which also displays feedback information. Opening, closing and swiping drawers is clearly animated.
Thanks a lot for reading!
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