01: Don't Skip the Tutorial

When last we left our heroes ... - oh wait, this is the episode in which we meet our intrepid heroes ⚔.

  
0:00
-30:30

Please follow us on twitter at @DTGamesPodcast. You can also follow Tim @uxbear and Michael @schoeyfield.


Transcript

Introductory Guy  

Welcome to Design Thinking Games, a fantasy and user experience podcast. Each episode, your podcast hosts, Tim Broadwater and Michael Schofield will examine the player experience of board games, pen and paper role playing games, live action games, mobile games, and video games. You can find every episode including this one on your podcatcher of choice and on the web at DesignThinkingGames.com.

Michael and Tim 

3 - 2 - 1.

Tim Broadwater  

Nice. And I think we're synched.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah, I think we're as synched as we're going to be.

Our first memories

Tim Broadwater  

I was thinking back to how I got involved in UX and gaming, and I was just wondering, what is your first gaming memory board game, video game, whatever? 

Michael Schofield  

Oh, man, that's a great question. I could overthink this and really find my first but I have one that stands out.

Tim Broadwater  

What is it?

Michael Schofield  

So I grew up in Michigan, and in Michigan, we have basements. I'm saying that because I live in a place where there are no basements, and it feels like an important detail. I remember as a kid — and I know, because we moved that this was second grade or before. We had this half finished basement, where on one half there was  carpet, and my parents had a couple of Lazyboys and this big old CRT  TV that was sunk deep into a wooden cabinet. And on the other half separated by a wall there was  a little door, but on the other half was the boiler. It was just a cement floor, and that was also a playroom.. So I remember one day my dad tells me he has something for me. And I go in there and there was this  bizarre looking, red block on a tripod. The tripods only  seven inches tall or whatever. And it had little, little supports, or cushions  for your  orbital sockets for your eyes, there was a visor, and there's a controller.   I put my face up against it and I saw and in perfect pristine three dimensions this laser red Mario jumping around. And that was a Virtual Boy. Does that ring any bells to you?

Tim Broadwater  

 A Virtual Boy? Yeah, I know of its existence. I never actually touched or played with one but I know of it. And how old were you?

Michael Schofield  

This came out in 1995. Earlier.

Tim Broadwater  

So your first gaming experience was ...

Michael Schofield  

-- the most standout  gaming experience, right? If you scroll down on Wikipedia what you see are  these trippy ass neon laser sketches, which was the interface and it was and you can kind of see  in the picture, where  the blue and the red shifts are not perfectly overlaid, because , the lenses themselves were  red lens and blue lens. And it created this 3d experience. 

Tim Broadwater  

That's interesting. Yeah, it occurred to me the other day that if I had to talk about  one of the first impactful things of gaming, that really stuck out to me -- I don't know the year either. I remembered not getting into Dungeons&Dragons, but , knowing what it was and thinking it was cool. And it was too complicated. So then, the thing is there was this old board game called HeroQuest. And it came out in 89, which, at that point,  I was born in 77. Math, I was 12, I guess. And it was a board game where you chose classes, you had a card, and you had a blank kind of grid system. It had different scenarios that you can play through. So you can set up rooms and secret passageways and monsters, and it was  away for kids to play Dungeons&Dragons as a starter kit. So it was that game HeroQuest that came out, and it's a board game. It's  worth  a ton of money now, if you can get an intact version, I think it's a $1,200 game

Michael Schofield  

My early gaming experiences were pretty digital. I had a Nintendo. And I and I remember that , pretty well. One thing that sticks out to me was that my dad had a I'm inclined to look it up this old PackardBell, and on it, he had this kind of bananas, whatever they could get away with,  interface that was essentially on top of a MUD,  a multi user dungeon where,  you you could arrow up or you hit E to go east and it in text describes what's in that room. But there, I seem to remember that there was a little, a dot or a pixel,  moving around  a little maze. But the other thing that blew my mind was, at the time on a three and a half floppy. We had the original Wolfenstein. I remember a couple things. One was that as you took damage your little guy got progressively bloodied, his face would become purple and bruised. His head would sink and it was really cool. And the other thing is that it was full of secret passages. And so I would clear the room of Nazi scum. And then for the next  two hours, I would go to every available  open space along the wall and hit the spacebar because there may or may not be  a hidden passage.

Tim Broadwater  

Oh my god,  when I was a kid in elementary school. Our family's first video game console was an Intellivision. I think it was Mattel that came out with it. It came out in the latter 70s. And it had games like  SharkShark and, Pitfall, and it's very akin to atari and and then essentially had  Dungeons&Dragons. And then it had all these really cool games on it. The controller was so unique, because it was a phone, it had a one through nine and zero,  like a phone dial, and it had side button. For each game you put into it, there was literally a little piece of plastic, you would lay into it to overlay the controls of 123456789. And I played the crap out of that game system.

The Shark! Shark! game sticks out to me the most because you start out as a little baby fish. And then essentially you're swimming around, you can only ever eat things that are smaller than you and you're on one screen. And every so often,  a shark comes by and it creates the DUH DUH sound. You have to stay away from it. But then as you're eating a fish, you can graduate up to where you can eat larger fish, then eventually crabs, and then you're  as big as a shark. You can literally eat  and to defeat the shark, you had to  swim around it definitely and then just bite its tail. And then it would turn the different way. And you'd have to bite its tail another way. I played this system for hours.  it was amazing.

And then when I was a I worked mowing neighbor's lawns and then that's the money I used to get  a Sega Master System. And I remember on the Sega Master System had Bayou Billy and I thought it was amazing. Because it was a shooting, racing and side action game all in one.

And then when I saw Nintendo, I was like screw this and I traded it in because Nintendo was it at that point. And then since then, I've probably owned every Nintendo system. I've actually owned every single Nintendo system in existence except the 64. 

Michael Schofield  

Well that seem like an iconic one to skip to.

Tim Broadwater  

It's the one with a weird angle, like space controllers. And I was just like, yeah, that's weird feeling it?

First game we bought

Michael Schofield  

You mentioned that you were earning lawn mower money and buying games. I'm asking you because I remember mine: do you remember the first game that you bought with your own money?

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah, so I remember when Nintendo you couldn't get enough of the games, right? I remember bad games sticking out to me when I was sick, because you would save up your money and you get a game and you didn't even know it was bad because it was so new. And I remember Rygar that game where you're literally a dude who's walking around and red pants and you have a yo yo and you're  attacking and attacking and killing. And you literally are doing it so much to gain items and experience and money. And then I know there's other games in there. But I remember  the first thing that totally totally impressed My mind was  that I'm a big Legend of Zelda fan. So I'm not gonna go to that because I could, but Battle for Olympus. I don't know if you've ever heard of that game or played that game. So it It touched a lot of things inside of me and I guess the reason why I say that is because it actually was a video game that kind of weaved in Greek mythology into a side scrolling action game.

Michael Schofield  

Wow, it looks cool. The cover art is so great.

Tim Broadwater  

Yes, so you would actually get mythology. And then you would in an endless back of the time, we're , oh, if you want to save your game and the system didn't save your game,  the first Legend of Zelda was  famous because it actually saved your game, you can save it quit and come back and resume. But this was back when that technology I guess wasn't built into cartridges. And so you literally had to put in, a 20. Or, yeah,  a 60.  a 30 character come in Iowercase.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah, you had to write down your a 10 at least a 10 digit code.

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah, so that was very common for a lot of games. But Zelda broke that mold because it had a battery in it. And I remember when it came or  it had a warning that said, hey, you can't store this at certain temperatures, or you have to wait till the save game is complete before  turning off your system, where it's not gonna save your game. And that's what blew people's mind about the first Legend of Zelda. But I remember Battle with Olympus playing that forever.

Michael Schofield  

I remember there was a store made out of if I remember was  someone's two story house and they turned it into a business on the bottom floor. It was a movie rental place. And somewhere in the back and the top floor. So if you go far enough back and there was also a stairway that went up there. I guess for lack of better word. It was kind of a pawn shop. It was called Dicker & Deal. And it was this place that I was super excited to go to, because they had video games. And I remember that I think it was Sega Genesis is the console I bought. And I got Mortal Kombat, the first one. And I didn't have enough money. But the dude was , it was one of those things where he's , oh, man, you have I remember I had something  $30. And it cost a whopping $35. But the guy was impressed that I had brought my own money that he gave it to me.

Tim Broadwater  

You got the second one, which means it had the blood.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah, yeah, ABACABB was the blood code. And what would happen was, you had to type it in if I remember, within a certain window of time from when the game booted up on the Start screen. And the second controllers were three buttons on the right, and a D pad on the left. And the blood code, I remember it well a ABACABB, I may have built that into some things I've designed for the web. What happens if you type that in and then all of a sudden there's this kind of,  chiptune and all in basically a red hue just sort of drips down across all of the characters.

When UX entered our consciousness

Tim Broadwater  

So then, flipping that it's gonna sound weird. The other thought I think we could do is  thinking about our first memory, your personal history with the field of UX  oh, yeah, in career,  I've known you for years. And we've known each other post UX professionally,  and we've been on pot cast together. And we've done webinars and stuff together. And I'm just kind of wondering, I can kind of put a finger on  when I first became conscious of UX, I guess. But when I was asking the same about you,

Michael Schofield  

yeah, I'm, I'm curious to know when it was for you. And plus, it'll give me a little time to think.

Tim Broadwater  

Okay, so I was working as a web designer, I think and maybe this is a shared thing for a lot of our listeners or anyone in the field. But  I remember just working as a web designer, working in Higher Education for these big  departments or schools or units and, and I think at first,  my exposure to it or interaction was: are we capturing with analytics what users are doing? Our school with our departments and sub departments is so huge,  an information architecture thing. Yeah. How do we organize information? And then that's when I started to think about, well, I work in JavaScript, HTML and CSS. But there's got to be more here, right? There's how we do things based on what works for the viewers. And I remember just saying,  setting up Google Analytics, and then being able to speak to administrators in higher ed or being able to speak to people who are , This all has to be on this page, we have to put all this content on this page, and people have to do and then being able to say, , we don't have any visitors to this page, we've tracked it for  three months, and we've only you're the only person going or, or saying , this is way too much content. , users, we need to break up this content, well, how do we break it up? That doesn't make sense, it needs to be this way. And then being able to, to say , well, we can actually ask website viewers who,  who actually go to our site, what navigation they would expect? , instead of trying to put something together that works in our brains, there's a way to check it against user data. Yeah. And then I remember kind of that was, so for me, it was from a web design perspective, going down that rabbit hole. And then after that, probably taking that even more so to web apps, and then maybe front end development for web applications. And, and then I realized, oh, UX is a thing. There's a name for it. It's also kind of called, UCD user centered design or

Michael Schofield  

HCI.

Tim Broadwater  

Right? See, it has all these things. So it's , it's kind of grown up in research, it's grown up in design, and it's grown up in, in science and studies and statistics. And so it kind of all congealed,  for me, and that's why I'm , this is what I want to study, this is what I want to explore. And this is what I want to kind of learn more about, I want to make decisions based on what works for users, and being able to back that with data.

Michael Schofield  

Yeah. So there's a period of my life where I remember being concerned about the look and feel from , a tonal perspective. But not about  user behavior. And then,  I sort of Forrest Gump my way into libraries and higher ed, where I ended up as , kind of  the head of library web services. When, , kind of at the dawn of , library 2.0. I don't know if you remember that, where suddenly,  libraries were talking about digital branches and stuff like that. So I am from there. And that's because I had these kinds of  web skills. I don't remember when  UX had a vocabulary.  acronym, came onto my radar. But I remember that it was precisely, for me, a diplomatic nigh Machiavellian tool to win arguments in design committees. Basically. Every week, I think every Tuesday, we had a web design committee. And it would be a bunch of people, a lot of people, by the way,  larger than a lot of sane product teams, 10 to 12 people sitting around a big table looking at a shared screen saying, Hey, we need to put this information here and that information there. And we would design as a committee, which is just the worst. So there was basically a thing where to be able to say no. And to make, make changes that we didn't have to unmake later or to be able to do something that was kind of cool. or nouveau that was otherwise not popular. I basically needed user data to prove it to make the case. Right.

Tim Broadwater  

Yeah. It's interesting, because, yeah, but when we were talking when we first got together to talk about, hey,  working on this podcast, and , What could it be? And we both, I think kind of found doubt that we both have passions for gaming, but then passions for UX. And I come from a very art background,  I learned, I learned how to draw before writing. And then by the time I actually started writing, where they teach it in, in school, I had already learned the bad behaviors of how to hold my pencil. And I remember every teacher saying, , don't hold your pencil that way, don't  it. And I could not correct it. Because it's , I've,  this is how I draw and campaign building game designing, drawing fantasy creatures,  building out  making journals for gameplay and fantasy and art and game systems. That's kind of my background. And I think what I hypothesize about this podcast is that I think that there's a lot of people in UX who love gaming. And I actually think, yeah, that when we're talking about player experience, we're talking about user experience and the gaming kind of UX podcast. I think this touches on that dual interest in a lot of people. So, which is kind of why we decided to make the podcast,

Michael Schofield  

it's Mandatory Fun Time on a calendar to geek out about stuff, you and I are pretty similarly invested. And , what I would say, are a small amount of hobbies, as opposed to a wide variety of hobbies. And so we get really deep into things now, the work that we do, which we spend a good third of our waking lives on. It's really interesting that I'm really excited to explore, not just sort of, and the pseudo academic look at game design, and really breaking down maybe some of our best memories, which,  we experience these sort of  raw feelings, but we make a living, structuring these experiences, right? So I'm really interested to see what about game X really made that memory settle into long term, there's also a huge  social dynamic that's really kind of  emerged for me  around this pandemic that I'm excited to explore in coming episodes, where, , frankly,  real talk, the people I talked to, since I didn't leave the house for the better part of a year really, were the people I worked with. And so we would compartmentalize work, these are my bosses or my direct reports. And we would shift from one slack into another and play D&D every every Thursday, for a year and a half straight, right. And I'm the DM for that.

Tim Broadwater  

That's, that's amazing. And the UXers that I work with, and have with for years, I can honestly say that a lot of us as we develop even more savvy, sophisticated native applications or enterprise software applications that are doing these really cool dynamic things. We look to  game design, UI, and interactions. For it to inform it.  there's a better way to do this. I remember at a project here recently that there was such complex validation and interconnected content and so many moving parts. I remember at a meeting, saying, hey, if any of you, this is a weird idea, but Have any of you actually ever built a character for a role playing game,  in an app before? And some people are , maybe and others are , no, what are you talking about? And it's , I just think that that type of information architecture and, and way to navigate a lot of dense categories and subcategories of information. That's something we did look at. And eventually we did incorporate it. We're , yeah, this is exactly what we need. And more and more. I'm looking at games like Civilization, or Minecraft or different guys. So this is  how this is stuff that really works. Why are we reinventing the wheel? gaming has been doing this for years. And then also, to your point, , kind of talking to a lot of the other UXers that I've worked with, currently, and over the years, all of them play board games, they all love video games, they all play tabletop role playing games. And so I think there is that hey, I kind of want to work in the passion that I have a passion for, and so I think that That's hopefully something we're putting in to kind of finding the pulse on with this podcast.

Michael Schofield  

I think that's a great place to end that man.

Outro

Extroductory Guy  

Thank you for listening to the design thinking games podcast. To connect with your hosts, Michael or Tim, please go to DesignThinkingGames.com where you can request topics, ask questions or see what else is going on. Until next time, game on