Evoplasm Devlog

This is the devlog for Evoplasm – the roguelike creature builder. If you want to try the game join our Discord. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Three Dummy UX Mistakes I’m Forever Ashamed Of

I got the chance to demo Evoplasm to strangers for the first time at a Boston Indies demo night the other night. This made me question my game, my life (just kidding), and most importantly my UX design skills. Here are three lessons I learned.

Make Your Buttons Unique From Panels

When you start a new Godot Project the default UI theme is quite minimal. One of its issues is if you are using Buttons for buttony things, and PanelContainers with Labels in them to present information, the two are totally indistinguishable from each other. Here’s what it looks like, in a test project I just created:

Can you tell the difference!? The button does have a nice mouse hover effect that indicates it’s clickable, but without moving the cursor, there’s no clear distinction between the two. Here’s how it looked in the first in-game screen in my game:

Players definitely hesitated to click the button in the lower left, because visually it looks the same as the dialogue panel in the top right. To fix it, I edited the default UI theme in Godot. I’m not sure I love it, but you definitely can tell the buttons look different than the panels now.

Presenting False Actions

On the same screen, after players click the button, I show them the Booster Vials (like a Booster pack in a CCG) they received. They can’t open them on this screen, but my intent was to set up the game loop and get them to get them excited to open them up and edit their creature on the next screen. It looked like this.

There’s nothing more to do here, but users wanted to click on the boosters, before leaving the encounter. For this screen, I think it would be better to show the boosters and then slide them off screen.

Add More (and then even more) Affordances

The most complicated part of my game is the creature editor. The hardest part of this screen is adding mutations like beaks or spikes. They need to be placed on a cell wall, facing outwards, which is a hard concept to explain

This was a struggle. A lot of players thought these mutations would go on top of cells (why wouldn’t they, especially if they hadn’t seen other ones like it before). Plus the rotating is a little challenging, and the connection point is small.

To fix this, I added some affordances to creature building. Now when you drag something like a beak onto a creature, it rotates to the nearest available spot and sticks where it needs to go. This achieves two goals: (1) the player no longer needs to actually do the finicky rotation themselves and (2) it teaches the player where things go when building in the future. Here’s how it looks now:

Much better! The most important lesson of all of this was: play test your game! Find strangers and make them play it. Do it over and over!