Keywords: User research, foundational research, competitive research, UI design, interaction design, UI engineering, team leadership, product management/production, facilitation/communication
Frozenbyte has their own engine with which they build their games. Over the years it has been improved slowly as each game team has added features they need to it.
When I was hired, my combination of programming and UX design skills made me the perfect candidate to own the tools project (which rarely if ever had officially dedicated people before I joined), improve its user experience, and improve the efficiency of the game teams.
I started by going through the same learning path all new design recruits do, did competitor research by completing tutorials of other available game engines and 3D software, and interviewing and shadowing designers, artists, and programmers at Frozenbyte. I also combed through the internal wiki to find people’s notes, ideas, and wishlists on the editor.
After categorizing and prioritizing my findings, I had attracted enough attention within the company that a couple of programmers wanted to join my efforts and do a greater overhaul of the editor. After discussions, company leadership decided that an in-game editor planned for Starbase could work as the base for the new editor and revolutionize how games would be built in the company.
I led the team of four programmers and one designer, acted as a point of contact between the team and the rest of the company, and helped leadership balance resourcing needs between the tools team and the game teams.
During my tenure, the in-game editor took great strides and was used to build spaceships and space stations in Starbase, but it was not in daily use in game creation.