LAY'S: GRAB A PACK. Experience LOOP
A description of the process I used to design the experience loop for an advertising promotional game. The process involved prioritization of goals and objectives, mechanics evaluation, planning the screen composition, creating the experience pacing curve, and connecting all of these elements together. The following process helped define the desired user experience and played an integral part in the successful shipment of the game.
Team & Stakeholders
2x Product Owners, Creative Director, Project Manager, Software Developer, Back-End Developer, Marketing Manager, 2x Visual Designers, 3D Modeller & Animator
part of lay's advertising campaign
"Lay's: Grab A Pack" was a promotional game released for Ukrainian market and was available on IOS, Android and Web platforms during the FIFA World Cup 2014. The game featured a football star Lionel Messi walking the streets of Rio de Janeiro with a bag of Lay's chips. The game was the part of the following advertising campaign:
I needed to design a game experience, that would complement an overall theme of the promotional campaign, where people were stealing chips from Messi's pack as he was distracted or was looking the other way. Also, the game had to incorporate earning and exchanging virtual chips for prizes.
goals, objectives & Requirements
I started by listing all of the requirements, goals and objectives we had. Our main objective was to create a buzz around the new chips taste coming to Ukrainian market. And, as any other taste, this one had its own package colour and style. That meant the experience had to rotate around the interaction with the new package design, with it being constantly on the screen to help form a bond between a person and the brand.
Also, the game had a clear goal of being a medium to distribute prizes. That meant it was not actually competing with other games on the market, but rather introducing a fun and engaging bonus layer for distributing the prizes. Thus, we were using an extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic - playing for the sake of getting the prizes and interacting with the soccer superstar. Understanding this allowed us to focus and polish the right parts of the experience, rather than spend time designing a sophisticated and balanced gameplay which, in the end, would not bring value to the client.
Since the game was a part of a promotional campaign, it was important to understand what benefits can we get out of the already available assets and what parts of our goals those benefits were already covering. This was vital, since development time was tight and we needed to allocate our brain and people resources as efficiently as possible. Our key following assets were the following:
Lionel Messi. The football superstar was the reason to try the game (the hook). He served as a reason and motivation for people to download the game and start playing it.
Prizes. A motivation to keep playing the game (retention). The game did not need retention mechanics since getting prizes motivated people to keep playing. The game itself had to only provide a pleasant and smooth experience of earning and exchanging chips for prizes.
Understanding this gave us the ability to cut corners and avoid spending time and budget on thinking how to lure people into the game and avoid developing complex retention mechanisms, which would not add significant value.
Also, during this stage I have worked with various stakeholders to understand their perspectives, vision and assumed goals for the project, documenting their ideas and sharing mine to create a unified concept that everyone would agree and align on.
ALIGNING THE TEAM ON VALUES, GOALS AND STRATEGY
After getting the stakeholders perspectives and analyzing the assets we possessed, it was important to setup a development strategy and align all of us on the same values and vision. By addressing this before the start of development we wanted to establish expectations for the final product, get everyone on the same page about our final goals and priorities, agree on them and by doing that create an effective decision making tool for the future. This was done through a set of presentations and discussions, where our team suggested and explained how we saw the project, essentially a unified and refined vision of the stakeholders, outlined the key goals and priorities as we understood them, and finally suggested a development strategy we thought made sense to pursue. This step was crucial for several reasons.
First of all, even though we all called this project a 'promotional game', each of the stakeholders had a slightly different idea about what this meant and thus expected slightly different things. Such differences in understanding the future product would have caused a lot of troubles and frustration once we would move to development. So it was extremely important for us to manage such expectations as early as possible.
Secondly, true alignment on common goals and values is the most effective prioritization and answer-finding tool. Instead of engaging into hours of discussions on whether to include a feature or not, ideally we would turn to our goals and priorities, asking whether that particular feature meets or enhances any of them.
Last but not least, we needed all the stakeholders to agree on a development strategy and order of deliverables that we would stick to during the development process. It was important, since the deadlines were tight and for everything to go smooth, we needed complete understanding and support from all the parties. This would allow us to focus on one thing at a time and think strategically, rather than find ourselves putting out fires from all directions.
In the end, we managed to achieve some sort of alignment and that played a vital part in smoothing the development process and insuring that the project was finished and shipped.
Our requirements and goals anticipated a particular screen composition:
The pack of chips had to be always in front. Whatever happened on the screen, people had to constantly see it. We assumed this would help create a connection with the brand. Plus, we took advantage of the composition used in the promotional videos, so the game would be consistent with the overall campaign.
Lionel Messi had to be constantly on the screen. It was important, because when people would be looking at the screenshots of the game, they have to instantly see an answer to why they should download and play the game.
These constraint drastically narrowed down the gameplay possibilities, leaving us with space for storytelling and other active game elements only on the sides of the screen, which actually worked well for our priority platforms - mobile and tablet.
interaction MECHANICs - SWIPING VS TAPPING
There were several major factors which determined the final game mechanic:
Goals. Our main goal was to promote chips. And we already knew people would be playing our game for the prizes. In addition, our audience were, in most cases, casual mobile gamers so there was no point introducing any sophisticated hardcore game mechanics as they would only serve as an extra layer of complexity. It needed to be something simple, well known and easy to grab and play.
Deadlines. Those were extremely tight, given the game had to be properly polished and tested. Thus we needed to go with a simple mechanic, one that would not require a lot of adjustments, testings and bug fixing. And one that we would be able to implement in time.
We explored swiping and tapping mechanics and in the end preferred the tapping for the following reasons:
User Experience. Rapid swiping caused fingers to hurt, shortening the potential time of a play session by four times at least. It resulted in negative emotions and as a result might have hurt the brand.
Context & Aesthetics. When you take chips from a bag it is more like a click than a swipe. So, from the standpoint of proper aesthetics, tapping felt more appropriate.
Development Complexity. Swiping would require more, adjusting, testing and bug fixing. We could not afford that.
Value. Alongside requiring more development time, it was not bringing any drastic increase in immersion or engagement.
Since the theme of the game involved different states, like strolling and stealing, I wanted for the game pacing to embrace that and planned proper points of tension and relief. For example, strolling along the street is generally a calm and relaxing experience, while stealing, or pickpocketing, is often stressful and fast paced.
So I started with a straight pacing line, going slightly up to build the overall tension towards the end of the round. The increase in tension was meant to be achieved by increasing Messi's walking speed and through several other factors.
Secondly, I've defined the places of high tension. These were the points, when a player was able to steal chips. At these points players' focus and attention were assumed to be at a maximum level, so we decided to zoom in on the chips package, for it to take almost the entire screen. In between these points of tension, however, there would be places of rest. Here we planned to set the scene, show a full image of the street, the city, surrounding areas and etc.
After that I added a bonus relief part at the end. Something players would be looking forward after a tense game. A place to rest and reflect on the session they just had. Also I marked the points of game state change.
Points of Enter and Exit Stealing
Points of entering and exiting stealing were important to keep in mind, since we needed rules by which the game would change these states. Exits were simple - stealing is always a timer-based activity. A player has a certain amount of time to steal chips, while Messi was looking the other way, and once the timer was up, the game state changed. Points of entrance, on the other hand, posed a challenge.
When one tries to steal something, the target has to be distracted. In the promotional campaign selfies served as such distractions - acts that happened accidentally or that were orchestrated by a thief. We figured orchestrating a distraction sounded way more cooler. One of the requirements was that the game had to promote other chips tastes that were already in the market. So we decided to turn those taste into objects, put them in the street and use them as distractors that could be activated by tapping. As a result, to start stealing chips you had to identify a particular object that stood out on the street, tap on it, trigger a visual and sound distraction that would make Messi look away and allow you to steal the chips pack.
After multiple discussions, brainstorm sessions and based on everything I've described above, we came up with the final game loop, that incorporated everything we wanted the game to be and consisted of the following sequence of actions:
Also, the fact that Messi was constantly moving through the street meant a distractor would be seen on the screen for a limited time only and it was a player's job to notice and activate it until it was gone. The more distractors a player noticed - the more chips he could collect. If a player missed a distractor, Messi continued walking, and the player could not steal chips.