CALL OF DUTY
Phase One: Concept Developer / Researcher
Phase Two: Lead UI Designer / UX Designer
Phase One: 8 Weeks
Phase Two: 8 Weeks
Activision (Academic Partnership 2020)
Miguel B. Juteau, Sara Pope, Andrew Ma, Zephyr Swart
At the time of the project, the Call of Duty game had over 100 million monthly players. Unfortunately, the companion app was not bringing in the same engagement. Activision wanted to leverage those monthly players and have them utilize the companion app. The project was divided into two phases that consisted of 8-week sprints.
The brief provided detailed implementation of social features exclusively within the companion app that would keep players engaged with the game and each other.
Phase One Solution
The solution for phase one focuses on random team play. It features a Matchmaking system leveraged by a series of team Social Challenges. In doing so, we can foster a stronger connection amongst players that are randomly teamed. Which would help establish a sense of community.
Phase Two Solution
Phase Two presented a mixture of concepts that formed Call of Duty (CoD) Connect as the solution to the design brief. CoD Connect brings together veteran players and less experienced players in a mentorship program designed to elevate the level of competition. As mentors and mentees play together and develop together they also unlock various rewards.
Phase One- Intro
For the first phase, I collaborated with a partner, we both worked on developing concepts and later refining them. Initial research was conducted individually since we had a tight deadline. At the end of the 8-weeks, we presented the concepts to the stakeholders from Activision.
My Role: Concept development, Research, and UI
I was previously an avid player of the Call of Duty games but had not been familiar with the companion app, so I downloaded the app and began using it in conjunction with playing the game. The goal was to understand why the app had little engagement as well as possibly identify potential pain points that could help in producing concepts later in the project. As I played the game and used the app, I journaled my experience. Presented below are some of the journal entries.
Phase One Process Documentation
Provided below are some of the documentation that went into phase one. These design artifacts and methods provided guidance for the final solution.
The individually conducted Heuristic Evaluation mainly focused on identifying the existing features the companion app provided. The evaluation would assist when developing and refining concepts by identifying the constraints of the app we would prioritize moving forward with feasible ideas to present to the stakeholders.
When I conducted research, I looked into some existing competitors. The goal was to identify what other apps were doing successfully. Features discovered from the analysis included; gaming communities, using the phone as a second screen, and having a mini-game in the companion app.
Together my partner and I conducted user interviews. The interviews helped us identify the core problems that active users were facing. The goal of the interviews was to discover how players socialize within the game. The focus was on socializing since that client asked for social features.
Interview Insights + Core Problems
The interviews revealed multiple problems that the Call of Duty community was facing. Discovering the problems helped narrow the focus that would guide us to potential concepts. It also provided us with real problems to focus on instead of making assumptions. Overall the core problems identified were as follows;
What are ways we can cultivate more engaging, cooperative and bonded random teams that result in a stronger sense of CoD group identity?
The proposed concept for the first half of the project focuses on team Random play. It features a Matchmaking system that is leveraged by a series of team Social Challenges. The matchmaking system provides talking points that can be filled in advance through the companion app. for teams to use as icebreakers before a match. Through Social Challenges players are rewarded for completing the social challenges with repeated teams.
The guiding principle carried into the concept was to build a community. To achieve that, we proposed a concept composed of two main elements- Matchmaking and Social Challenges. A third element was added that presents a visual story of these team social interactions for each gamer.
Similar to dating apps, the matchmaking process would be curated by various inputs. Those inputs include the Game edition, favorite game modes, skill level, and general interest. Players can view their teammates' interests that have been pre-shared and the time spent waiting for a match to begin was leveraged to address the awkward silence by providing talking points before they jump into a game
Social Challenges created the opportunity for community building. By having challenges that encouraged Repeated Team Interactions. The challenges are presented as a journey, where you could navigate through a series of mini-maps within the Companion app. Each MiniMap pulls from past Call of Duty games, bringing a nostalgic feeling for those familiar with the franchise.
To bring it all together there is a Year-end review. Similar to Spotify, this feature would use an engaging series of graphics that depict social statistics such as top users played with, best team games, and total hours played (by season), among others. This Year-end review also serves as a rewarding storytelling experience for players to anticipate at the end of every season.
End of Phase One
With the conclusion of phase one, we were ready to move forward into phase two and refine the concepts that had been presented. Phase one included developing concepts, conducting various research, and gathering insight from user interviews.
Phase Two- Intro
In Phase Two of the project, teams had been formed based on similar concepts. My role for this phase was UI and UX Designer. This phase was 8-weeks, and the object was to build an interactive prototype using Figma. The design brief remained the same. The goal was still to develop and implement new social features for the companion app.
My Role: Concept development, Research, and UI
The solution provided at the end of the 8-weeks was CoD Connect. CoD Connect brings together veteran players and less experienced players in a mentorship program designed to elevate the level of competition. The matchmaking system uses players’ preferences to facilitate the best possible mentoring groupings. As they play and develop together, they also unlock various rewards
Phase Two: Defining The Concept
In addition to the concepts, my partner and I proposed in phase one, the assembling of teams brought over additional concepts. As a group, we revisited the concepts. The objective was to uncover what we could maintain that would best help the CoD community moving forward. We agreed that a mentorship feature would be helpful for new players because of the steep learning curve that the game has. The matchmaking part of our concept was integrated to bring together gamers who want a mentor for the game.
The main driver of CoD Connect is around building a community through the willingness to grow and commitment to helping others learn.
Becoming a Mentor
To become a mentor, you would first have to demonstrate your capabilities within the game. The requirements drafted ranged in skills and are equal in difficulty to ensure a consistent level of knowledge in a variety of areas.
In order to better match mentors and mentees there needed to be a baseline on information that first needed to be shared through the companion app. The strategy was to prioritize what went into the process while keeping it clear of what was non-essential. The four points gathered are presented below.
The development of a Mentoring feature meant that as a team, we needed to map out and present the journey of a mentee. At this stage, wireframes helped present what that journey might look like visually. Additionally, the wireframes served as an informal usability test within the team to reveal any issues-particularly in usability or the flow, this was before conducting formalized testing.
Final Design (Overview)
The final design presented both the mentor and mentee flow. For the final design the language was modified to fit the brand, “mentors” changed to “Officers” and “Mentees” changed to “Soldiers”. The final design went through a few iterations based on the user testing conducted. Since this feature is completely new it was recommended to Activision that they have a few sponsored players immediately have the role of mentor unlocked. Having players that are established in the community could bring the feature exposure.
CoD Connect Onboarding
To present this new feature in the existing app a pop-up would be displayed to notify users about CoD connect. The interaction of the pop-up would be navigated by sliding through it and at the end, users can select if they want to be Officers or Soldiers for themselves.
The matchmaking process was divided into sections rather than a stacked form. The intention was to make the process appear quicker to fill out rather than have it presented as a long scroll. Parts of the process would be auto-filled to make the process quicker, settings like playtimes and favorite game modes would be auto-filled based on data collected and can be modified if needed.
Mentor (Officer) Role
The design for the mentor side of the app has two instances, locked and unlocked. Before unlocking all six badges, the potential mentor is directed to a home screen where they can see the badges, along with their progress towards earning them. Once they are all unlocked, the modules would change, and they can view potential rewards they can earn. As well as who has requested them for mentoring.
Recruiter Profile + Oath
Once an Officer is requested, they will get a notification. They could look at the mentee's profile that lists stats and interests. The mentor has the option to choose whether to accept them or not. If they accept to mentor someone, they would then take an oath of commitment. The oath was implemented before accepting to mentor someone as a precaution, it is an extra step but could prevent accidentally accepting someone.
Overall we were happy to hear that people said they are interested in a mentorship program like this. And I believe this concept gets players engaged with the game and each other. I also thought that at its core, the way success would be measured for CoD Connect wouldn't be by its numbers, instead, the success is in the connections and the community this new feature would bring to long-time players and new players.
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