Hi!, I’m Veronica, the lead designer for Nix Hydra’s “Sticker Quest: a Daily Adventure” - a charming choose-your-own-adventure game that rewards the player with a sticker for each day they play! If they play every day of the week, they are rewarded with a bonus sticker. Additionally, players have the opportunity to revisit the choices they didn’t make on the adventure, as well as buy some exclusive content via our store.
Sticker Quest was designed specifically for iMessage: Apple’s new platform which incorporates stickers and/or games within their Messages application.
While we were quite excited to be designing for a brand new platform, we knew that there were a few challenges we needed to solve/overcome in order to be successful:
At the time, iMessage was not available to iPhone users, therefore, there were no comparable products on the market that could project the success of iMessage, both in terms of revenue and its popularity.
Our game needed to make sense within a messaging framework - meaning people will be interacting with our game when they are texting their friends, not in a stand alone game.
We had a development cycle of six weeks in which to design, develop, and release Sticker Quest. In the grand scheme of game development, that’s not a ton of time.
Business and Design Risks
Using company resources to launch a new game onto a new, unreleased platform is a big decision. If the platform is successful, your game and company has the potential to be seen as trailblazers. If it’s not successful, and your company has spent money and time on the game, then you might not make back your investment. This, and the fact that we didn’t have any comparable games to study, meant we needed to design the smallest, most rewarding experience possible and in the shortest amount of time.
I want to give you a little bit of background information about my job as a designer. Our main objective, is to put ourselves in the place of our players. Who are they, what kind of gameplay is interesting to them, and what are the conditions in which they will be engaging with our software?
In the case of “Sticker Quest: a Daily Adventure,” our target audience was young women from 16-35. We envisioned our players using Sticker Quest as a five minute experience each day, most likely when they sat down after work to text the people they care about. In essence, the projected use case for our player would be:
Open Messages → Play a round of Sticker Quest → Send that reward sticker to your friend.
The intention here was to not only provide a streamlined experience for them, but hoped that the receiver of the sticker would then play Sticker Quest as well.
As I mentioned above, the context of our game was crucial. Looking at the App Store, you can see the thousands upon thousands of stand alone games available to gamers right now. Ours needed to make sense with texting or our players would simply forget about our game. We feel like we have accomplished this goal.
“Sticker Quest: a Daily Adventure” is simple and fairly easy to navigate. I say fairly easy because we designed some UI that was more user-friendly, but it ultimately didn’t make it into the game due to time constraints. This is a result of our team not accounting for the time it would take to familiarize ourselves with coding and creating assets for iMessage. We “lost” about 2 weeks in that regard.
Screen space was another limitation. How do you make all your features work within one window? We wanted the player to be able to select their daily adventure, go on the adventure, make a choice, get a reward, find their reward in inventory, and then be able to send it to their friends. Additionally, we wanted to implement In-App Purchases. That’s a fairly tall order when you essentially have two modes available to you: Collapsed Sticker Drawer and Expanded View. By implementing a tab system, the players are able to organize their stickers into Daily Adventures, All my Stickers, and the Store. This reserved the Expanded mode for the text adventure, which is where our game shines.
Our text adventures are told from the viewpoint of The Traveler; a cute little being who goes to various lands meeting new characters. The player makes choices for the traveler and gets a sticker fictionally wrapped around that choice.
On average, it takes one week per adventure between our writer and our artist. We chose text as the main way to navigate our adventures for several reasons:
Telling a story with art and animation would take much longer
We believe our target audience enjoys reading
The text is easily skippable if our players solely want to accumulate stickers
We offer In-App purchases where the player can flat out buy stickers and skip the adventure.
I’m really proud of our team for what we were able to accomplish in a short time. The game is charming, colorful, and magical! “Sticker Quest: a Daily Adventure” is currently featured in the app store and is rated on average 4.5 stars! More importantly, the incredible comments from our players and the pride I see on my team’s faces have made this effort so worthwhile.