Curse - UI Exercise

The Challenge

Rethink or create a friends list for a game of your choice.

Game Chosen

Heroes of the Storm by Blizzard Entertainment.

Context

While there is a friends list and channel for chatting in the game, it is only limited to the main menu sections of the game. Once a match starts, there is no access to the friends list and no chatting  (other than with the people currently in the game with you).

Why?

The lack of chat within a match severely limits the social aspect of the game. Friends list, especially in an on-line game, is an expected feature. Removing it for one specific section of the game (and it is a section where most people spend their time), hinders their ability to socialize with their team mates or friends outside the match.

There has been requests on the official forums from players that want access to their friends list while inside the game.

Possible Design Reasons

  • Blizzard want players to focus on the match and without the distraction of chatting.
  • It’s built on the SC2 engine which didn’t have a an in-game friends list as well (it was added much later).


Proposal

Moving forward with the design of a friends list within a match, we must respect that Blizzard may have wanted to keep the distractions down and the players focused on the match (no outside chatting). So it’s important to keep the social features of a friends list to a minimal, so it doesn’t become a distraction for the players. Thus the proposed solution must be guided by the following:

  • Design a friends list that can be accessed within a match. Must not be awkward of cluttered, affecting the experience of playing the match
  • Must keep in mind of why Blizzard may not have included a friends list. Keep the new design simple and limited in features
  • The location must be an area that doesn’t cover up over other important UI such as map or abilities
  • Research feedback from personal experiences from playing and user comments on the official forums


Solution: Location

I have outlined on the image on the left the area where the Friends icon and list is more suitable. Made sure it doesn’t cover up other UI features and out of the way. It is aligned to the right to be consistent with the Friends window found in the lobby.

Solution: Icon

The Friends/Social icon is mocked up here in high fidelity (top right of the mock-up).  

The style has been kept faithful to the other icons and buttons found on the user interface. (The Curse logo is used here to show this is a Curse UI challenge. It can be replaced with a more traditional social/friend icon)

The number located on the left bottom is the number of notifications (such as messages). The number on the right bottom is to indicate number of on-line friends. 

One variation of this would also be the absence/removal of the notification indicator - to keep it in line with ‘less distractions for the player’ philosophy.

Solution: Friends List

Once a user clicks on the icon, the friends list will pop up. Any action/clicks outside the friends menu will close the friends list. This lets the users to quickly focus back in the game if they need to.

The features/functions of the friends list is very limited compare to the friends list outside of the match - this is to keep it simple and minimizing the distractions offered by the friends list (such as viewing profile of friends).

Solution: Breaking It Down

Friends Icon - where user clicks on to access their friends list. 

Friends List - accessed by clicking the icon (1) or pressing a determined hokey. The top left is the status of the player. User can set it to Free (green) or Busy (red). Busy means it will not relay any private messages or show notifications. Messages are displayed once the player leaves the match (again, to cut down distraction)

Team Mates - this is a feature requested by users - a way to quickly add team mates (if grouped randomly) to their friends list. There are only 2 functions here - ‘Add Friend’ and ‘Mute/Unmute’ (keep it minimal in features)

Friends Online - the list of your friends. Easily glance their status and what they’re playing. One function here - to send them a private message (or whisper). 

By implementing these limited features, yet allowing the players to communicate with their friends outside the match, it greatly enhances the on-line experience of the game. The minimal features also stay true to (hypothesized) Blizzard’s intention of keeping the distractions down.