UI Design – Love at first sight

| Ten Square Games

A brave new, techy world challenges us every day. Let’s try to grasp a bit of it by talking to Paweł Paliński – a game dev specialist UI Designer. Our expert will touch on UI/UX and the necessary skills to become a successful UI game designer.
But before we start, a quick reminder of what UI/UX Design is. It’s good to think about UI and UX as a married couple in the digital industry. A loving couple. They can’t cope without each other. Yet, they’re two independent individuals representing different things. So, if we picture UI as a beautifully decorated house, UX will be a tool shed with all the equipment needed to make the house look great.

 

1. How did your career with UI/UX Design start? Do you design both?

My adventure with UI was pretty long and curved in a way 🙂 I focus on UI, but I believe there’s a reason why these two are usually connected. You need to remember that you can handle UX on your own, but not UI. My career focused mainly on Graphic Design. I created projects for marketing and game boxes. The closest thing to UI was designing internet services combined with the general help for the UI team. About 2 years ago in a company I used to work for, a new project appeared. It got a new team, and I managed to join it as a UI designer. It was the moment when my journey with UI became full-time.

 

2. Did you choose the game dev industry, or did it choose you? 😉

I’ve always looked for a job I’d enjoy (seems obvious). The direction I chose was targeted at ad agencies, where I worked for a while. It turned out it’s not a cool place. In the meantime, I made a mod/game based on Fallout with people from all over Poland. Unfortunately, the project didn’t work out, but what’s interesting is that I met some of these people in game dev. I met a friend who worked in the industry and applied to the company he worked in. I didn’t get the job. But I didn’t give up. As time passed, I was working as a bartender near this company, and I found out there’s another opening I could apply for. Everything went fast: CV, interview, employment contract — I got a job as a graphic designer in the marketing team. I was half-way in game dev. I used to help guys from the industry, but it was only from time to time. Then finally, a new project was created, and they needed people. I was offered a full-time job as a UI designer. So, to answer your question whether I chose the industry or did it choose me, I have to admit that I’ve been passing game dev for so long that it had to end up with me working there.

 

3. How would you describe working in the mobile industry, and how is it different from computer and console games?

a) Is mobile more sexy? 

Unfortunately, not yet. Mobile industry is still at a disadvantage. AAA productions are treated more seriously. They’re more attractive, especially if you care about a perfect CV, which I think is unfair.

b) Are our projects more interesting? I bet they’re not more boring 🙂

I don’t know if they’re more interesting. But I know that working in the mobile industry is. Generally comparing, AAA are kind of more complete, a whole world is created here unless you work in fighting games. On the other hand, working in the mobile industry is more dynamic . AAA productions take a long time to create. No one knows what it’ll look like at the end, and most concepts are thrown away. As a consequence, when the production is almost over, you need to forget about your private life, because you’re facing a dangerously short deadline for finishing the game. I believe mobile games are better throughout. Teams are smaller and therefore more reactive. Ultimately, working on AAA titles is boring, and if you don’t want to change your workplace, you’ll keep doing the same thing over and over again. In mobile, there is a huge diversity of projects and shorter production time.

 

4. What were your responsibilities in the previous company? How are they different from what you do now?

Contrary to what you may think, they’re not that different. There are stand-ups and coffee 🙂 There are no tasks with a status „let’s do something to throw it away”. So, if I close my eyes for a moment, I could have a problem with guessing where I am. Only laughter would suggest that it’s TSG. I thought earlier that people are extremely stressed.

 

5. What made you go from console to mobile? 

I mentioned before that I worked on a side-project. The core of the team was about 20 people. It was the best period in my work. My friend, who knew about that, told me it’s similar at TSG. After moving to the main project, where the amount of people in it was huge, there weren’t people doing stuff. There were teams. And they had their tasks, not always coincident. Work stopped being pleasant and enjoyable, everyone smiled less. All that was left in my head was that I could brag about this project in my CV. I thought it wasn’t the right track. I want to do cool stuff at work, in a relaxed atmosphere, not get stressed all the time.

Another thing is that I want to learn UI the best I can. I came to the conclusion that TSG is a better place to do that. In mobile, UI is often the element that influences players’ decision if they want to play the game or delete it. UI is also the first and sometimes the last thing that a player encounters, so it is extremely important for UI and UX to be the best. UI in AAA should mainly support the gameplay. I must add that it’s a huge generalisation and there are many examples of UI playing a leading role.

 

6. Were you afraid when you started working at TSG because we only work on mobile?

Of course, I was anxious. Mainly because of the fact that I changed my job after 12 years. I felt at home in my old job after so many years. It was sometimes better, sometimes worse, but still familiar. I didn’t have a problem with mobile-only projects. There is not much difference in UI between AAA and mobile. But the focus lies somewhere else. In AAA the focus is on the minigame, as it is called in mobile, but in AAA these elements of UI are called HUD. Here we focus on menus. It’s because of how games are built. In AAA a player wants to leave the menu to start the game, in mobile games, the menu is the game.

 

7. What are the challenges you had to face in mobile?

Color. So far, my projects had to be dark with one dominating bright color. Mobile is more colorful, and it has greater importance.

The other challenge is „thinking outside the box”. We have more diversified players here.  Designing things in an understandable and interesting way is not an easy thing for everyone.

 

8. How do you verify your work? You used to work on video games — what are the pros and cons of your current position?

The position and responsibilities are not that different here, as I’ve already mentioned. I’d focus more on how teams work and how they’re managed. I can see many advantages of this at TSG. It’s not about the industry, but more about people and their qualifications 🙂.

The team verifies my work. I make a few versions of one design and we discuss which one is best. I can check if my type was the one that was chosen by the rest.

 

9. What key abilities are necessary to become a Senior?

The most important — you have to use your initiative, but it probably is a requirement for all positions. In terms of details, every company has its requirements. Generally speaking, you need to gain experience and learn the tools, so that you can:

  • independently complete tasks, starting from finding and choosing the right references, up to completing and explaining which direction and implementation of a task will be the best 
  • propose and look for tasks and solutions that positively influence the project  
  • be a mentor and help for people with less experience and knowledge without neglecting your tasks

It’s good to know the product (read tons of documents created by game designers) so that projects meet expectations and minimise situations such as „that’s-not-what-I-meant” ones.

 

10. What tools do you usually use? 

Mainly it’s Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effect. The main project is created in Photoshop, vector elements in Illustrator (icons, logos, etc.), animations and effects in After Effects. Recently, I’ve started using XD, to which we transferred the whole project that will let us go through screens and have a better feeling of the final product before it’s coded. Sketch is very popular in the world of UI, mostly for designing UI in applications. In game dev, Photoshop and Illustrator are still the basics.

 

11. What exactly do you have to know to succeed as a UI/UX Designer?

You need to like what you do. You can’t succeed without that. Then all will be easy.  Design, keep up with the competition and try to improve your projects.

 

12. How can you develop as a Senior?

Work, work and work. Immerse in the project, learn it by heart. The more you know, the easier it gets to complete tasks.

 

We are happy to have you on board. It was ncie talking to you. Hope you will have adventurous and satisfying career in TSG.

Natalia Rybarczyk

TSG EB Team