HIGHLIGHTS
GAMETRIX

Sims Online is an extension of the beloved best simulation game, where Simmers can play online with their friends and people across the globe!

TEST PROTOTYPE

Sims Online is an extension of the beloved best simulation game, where Simmers can play online with their friends and people across the globe for the first time ever!

It is a metric system that drives revenue for all game publishers by showcasing a better understanding of how their games perform amongst their target market, on social streaming platforms, with content creators, and in different communities with the power of analytics and insights.
TIMELINE

80 hours

ROLE

Sole UX/UI Designer

TOOLS USED

Figma, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

INDUSTRY

Gaming Industry

HIGHLIGHTS
GAMETRIX

This long long-awaited extension finally equips Simmers with multiplayer and online capabilities bringing the game to the next level.

Sims Online - Sims Online - Sims Online - Sims Online - Sims Online -
THE PROBLEM OPPORTUNITY
The inspiration

As a loyal Simmer, I've felt there's been a missing puzzle piece to an almost perfect game for over a decade...

I've always loved creating my world, families, and adventures for my Sims households. But I would love to experience doing all of that with my friends too.

Then it hit me. I now have the skill and love for UX/UI design. Why not just make it myself?

So I closed the EA app. said my loudest Sul Sul, and opened up Google Chrome to start my journey on how to make this possible.

PRODUCT ROADMAPPING – SHOW ME THE NUMBERS
Real-world example of product demand

With over 70 million players worldwide. The Sims 4 is the most widely played game in the 23-year history of the franchise.

The gaming industry is at the top of its game right now, and in turn, an online capability is probably the most sought-after feature for video games since the upgrade from only LAN, to being able to connect your game directly to your private Wi-Fi.

The Sims introduced online in 2002 and unfortunately, it shut down due to a lack of sales. But that was before the gaming industry was what it is now. Of 3.03 billion global gamers, 2.82 billion game online. Since making the game free in October 2022, there have been 16 million new players a 53% increase.

With multiplayer/online for the Sims being in high demand, the modding community has created a successful online cross-platform mod garnering millions of views on YouTube.

The opportunity to extend a product that serves a community I'm proudly a part of presented itself and I took it on. With my over 500+ hours of playtime knowledge of what is needed and my love for the Sims in mind, the research began.

As of 2019, The Sims 4's lifetime revenue surpassed...

PRODUCT ROADMAPPING — THE DESIRES
Research for guaranteed success

The research goals were:

  1. Determine the specific features or improvements players desire in The Sims, as well as their pain points. These pieces of key information will be taken into consideration to enhance their gameplay experience in the online feature.
  2. Explore how often players engage with the game, around what time of the year they engage with the game and their habits when playing. This data will determine what measures we will take when creating and how we will market our online feature.
  3. Measure the emotional connection players have with the game, and their motivations for playing and identify key moments in the game that resonate with them and that they enjoy.
CONDUCTING RESEARCH — THE HAVES & THE HAVE NOTS
Marketing analysis

The research investigates what makes or breaks online or multiplayer games, what makes them successful, and what can be worked on.

Market research was carried out on the Sims 4's direct competitors to optimize the user experience for the added-on feature.

Direct competitors

Roblox, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Minecraft were the top direct competitors.

These competitors are online games that provide the ability to play on both private and public lobbies/servers. They were analysed in two different metric categories:
  • Story-telling aspect
  • Online capabilities

Indirect competitors

Social Blade and Google Analytics were the top indirect competitors.

Social Blade is an online platform that provides analytics and statistics for various social media platforms and content creators.

Google Analytics is a web analytics service provided by Google that helps website owners and marketers track, measure, and analyse various aspects of website and app performance.

These competitors are sole metric-analysing platforms, and they were analysed in four different metric categories:

• Pricing and plans
• Revenue
• Social media metrics
° Overall growth/game development
What were their strengths, and which ones were implemented into Sims Online?

Direct competitors:

  • Roblox is free to play and has brought in $2.62 billion in just 2023. Their target market is children and teenagers with mostly people 9-18 playing their game. Roblox displays great reasoning for using their platform, such as their safety features like chat restrictions, cross-platform play and user-generated servers with the ability to create user custom content.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons requires a Nintendo Online plan to play and grossed an estimated $2 billion in its first year as of March 2021. It has some of the most soothing music and calming gaming experience in a video game. Also, a community that can create custom content/trade items. It has an open world to a certain extent, if you want to play with your friends and visit them you have to play a sequence that takes you to them.
  • Minecraft has various pricing plans and generated $380 million in 2021. It has a loyal community with the first version being released in 2011 with 140 million monthly active players.

Some strengths seen from competitors that were implemented were:

  • Allowing friends to invite you to a private server.
  • Access to the community's custom content.
  • Safety practices are set for the chatting feature.
What were competitors' weaknesses, and what was learned from them?

Direct competitors:

  • Due to Roblox's massive library of user-generated servers, the quality of games and experiences can be poorly designed or contain bugs. Success is heavily dependent on its user community, and any significant changes or disruptions in the community can impact the platform.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons doesn't have cross-platform play, limiting its player base. The real-time clock and calendar can be a double-edged sword. While it adds realism and immersion, it can also lead to periods of waiting for certain in-game events or activities.
  • While the blocky, pixelated graphics are part of Minecraft's charm, they may not appeal to gamers looking for realistic visuals or high-end graphics. Some users download modified content for the Java version, but not everyone is comfortable enough to do that. No in-game tutorials don't provide explicit objectives or goals, so players often rely on online guides and community resources to learn advanced crafting techniques.

Some weaknesses seen in competitors that were avoided were:

  • Not having cross-play.
What were the key takeaways from the marketing analysis?

Direct competitors:

  • Roblox puts a lot of emphasis on their user-generated content, making sure their users know they have the option to customize their experience. Sims Online will make sure there is a focus on 'the gallery' feature as that's where users can share their user-generated content. Putting emphasis on and expanding on the gallery is something Sims Online will do
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons keeps familiarity in its game's storyline you know what to expect depending on the time you're playing. The Sims Online will make updates with the number one priority that the updates do not break or affect the packs.
  • Minecraft Steamworks' submission and review system for game publishers to finally publish their games is a long process. This is something that can be simplified and improved in Gametrix.
APPLYING RESEARCH — THE ESSENTIALS
Market research-inspired added features

Based on research from the market analysis, these were the features that would bring the best user experience.

Advanced Chatting

Make chatting with your friends and fellow Simmers not only fun but safe too. You can filter out words and limit your chat visibility to friends, friends of friends, or everybody.

Friend Invites

Invite your friends easily from your Sims profile!

Private Servers

Create your own world build your house, park, bar, or whatever you like solo or with your friends in a private server for a world of fun!

New Gallery

Over are the days of searching online for custom content with 80,000+ added already, constant uploads are made to the gallery daily making your game even more exciting!

CONDUCTING RESEARCH — THE "FUN"
User interviews

A series of in-depth interviews were then conducted to further identify pain points, frustrations, needs, and desires for Sims Online and to determine exactly what Simmers would like to see out of the added feature.

To understand, I interviewed users who:

  • People who have been playing the Sims for over 5 years.
  • People who recently started playing The Sims.
  • People who play any online or multiplayer games, with knowledge of said game's online capability features they like or dislike.
I interviewed 15 lovers of The Sims franchise, with ages ranging from 17 to 45.

Here's what they had to say...
— Custom content creator with over 5000 hours of playtime
I would like to see more collaborations with CC designers and modders, they pay attention to what the players actually want.
— Simmer with over 2500 hours of playtime
A feature that lets you share your mods with others for online would be awesome!
— Newer Simmer
I feel so inspired every time we get a new pack or major update, that's what motivates me and makes me want to play again.

GAMEPLAY

91% of users enjoy decorating, CAS customization, and world-building, as opposed to actual playthrough gameplay. They expressed concerns about the lack of detail in gameplay compared to previous Sims games.

WORLD LOTS

77% of users mentioned the lack of lots and space in worlds when asked what improvements they want to see in the future of the game.

REALISM

100% of users mentioned the limitations of how realistic The Sims has become in comparison to past Sims games. This results in a lot of Simmers resorting past Sims games and takes attention off the current game. For example, players resort to The Sims 3 to be able to travel in a car or to experience the open world again.

HOUSEHOLDS

60% of users were frustrated with the maximum number of 8 slots for households. Especially in recent years, there have been a lot of social media challenges involving The Sims that require players to have large households to complete.

Dashboard mockup
100% of users would be willing to test Sims Online.
GATHERING INSIGHTS — PUTTING OUR USERS SHOES ON
POV & HMW Statements

After gathering insights about Sims Online users' characteristics, goals, needs, and pain points directly from the source, their needs were refined into point-of-view reflections and "how might we" questions to better understand how to solve them.

POV Statement

As a player who seeks emotional depth in the game, I want a feature that allows my Sims to experience a wider range of emotions and reactions.

How might we expand the emotional depth of Sims in the game and relatable character interactions?

Answer: Sims can sync whims with other Sims they speak to for better connected gameplay and relationships. For example, if they have a negative relationship with a Sim, they can have a mischief-pranking war.

POV Statement

As a competitive player, I want a feature online that introduces challenging gameplay so that I can complete achievements.

How might we introduce competitive gameplay elements online without compromising the creative nature of the game?

Answer: For expansion packs with recreational activities like City Living, Outdoor Retreat, Island Living, Get Together, and Snowy Escape, there will be new activities that players can create lobbies for!

POV Statement

I enjoy playing with mods and custom content, I want a feature that upgrades both.

How might we ensure that online satisfies the large mods and custom content communities and enhances their gameplay experience?

Answer: There will be a feature for players to seamlessly integrate both mods and custom content directly into the game, with a download process similar to The Sims Resource.

RESEARCH SYNTHESIS — THE BIRTH OF OUR USERS
User personas

Two main user personas emerged out of the research and interviews that would best benefit from using Sims Online.

THE CONSTANT, AKA "THE GRIM REAPER"
Characteristics
  • Loyal, you can always expect them to return to the game after breaks
  • Prideful, dedicated Simmers pride themselves on knowing things like cheats, NPC's backstories owning all expansion packs and unlocking secret worlds
  • Has usually been playing the franchise for a long time
Goals
  • Building legacy households and sustaining a family line through multiple generations
  • Improving storytelling skills and overall Sims knowledge
Needs
  • Updates to the game that are drastic and make a significant change to the game
  • Consistent new expansion packs and updates
  • A more efficient way to download mods and custom content
  • Recognition of their dedication to the game
  • More CAS items in expansion packs for Simmer who don't use custom content
Pain Points
  • Sometimes game updates break their mods or custom content
  • Feeling of repetitiveness for Simmers who have been playing The Sims for a long time. There's limited opportunity to do something for the first time or get a sense of newness with the game being almost a decade old now
THE CASUAL, AKA THE "DON LOTHARIO"
Characteristics
  • Noncommittal, plays The Sims periodically, takes long breaks, then repeats
  • Usually, a gamer that enjoys other genres of games not just simulation games
  • May have started playing after Electronic Arts made The Sims 4 free
Goals
  • Completing sims' careers, education, relationships expansion packs, aspirations, and whims to see the different things that can happen as they would be new to them
  • Having tunnel vision for what specific things they want to learn. When you're unfamiliar with all of The Sims' features it's easy to get overwhelmed and not be able to focus on just one thing
  • Collecting all the expansion, game and stuff packs to enhance gameplay
  • Experimenting with the different types of Sims like occult sims
Needs
  • Sense of community, whether it be for advice or wanting to feel a part of the large Simmer community
  • Tutorials for certain things they are unfamiliar with, for example, downloading mods and/or custom content
  • Technical support, when you're a newer Simmer things like glitches, and bugs are difficult to maneuver back to normal
Pain Points
  • Lack of direction, sometimes the tips and welcome wagon aren't enough to teach these Simmers enough to feel comfortable playing the game without help
  • Keeping up with changes in updates after breaks
gaming influencers & content creators
Characteristics
  • Passionate about their chosen gaming niches
  • Adaptable and flexible in staying up-to-date with trends, algorithms, and features
Goals
  • Discovering and playing popular games to create content that will grow channel(s) and their brand
  • Growing a community of consistent and growing viewer
Needs
  • In-depth information on trending games to create content with
  • Targeted efficient marketing strategies of their content to reflect good engagement, stable viewership, and earn partnerships with gaming companies for sponsorship deals
  • Direct access and communication with their supporters to ensure their communities' wants are being met
Pain Points
  • Time management with creating content, even where they are unmotivated and their content KPIs aren't where they want them to be
  • Lack of direct network opportunities with gaming companies for deals or sponsorships unless they are contacted first
  • Limited means and connections for handling the legal concerns associated with streaming and producing content using brands' licensed intellectual property
IDEATION — THE DRAWING BOARD
Task flows

Now that Sims Online has its target users, I drafted up how they would use our platform.

This is the task flow created for Sims Online's prototyping process. It is from the POV of Simmer using online to invite and play with a friend!

IDEATION — THE DRAWING BOARD
Sitemap

This is the sitemap created for Gametrix's prototyping process.

INTERACTION DESIGN — THE ROUGH DRAFT
Low-fidelity wireframes

These are the low-fidelity wireframes created from the task flow.

INTERACTION DESIGN — THE GLITZ AND GLAMMER
UI kit

The goal of the Sims Online design system was to design exact replicas of the Sims icons, iconography, reusable components, and the beautiful blue and green colour theme featuring the beloved Sims typography.

Logo
Iconography
Colour palette
Typography
PROTOTYPE TESTING — THE "LET'S PLAY" 
Usability testing

Gathering insights I got users to test the high-fidelity prototypes to receive feedback.

After feedback from Sims Online users, the following information was gathered.

5/5 of users felt the familiarity of the main menu and had no trouble with getting online.

THE ORIGINAL SIMS MAIN MENU

The original Sims main menu.

SIMS ONLINE MAIN MENU

The same main menu with the addition of the online button.

5/5 of users felt the familiarity of this page and had no trouble navigating the friend invitation task.

THE ORIGINAL SIMS PROFILE PAGE

This is the influencer search page before iterations.

SIMS ONLINE PROFILE PAGE

Added the option to invite your friends from the profile page before loading into the game.

THE FINALE
Highlights

These are key features for Sims Online.

THE PLAYTHROUGH & THE END CREDITS
Reflections & next steps

As I completed Sims Online, these are the things I've learned.

KEY SUMMARY

To summarize, this project was very special as I got to practice what originally sparked my love and interest for UI/UX, which was learning how to design a UI game interface and most importantly creating a great user experience for previous lovers of the game.

This process was very challenging as I recreated the whole Sims game in Figma but it allowed me to perfect my designing skills in Figma even further. I recreated The Sims 4 everything the same as the original game, down to the little logos. It was very time-consuming but I had so much fun doing this as it was a game I love.

I spoke with other real Simmers and was able to provide them with the option to expand their game with online they were beyond impressed with it and this was an overall success which I'm proud of.

01

INDUSTRY COMPLEXITIES

In an industry as complex as gaming, a lot of success relies heavily on community interaction and personalized experiences. Gamers are very noble and will take your product into their community and expand it organically if they like it. Because of such complexities, user research was extremely highlighted.

The next steps, with the limited time for this project, would've been a lot more user interviews with more diverse age groups, widening the lens of the community.

02

NEXT DESIGN

The flow that was designed focused more on showing users how to operate the new multiplayer and online functions. The next design process would focus on displaying the updates done with the gallery feature in the game. I would have loved to explore what changes I would make to the gallery. For example, I would add the power to get user-created mods and custom content straight from the gallery. I would have loved to design this if given more time on this project.

Test Sims Online prototype
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