A business continuity plan exercise tool
Project Phoenix is a gamified tool created for the Carnegie Mellon Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Services. Our point of contact was Melanie Lucht. Here is a link to the project website: https://www.etc.cmu.edu/projects/phoenix/
Our client came to us with the hopes of having us create a video game that would somehow replace the existing training exercise she had. What we were tasked with was converting the existing exercise into a digital experience.
The Environment and UI
The fundamental need for this project was that it had to be able to replace an existing analog (paper) exercise, which, although our client was not completely happy with, her target audience was.
This was challenging design-wise as my team and I did not quite know what problem we were trying to solve. So after a lot of research, interviews and running through the exercise ourselves, we discovered that the main problems we thought she could use solving were data capturing, and full audience participation.
After pitching several ideas, our client seemed happy with a Dungeons and Dragons style game. It was to be turn-based with the guests (players) sharing a single large screen and passing a keyboard and mouse around, which served as the input devices for the game.
Visually, I first thought it may serve us well to have multiple environments to for the guests to be present in, although they would have to be quite generic, as I was the only artist and had to design and iterate the user interface as well
In the first iteration of the game's design, there were supposed to be collectible items that the player could use to affect the gameplay. This prompted me to decide the world would be viewed with an isometric camera. By doing this, we could get away with simpler models and have humanoid characters in the scene with very simple animations.
The main interactions that were a necessary, according to our research, were relocating and communicating (or Go Somewhere, Call Someone). The collecting action was put in to make it feel more like a game.
This also affected the decisions I made in designing the interface. The player was to have an inventory, represented by the backpack. Also, since communicating was important, I felt that giving them a cellphone with a simple, stripped down interface - like in games like GTA V or Sleeping Dogs - I could give the
However, playtests showed that our target audience did not like the item collection, as it detracted from the seriousness they wanted in the game.
So because they wanted a more serious game, I realized I was going to have to go with more realistic models for my environment props.
The UI went through multiple passes. I received a lot of feedback on what additional control Users wanted and how they wanted to use the controls. After a lot of iteration, the most of the functionality that had initially been put on the in-game phone had to placed outside of it. While this caused clutter, the users appreciated the ease of use.
After figuring out where all the icons would be, my team realized that the style of my iconography didn't quite feel right in the experience, so during the last two weeks of the project, I redesigned the icons for the UI. Below is what the final design tuned out to be.