As the Lead UX Designer for VREAL, I get to work on the interesting problem of making usable user interfaces that take advantage of going beyond a 2D screen. To do that, I have a variety of techniques I like to use.
I begin my UX design work by researching the problem. Have others attempted to solve this? What has the team tried? What learnings came out of it?
Sketching helps me work out rough ideas, interaction and UI flows, and thumbnail layouts. Everything at this stage is rough and any idea, even the bad ones, is worth getting out on paper to shine a light on. From these sketches, some potentially workable ideas will emerge.
After sketching, I collect the ideas that seem usable and then begin a prototyping phase in order to test assumptions. The level of the prototype's fidelity is dependent on many factors; I may choose to quickly prototype on paper in order to vet out simple ideas without spending lots of time building something prettier that may not work. Or I may create a higher-fidelity prototype with mockups and wireframes that more closely resembles the finished product if the feedback needed requires it.
Once a paper prototype has borne out some good ideas via testing, I flesh out a higher fidelity animation demo or storyboard, and begin helping the engineers implement working UI.
Good user experience design is hard, and no one solves challenging problems correctly the first time. My design process is iterative -- try out ideas quickly and cheaply on paper or in simple prototypes with whatever users are available and modify accordingly until everything feels right.
Because design is iterative, I'm willing to throw away any idea that doesn't work. I view my work as following the 80/20 rule: about 80% of my work output is designed to be thrown away, and 20% will turn out to be good design.
Design cannot occur in a vacuum. User experience design is a team effort, and often my role becomes that of a facilitator that helps the team, not me, arrive at the best user experience for the features they're trying to build.
I've worked on the user interface for several projects in over a decade of game industry experience, with work spanning PC, console, and mobile devices.
For some projects, I was responsible not only for the UI flow and layout, but for the aesthetic graphic design and even the scripted functionality. For other projects, I whiteboxed the UI and focused on building and testing layouts and flows that worked, and then worked with an artist to craft the final aesthetic design of the UI.
While at Z2, a mobile Free-to-play game developer, I worked on creating the user experience for multiplayer co-op on an iPhone/iPad game. I used a rigorous paper prototyping method that helped work out complex issues and allowed me to communicate the desired user experience effectively to team members across different disciplines.