KIXEYE's Backyard Monsters: Unleashed
Role: UI/UX Designer
Time: 1 Year (2013 - 2014)
Backyard Monsters: Unleashed (BYMU) was a tower defense game on iOS. The game used KIXEYE IP from their early flash game, Backyard Monsters. In the game, players would build up their yards to defend from other players. Plays could join Tribes and fight together.
I was brought on as a hybrid UI/UX designer. I created UI, icons, and new feature designs. I worked closely with Product and Game Design. I also implemented UI into XCode.
•Match new UI to current style
•Create UX for new features
•Work with design to create the best user experience possible
•Work with product to understand feature goals
•Work with engineering to implement UI
• KIXEYE’s first foray into the mobile space.
• Expand on KIXEYE’s IP for Backyard Monsters
• Casual to mid-core gamers
• People that had played the original Backyard Monsters.
Before I joined the team all UI and UX was created from a contractor. I had to take over his style and expand on it.
I would begin with very bare bones wires. I found, that the less detail in the early wires, the less people get distracted by the visuals.
Keeping the wires simple before moving onto the UI was equally as important for me, as it was for stakeholders. By removing visual intricacy, I could focus on the user interactions and flow much more easily.
I would add my wires to a UX Doc and present it to stakeholder. Once the wires gained approval, I would begin creation of the UI as needed.
Creating UI and Iteration
After we all agreed on the UX direction, I would begin work on the UI mock ups. When the UI was getting built, we would sometimes have to backtrack to the wires due to Game Design pivoting, or readjustment to the feature. We had a fairly small team and we iterated often. It was a great environment for experimentation and trial.
Sometimes game design would have a really complex idea that wouldn’t pan out once fitted with our already busy style.
While on the team, I was responsible for all asset creation. This included icons of various sizes. Icon creation let me stretch my stylistic drawing skills. I also had to make sure the icons read at size on mobile.
The art style sat somewhere between cartoony, edgy, and cutesy. The original Backyard Monsters was a hodge-podge and lacked in visual consistency. During my time on the project I worked hard to slowly move the art style towards a consistent direction. I leaned into the edgy cartoonish vibe and began to explore a more vibrant style. Sources of inspiration included early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 90’s toys, and metals.
The assets I inherited in the game were also very size intensive. I began to drop those out in favor of smaller assets that could be patterned, or 9-sliced.
Project Take Aways
BYMU was the first game that I worked on. I learned to ask the right questions back to game design or product. It’s always important to know why the stakeholder/designers are making the decision they’re making. User experience needs to meld product interest and user needs.