CSR is a free-to-play drag-racing game published by NaturalMotion Games in October 2013 on IOS. The goal of this project was to complete an expert review of the usability and the first time player experience of the game. 6 issues were identified, and the recommendations were provided for game developers. Three levels: Urgent, Important, and Minor were used to indicate the problems and provide rough estimates. Three sections: Startup, Tutorial, and Task were analyzed. The method used here is from Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics Applied to Video Games.
Section 1: Startup
1. “TAP TO ZOOM” Barely Visible (Visibility of System Status):
When players first see the Car Garage screen, “TAP TO ZOOM” is very difficult to notice. Once players tap the screen, they can only rotate the screen instead of zooming it or tapping a specific part to have a closer look at the car.
The font color and size can be changed and make the fixed text to be more interactive and visible. Players should be able to zoom into the screen or even tap a specific component (e.g. hoods) to have a closer look.
2. Constant Screen Switch (User Control and Freedom):
The Car Dealer screen always rotates to the front gas station when players switch to a new model. This could possibly cause players’ frustration and tiredness when they are curious to check multiple brands and models since the screen switches every time.
The game should give players more control and freedom. When they tap a different car model, the screen can stay the same but the model changes. This would be easier for players to check and remember the difference between each model, especially when they want to check multiple ones.
3. Unclear Information About Car Parts (Visibility of System Status):
The Upgrade screen shows the image and text of each car component, but the capitalized text looks crowded, and the image is relatively small and hard for players to see and read.
Since this screen mainly focuses on demonstrating the upgrades, image and text of each upgrade should be larger and clearer. The background image can be blurred to highlight the image and text of each component so that players know what the component looks like and what it is for.
4. No Information About Other Stages (Recognition Rather Than Recall):
When players first see the Upgrade screen, they are only able to see the information of each component for ”STOCK” and “STAGE 1”. There is no information about other stages. Once players progress to a higher level the corresponding stage will be unlocked. This could actually mislead first-time players that there are no more stages for this game.
It’s important to keep players informed at the beginning, such as how many stages are there and why it is better than the previous stage. The higher stages certainly can be locked at first, but players should be able to see the information in advance.
Section 2: Tutorial
5. No Information About “SHIFT DOWN” (Recognition Rather Than Recall):
Once the tutorial starts, it tells players how to use the GAS PEDAL and “SHIFT UP”, but the information of “SHIFT DOWN” is not shown at that time. This could possibly lead players to ignore or never tap “SHIFT DOWN” since they do not know what it is for.
The information of “SHIFT DOWN” should also be shown initially rather than letting players explore on their own. Players should be kept informed at the beginning and understand what “SHIFT DOWN” does.
Section 3: Task
6. No Information About Meter (Recognition Rather Than Recall):
When players start to play the game, they have to keep tapping the gas pedal to make sure the light stays green. However, first-time players might be unsure about which numbers should be reached to get the dash light green on the meter. Whether it is the highest range (6-7), the lowest range (0-1), or the mid range (3-4), players are not informed and have to explore on their own.
The numbers or the range between each number on the meter should be highlighted to inform players how to get the green light when they tap the gas pedal.