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Ashi Game Design

Design notes for a tranquil puzzle game

User Experience Design (UX)

The UX design was a very iterative process, involving a lot of playtesting to try and find the most intuitive interactions for players. The main goal for the UX design in Ashi was to be as minimal and subtle as possible, to encourage a sublime, meditative experience that focuses the player on puzzle solving.

Ashi UX Image 1

Ashi title screen

Ashi UX Image 2

Ashi main game UI

Ashi is available on PC, Mac and mobile (iOS & Android), but I designed it for mobile first. The buttons are large and minimal, allowing the 3D game to shine through and be the primary focus.

Ashi UX Image 3

Ashi puzzle complete screen

Ashi UX Image 4

Ashi level select screen

Puzzle Design

I wanted to design an experience to create a stress-free atmosphere, encouraging calm problem solving & experimentation for the player. I eliminated time-based gameplay and reduced player punishment as much as possible.

Self-teaching was a large priority for me in this game, as I wanted to emphasise the feeling of discovery and self-satisfaction. I avoided adding word-based tutorials as much as possible, instead designing puzzles that increase in difficulty at a slow pace and implicitly teaching puzzle concepts as you play.

I started designing puzzles on paper, attempting to teach mechanics with a collection of puzzles. As a rough guide, each puzzle would introduce a mechanic or idea, develop it, add a twist and present a final conclusion puzzle.

Ashi Paper Design 1

The first few puzzles teach core puzzle mechanics

Ashi Paper Design 2

Teaching 270deg turns and lanterns that can't be changed

Learning through play can create emotional experiences, and allows learning at a custom pace.

  • Everyone learns differently
  • Important not to rush players, spoon feed or move too slow.
  • Allowing players to explore and experiment gives them a freedom.
  • Their journey of learning is unique to them, everyone learns differently.

Ashi Paper Design 3

Teaching 'priority' - if the agent passes between 2 lanterns, which does it orbit around?

Ashi Paper Design 4

Initial design of the polarity mechanic, initially they were buttons