I picked up a video master class from O’Reilly called Designing for Mobile First by LukeW to help me understand mobile constraints. The course is focused on good mobile websites or applications in general but the rules can be applied to games. My favorite thing about it is his focus on minimized design, focusing on reducing to critical content only and putting that content ahead of navigation. If you want a preview of the content check it out here.
I’m going to say up front that I enjoyed this presentation and thought that it was worth the time and cash investment.
Who is it for?
Personally I think everyone should have an interest in design aspects. The course is great for anyone new to mobile web design as it is a good overview of the practical issues and solutions available as of early 2011. If you are looking for technical specifics, implementation details or a step by step how to make your application work you should look elsewhere as this course really focuses on presenting a very design focused, implementation light presentation. I was up for that and therefore found the course rewarding from an analytical and a design point of view as it provides lots of data to backup the points made. It reminded me a little of the great book Don’t Make Me Think in that everything he said sounded a lot like common sense (the truest form of “good design”) but did I know it was common sense before I heard it? That is the best type of design discussion, one where you nod your head in agreement the entire time.
Key things I learned
The following are thoughts I had while watching the course, most of which are related to the topics but some of which might not have been Luke’s points and if I am wrong, blame me not him!
- Mobile web is probably bigger than desktop in terms of customer base or will be soon
- Unique features are available and accessible for web
- Designing for mobile first is probably easier than the other way around as it forces you to design simple things
- Design around maximizing content and have navigation as the secondary thing
- Support full client experience including input on the device, old rules do not apply of it being limited/hard
- People use the website frequently even if there is a native app, so don’t mess that up!
- Small options or difficulties can have a huge impact on usage
- Mobile browsers are arguably more compatible with each other than PC’s history. HTML5 and CSS3 are fairly safe to assume.
What was missing?
I wish that there were more references or links to implementation details for the content. I’m fairly new to web development in general and some fast pointers or tips for people who don’t have “web legacy” would be great.
What does this change for IGAMEMAKER.COM?
I’m wondering if I should focus on some HTML5 based games in order to maximize exposure of my games. No app store, no platform limits and due to time constraints the games that I can make are fairly limited in feature set anyway. With both Unity and Unreal outputting to flash, how long is it before people are authoring to WebGL and canvas for games? Perhaps that is the best place to start. Build an audience and then make unique clients if the games are popular. I might look at doing an online version of my Tic Tac Toe game and perhaps a mobile version of my site.
I am thinking of a turn based Tic Tac Toe game as a “Hello World” application and how I could do it with a minimal amount of work. For example getting rid of AI completely and only letting you play friends and keeping it super clean.