Ever since the beginning of Playstudios TLV, the studio was dreaming about having a place for the players of POP! to earn, try and wear new clothes for their avatars. The main goal of this meta-feature was to give our players the opportunity to fulfill their desire for new outfits and to have the ability to express themselves.
My role was to characterize the new cosmetic meta-feature, as well as designing and leading the creative aspects of it. That includes working together with our 2D and 3D animator, concept artists and 3D artists.
Creating these kinds of cosmetic features was unprecedented in the slots industry and so I embarked on a journey to understand similar concepts behind existing ideas in other genres and tried to characterize and contain them within our game.
When I was assigned to this project, I came to realize that there are many complexities, therefore, initial attempts to figure out what it will contain and even sketches for its user experience was done.
So, after convening the research, the next thing I did was to take a few steps back and re-collect only the content which is relevant to the product. This included the items of the costumes themselves (including their rarity), the player's avatar, and back/save buttons. Beyond that, it was important to maintain certain locations that would allow future features to be added to the screen, including additional tabs and various options for events and monetization tools.
The lobby and main features in the game POP! Slots consist of a horizontal scroll, so naturally, this was implemented in the new feature as well. In addition, this gave us the option to use the top and bottom of the screen for the benefit of future elements. Using floating and slant UI in a 3D and physical environment was somewhat an odd approach but was positively received from my colleges and also later on embedded
in other regions of the game. In contrast, the stage on which the avatar stands remained as a physical object and supported the connection to where the scene takes place. The selected outfit’s name appears on the stage. In order to avoid unnecessary repetitiveness and cognitive overload, only the selected outfit will be accompanied by its rarity title.
It can be clearly identified in a lot of other games, that the differences in rarities are reflected in the use of different colors. In addition, one can notice a very strict color scheme in most popular games with rarity mechanics. After testing a number of colored palettes depending on the different games and colors in POP! Slots, I have decided to lean on the industry-leading scheme, due to the understanding that players will be more familiar with it. In addition to the different colors, other elements have been set to accompany the different rarities - the rarer the outfit, the more
aggressive and complex the effects that accompany it, along with more complex music. Moreover, I have defined clear guidelines regarding the number of objects, their complexity, and the way they appear in the outfits’ concepts according to their rarity. For example, rarer outfits will have larger elements on the head of the avatar. This is due to the fact that the large head of the avatar is the most prominent component seen in the casino environment where our players wander and show off their outfits.
One of the main decisions we took as a team in characterizing this feature was that the Backstage would be a pleasant place for the players, one where they enter and take a look at the objects they had collected along the way. Thus, for example, we decided not to display “locked” outfits and promotions between these components. The Backstage is, in a way, a kind of trophy room for the player and can be entered directly from the main lobby of the game.
I have tried many different approaches for an icon that will identify this feature while maintaining simplicity. Following my research, the vast majority of similar features in different games came down to presenting a detailed item of clothing at one level or another or an icon of a hanger. When I examined these options with our product, I came to the conclusion that the familiar icons do not meet our intention for a feature that is meant to be iconic, and in the future will contain additional content beyond just outfits. While searching for a different direction, I came up with an idea that contains a reference to the behind-the-scenes door of film actors. This is what gave birth to the idea of the star that appears on these doors and now symbolizes the player's avatar, the star of everyone's personal story. When placed above a stage that has become iconic among our app and specifically in our avatar contexts, this icon couldn't be missed.
After creating a sketch for the FTUE (First-Time User Experience) of the Backstage, we realized that it was a troublesome experience. The feature has managed to reach a state that is so clean and simple, that it is unnecessary to force the player to go through an entire flow that explains how to do these very simple actions. We have added a short sentence that accompanies the feature below the outfits and small arrows around the avatar that suggest that the three-dimensional figure can be touched and rotated on the stage.
Take a look at the release video of the Backstage:
The Backstage is a meta-feature that gives players access to the personal cosmetic content of their avatar in the game. This feature is the basis for a lot of other features and events, but it is not a source of monetization per se, as it contains the content that our players have collected over their time in the game.
Therefore, it was challenging to launch, monetization-wise. We worked together with the TLV studio's monetization team to hold several events and challenges in which players could play, progress, assemble and collect outfits to start their personal collection.
Here are some selected screens from the first events that took part in the Backstage launch:
The POP! Slots players community was excited for the launch of the Backstage. Groups in social media were flooded with exciting posts about the upcoming new feature, and ever since the players are highly satisfied with the outcome. Later, additional events and mini-games were built around the collection of the outfits and they eventually reached every corner of the game. New outfits are constantly being released in the game.