Sleeping Dogs Research
2010 – 2011 for Square Enix/Activision & United Front Games
At United Front Games, I had the pleasure of working with an incredibly passionate team on an ambitious new IP: a new open-world action-adventure game, featuring best-in-class martial arts combat, shooting, and driving, set in Hong Kong, for PlayStation3, Xbox360, and PC.
The studio wanted in-house user research so that the team could observe players in tutorials or missions and adjust gameplay quickly.
As the studio's User Research Lead, I established and ran our user research practice:
- Collaborated closely with design and product stakeholders to understand intentions and determine research goals.
- Conducted usability reviews and in-depth competitive analysis on to inform how gameplay tutorials could be improved through consistent timing, streamlined information, and giving the player multiple chances without punishment.
- Worked on basic tutorial prototyping for tests with in-house scripting tools.
- Created the user testing lab and research practices based on project goals and requirements, and trained and led user research assistant.
- Designed and ran user studies. Translated data into concise, actionable reports which successfully informed game improvements. Over the course of 9 months, we playtested over 150 players in weekly/daily sessions.
- Coordinated methods with Activision's centralized Games User Research team.
The game was first developed with Activision as the publisher, and called True Crime: Hong Kong. Partway through development, Activision sold the publishing rights for the game to Square Enix, who released the game as Sleeping Dogs. The game was received well by critics and fans, and a live-action movie featuring Donnie Yen is in progress.
Note: Due to NDAs, images here are part of press releases and/or publicly available, and are illustrative of the gameplay features (combat, player movement, driving, shooting) that were the focus of our studies.