One woman's path through doula training, childrearing, and a computer science Ph. D. program

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cow Clicker: Heuristic Evaluation

I took the liberty of running a heuristic evaluation on Cow Clicker.  The set of heuristics I am using is from Spyridon Papaloukas' paper, Usability Assessment Heuristics in New Genre Videogames.  Descriptions of heuristics are taken verbatim from the text of the article.

The rating is Nielsen style, 0 to 4, where
 * 0: no problems,
 * 1: minor or cosmetic violation,
 * 2: moderate violation.
 * 3: severe violation, and
 * 4: show-stopping terrible stuff.

1. Customize game, network and environment settings: The videogame should allow players to customize the settings so that the game accommodates their individual needs.

My score: 0
My comment: You can customize cows!

2. Information about game, players and online friends status: Users should be provided with enough information about game (status character, level, health, etc) but also about other players and online friends in order to play in a cooperative manner as in real life.

My score: 0
My comment: I can click my friends' clicks! If only I had friends!

3. Training, help and suggestions: The videogame should provide interactive training and recommended choices, i.e. regarding new genre videogames should advice players the most  appropriate clothing or the most suitable space arrangement for a more efficient or enjoyable game.

My score: 1
My comment: I'm not quite sure where to place my friends' cows in my pasture.  Is there an optimal placement?  Does the cow facing the tail of my cow fare poorly due to out-gassing?  Does my cow enjoy facing colorful cows?

4. Control of actions: The game should respond to input devices in a way that mirrors the real world. Computer controlled units should respond in an ordinary manner.

My score: 2
My comment: Clicks are clicks. However, why does the page reload post-click?

5. Challenge, fun, pleasure, fantasy: The game should provide fun and challenge. The players should be able to live their desired “reality” in the fantasy world of a videogame. Pleasure should be one of the most important elements of game.

My score: 0
My comment: The challenge is in convincing my friends not to hate me.  And in finding all the back-issues of my friends' click feeds.

6. Minimize memory requirements: Abbreviations should not be used. The players should not be asked to count resources like bullets and life and they should not have to memorize the level’s design. Area maps should be easy to learn and should be intuitive to use.

My score: 1
My comment: It was difficult to ascertain the significance of mooney at first.

7. Clear goal, conditions: New genre games need special equipment and in some cases suggestions are required on how to use it more efficiently. The goal of the game must be clear, so the player do not feel confused.

My score: 0
My comment: The goal is overwhelmingly clear.  Its simplicity is what makes the game efficient.

8. Visual representations: Visual representations, such as maps, icons, and  avatars, are frequently used to convey information about the status of the game. Visual representations should be designed in an easy to interpret way, and so that users can   differentiate important elements from irrelevant elements.

My score: 0
My comment: The cow looks like a cow (except for Cobra Cow; what's up with that?); the pasture looks like a pasture.

9. Social networking, socializing and gaming: A game in a social network should support all the tasks, which facilitate the communication and socializing of players. The game should have “shared” versions or “shared” applications in order to direct “social networking friends” to tasks that enhance socializing.

My score: 0
My comment: Hard to say if I'll have friends after playing this game, but that's another issue...

10. Health, day-to-day life and gaming: New genre games should help on player’s mental and physical health, using specific equipment and applications.

My score: 4
My comment: Playing Cow Clicker reminds me of how large and bovine I am becoming, sitting at the computer --- yet the game compels me to keep at it!  It sends the wrong message, Ian, the wrong message!


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