Weekly Shiryo Update from the Lead Game Dev & Shiryo Team #17

It’s the Shiryo Team & our Lead game developer Rick here, and today we’re excited to share some amazing updates regarding the development of the Shiryo Lobby System.

If you weren’t already aware, a lobby serves as a virtual gathering place for players to meet, interact and prepare for gaming sessions. We’ve been hard at work enhancing its visual appeal and functionality, and we can’t wait to give you a glimpse of our creative process.

Our dedicated team has poured their passion into completely re-imagining the player’s ‘menu experience’, evaluating every component resulting in our menu system evolving into a ‘lobby experience’.

We share with you again some of our in-house design documents in their rough and raw state, to share the reality of these processes. These documents outline the vision for the lobby, including some shots where you’ll be able to see your avatars in action!

We’re excited to show you our process from our initial humble “placeholder” lobby to the present day iteration.

For those of you who haven’t seen every step of this process from the beginning — here’s a side-by-side showing our initial ‘white box’ (menu) directly compared to our current iteration (which is still a work in progress).

V1 ‘Whitebox Menu System’

As you can see there is a night and day difference, not just visually but functionally across the entire system.

As well as this the changes incorporate culturally how menu systems have evolved across the gaming industry. Many of the elements, layouts, functionality etc that we’re including have become staples in the player experience. This ‘modern design’ lobby system whilst uncommon across TCG’s — we believe is necessary to ensure that this community-driven experience of Shiryo is as immersive as possible.

What’s the difference between a menu system and a lobby system?

A menu system is a hierarchical step-by-step experience that is predominantly much more suitable to a single-player game. Shiryo is not a single-player game and unlike other TCG’s, we are striving to create an immersive community which mirrors many of our favourite experiences in other multiplayer games. For us, our best gaming memories were shared experiences with our friends.

Our lobby system creates a space that enables you to share Shiryo’s gaming experience outside of just the constraints of an in-game match. It provides a space where you can show off your collection, organize matches, talk smack to your friends, all the things we love about gaming and more!

From a developer side, creating a lobby was the most effective way to facilitate all of our future expansions (tournaments, guilds, DLC etc) and growth across multiple platforms such as — VR where a lobby is a fundamental requirement. It was a no brainer.

With that now explained, let’s show you our process of how we reached our latest iteration.

First things first, design meetings, many of them. This is the bread and butter of how we refine and optimize anything (visual, functional etc). After all, games are a form of art and people can be very opinionated, so part of our design process is to get the whole team on the same page.

To do this, one of our tasks was for everyone to go and grab reference images that clearly display menu/lobby elements that they’d love to include alongside others that they absolutely wished to avoid.

This resulted in several dozen images, of which below you’ll find a selection of some of our most influential.

With all of these reference images and the preceding discussions about influential lobby elements, we could start compiling a list of all the things that we wanted to include visually.

By the inclusion of all these images in our discussions, it enabled us to refine down all the elements we wanted to include.

With this we were then able to start cutting pieces out, figuring out the layouts and position of these elements.

You may be able to tell that a variety of methods employed by the team during this design process are a little ‘crude’. Not all of us are artistic wizards, some of us are still dependent on tried and tested tools (Microsoft paint).

The images below will show you below are some of the actual created images used to figure out the design layouts of the lobby.

Once the rough layout was figured out, the next step was to evaluate each individual lobby element. This involves many of the same steps we’ve previously gone over, finding inspiration, gathering a collection of reference images, having arguments and discussions over it — enabling us to hone down on what’s truly important resulting in a highly optimized outcome.

The Social Element

Some of you may recall in ‘weekly update 15’ our enthusiasm about including a ‘social element’ with the Shiryo board. Unlike other elements, the social element is to be used game-wide and isn’t restricted solely to the board / during matches. This influenced it’s design heavily to make sure the player could efficiently connect to the community ‘anywhere’ in the game.

As above, here are a selection of reference images centred around the design process of the ‘social element’.

The following images are many of the design notes created in the actual meetings themselves, in the raw unfiltered form. Some of these you’ll see have been utilized and placed in our present lobby system, whereas some of the options lead to dead ends (which discovering these dead ends is an essential part of the design process itself).

The result of all of this work is our current lobby iteration. We would like to keep you informed that the lobby is still under active development, so further changes could be expected. With this being said, its current stage of development has reached a point we believe is close to our final vision — and thus is at a point we’re comfortable showcasing it with the community.

Below you’ll be able to witness the various stages of development in chronological order, going from our initial ‘whitebox’ menu system — to the ‘V2’ modern visual theme (but still within a menu system), to the final evolution of continuing with the same excellent visual theme — with the underlying functionality of a full Lobby system.

V1 ‘Whitebox Menu System’

V2 Iteration Menu System

V3 Lobby System (Current Iteration)