From Scraps to Apps

A Level from Monument valley

Learning and trusting the process is one of the scariest things as a
young designer. Within the past couple of years, I have learned to give it a
trust fall once or twice. Trusting the process really hasn’t disappointed thus far. Each time I learned something new during those trust falls. It’s hard to trust, an often you’ll see great work and want to say “well maybe they just were born with their ideas.” I feel like this is the easiest way to give up. A company I had taken an interest in learning more about was the team at UsTwo. They created one of my favorite mobile game experiences, Monument Valley.

Monument Valley is a unique puzzle game that is really outside the box for its genre. You have a series of architectural puzzles, the best way I could describe it would be mind-melting. As a future game dev, I look at games like this and say wow this is very well crafted and would love to make something like this. How do you do this? Well its a process…

Thinking Required

After doing research specifically on the game, I had found an article on medium talking about how Ustwo accomplished the craftsmanship of Monument Valley. Naturally, the team at UsTwo laid out a few critical objectives before starting any sort of research/visuals. In some ways, this was like their own Design brief.

The Client: The audience would be engaged with either improving their skills, taking on opponents, or just having plain old fun.

The Objective: Ken Wong, the Lead Designer, was interested in architecture knew he wanted to contain this idea in some way in the games final design

  • Also wanted to make games in a new direction
  • They wanted the game to have a good story, exciting characters, and striking visuals

The Audience: In the design of the game, they wanted to accomplish a sense of calmness and tranquility having the users get immersed in the world they wanted to create.

The above example from UsTwo I thought was a great way to get started thinking about your project before making any definite decisions on visuals. Already we know who the client is, the objective, and how the audience is intended to interact.

Monument valley’s sketches to final in game design photos
Monument Process Work

Relevancy of Thinking

I find that UsTwo had taken an interesting approach to the design process. As I feel the way they are utilizing it does foster an outside perspective of what a game is and what it should be. With their little design brief strategy, they also seem to find what’s the trend in the other games and break them on purpose. For instance, many games contain load music/ very upfront and ingrained to the design. While in Monument Valley music is very ambient and zen-like it is not required by the users to listen to while in game. It can ultimately get the same experience with or without it. It’s these little things I feel like I don’t hear most game developers talking about. I feel like this something i hear developers talking about often and it’s like a breathe of fresh air. It’s this way of using the tool of Design Briefing and perspective that lead to the successful development of Monument Valley.

Extracting Meaning

After reading and understanding exactly how Ustwo was taking the design process and utilizing it, I thought to myself, “how could I do the same?”. After a few days in pondering this question, I’ve come to the conclusion of stating a series of questions to answer to help myself to think differently about the design process. If I took anything away from researching UsTwo, it’s that you as a designer don’t just think differently randomly, it’s something you work on and can strive for either through a series of questions doing different activities from your regular routine in the day. At the end of the day your brain doesn’t just wake up one morning and say today I’m gonna give you a good idea.

Two people standing looking down at a sentence on the concrete reading passion led us here
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash




He/Him | Aspiring UX/UI Designer

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Cam Oski

Cam Oski

He/Him | Aspiring UX/UI Designer

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