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Game design, ux design


Designing and creating a stealth puzzle game with a team in a week

A desktop and laptop with shots of the RoBuds game


Design Buddies Game Jam

Project Duration

1 week

My Role

Project Manager, UX Researcher

The Challenge

The Design Buddies Game Jam was a week-long jam revolving around the theme of "community." Since I had no game design experience, I chose to form a team of 2 developers, 1 artist, and 2 designers to participate. We had to ideate, design, prototype, test and share a playable game in the span of week.

The Goal

Come up with a concept and develop a playable game or prototype to submit to the Game Jam for the judges and community to play and enjoy.


How might we create a game inspired by "Community" that is
unique, fun, and possible to create in a week?


We began brainstorming ideas on the first day of the jam. Our first concept was a playable character would wander around in the dark to try and find their buddies using sound cues. Each time a buddy was recruited, the player's vision would be slightly increased.

With those main mechanics in mind, we took it a step further and iterated on the idea. Eventually, we chose to develop a puzzle stealth game that still included the buddy recruiting ability, but this time, each buddy had a special ability of their own. Each buddy would be able to help solve the puzzle in a unique way. To keep it simple and ensure that the scope wasn't too large, we limited our project to three playable buddies and one puzzle stage.


I conducted secondary research for the game. I looked at various games within the same genre, like Timelie and more, for inspiration. I compiled a document analyzing our direct and indirect competitors to see how we could make our game unique and different and establish who our target audience is.

I created proto-personas based on the assumptions of our target audience. These included the Puzzle Lover and the Casual Gamer. Both play video games, but have different values and playstyles.


After examining other games, we came to these conclusions:

  • Our target audience was puzzle lovers and casual gamers
  • Our game would take most of its inspiration from Timelie
  • Create a simple and responsive site that highlights her strengths


Due to the time constraints of the project, I created proto-personas based on the assumptions of our target audience. These included the Puzzle Lover and the Casual Gamer. Both play video games, but have different values and playstyles.

Design & Prototyping

As a team, we each sketched out various level designs that we could build for our prototype. This came with challenges because we had to design a puzzle that wasn't too difficult to solve, but was still fun and challenging for the player. None of us had experience with level design, so we did our best and learned on the fly.

Branding & UI Design

While the prototype was in development, Jiayi and I worked on wireframes for the UI screens and the overall branding of the game. We created a simple mood board to ensure that we were on the same page and came up with a variety of logo and typography combination ideas. When we compiled them, we showcased them to our team for feedback and made the final decision.

Prototype & Testing

With a clearer idea of our game concept, our developers created a working prototype based on our level design and game mechanics. Once it was built, we put it to the test. I was able to test the prototype with 3 participants that I recruited from my friends and family. During the tests, I observed their behaviors, reactions, and asked follow-up questions when needed.


  • The game controls and the goal of the game was unclear
  • The puzzle was challenging for regular gamers, but too frustrating for non-gamers
  • The enemy line of sight was not obvious and players didn't understand why they were reset to the beginning

Final Iteration

Based on our test results, we met again as a team to discuss our priority changes. With only two days left in the jam, we knew we had to get started soon and had limited time to make these changes.

Main Changes

  • Ensure that the controls are easily accessible or viewable for the player
  • Create an onboarding/tutorial type of process so players understand how the game works
  • Alter the level layout so that certain actions and goals are understandable to the player
  • Make the reason for game loss more obvious for players


As my first game jam, I am very grateful for my team and for all the things we learned along the way. It was a great experience and I hope I can make more games in the future.

Next Steps

If I was given more time to complete the project, these would be my next steps:

  • Conduct another round of usability testing and iterate based on feedback
  • Expand the game to include more levels
  • Expand the game's story to dive deeper into the connection of the RoBuds

Lessons Learned

  • As the Project Manager, I learned how to lead team meetings, manage team communication, and keep us on track for the deadline
  • Game design is complex, but UX design and research have their place within the game design process
  • Focusing too much on what we want does not necessarily create a fun experience for others
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