Top Tips: Game design for wearables

With the Apple Watch and more on the market, we ask devs how you create titles for wearable devices
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1. Stop thinking about the device as a second screen, but be mindful of the player’s usage patterns when designing your game. Consider what drives their interactions and also the pace and rhythm of those sessions.
Sylvain Cornillon, CTO of Spy Watch dev Bossa Studios

2. Moving from mobile to the smartwatch platform is a seismic shift in terms of game design. It’s critical to have a keen understanding of how people use devices like Apple Watch as part of their lives. Design for gratifying five to 15-second game sessions, which serve as the building blocks for a long-term experience.
Aki Jarvilehto, CEO of Runeblade creator Everywear Games

3. Make software that has very short interaction times – two seconds or less. Not only is the platform built for that, but it will need to compete with other apps on that platform. Only give information to the user that they absolutely need. The Apple Watch is built around parsing notifications. It can be easy to overwhelm the user and force them to mute your apps notifications.
Rob Mackenzie, designer, Bossa Studios

4. Start by thinking: How can we get the player in a 15-minute game session to complete a meaningful action in ten seconds? Then think: How do they perform that action using the small screen and digital crown?
Paul Virapen, CEO of Cupcake Dungeon studio WearGA

5. Glance screens and Notifications make up most of your interactions with the Apple Watch, which means interactions will be often but in quick bursts. Make sure players have the information they need through Glance screens and Notifications so they don’t have to keep opening the actual app.
Leo Brennan, producer, Bossa Studios

6. Try the real thing. You will never know if your idea works until you actually try it. The experience on the Apple Watch is fundamentally different from what you see in the simulator.
Daniel Gallagher, freelance software developer

7. Graphics should be large and high contrast, and much more zoomed in than usual to avoid the images feeling too distant. Be ready to optimise in ways that extend battery life, such as limiting use of bright colors across the entire screen. Most of all, have fun.
Matt Bozon, creative director at Wayforward Technologies and designer of Watch Quest

8. Eyewear and wrist-worn devices are the most important ‘real estates’ on the human body for wearable computing. I’m sure we will see plenty of other devices competing for their best use.
Imre Jele, co-founder, Bossa Studios

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