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  • Brewing Meaningful UX In Coffee Talk

    [11.01.18]
    - Adlan Arvyanda Ramly
  • [Adlan Arvyanda Ramly is a UX/UI designer, AR/VR developer, HCI Researcher, hobbyist game developer and artist who has recently been interning as a UX and UI consultant for Coffee Talk developer-publisher Toge Productions.]

    This summer, I had the chance to be a UX/UI Engineer Intern at Toge Productionsan indie game studio & publisher based in Indonesia. Other than consulting & giving feedback on UX/UI to 5 other indie games published under Toge Productions, my main task was helping the Coffee Talk team's development by improving the user interface, user experience, and general usability of the game.

    In this article, I will explain my initial thoughts of the game design, followed by what I completed during my internship, and concludes with what I have learned during my internship.

    About:

    Coffee Talk is an interactive visual novel about listening to people's problems and helping them by serving a warm drink out of the ingredients you have as a barista of a coffee shop. It is a game that tries to depict our lives as humanly as possible, while having a cast that is more than just humans. The game features visual aesthetics that are inspired by 90s anime, classic pixel art adventure games, and lo-fi chill hop music.

    Features:

    • Tales of people around the alternative Seattle, a city where elves, orcs, mermaids, and other fantasy creatures coexist together with humans in a modern world
    • Branching story lines where the decisions do not come from the dialogue options you choose, but through how you treat and serve the customers of your café
    • 90s anime inspired pixel art visuals and chill vibes inducing color palette to help you immerse yourself in the game's world
    • Selection of jazzy and lo-fi music to accompany the late night warm drinks and talks activities
    • An experience to make you think, feel, and help rest your body and soul

    Inspiration:

    Mohammad Fahmi, the writer & game designer, is a coffee enthusiast. In his free time, he loves to visit coffee shops and try different kinds of coffee. He hopes to create a game that is both relaxing and introspective, a visual novel that allows you to talk to visitors and hear their stories as you mix coffee ingredients for them. Social and philosophical undertones of the game's narrative are also shown as the main conflict existing in the game's world.


    Caffè Nero, a coffee shop in Boston as a reference


    My Initial Thoughts on Design Aspects

    Ambience:


    The title screen

    Ambience is an important aspect in a game that allows players to be fully immersed into the experience. When I played this game for the first time, I can already feel the cozy and warm atmosphere of this game from its title screen. Although I don't usually play visual novels, the use of colors, the background music, and the opening scene really motivated me to try this game.

    The best way to craft this atmosphere is through Color Psychology. Color influences human perceptions & emotions which can affect a person's mental or physical state. However, keep in mind that colors might work differently for people from different culture and backgrounds.


    A table of colors and their associations

    Color Psychology builds up Coffee Talk's ambience. Coffee Talk uses a brownish color palette that emits the game's relaxing, warm, and casual atmosphere.


    Coffee Talk's color palette

    The character designs are highly influenced by 90s anime, such as Cowboy Bebop (1998) and Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995). Characteristics of the character designs can be seen through their use of thin outlines and grainy colors. I find the utilization of classic anime art style very interesting because it brings the warm mood of nostalgia. There is a study that shows that nostalgia can bring warm and fuzzy emotions which is synonymous to the game's overall mood.


    The main cast of Cowboy Bebop, see you space cowboy...

    The soundtrack is based of lo-fi jazz/hip-hop music . Lo-fi (Low-fidelity) is an aesthetic of recorded music in which the sound quality is lower than the usual contemporary standards and utilizes the imperfections of the recording production. The raw orchestration gives a sense of mellow and warm ambience that is complimentary to the game's atmosphere. The soundtrack is composed by Andrew Jeremy Sitompul, which will be released soon on Spotify & iTunes when the game is released. It also works as a great background music for studying or other tasks that require extra focus!

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