By Lauren Woodroffe
Senior UI/UX Designer, Two Point Studios
Two Point Hospital is coming to console, and we’re mega excited! If you didn’t see our announcement, feast your eyes on this link for more details on what you can expect.
Making a console version of Two Point Hospital is a huge deal for us, and the team have been working really hard (since before the studio was even properly founded!) to make sure we could do the idea justice. I really enjoyed playing Two Point Hospital on the PC before I joined the team here at Two Point Studios, however I’m mainly a console gamer, so when I found out that I would be working on bringing Two Point Hospital over to console I was so excited and couldn’t wait to start!
My job is to make sure that console players can experience the wonderful world of Two Point County (and addictive gameplay of Two Point Hospital) in the comfort of their living room (or on the go if you’re playing on the Nintendo Switch!) Making sure that the experience feels natural on a controller is no easy feat, so we went right back to basics and redesigned the experience from the ground up for console.
There’s only one way to tackle these challenges, really, which is to work through them in a way that is as close to the user experience as possible. One of my first ports of call was to build out an interactive prototype of how different controls may play out.
I used a tool called InVision which allows me to add static mock ups of menus and add interactive elements to link them together. I then use additional third party software to bind these elements to button presses on a controller to replicate how the player would interact with these menus. This allowed us to quickly prototype controls to see what felt right and rapidly rework designs before having to get the programmers involved. That got us to a point really early on where we were able to say, “hang on, we have something here!”
Some early wireframes laid out in Photoshop
One of the key breakthroughs was room building. This was where having a controller could really come into its own.
Building a room is a tactile experience. People who’ve played Two Point Hospital on PC tell us all the time that they feel like grabbing objects, moving them around and placing them down really feels satisfying. So the opportunity for us with console is: how do we make that feel even better?
Having a controller in your hand gives you the opportunity to feel more connected to what you’re doing in the game. Take away the need to move a mouse around a desk, and we found that we could make people feel like they were even more engaged in what they were doing – able to quickly dip into the build menu, select an item, place it, rotate it with the bumpers and drop it into the world.
We discovered people were able to build more quickly this way, too. Muscle memory builds quickly and by limiting the complexity of the inputs, but retaining the power and accuracy of the PC version, we were able to quickly have the controls step out of the way of the game experience and let people just enjoy themselves in the game.
One fun thing we’ve done with console is to make the camera movement also act as a selection tool. We have a reticle in the middle of the screen so as you move over things you can interact with, this becomes larger, so you can easily see what you’re selecting. It’s a really natural thing: you fly over to something, can see that you’re in the right spot, and then if you want to do something with that thing/person/room, you just press a button to select it.
We know that we have a hugely varied audience who play Two Point Hospital. We have hardcore management sim enthusiasts who focus on building their hospitals as quickly as possible and optimising their patient flows. We have players who want to relax and build the most beautiful hospital they can on the biggest screen in the house. So we’ve tried to design something everyone will love. We can’t wait for you guys to play yourselves!