The approach for each project is relatively the same. With the main difference being the time I join the project. For example, if the game already has some screens and user flows implemented then I like to play through it and see where the blockers are. I'll do a fresh new user flow to minimize pain points with the goal to create a quick intuitive design for the end user. This will keep the user engaged which is what we want.
Depending on the type of project the process for the user experience design may be a bit different as each platform and goals can determine the flow. Here are four core questions I like to ask that will help me see the entire project as a whole.
What kind of project are we working on?
FPS, HOG, RPG, SPORTS, CARDS, etc.
The setting/theme of the game?
This will give us an idea of art direction for UI style.
The device it will be played on?
This will give us an idea of user interaction, art style, layout, etc.
Features of the game?
This will help with figuring out hierarchy as a whole.
I find the best way to work is to be integrated with the development team this includes all stakeholders, designers, engineers, producers, etc. The goal is to produce a scalable interactive experience that does not disconnect the user to engage players throughout the core loop. When done effectively this will directly increase monetization and player retention.
User testing is an important piece that can determine the success of the product. I typically like to do this after user flows are completed and implemented which includes all call to actions to minimize redundancy.
Here are the five phases of development I follow.
Research: Find similar products currently on the market to improve product experiences.
User Experience: I look at the entire product as a whole to determine user flow and how the product will function. Typically using UX app such as Adobe XD.
Visuals: Experiment and create multiple visual styles for the front end which includes motion graphics.
UX/UI Design: At this point, I create several layouts that can remain consistent throughout the screen flow and apply the approved user interface visuals to the layout.
Animations: Create screen loads and transitions within the engines limitations. It is preferred to work within the engine limitations to avoid surprises.
Implementation: I prepare all user interface assets to be implemented within the engine. Depending on the current project and engine I will build each screen with the engine. (Unity, Unreal, etc).
User Testing: To evaluate player experiences and polishing the product.
I make available a style guide with UI state changes and hex color codes to keep the UI/UX consistent as the product grows and develops further.
With every passing year technology and processes change. My goal is to adapt to the current needs of the project and continue to expand my skills to meet the demands.