Designing an 8-bit game for Chain

a case study by Morgane Santos

visual design, illustration, animation


Chain is a blockchain startup that created a ledger service named Sequence. They came to thoughtbot wanting us to design and build a game based on "Deal or No Deal" to showcase how Sequence works at Money20/20, a large conference in Las Vegas.

I worked for 3 weeks with another designer and a team of developers. I focused on creating all the visual assets, establishing the visual brand, and implementing the frontend.

Game over screen

Challenges

Given the aggressive deadline, we had to make validated decisions quickly. We also needed to prioritize tasks and understand that we wouldn't be able to achieve some of them. With regular check-ins with the client, we were able to swiftly adapt to new challenges.

We would also not be able to test the game on the giant screen Chain would use at the conference. To get around this, we used projectors and whiteboards to simulate as much of the game as we could.

Waiting screen

Waiting for players

The design process

I immediately put together moodboards to represent three different style options (8-bit; 1950s retro; modern gameshow), and had the client pick a direction. We agreed the 8-bit pixel art style would be fun, nostalgic, and easy to achieve with the deadline.

With a clear visual theme in mind, I started creating basic assets that the other designer could animate. I iterated over various briefcase styles, sketched possible logos, and drew sunset scenes for various points in the game.

Early days

An early look at the game

Logo

The final logo design

I coded the frontend of the website, focusing on the layout and visual design, as well as a few CSS animations. I continuously collaborated with the other designer to incorporate the animations with the visuals, and with the developers to make the game easy to play.

CSS Animations

CSS animations and UI design for unavailable prizes

In conclusion

By the start of Money20/20, we had delivered a fully functional game that attracted curious crowds and lucky contestants. Chain will continue using this game to showcase Sequence at future events and demos.

Booth

The booth

Winner

A lucky winner!