Every once in awhile, Valve will select a particular publisher to promote through Steam. One of the final projects I was able to work on was the creation for the assets for Ubisoft Week. Fellow contractor Patrick Payne and I alternated on the various days of the week, and collaborated on the assets that did not change.
We started on the basic layout and persistent elements of the images – days of the week, the Ubisoft logo, the weeklong deals, etc. This took the bulk of the designated time, and was by far the most difficult part of the creation process. Patrick and I independently developed at least two separate interfaces before coming up with something we, the rest of the Steam team, and Ubisoft were happy with. Like any interface, the design evolved as we began to try to fill it with the content, but not drastically so.
Though there was considerable collaboration between Patrick and I on all of the elements, I was primarily responsible for the days that featured the Tom Clancy, FarCry, and Ruse & Settlers series. The most challenging by far was designing the takeover for Ruse and Settlers, two separate games with very separate design schemes that had to be integrated with the interface in a coherent way. The horizontal split that finally went live was probably about the eighth I tried.
Though Ubisoft gave us many assets to work with, it was often not nearly in a condition to modify. We frequently had to cut out elements and tweak blend modes, re-orient landscape and portrait images (extending backgrounds through manipulation, screenshots, or whatever we could find), and sort through hundreds of layers in the original .psd files. I learned very clearly the value of organizing Photoshop layers coherently.
Once we finished the creation of the takeover assets, we then had to shrink the design to fit in a promotional IM – less than half the size. There are few UI challenges as interesting as taking an information dense area and cutting the working area in half (or less, as was the case with us) while maintaining the same information. We barely finished these in time.