Almost all my projects begin with a group brainstorming session. This can involve sticky notes, white boarding, or even just tossing ideas around. It's important for me to get feedback from my team (product owners, designers, developers, etc.) to make sure the project will be amazing and completed by the projected deadline.
User Flow Sketch
Once the basic principles of the experience are in order I sketch out a user flow. This sketch is more of a template because it usually changes after revisions.
User flow final wireframe
Here, for example, it changed once I prototyping and play testing with students.
When testing with users I take video and I also sketch out subtle human movements that may be missed. In this example the student play testing exhibited signs of boredom due to lack of challenging content, fidgeting in her seat and resting her head on her hand. Although she played the game and said she 'liked' it, clearly there were moments where interest dipped.
Sketching out what game play will look like
Taking the data from user testing, I start drawing out concepts. Here you can see that what stayed consistent throughout the growth of the UX was the idea of the ladder. The final concept incorporated the ladder as an element of a tree.
The Final Wireframes
The final wireframes reflected this new direction- a squirrel that needs to climb the ladder to be rewarded with acorns.
I then hand the wireframe deck over to the graphic designer who skins them before the game is animated in development. Here, the final result is the game Shades of Meaning.