GameDev

Principles and Mistakes in Game Interface Design

Game interface

What is it?

Game interface What is it?

The game interface is what connects the player to the virtual world. It consists of many elements with which the user directly interacts during the gameplay: artifacts, loot, maps, character management tools, and much more.

 

 

In this article we will talk about the basic principles of design elements of the game interface, as well as consider successful and unsuccessful solutions to examples of popular projects.

 

 

1. The interface must match the overall style of the game

Skip can't fix

1. The interface must match the overall style of the game Skip can't fix

It is believed that a good game interface is the one that goes unnoticed. That is, when during the gameplay man understands everything intuitively and does not get distracted by incomprehensible details. In this case, it should be designed in accordance with the main storyline and fully convey the atmosphere of what is happening.

A good example in this sense is the story missions menu in Assassin’s Creed 2. According to the scenario, the game’s main character Desmond Miles reconstructs the life of his heroic ancestor, and as the story progresses, he fills the schematic molecule with missing elements. To visualize this process, Ubisoft Studios created a red and white DNA spiral, where white reflects gaps that the player has yet to “remember”, and red represents already open areas.

Thus it was possible to create a beautiful interface, which fully reflects the stylistics and plot of the project.

Another successful example is implemented in the project Persona 5, where bright fonts and non-standard layout fully reflect the chaos going on in the head of the main character.

However, bold decisions are not always successful, even if we are talking about AAA games. So, in the latest versions of Battlefield – a series of games about World War II, users are offered a futuristic interface, as if it came from the distant future. This dissonance has led to negative reviews not only from critics, but also from the players themselves.

2. The interface should contain only the necessary information

Product design

2. The interface should contain only the necessary information Product design

This principle concerns most of all the HUD – the part of the visual interface that is displayed on top of the game space. This can be health and mana scales, ammo counts, map, KDA (Kills Death Assists) counters, and more.

Here the designer has two important tasks: to provide the user with all the information necessary for a successful game and make sure that it does not interfere with the gameplay. In practice, different auxiliary elements can be used for this purpose:

  • tooltips informing you when an ally is in trouble;
  • visual effects signaling a critical health reserve;
  • transparency – for example, a transparent level map placed on top of the main game space, as in the Diablo game series;
  • signals for communication, for example in the League of Legends players can “ping” each other to coordinate the team.

To create the most informative interface possible, designers should take into account the differences between platforms.

Principles and Mistakes in Game Interface Design

3. Interface elements should help to stand out

«The details are not the details. They make the design», — Charles Ims

3. Interface elements should help to stand out «The details are not the details. They make the design», — Charles Ims

In multiplayer games, where millions of players have only a few dozen characters to choose from, it is very important to create elements that help stand out. This can be accomplished with authentic equipment design and skins that affect the appearance of the character.

 

 

In some cases, the appearance of heroes can become one of the ways to monetize the project. For example, in the legendary League of Legends, the sale of images is the main part of Riot Games’ income.

 

 

4. Creating an intuitive interface

Be consistent

4. Creating an intuitive interface Be consistent

A lot of obscure buttons, counters and cumbersome menus with awkward navigation can simply put gamers off, so that even games with the most exciting gameplay can quickly end up in the trash. So a clean and clear interface is extremely important for any project.

A good implementation can be seen in the example of Nioh 2. Here the player has dozens of skills that can be pumped only in a certain sequence. To ease the perception, the developers have created an interface in the format of a “spider’s web”, where related skills are connected by threads.

Thanks to this person can determine at a glance what he lacks, and build your own strategy for character development.

From the negative examples we can recall the popular Fallout: New Vegas. Here the developers created a quest interface in the format of a tiny screen on the Pip-Boy, which can barely cope with the flow of information already at the start – all the tasks, both main and side tasks in it are collected in one list, which eventually becomes just endless, and detailed descriptions of tasks in it simply do not fit.

5. The interface is an extension of the game world

Computer games are part of the big game story

5. The interface is an extension of the game world Computer games are part of the big game story

In the early days of the game industry, developers only used an interface on top of the gameplay, but with the advent of 3D technology, gameplay became more complex, and the old methods were not enough. This led to the emergence of the diegetic interface, which is placed in the game world itself.

In practice, this looks like the integration of in-game scales and metrics into the character models themselves. If successfully implemented, the diegetic interface effectively complements the overall style of the game, or even becomes part of the gameplay.

 

 

As an example, it is worth mentioning the popular Metro series. Here the player has to do almost everything manually: to track the air supply in the gas mask you have to look at the wristwatch, the mission diary and compass are in the tablet, which can be taken out at the right moment, and to read something in the dark you have to take out a lighter from your pocket. At the same time, the player does not just look at the animations, but makes choices – for example, to look at the map you will have to hide your weapon. Together, this helps one to feel part of the virtual world, because everything happens as in real life.

 

 

Where to order the development of game interface elements

GameDev

Where to order the development of game interface elements GameDev

Creating an interface for a game is an important part of gamemaking, and takes place in close cooperation of different specialists – artists, game designers, screenwriters and programmers. Thanks to this it is possible to achieve a great and balanced result, which complements the gameplay.

 

 

AVADA MEDIA has extensive experience in the production of games for different platforms, and will help you to implement your own project of any complexity.

 

 

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