2 principles of a good game interface

2 principles of a good game interface Books written by Uri J. Nachimson

If the game is the door to the virtual world, then the interface is the player's guide in it. The task of the developer when creating a User Interface, or UI— is to show you the most interesting, not to get lost and, most importantly, not to interfere. And for this, the interface must meet several principles.
2022-01-19, by Uri J. Nachimson , Book author

#Interfaces || #Design || #GameDev ||

Table of contents:

The interface reflects the overall style of the game

Often the UI is the most inconspicuous part of the game. You are unlikely to remember it after passing and eagerly tell your friends about the design of game menus - although there are exceptions to this rule. One example is the interface in Assassin's Creed 2.

Let's focus on the brightest part of it — the menu of story missions. Assassin's Creed 2 shows the progress of the story on an elegant DNA spiral. Each time, moving forward in the story, the player fills in the gaps in the schematic molecule — and the main character Desmond Miles thus "remembers" the life of his ancestor, recorded in his genetic memory.

The creators of the action embodied the idea of visualizing an important element of the story using a red-and-white color scheme — they got a UI that brilliantly reflects both the style of the game and its plot.

Another example is the Persona 5 interface, which the players liked so much that it came to memes and even full-fledged cosplay. The insane game menus seem to have been created by the Sex Pistols cover designer. Chaotic layout and fonts instantly catch the eye — and at the same time perfectly reflect the chaos reigning in the head of the main character of the game.

Of course, there is not always a need to go to such extremes, but the interface of the game should always reflect its style and theme. Otherwise, it may come out as with the last parts of Battlefield, when a shooter about World War II meets the player with a futuristic menu, as if it came straight from science fiction.

The interface is intuitive to use

Denis Kostroman, art director of TallTroll Games studio, considers cleanliness and clarity to be the most important qualities of the interface. "As the creators of Google Chrome used to say: "If you don't see the interface, then we have succeeded." The "less is better" rule also works in games. The less the screen is loaded, the better the user experience (UX — user experience) will be," the developer notes.

By "clarity" Kostroman also means the amount of time needed for the player to understand what a certain element or symbol of the interface means. There is nothing easier than scaring off a player with an abundance of incomprehensible buttons and counters or cumbersome menus with inconvenient navigation. See also this post for some insights 3d asset creation.

Let's take for example the new, three-dimensional parts of Fallout. As in the isometric games of the series, almost all the menus here are built into the Pip-Boy - a portable computer that the main character wears on his wrist. The gadget's interface continues the retrofuturistic theme of the game: texts and graphics made in green resemble early computers and mainframes.

Great? Not very. The fact is that Bethesda designers took outdated solutions from the first parts of Fallout and managed to multiply their mistakes.

Fallout: New Vegas

Take a look at the quest diary from Fallout: New Vegas. Already at the start of the game, he can not cope with the flow of information. All tasks — both main and side - are piled into one long list. Together with him, the tiny Pip-Boy screen barely fits the sub-items of tasks. There is no detailed description of the quests at all.


And now look at how the same problem was solved by the creators of the remake "Pestilence. Utopia." In this game, the mission diary is designed in the form of a "mental map", where "bubbles" of tasks and scraps of information are connected to each other by threads. Didn't complete part of the quest or don't have enough information? Empty "bubbles" will tell you what to do and where to look.

Clearly and conveniently - despite the fact that the quest system in "Mor. Utopia" is much more difficult than in the same Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas.

Both examples illustrate an aspect that UI/UX designers call User Flow. In one case, it allows the player to make decisions on the fly. In another, it forces him to look for the right button, cursing the developers.

It should be borne in mind that User Flow varies significantly from platform to platform. As noted here game art services, depending on the device, the way the user interacts with the game itself changes.

Uri J. Nachimson

Uri J. Nachimson

 contributor to books-bestsellers.com
Book author