O'Reilly logo

Basics of Game Design by Michael Moore

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

315
CHAPTER 12
INTERFACE DESIGN
e user interface is the link between the player and the game. e
interface includes the game controls, the dierent screens and menus
that appear both inside the game and out, and the feedback received
during play. A well-designed interface is seamless and intuitive, and
allows the player to become fully immersed in the game world in just
a few minutes. If a game doesnt have a good, intuitive interface de-
sign, players might soon hate how sluggish the controls feel or com-
plain about the clutter of icons on the screen.
Spending the time to come up with a workable interface design
might be considered time that could be better spent on level design
and eshing out the story, but that is a mistake. Beginning design-
ers are primarily concerned with what information appears on each
game screen and are less concerned about the game controls and
feedback. Experienced designers are just as concerned with how the
controls feel and what feedback the player receives throughout
the game as with what the player sees while playing. It is well
worth the designerstime to work out the details of the user inter-
face early on with the programmers and then spend more time with
the interface artist making sure that information the players need is
always only a click or two away. A really good user interface is trans-
parent. A really bad user interface is always irritating.
Graphical User Interface
e visuals the player sees on the screen during a game are referred
to as the graphical user interface (GUI). Every screen that appears,
from when the player rst inserts a DVD/CD to install the game to
when the player nally quits, is part of the graphical user interface
and should work together as a visual whole. It is important for de-
signers to include as complete a list as possible of the screens, pop-
up windows, menus, and other visuals in the game in the design
Interface Design
316
documentation and to update the information as the nal assets are
completed. All this materials can be gathered in an appendix for ref-
erence, but the functionality of each screen should be described in
detail in the document itself.
ere are two groups of screens in games: the rst are the in-
game screens that are used during the course of play and the second
are the shell screens that are used outside the game. Some screens
are accessible both in-game as well as outside. For example, a pause
screen is a shell screen but it can be brought up during play, and
active options such as computer hot-keys allow players access to
other shell screens during play to save their game, check their score,
change audio levels, and so on.
In-Game Interface Screens
e in-game screens include the main playeld, the inventory, the
combat screen (if dierent from the main playeld), and any win-
dows or menus with lists of items, spells, weapons, character statis-
tics, and other relevant data. e information on these screens might
be static, meaning that the player doesnt directly act with the data,
or active, meaning the player can select some options or move things
around. For example, a screen showing the player’s current charac-
ter attribute values is static, but one that allows the player to assign
points to these values is active.
ese in-game screens are viewed continuously during play and
the information presented on them should be obvious to players at
a glance. If players have to search for information on the screen or
bring up an extra menu or window in the midst of on-going events,
they might gets distracted from the action and lose the game. If the
events are less frenetic, such as selling or buying items, the screens
and menus can include more information since players have time
to consider their options. Imagine engaging in erce combat with
multiple creatures in an action RPG and suddenly having to deal
with a peddler popping in to sell his wares. Sometimes for simpler
games, dierent areas in the game world can be shown together on
one primary interface screen, such as in TikGames’ simulation game
Cinema Tycoon 2: Movie Mania (Figure 12.1).
e amount of information appearing on any interface screen
and how much the player interacts with it should be based on where
the screen appears during play and what functionality it serves. e
main playeld screen should include the most important functions

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required