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  • 6 Game User Interfaces To Study

    - Iuliana Urechi
  • Many User Interface designs look pretty, some are comfortable to use, some blend really well with the game visuals and others are innovative. Very few games have all of those qualities combined, but the ones that do are worth paying close attention to. With the help of screenshots from we're going to explore six games you should learn from and what they do right.

    1. How to implement multi-feature, broad appeal UI - LittleBigPlanet 3

    A unique-looking game series that aims to bring together a broad audience of all ages. If that wasn't challenging enough, it also has a lot of diverse features. There's building, character customization, platforming, social component, store component and multiplayer.

    Unlike similar games, LBP 3 does not have the luxury of overcrowding its screens with information. It aims to include very young kids who can't read well and people older than 60, who will have trouble with small text. The solution? A hybrid of mobile and desktop solutions.

    The UI uses solid, happy colors and soft edges that appeal to kids. Icons are big, menus are easy to navigate with a simple structure. Buttons and windows have lots of room for text that is often bold and easy to see contrasted against the background. It's a perfect solution for a game world that is full of textures, shapes, effects and movement variety. Instead of settling for a minimum impact design that would detract from the fun atmosphere of the game, the designers went the extra mile and figured out how to give the UI design character while retaining usability.

    The game also has an incredible UI solution for same-screen multiplayer customization and handling large content lists. It brings in the metaphors and tools of a mobile UI to allow 4 players to open a menu on the same screen and still be able to use it simultaneously with comfort.

    These menus can have hundreds of items in them and there's no cursor to allow for fine selection. Instead, each highlighted item in a list is magnified to make navigation easier. Sections of content can be closed or open and sorted appropriately. These and all the other features are handled seamlessly and without breaking the fun and friendly theme of the game.

    2. How to maximize immersion in a survival game - The Long Dark

    A stylish survival game that aims to immerse the player in its atmosphere of harsh winter, exploration, struggle and desperate survival. All the usual complex systems are there for the player to manage: stamina, temperature, thirst, warmth, injuries, inventory, crafting etc. Complexity is the enemy of immersion, so interface design becomes a struggle between visual presentation and usability.

    While there are many solutions to this problem in other survival games, most of them are a compromise. But what if compromise is not an option? Iteration, testing, optimization and using all the UI elements to their full extent.

    Games seldom get font design right or realize its potential, so it's great to have an example of what that looks like. The Long Dark has a custom font that does most of the work when it comes to directing player attention. The full range of font styling is realized here, from color, to letter height and size, to boldness. It's expertly used to communicate information importance and hierarchy with style, color and position.

    Spacing plays a big role in helping each element work efficiently. Leaving enough room for lines of text to stand apart has the same effect as color would - providing contrast and drawing attention. When text needs to be crowded in a small space, icons are used as visual anchors to increase readability.

    The whole UI went through several stages of improvements - from visually rich and decorative to the current subdued and minimal. The results of this process can be seen even in the game inventory management system.

    Several small improvements make this complex inventory easy to use. A list of items has to convey a lot of different information in a small space. To help this, every item has its own distinct silhouette and color that make it easy to spot at a glance. Navigation is separated visually from item types to avoid crowding and confusion. Different element groups have different backgrounds, color and style. All of this still looks like a single visual unit that belongs together.


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