Game Development Reference
they have in their possession, and a comical image of the player's face. The
face changes from a determined bring-it-on expression through various phases
until bloody and exhausted. The facial expression is synchronized with the
player's health value, giving a visual representation to a numerical value.
A visual representation of the player's status is a common way to relay
information from the game to the player. For example, hovering the mouse
over a unit in Starcraft presents a small health bar from which the player can
immediately determine the viability of the unit. Instead of giving the player
a health value, the visual health bar gives an almost fuzzy representation of
the unit's status. It can also change from green to red when the unit's health
The player's status bar can be as simple as a health bar or more complex
such as the dials used in Crysis and Halo . These dials allow for more
complex information to be relayed to the player than just a health value.
For example, in both aforementioned games, the dials provide health
and shield information. A nice addition to these advanced interfaces was
introduced in the original Splinter Cell with a meter showing how visible
the player's avatar was in the environment based on its position in the
There are all sorts of numeric values stored in the game code for keeping
track of the player's status. This chapter examines some of the ways of making
these values accessible and user-friendly for the player.
6.2 Game Structure
It's common in software development to design flowcharts that outline the
structure of software. Flowcharts can be created at many differing levels
depending on the level of detail required. For example, one flowchart can
show the menu and scene structure illustrating the menu items and where
they go when a player selects them. At another level a flowchart can specify
how the player interacts with the environment and what happens to him
when he performs different actions.
Flowcharts assist in the formalization of ideas about the game and help
communicate these ideas among game development team members. If
you are the sole developer, a flowchart can outline the game structure and
support your design process, ensuring that all menu selections go somewhere
and the player is able to get from each game screen to another. You wouldn't
want a player to enter a particular section of the game and then not have any
way to get back!
Although there are all manner of standards used to create flowcharts, often
they are made up with square and diamond shapes connected by arrows.
The squares contain information or screen mockups, and the diamonds
represent decisions that allow the program flow to change based on the