Game Development Reference
enemy characters may have different colored uniforms. Color coding will also
group items, making it easier for the player to distinguish among them. An
obvious example of this is Bejewelled in which the player must match jewels.
The jewels not only have the same shape but also the same color.
Although designing an extremely new and unique interface may seem
appealing, if you don't stick with well-used and-known metaphors you will
just end up frustrating the player. The interface is not something you want to
get in the players' way and stop them from your ultimate objective—having
them play it! Navigating the interface should not be the game.
6.3.3 Feature Exposure
Unless you are developing a very simple game, displaying all player options,
statuses, and inventory items on the screen at the same time is impossible.
However, such information and commands should not be buried to the
point that it becomes frustrating to find. Remember, the interface is
not the game.
Another common metaphor linked to feature exposure is the ESC key . Many
FPS games have this linked to the display of the main menu, making feature
exposure one key press away.
In games that have toolbars that are commonly used, they always appear
on the screen: for example, Starcraft , SimCity , Civilization , and the majority
of other city building or strategy/simulation games where the player must
access the toolbar constantly. However, sometimes not all features can be
exposed at the top toolbar level as there may be too many and the interface
would be overcomplicated. In this case the toolbar is given a hierarchical
structure in which one option clicked opens up a second lot of options. For
example, in Starcraft , selecting the build option for a space construction
vehicle opens up a submenu for categories of buildings, being normal or
advanced, and these provide a further submenu of the exact buildings
that are available.
How you decide to expose information and options to the player should
be based on what the player needs to know and do, followed by various
depths of what the player may want to know and do. What the player
needs to know and do will be directly related to the objectives of the
game. For example, the primary objective in all FPS games is not to die
and therefore you will always find a health indicator present on
The following game interface elements should be considered for
Primary player data, including health, money, armor level, current
remaining ammunition, and current weapon, should always appear
on the screen.