Game Development Reference
arm as he recovers (all in 3D). Where the coherence fails is in the 2D messages
that appear on the screen to give player status updates.
While the 3D part of Far Cry 2 nicely immerses players into the 3D
environment where for a while they are brought back to the reality that
they are looking through a 2D screen, it is not practical for all elements.
While we are on the subject of 2D versus 3D, it has been cool in the
past to create 3D menus. In reality, these just do not add anything. They
become difficult to read and skew any images placed on the surface.
6.3.5 State Visualization
For players, being able to see their status clearly is paramount, which is why
player health for FPS games is the largest item shown in the screen, money is
always visible in RTS, and the player's position and lap times are highlighted
on the screen in racing games.
In addition to primary information, the interface should act like other software
interfaces in that it shows players their current choice. For example, if they have
selected a particular building in an RTS its information is shown somewhere
on the screen, including its name, units it can produce, its health, and other
functions. In addition, the selected item is accompanied by a highlighted
square around it or it changes color to indicate that it is currently selected.
For functionality that is in the game, but not necessarily available at the time,
grayed out images or buttons should be used. These can be accompanied by
a comment about why they are grayed out to assist the player. For example,
in EVE Online , players may not be able to buy a particular ship because they
don't have the training to fly it. In such a case, ways to acquire the relevant
training are given to the player.
Learning keyboard shortcuts is synonymous with learning what the buttons
on a game controller control. These shortcuts allow players to get to regularly
used functionality or to information embedded in the menu system or toolbar
and usually require some clicking action to achieve. Players will use shortcuts
to perform game actions more quickly.
In regular software applications, shortcut keystrokes reflect their name and
location in the menu system; for example, in Windows, ALT + F opens the File
menu and CTRL + S saves the current document.
If possible, shortcuts should meet with any metaphors already in the space:
for example, ESC for the main menu. 2
2 Starcraft uses F10 for the main menu!