Game Development Reference
However, if the player's status changes without any environmental
feedback or visual clues, more active explanations are required.
For example, in the RTS kingdom building game Stronghold ,
the player's economic status is linked to the population of the
kingdom. If people leave the kingdom, something not necessarily
observed by the player, they start to lose money. As villages start to
leave, the game displays information on the screen informing the
player that his population is dropping and he needs to act fast to
increase it again. The game also gives hints on how this might be
SimCity also does this through the team of virtual mayoral advisers.
On first starting a city, Mr. Neil Fairbanks pops up asking the player if
he wants some help. Later in the game, as pollution and power become
issues, other advisers come along to help. Instead of anticipating
what the player is trying to do, they give advice on the state
of the player's city.
Where am I? This question needs to be answered on two levels. First
the player might be lost in the game environment itself or might be
lost in the toolbar or menu system. To address the first, minimaps,
compasses, or a zooming in and out capability can be added to
the game to assist the player to navigate. Sometimes the actual
navigation can be the goal of the game, in which case, this type
of help should not be supplied.
For the latter, menu and toolbar navigational aids are rare in games.
Unlike software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop where
the help search will provide a set of instructions and illustrations as to
where to locate certain commands and actions, games do not tend
to do this—at least not in the game environment itself. This type of
information is usually supplied in the paper manual accompanying
the physical purchase of the game or in digital format online. While
this type of information is not part of the HUD or game interface, it is
indeed something that should be considered as ancillary information
to accompany your game.
On the Web
You can check out some really good HUD
designs online at http://feedgrids.com/originals/