Things like plot, graphics, characters, and dialogues make the video game interesting to potential players and encourage them to try it. But once you purchase and launch a game, these things alone might not be enough for you to actually enjoy the gaming experience.
UI design for games affects the gaming process greatly. If it’s good, the gaming experience would feel smooth, immersive, and intuitive to understand. If it’s bad, even the most captivating plot could fail to compensate for the interaction difficulties.
Read further to learn what exactly UI design is, how it could affect performance, and how to create outstanding interfaces for games.
What exactly is UI design for games?
UI stands for User Interface. In video games, the interface presents all the important information for the player and helps the player navigate the game’s world. A good UI design is easy to understand. It doesn’t distract the player from the rest of the game and matches the game’s style.
What is important to create strong UI interfaces? Let’s dig deeper into the tips provided by the best companies offering UI/UX design services.
Tips to create intuitive and engaging UI interfaces
1. Look at what others do
To create a strong and effective UI design, you don’t have to invent all the interface from scratch. In fact, you have to look at what other game UI/UX designers create for a certain genre and try to recreate those patterns while giving them a unique look. This is important because interfaces in every niche have their own design patterns. For instance, when you visit a website, you expect to find a menu on the top of a site and things like contacts and links to social media in the footer. The menu itself also has to look familiar, be it a hamburger menu on a meta one with a drop-down interface.
The same goes for the games. The players have expectations of how certain features could look and how they’ll perform. For instance, a scale displaying a character’s health could be either horizontal or vertical. But its positioning could depend on the game’s genre: for example, in a first-person shooter, such scales are displayed on the bottom of the screen.
2. Use wireframing
A wireframe is a grayscale prototype that demonstrates the positioning of elements on a screen. It is used for website design and interface creation. The main perk of a wireframe is that it helps to understand whether a certain interface is convenient to use before you put effort into coloring it and adapting it to a game’s design.
Lack of color allows one to evaluate the effectiveness of an interface quicker because a game UI/UX designer has fewer distractions. Are the buttons okay or maybe they are too big or small? Is their placement convenient or will it be hard for the player to switch between commands? Does the interface blend well within the game or does it occupy most of the screen, distracting the player from the view?
At this stage, it’s also important to look at other games in the same genre. Even the size of an interface could differ from genre to genre. For instance, in a first-person shooter, an interface could occupy a large part of the screen. But if a game’s world should get most of the player’s attention, the interface shouldn’t be distracting.
3. Help UI blend into the game’s world
A strong user interface doesn’t only make the game process simple and entertaining but also helps the players immerse into the game more. To achieve this, the interface has to be not only functional but also memorable. The game’s genre, theme, and style have to reflect in the interface too. Sometimes game development companies provide game art design services for that purpose, and sometimes this can be done by the UI/UX designer.
To create such an interface, you have to look at the game’s design and at other games that implement something you’re planning to do. Create references and see how they blend into the game. Do they complement the game’s locations and graphics or do they look out of place?
4. Understand how the players interact with the UI
For designers, the interfaces they create are easy to understand by default. They use symbols they find intuitive. The players, however, might interpret such symbols in a different way. For instance, a floppy disc icon that indicates saving is a symbol that is easy to interpret by those who are familiar with floppy discs. A younger audience, on the other hand, might find this message confusing.
To avoid that, it’s important to test the interface and ask the player’s opinions. Ask the right questions — not about if they like what they see, but about their expectations when pressing a certain button, the way they understand the UI, and so on. Don’t hesitate to ask about what went wrong with the UI, in which cases the outcome was not like the players expected. Avoid making assumptions and focus on their feelings and experience — this will help you adjust the interface to their needs later.
To sum up
The user interface contributes greatly to the overall gaming experience. If designed right, it helps make the game intuitive to understand and enjoyable to play. A strong interface doesn’t distract the players from the game’s world but instead complements the world and could help them immerse into the game more. To create great interfaces, a designer has to focus on the players a lot and take existing design patterns into consideration.