Development Diaries, Volume 12

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Here's the latest screenshot of just what, exactly, my HUD is shaping up to look like:


Click for a full-sized version.

As you can see, I've more or less finished the Pie Wheel, standardized placement for the location text that goes along with the Pie Wheel, and even added a Score/Time Remaining meter (on the right) and two Power Up icons (on the left).

Now, of course, I get to agonize about certain things.

The first thing I get to worry about is the HUD's design. The entirety of the HUD... Pie Wheel with locations, Score/Timer, Selector, Power Up icons... doesn't amount to very much. That begs for a minimalist design, which I think I've represented here. But is it the right minimalist design?

Artwork, it turns out, matters quite a lot. 2D art design for a game is one of the most direct ways of presenting your style choice to the player. I want my HUD to require (a) minimum amounts of observation, and (b) want it to attract no more than the necessary amount of attention, so that players can concentrate on correctly identifying locations. In short, I don't want the HUD to be looked at too much, nor do I want it to be looked at too infrequently. I think I've achieved (a), but (b) might prove a little tougher. For one thing, the yellow-green Power Up is kind of obnoxiously bright, which may prove a distraction.

When it comes to artwork, small things matter. Does the whitish-gray rims of the Power Up icons and the Score/Timer match the aesthetics of the rest of the game? Is the font usage consistent? (Hint: it is.) Does the HUD look gaudy or unwieldy in any place? (Hint: the tabs that say "Score" and "Time" are a little, um, non-aerodynamic.)

This work is mostly being done in Photoshop right now, so I still have room to maneuever. While none of it is final, I am proud of a few things, like using a drop shadow on the HUD features and the location text so that the white/black dichotomy stands out no matter what color the water background is. Also, I replicated the drop shadow for the engravings that say "Score" and "Time", which I also think works fairly well.

Also, a Photoshop layout gives me time to think before I commit energy to putting an unfinished HUD into the game. For instance, since my locations will be randomly chosen, what would've happened if "Capetown, South Africa" was assigned to the B button instead of the X button? The answer: the location would've been drawn over part of the Score/Timer display, which is a big no-no. With this in mind, I now need to go back to the drawing board and create a vertical Score/Timer display. The verticality of the Power Up icons works pretty well, so two vertical HUD display sections in either corner will not only allow room for the location text, but also be roughly symmetrical.

Finally, there's the fact that I added Power Up icons, but have not made any additions to the HUD that show what player's progress towards earning those Power Ups. (I'll explain the role of Power Ups in a later Development Diary, but suffice it to say, you earn them by identifying three locations of the same difficulty in a row, with a high degree of accuracy.) So that needs to be added too.

Fortunately, like I said, I can arrange most of this in Photoshop before I commit it to the game. With that in mind, does anyone have any HUD suggestions? Aesthetics, layout... I'm all ears.