The user interface in a game can often interfere or change the player’s feelings or experiences they have whilst playing and are often taken into great consideration with other game mechanics. For this example, i’ll be talking about a specific game and its overall pros and cons towards the way the game developers have approached their user interface, that game is Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
I’ve been a fan of the first few Ratchet and Clank games but never personally played this particular one before my play test, but apart from the feeling of nostalgia I got when I picked up the controller I was hit by a strange feeling when I glanced around the screen, that being the UI takes up none of the screen at all, the only thing visible is the player’s character and the hordes of bad guys you need to kill. When the player continues to play the game however, certain elements of the UI become visible as they trigger certain events, these could include collecting bolts (the games currency, used for buying weapons) or firing a gun that requires ammo, both of these actions cause a small menu to appear in the top right or top left of the screen, showing the player what they need to know at that point in time. As I continued playing and became more aware of the UI, which I hadn’t put much thought into at all whenever I played games in the past, I became more thankful of the minimal approach that the developers took when they created this particular game, while other games try and give the player as much information as possible to let them feel in control, Ratchet and Clank gives them the information whenever they would need it, if the entire UI was always visible, then the screen would feel cluttered and over complicated for the overall simplistic game that it is. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and design went into designing the UI for this game, even the weapon select function is designed on sticking with the minimal approach that the developers took, by displaying a wheel in the middle of the screen that pauses the game play where the player can read about each weapon and select an appropriate one for the situation.
If I learnt anything or took anything away from my play test of this game, it would be to always keep in mind how much information you need to give the player in order for them to play the game. I would also say that despite the fact that gamers generally don’t think about the detail or design of the UI, it definitely has a very large impact on the game considering that it would be what the player sees throughout his experience and is something that a lot of game developers should keep in mind when building a game.