Halo 4 features a fully diegetic UI in the form of looking through the characters helmet visor. As the character and the player both look through the visor, it is clear to both of them how much ammunition, shields and health they have, along with a mini map representing the characters built-in radar. Another example of diegetic UI would be the ammunition displayed on the gun itself, located just under the scope.
In contrast to Halo, Dark Souls features an almost entirely non-diegetic UI. A non-diegetic feature of a UI would be something that the player can see, but the character can’t. The health and stamina bar, inventory and prompt to rest at the bonfire would all be examples of a non-diegetic UI.
GUI – Graphical User Interface, a way for humans to interact with computers. This could include windows, icons and menus that are manipulated by a controller (This could include a computer mouse for PC, or an Xbox controller for Xbox)
HUD – A visual method of allowing users of an interactive product to view information. In the gaming world, this could include player health, score, ammunition or even spoken dialogue through subtitles.
Meta – Representations can exist in the game world, but aren’t necessarily visualized spatially for the player; these are meta representations. The most apparent example is effects rendered on the screen, such as blood spatter on the camera to indicate damage.*
Diegetic – A diegetic UI would be a user interface that is shared by both the player and the character. A good example of this would be Dead Space 2, where the character uses augmentations in his armour to view his current equipment.
Spatial – UI elements presented in the game’s 3D space with or without being an entity of the actual game world (diegetic or non-diegetic). The character outlines in Left 4 Deadare an example of non-diegetic spatial UI.*
*Taken from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4286/game_ui_discoveries_what_players_.php?print=1
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.