UI = User Interface
UX = User Experience
The normal definition of a User interface is anything in the device you are using that you can interact with, for example a computer UI would be the display screen, the mouse/touchpad, the keyboard and everything that is interactive on the screen. The User Experience on the other hand is what the person interacting with the product thinks about whilst being immersed within the world of that device such as what the layout looks like, what the typography is like, what the interactions are like etc.
Within a game UI and UX are active at all times. The UI of a game can include a lot of things such as the start-up screen, each of the options on the start-up screen, the pause menu, the H.U.D, the controller and console itself are even included. The UX is how immersed in the game the gamer feels, play-ability, flow, fun, competitiveness, fairness etc.
Examples of a Good User Interface
Crash Bandicoot – Crash of the Titans
The original Crash Bandicoot Series was the best but the new series I find has a great User Interface. One of the main reasons I like this game for UI is because during the loading screen there is a slight interaction that keeps you amused for those two minutes of waiting. The video below shows the game and if you look at point 0:39 you can see the loading screen, the screen is interactive and if you move the controller thumb-stick the paw prints move. It may only be a little thing but I find interaction on a loading screen is essential and should be used in more games.
I know some people are still waiting to play Arkham Knight so if you haven’t played it yet I suggest you either skip this part or don’t watch the videos.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman Arkham Knight is really good with UI and UX. As soon as I played this game I didn’t want to come off of it because you have so much that is interactive and enjoyable yet it is still easy to access and understand. First of all you can play as different people within this game and each character has there own mode. (It is known as ‘Detective Mode’).
Batman has a detective mode that you get used to so well because it has been in the whole game series. With the press of one button you can reveal lots of information that is needed throughout a fight or through a stealth mission. Enemies that turn orange have a gun and blue enemies just fist fight, also when looking at one enemy in particular you can see their heart rate to know how scared they are and how likely they are to fight back or cower in fear. You can also see the weapon they are holding. I find it very useful for finding weak spots in walls, vents you can crawl through, secret areas and collectibles.
Harley Quinn has a different campaign which is all about fighting therefore her ‘Detective Mode’ is a little different. When in detective mode rather than the screen being misty and blue Harleys screen goes red/pink. Flat surfaces have writing on them that relate to her personality (See example above) which I find very interesting to look at as it is a way of showing that you are playing as her and you know how she feels and what she is thinking. All of the enemies in this campaign have guns so they are all the same colour (pink/red) also Harley Quinn has an extra feature that Batman doesn’t have which is called ‘Mayhem Mode’. In this mode Harley can run faster, take less damage and kill an enemy with one swing of her bat.
Also what is really good about this game is the in-game hints. The hints are helpful for all of the shortcuts as most of the game consists of using shortcuts such as the D-pad (Xbox One). If you can’t remember what button to press when the time is needed the shortcut will pop up at the bottom of the screen.
The game Fallout 4 is another great example for UI and UX. The interaction with the famous Pip-Boy has been one of the best User Interfaces as it pauses the game and everything you need is all in that one place. also you have a pet companion that you can command to do certain things such as search areas for items of interest and injure an enemy. Whilst playing the game you meet a lot of people across the way (good and bad). Some people you meet give you tasks/objectives/missions to complete and if you helkp them out they offer to help you and therefore you gain a bigger variety of choice in choosing a companion. I find that choosing a companion is great as you gain an emotional attachment to them as they have their own background/story, they have a variety of interactions such as talking, trading and commands also your relationship between you and them can change depending on the choices you make.
Pet Dog Companion known as ‘Dogmeat’
Access Stats, Inventory, Data, Map and even a Radio.
OddWorld Abe Series
Abe’s Oddysee, Abe’s Exoddus, Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee, Abe’s New N Tasty
One of my favourite game series is the Oddworld Series created by Oddworld Inhabitants. I liked all of the games but I haven’t played Munch’s Oddysee because it’s a completely different game compared to the other games. I have recently played New ‘N’ Tasty and it is great (a remake of the original Abe’s Oddysee). The game series is great because it has an easy to use menu, a gamespeak menu so you can learn how to speak as the character and the story is great.
The gamespeak is a great feature as not many games feature something like this. Pressing certain buttons activates abe’s speaking and using this helps to acknowledge the other Muddokens and get further in the game. As well as being informative I find gamespeak quite fun as Abe is a funny character that you really get to know.
Examples of a Bad User Interface
Elder Scrolls iv – Oblivion
Oblivion is a great game but the user interface is very complex, especially for a beginner. Everything is seen as symbols and it’s difficult to learn all of them also all you can see is lots of numbers and words. Most of the User Interface is ignored by the player as it takes too long to sort all of your inventory, magic and more. Luckily the game is paused when you look at your User Interface.
The video below explains that fighting games have developed the H.U.D and stuck with a certain H.U.D. The H.U.D for the first Street Fighter was not successful enough as both health bars are in the middle whereas now the health bars are at the players side so it is easier to view it via their peripheral vision.