GUI Research

Game Graphic User Interfaces

For our designing for the user module, we have been asked to write and research about existing Graphic User Interfaces (GUI). Also to consider the means used by the game producers to display critical game information. Various things that we could look at are layout, content, information, icons, text format, colour, navigation, design, usability, execution.

I chose to research many different genres of games and below is the list of games I decided to look at.

  1. The Simpsons Tapped Out – Building Simulator
  2. Borderlands 2 – Role -Playing First Person Shooter
  3. Island: The lost Medallion Mystery game – Mystery Item finding game
  4. Super Mario 64 – Adventure Platform
  5. WRC 2 – Racing

The Simpsons Tapped Out

The Simpsons Tapped Out

I thought I would begin with a relatively new game on the IOS, this is ‘The Simpsons Tapped Out’ and is a building type of simulator were you build up the community. There are few things shown on the games GUI but they do a lot of different things when you click them. I would say that the GUI is split up into 3 different areas, the quest area, the building area and the players information. It’s a good thing that there are only a few components shown, since it is on the iPhone, the player wouldn’t want the screen being clogged up as they are using relatively small screens.

There are many different types of quests found in this game and these are shown along the left hand side of the screen, indicated by the characters head the quest is for or what item, like on the picture; there are quests for Homer and Lisa and there is also a quest growing a certain plant. Also the little book that is opened in the bottom left indicates that the quest book is viewable, when you click the book it will close and you won’t be able to see the quests. This is a great way to show quests and a quest book is used in many different games to show useful quest information without cluttering up the players screen too much.

In the bottom right there are 3 different buttons, one of them takes you to your friends towns so you can go view what their’s look like. The middle button will allow the player to move objects or buildings around, so you can re-place things to suit your needs; this is a great thing to have in a game like this because when you are playing it you soon realise that certain buildings don’t look right is certain area’s, so it’s good to be able to move things around. The final bottom right button is the building button, allowing the user to build buildings or scenery objects, pressing this will show more GUI options for the player to use.

Finally is the players information located in the bottom left hand side, this shows various information like player level, experience bar, town rating, how much donuts and money the player has. These are all small pieces of information that don’t need a lot of space and have been nicely arranged and has been set out so that the player can look and understand at what they’re looking at.

Borderlands 2


Another game that I have been looking at is the ‘Role playing first person shooter’ game ‘Borderlands 2’. I think this game is a great example to show off a good GUI design as it incorporates 2 popular genres of the current generation, FPS and RPGs. Borderlands graphical user interfaces shows all the relavant information needed for this type of game and is set out into 4 areas, the ammo area, health and shield area, minimap area and the experience area.

The ammunition area located in the bottom right is a normal thing to see in this type of game because everyone wants to see how many grenades they have left and how much bullets they have left to they can preserve their bullets. Also another area known to an RPG and FPS type is the experience bar in the bottom middle of the screen, showing the player how close they are to levelling up.

Bottom left is home to the health and shield bar, which is needed to see if you are close to dying and if you need to get some health. Also another thing above this is the players special power icon, this will show the player if they can use their special power and if not it will have a cool down timer on it, which is good because these powers can be a big help when you are backed into a corner and need that extra help.

Finally the minimap area in the top right will show all the useful information like where the player is going, where enemies are located and where the quest location is. Just under the minimap is a short description of the players current quest they are doing, telling the player what they have to do. I think this is a common thing found in role playing games and is needed to help players progress in a easy way without having to press start to view what they have to do.

Island Mystery Game 

Island iPad Game

Another game I have found to have an interesting GUI is a mystery game called ‘Island: The Lost Medallion’ on the IOS, this is just a simple puzzle and item finding game. As graphic user interfaces go, this is simplicity at it’s best, 3 areas, all located at the bottom to not take up too much space on the screen.

In the bottom left is a notepad, this tells the user the story of the current room their in; the more you progress, the more story and note pages you will get until you fill the notepad and complete the game. Reading it can also help you find the items if you are struggling, but if you are really struggling with an item, then you can click the medallion in the bottom right and click the item or word at the bottom and it will show you it’s location in the room by lighting up a certain area but there is a cool down timer until you can use it again. This is always a good feature to have in a item finding game because there are just some items that seem impossible to find so having that extra little help goes along way.

Now finally is the item list in the bottom middle of the screen, sometimes you are finding whole items, sometimes words of the items or pieces of an item. Every item finding game that I have played has had this feature and is a definite must to find the items because if you didn’t have the list then that would be really silly because you won’t know what you’re looking for and would just have to tap all over the screen to progress.

Super Mario 64


I thought I would look at one of my old favourite Adventure Platform games on the nintendo 64, ‘Super Mario 64’. Usually on mario games, the objective is to collect items to progress further; in this case, ‘Stars’. The GUI in split into 4 components, camera area, star area, coin area and life area.

Most of these you would expect from a Mario game except maybe the camera icon in the bottom right. This is used to move the camera area around mario or you can change it to view from mario’s eyes (first person). This works very well in this game because sometimes the camera will move into an awkward position and you can’t move forward to progress, so having the ability to move the camera where you want is a good feature to have.

The top area is there to show the player how much life’s, coins and stars they have. This is a very common thing in mario games. The user needs to know how much lifes they have so they won’t be reckless and just run into the enemy because they think they’ve got plenty of life’s to waste. The coins area in the top middle needs to be there so show the player how much coins they have collected in the current level, a feature I think they should of included into the main GUI is a red coin area. In each level there are 8 red coins to collect, which if collected will reward the player with a ‘Star’. To see how many red coins you have you have to press the start button to view them, which is quite irritating, I think they could have put this into the main GUI next to the normal coin area.

Finally is the star area in the top right, used to view how many of them you have collected through-out all the levels you have played. You need to see this area because certain room require a certain amount of stars to enter them and of course if you don’t have enough then you will have to go to room that require less.

World Rally Championship 2

WRC FIA World Rally Championship2

The final game’s GUI I looked at was WRC2 on the xbox 360. This is a racing game so you would expect certain things on the GUI, this GUI has 4 areas.

First I’ll start on the left, this shows how far down the track you are with various lines through out to show check points. When a area is red it means you have lost position and have gone down the rankings, if its green it means you have gained advantage on the other racers. This is a great area to have because it shows you how well you are doing. A feature that could be added and be permanent is a list of the top 4 positions in the race, this is in the game but only shows for a few seconds at every check point.

In the bottom right is the speed gauge, which is expected from a racing game because every player likes to see how fast they are going and it is a huge help for people playing on manual transmission. Next to this is a car damage indicator, showing what component on the car is in dire need of attention or not, components could include, wheels, engine, brakes, suspension etc. The damage is indicated by a certain colour, green means good and red means you’re probably going to brake down.

In the upper right is the timer, this is a definite must because the races are all time trial types and to win and achieve certain rewards from sponsors require the player to finish in a certain time. The opponent gap times will appear under the timer every checkpoint. Also in the top middle is an icon that will show what type of corner is coming up and how difficult it is, the smaller the number, the harder the corner. This is a great feature to have in this type of game because some tracks have difficult terrain and require you to slow down on some corners.


~ by reeceharry on February 3, 2013.

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