When putting together a game, the creator must think about how they are going to present their end product. Sure having well rounded player mechanics and juicy player feedback is awesome but what does the player see before they even get to your game? The Menu Screen!
Almost all games that we see released today come with a very well rounded menu screen and I believe that it is crucial to the success of any good game. The menu screen is where the player spends their time before and after they play your game so why wouldn’t you want it to be the best it can be? If the player is already having a tough time with your game, why make it harder by having a poorly thought out menu? If the player is enjoying your game, why ruin any love they have for it by asking them to navigate through pointless other screens? Having a well rounded User Interface is one of the most important things when it comes to creating not only a good game but anything that requires someone to navigate your product.
Adam Landrum believes that having a good UI system for your patrons is something that is essential for success. His article “Focusing on UI/UX and the importance of Good Design” (Landrum, 2014), reminds people that the first thing that anybody notices about your product is how it is presented. If the person looking to use your product is displeased with your User Interface, this could turn them away before they even come close to getting what they came for. In the case of web design, this is absolutely crucial because if people can’t look at your site and feel safe about using it then people will look elsewhere to get what they want as to not risk viruses or worse. If the User Interface is smooth and looks good to your patrons you are going to have a much easier time getting people to use your product.
Speedy Shapes! is a game that I have started working on. A game where you match shapes when they appear on the screen. The game was simple and only really had one game mechanic which had the player focusing on matching the shapes as they flashed in front of them in pairs. If the player failed to match a pair or matched the wrong pair they would loose the game, resulting in a game over screen that would then show them their score. My game currently uses the standard Unity Buttons (Technologies, 2016) but in the future I believe it needs something different to make the game more appealing to players. This game being so simple I believed that it would only need a very simple user interface. Something that the players would only have to look at for a few seconds and be right back in the game. Having such a smooth User Interface is key to creating a game that players want to keep playing. This idea comes from the game that I find very inspiring as it executes this type of user interface flawlessly, Flappy Bird.
I admire Flappy Bird for many reasons including it’s fantastically executed user interface. Flappy Birds UI is simple, effective and only takes up about 2 seconds of the players time. It allows the player to get more of what they want which is key to any good game. Having the player waiting long periods of time for your game is annoying for the player and they may loose interest. Having the Menu System short, simple and easy to navigate will overall increase the value of your game greatly. Flappy Bird being the simple game that it is, only has 3 main screens (screens between play).
The Initial Screen: This screen gives the player three options: rate, play or high scores. The rate button is simple as it is spelled out where as both the high Score and Play buttons are displayed as a symbol that the player would associate with the words “PLAY” or “HIGH SCORE”. This method not only communicates to the player what the buttons intended purpose is but also looks good for the player. Increasing the visual satisfaction for the player.
The Play Screen: This screen is where the game begins. the player is shown a picture of the bird mid flight and told to “Get Ready”. The picture is of a bird with an arrow pointing up with the words “TAP TAP” accompanied by a small picture of an index finger gesturing a tapping motion. This communicates to the player that the game is about to begin and are told very clearly how to play the game. This takes away the need for the play to look at a tutorial for you game and makes them feel like you aren’t completely holding their hand but also allows them to get straight into your game without forcing them to learn how to play on their own or through means of a tutorial.
The End game Screen: This is the screen that the player is shown when the player has died in the game. Again, this screen is very simple and does not confuse the player. It displays the high score of the player and the current score that the player has achieved And also awards the player a medal for how well they went. The 2 buttons in the scene are also very simple and to the point. “OK” and “SHARE”. “SHARE” allows you to share your high score with your friends which is something else that every good game should have(but that is for another time). The “OK” takes you back to the Play Screen instead of taking you back to the Initial Screen where you hit play, saving you seconds of time. This is a key part of this games success as saving this small amount of time and getting player straight back into the game was what kept people playing. Making this smooth transition was necessary for this game to succeed where as if the player was forced back to the title screen, they would second guess playing a second or third time. This smooth transition was effortless and encouraged players to keep at it and thus making the player feel as though they are not wasting their time.
Flappy Bird was a success for many reasons but one of the main reasons I believe that it was so well received was because of it’s well thought out UI system. Keeping the players interested and in the game for longer rather than having them looking through the UI for the play button. Keeping it simple, direct and appealing are some of the things that the maker of Flappy Bird had thought about and executed wonderfully. Anyone who has any interest in creating a game for any audience should think about these things as they go about creating their UI if they want their game to go far. Even with the best game mechanics, a game can always benefit from a well thought out User Interface.
Technologies, U. (2016). Unity – UI button. Retrieved December 20, 2016, from https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials/topics/user-interface-ui/ui-button
Landrum, A. (2014, July 29). Focusing on UI/UX and the importance of good design | Up&Up. Retrieved December 20, 2016, from Creative & Design, https://www.upandup.agency/creative-design/importance-of-good-ui-ux
Benjamin Jeffrey Houghton