Tip-toe, through the UI…

Being up at stupid o’clock in the morning (4am), I find myself plugging away at Dom and the UI again. For morale’s sake – I decided to do a brain dump in the blog 🙂

UI is something I normally push back down in a project’s lifecycle. Get the design / look feel down “stylistically” as early as possible – but never, ever – under any circumstances ever begin implementing it “for real” until the project is just heading towards Alpha.

Why?

Because stuff changes. And those changes impact everything when it comes to UI. The project feature set changes (we realise “A” cannot be done, or “B” can be, but has more/less features – which can mean more UI or less UI, or removing UI entirely, or changing the UI/UX “flow” of screens, or how the user interacts with it). Or the UI itself changes – and all that nice code you wrote is now pretty much worthless. (This happens far too often on a game – UI Designers please take note 😉 ).

Change control (especially on a game project) is usually not even considered as part of the design process. Trying to make your Producer realise the UI changes have just cost 4 man weeks, and now mean another 6 to do the new “design” isn’t always the easiest of tasks – especially when they have to sit before the Publisher and say “we’re going to be late”.

Normally – I always advise “dev art” for UI until reaching this critical “pre-alpha” stage. Make it purple, with yellow stripes – anything that screams “Placeholder”. ie. it looks crap, and could never be allowed to ship.

Dom is a different beastie. From day one I had a clear ‘look and feel’ in mind for the UI – driven by the story ‘universe’ that sits behind the game. I also have the advantage of being the UI designer and the code developer – so I only have myself to blame if something doesn’t work or I have to change it 🙂 But, that withstanding – I’d still have left it for later. The need to show “something” UI wise in the Kickstarter campaigns led to doing UI dev earlier than I’d have normally planned – but that then helped set out the structure of the UI framework, and also flesh out some early problems (a kind of “fail early” approach). It’s also proved vital to some of the core gameplay components in this instance – namely the navigation and Map system.

Anyway – enough rambling, more coding…

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Author: Mak View all posts by

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