GUI Analysis

Minecraft:

Minecraft GUIIn Minecraft, the players status is displayed along the top of the screen (with health and armour on the left, and hunger on the right). This keep both of the icons out of the way, and in a good position to be read. When we read a book, magazine, or newspaper, the text begins at the top-left of the page or article. This is likely the reason that the health bar is in the same position in the Minecraft GUI, as it is one of the most important elements to be able to glance at in a split second, putting it in a familiar position is a good option. Hunger is probably the next most important thing to look at, so putting it at the top of the opposite side of the screen puts it on the same line as health and armour, but it is less prioritised as the player is less likely to need to make a quick glance at the hunger bar. All of the interactive elements of the GUI are at the bottom of the screen, making them easy to reach using your fingers. The level bar is also at the bottom of the screen, as it is not something that the player needs to utilise very often, so is in a low priority position. The only issue with this GUI, is that all the elements are very spread out, so it takes a while for the player to analyse how they are doing overall.


 Half-Life 2:

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 All elements of the GUI appear at the bottom of the screen, so as to keep them out of the view of the main game. This also keeps all of the GUI together and organised. The GUI is designed to not intrude on the outside environment, which I can tell because all of the elements of the GUI have an almost completely transparent background, with translucent text, so that they don’t distract the player too much from what is going on on screen. Overall, I think that this GUI fits its purpose very well. The text is easy to read, and it is well layed out, which makes the information on it much easier to see.

Throughout most of Half-Life 2 many elements of the GUI are hidden from the player, only becoming visible when they are relevant to the players current situation or status. I think that this is a good thing, as many elements are only used for small sections of the game, such as the “SQUAD FOLLOWING” icon, which only appears in s couple of chapters of the game. Similarly, the “AUX POWER” indicator only appears when the auxiliary power is being used by the suit. I think that the reason the ammunition counter is on the right-hand side of the screen is because that is the side of the screen that the protagonist holds his weapon on, so the player can easily tell that it is referencing that weapon’s current status. The order of the numbers is: Ammunition loaded, Spare magazines, Special attacks. The current ammunition and special ammunition counters are larger than the remaining magazines counter because these are the two numbers that will be the most important to see when the player is in a fire fight with Combine forces, and having all three of them the same size would make it confusing . The “HEALTH”, “SUIT”, and “AUX POWER” indicators are on the opposite side of the screen to the ammunition counters, which means that the player status and weapon status information is separate, so that the player does not become confused by all of the numbers on the screen.


Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance:

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As you can see, this GUI is quite complicated, and takes up a lot of the edges of the screen. The bottom of the screen is occupied by the largest part of the GUI. There are some basic commands on the left had side of the GUI, that can apply to most units. The largest tab at the bottom of the screen is each units construction menu, showing you what the unit can construct at its current level. On many units, this menu is mostly empty, as they do not have the ability to construct anything. This menu is short in order to keep it unobtrusive on the current screen, but it is still large enough to see on a PC screen. Up the right hand side of the screen are tabs referring to the current unit count, and unit limit, as well as a quick select menu for major units, and created army groups. These menus are kept as small icons so as not to intrude too much into the game screen. At the top centre of the screen is a tab that contains the pause menu and the diplomacy menu. The icons in this menu are small so that the menu can be as small as possible. At the top left, there is a tab that tells the player about the levels of energy and mass that they are generating, in order to tell them if they are able to construct more units.

The entire GUI is designed to give off as much information as possible whilst intruding on the gameplay area as little as possible. Most elements of the GUI are translucent, so that they do not distract the eye from the gameplay area, and most elements are retractable so the player can remove them if they feel they are unnecessary.

Elements of the GUI also appear in the gameplay area in order to assist the player, and indicate what units are currently doing. The blue paths are currently being patrolled by units, and the green squared indicate friendly buildings. These markers help identify what a unit is, who it belongs to, and what its current task is.

Many RTS games have GUIs that are similar. Compare the Supreme Commander GUI to this one from Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption:
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As you can see, the GUI has a similar layout, although the elements are different, and have different functions. The Supreme commander GUI is significantly more complicated, as everything takes place in the gameplay area, including resource gathering, construction, and attacking/defending. In Star Wars: EaW: FoC, these functions take place in several different gameplay modes and GUIs:
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