Game Design Theory Level 4 – Advanced Game Mechanics and HUD / GUI Elements

Course 404 Section 3 – HUD / GUI


This will be the final section of our Game Design Theory Curriculum and you will by now have a solid understanding of how to mix game elements, design unique levels and enemies, and you will have an understanding of how to document your progress as you come up with a series of interconnected levels and events that animate your game world and reveal it to the player.

First we’ll define what HUD and GUI are: your player’s Heads-Up Display (HUD) is the in-game icons, numbers, meters, and other images / information that appears on screen to let the player know what’s going on. HUD elements include life bars, score displays, maps and timers / clocks. GUI stands for Graphic User Interface – these are all of the elements that exist outside of the actual gameplay itself.

GUI elements include the start screen, pause screen, loading screens, options screens, inventory screens, etc. Keep track of all the screens and what they will look like. You can make sketches and diagrams of where everything will be and how it will be laid out.

 When you have a plan to succeed and are ready to execute often is becomes apparent that there is one thing that has been neglected – the user interface. This is the series of screens that the player will see when first loading the game, and it is their dashboard to access all of the game’s content. These screens and their colors, fonts and overall graphical design can make a huge impression on the player if done correctly, or if you are strapped for cash and time you can make a bare-bones set of menus. Which one do you think the players would prefer? Let’s take a look outside the box at some of the ways people make their interfaces pop our at the player.