Mass Effect HUD/UI Redesign Challenge
Mass Effect remains one of my all-time favorite games, and an example of some fantastic game design. It has a compelling story, an extremely well-developed universe, and some interesting mechanics under the hood. Unfortunately, it also boasts a number of spectacularly bad UI elements. The HUD leaves a lot to be desired, icons can be very unhelpful, and anyone who has played the game has lamented the poor design choices made in the notorious ME1 inventory screen.
Krystian Majewski at Game Design Reviews wrote up an exhaustive and compelling analysis of ME1’s XBox 360 interface design here. He makes a lot of good points about how much of the HUD breaks basic conventions of UI design, and how it negatively affects the gameplay experience. This was my initial inspiration for the following idea:
Could I redesign the Mass Effect HUD and UI, within theoretical design constraints, and make them more effective?
Well, no time like the present to find out. Using Majewski’s review as a starting point, I will be going through the Mass Effect HUD and menu interfaces to see what can be improved. I will be adhering to the “style guide” of the PC version of ME1, so the button shapes, colors, and general layout will remain the same. I want to see if changes in positioning, style and readability can positively affect the overall feel of the game. Obviously there are some significant differences between the console version that Majewski reviewed and the PC version (I feel that the PC version is a definite improvement, though it doesn’t resolve all the interface issues), but I will be working under the assumption that my designs would be used for the PC.
Note: Obviously, Mass Effect, its visuals and all related material is copyright Bioware, EA, or whoever else owns the rights. I don’t claim to own any part of the game, and I hope they will be kind enough not to raise a legal fuss.