What Draws Me to a Video Game? — UI

(See my intro here for the first part of this series!)

User-Interface (UI)

Here, I define “UI” to be anything in the game that is not the actual game world, that I interact with to play. Meaning: map, quest log, action bars, chat log, and other things along those lines.

What do I enjoy in a UI?

  • Clean
    • Allows a large field of vision into the world.
    • Doesn’t have elements that blink or flash to get my attention, unless they’re important. For example: WildStar has a flashing icon for their cash store, which doesn’t turn off until you click into it, and this happens every time you log in. I understand games have to make money, but don’t make it an irritation. On the other hand, if I’ve received a message in party chat, but I’m not currently clicked into the party tab, I don’t mind the party tab flashing to let me know someone has spoken.
    • Font is easy to read, text size can be scaled up or down to fit your needs.


  • User-friendly
    • Icons are easily recognizable for what they are and/or what they do. For example: inventory is a pack icon and is opened by me hitting “i” for “inventory” or “b” for bags. Hero panel is a picture of a person and is opened by me hitting “h” for “hero” or “p” for “person”.
    • Rearranging the UI or hotkeys to make sense to me (like if I change the “i” key to open my inventory) doesn’t break the way the game plays, or interrupt the flow of the gameplay.


  • Few action bars (or just one!)
    • EverQuest did this well, giving you just one action bar so that you had to pick and choose which abilities you have up at a single time. WildStar and Guild Wars 2 also do a very good job of limiting action bars. EverQuest 2 is the WORST for it. Too many abilities, which you need up all the time, leading to focusing on the action bars, rather than the action.


  • Customizeable
    • Ability to move portraits or information around so that it feels natural to me.
    • Ability to track quests and/or achievements cleanly, with the ability to toggle them on or off at any time, and the ability to order them the way you choose.
    • Chat tabs that can be closed completely, chat channels that can be logged out of permanently (not every time you log in!), ability to create your own chat tabs with the channels and information you want to see.


  • Local time shown, not just server time


  • Mini map?
    • I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I’m a horrible navigator, and a minimap is useful to help me get around… but on the other hand, I want to have my eyes on the world, experiencing the scenery and ambiance and not have my nose stuck in the minimap. I think that it’s basically a style choice (either having a mini map, or just having a main map, or having no map at all!) and that as long as it is implemented well, I could get behind any choice that is made.


Want to keep reading on this topic? Click the links below to navigate to the different sections of this series:







Final Thoughts


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