Copyright by Scott Rogers

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Chapter 8. SIGN LANGUAGE—HUD AND ICON DESIGN

Picture, if you will, another dimension balanced between game and the real; a dimension of sight and sound, a realm of things and ideas. No, it isn't the Twilight Zone, but the zone known as the HUD.

Named after the heads-up display found in modern aircraft, the HUD is the most effective way of communicating with the player. The HUD refers to any visual element that communicates information to the player. The mini-screens and icons found in a HUD are some of the best tools in a video game designer's bag of tricks. They can communicate information, emotion, even tell the player where to go and what to do. Let's look at some of the HUD elements found on an average game screen:

SIGN LANGUAGE—HUD AND ICON DESIGN
  1. Health bar/lives

  2. Targeting reticule

  3. Ammunition gauge

  4. Inventory

  5. Score/experience

  6. Radar/map

  7. Context-sensitive prompt.

HEALTH BAR

HEALTH BAR

A staple of action, adventure, platform, and shooter games, the health bar represents how close the player is to death, or having to restart for some other reason. Health bars are the most flexible of the HUD elements and come in a variety of forms and imagery depending on the game:

  • Many health bars are bars "filled" with color (often red) or icons. As the player takes damage, they lose a percentage of the bar or the color empties from the icon. When the ...

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