Game Design 2: Lecture 9 - Immersion through UI

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  • Diegetic == Holographic interface in Dead Space Non- Diagetic = most classic heads up displays Spatial = character outlines in l4d meta = often visual effects based - e.g. counterstrike's flashing / blood spatter on camera
  • Diagetic No HUD elements risk of frustrating player due to slow response times
  • Diagetic (sort of meta too( ringing and a delay before you answer
  • Spatial Avatar can't see it but it's in the 3d space affords a more seamless interaction with no need to jump out to a map
  • Splinter Cell Convictions Spatial projections onto walls challenges the fiction somewhat
  • Modern Warfare 2 Meta blood used as a form of health bar
  • WOW Non-diagetic note they are influenced by the game's art style - but that is theming, not fiction.
  • this is the ‘condition vs quality’ issue.
  • the HUD is non-diegetic
  • the control point is spatial - not in the fiction - but is in 3d space
  • medigun is diegetic - portrays function and the fiction - plus servers the UI purpose of connecting these two players. THe names aren’t spatial - they are tied to user camera - don’t get smaller or larger etc..


  • 1. Game Design 2
    • Lecture 9: Immersion through UI [email_address] 2011
  • 2. Reading
    • Anthony Stonehouse
    • Erik Fagerhold & Magnus Lorentzon (2009)
    • Gamasutra (Marcus Andrews @ EA:DICE)
    • SlideShare presentation from Fagerhold
  • 3. Immersive UI
    • Trend towards minimal HUD
    • UI as transparent as possible to not distract player
  • 4. Terminology
    • Diegetic: Interface included in the game world
    • Non-diegetic: Interface rendered outside game world
    • Spatial: UI Elements resented in game’s 3D space but not be an actual in-game entity
    • Meta: Representations can be in game but aren’t necessarily visualised spatially for player
  • 5.  
  • 6.  
  • 7.  
  • 8.  
  • 9.  
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12. Case Study: Far Cry 2
    • Goes to great lengths to make UI diegetic
      • especially hard for FPS games
    • Uses in-game gadgets perform traditional HUD roles
      • map
      • time
      • weapon condition
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15. What works?
    • Novelty factor
      • diging bullets out of arm
      • Ubisoft promoting UI in marketing
    • Interaction with NPCs
      • you can see what that character is doing
      • injury rescue
  • 16. What doesn’t work?
    • UI seems conflicted
      • there are traditional non-diegetic HUD elements such as: ammo; interaction opportunities; health etc
  • 17.  
  • 18.  
  • 19.
    • The non-diegetic elements fade in and out
    • Some elements of the UI don’t provide the player with enough information
  • 20.  
  • 21. What does it mean?
    • The struggles of FC2 show that it is nearly hopeless for (FPS) games to be playable and 100% diegetic
    • If you make a late decision to compliment your diegetic components with non-diegetic, the design will suffer - best to plan
  • 22. Case Study: Dead Space
    • Fully diegetic interface.
    • Unlike most games, they had an explicit direction that all UI elements be ‘in the game world’
    • Fairly traditional HUD system with a twist
      • all rendered as in-game holograms
  • 23.  
  • 24.
    • in addition to the holograms, Dead Space also draws interface on the actual player avatar
  • 25.  
  • 26. What works?
    • Sci-Fi Fiction lends itself to diegetic UI
      • “typical UI, rendered atypically”
    • Perspective
      • Using player avatar as a canvas is a great way to promote immersion
          • largely depending on setting & 3rd person camera
    • Preserving Functionality
      • preserves functionality but adds style
  • 27. What doesn’t work?
    • Functionality breakdown
      • the holographic 3D map failed to aid player navigation leading to the implementation of another, complimentary feature - the ‘locator’ that has a completely new diegetic spatial method
  • 28.  
  • 29. What does it mean?
    • Fairly traditional interface rendered in novel fashion.
    • May be unrealised potential benefit of diegetic & innovative UI
    • Whilst the UI may have helped in the marketing (& sales?) its benefit to the gameplay is subjective
  • 30. Case Study: TF 2
    • Uses mixed methods to communicate
      • very much a “whatever works” approach
  • 31.  
  • 32.  
  • 33.  
  • 34. What works?
    • Mix of UI elements from each of the categories provides for lots of info without a cluttered HUD
    • shows that UI components don’t need to have an immediately obvious theme or be immersive to work
  • 35. What doesn’t work
    • the mix of styles can be perceived as a bit messy
    • inconsistencies can require more cognition from the player
  • 36. What does it mean?
    • TF2 has hardly any diegetic qualities but largely succeeds in UI design.
    • Shows that players will tolerate mixing styles in an interface
  • 37. Summary
    • Diegetic interface elements can help to reinforce the fiction of a game and can help keep the player immersed.
    • Diegetic elements are harder to design and integrate than non-diegetic elements especially in FPS games like Far Cry 2
    • When there is a trade off between immersion and functionality - functionality must be given priority