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Game Screens

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So I thought I'd plan out the various screens that the game should have -- only now do I realize what a truly massive undertaking even a small "complete" game is!

Many games have the same sort of flow, so maybe this analysis will be useful to somebody else.

Some of these "screens" might actually be dialogs that pop over the previous screen, but they are encapsulated functionality with a large UI so it still makes sense to think of them separately. Other sequenes of events are possible and the design needs to be thought through a little more.

Note: the rest of this entry has been superceded by the following entry, after making some changes in response to a helpful comment
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People will play your game because of the game, not because of the user input screen. If a user can't play your game in less then 22 seconds from starting it, chances are they'll quit without even playing it. Rethink your game design and see if you can encorporate that. Many game designers come up with a QuickPlay option that instantly sends them to a randomly create game.

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Thanks for the comment, I agree that getting into the game quickly is important. I didn't make this list to emphasize the importance of data entry screens, just to make sure I understand everything that has to be done eventually.

The set of screens in the journal entry is mostly taken from studying the current top selling casual games (like Luxor: Amun Rising, and Rainbow Web), so I don't think it's too unusual.

In particular, the metastory introduction could be skipped until after the first level is complete (although highly popular download games do sometimes seem to have quite extended introductory sequences).

Similarly, if the game does have a "level selection", that could be skipped and an introductory level could be presented before introducing that mechanism.

Delaying that stuff leads to the following sequence:

1. Loading screen. Could conceivably be omitted but every game seems to have some sort of "Hi there!" screen to start.

2. Player name. This could also be skipped on the assumption that only one person is going to have saved games, or it could be delayed until game save / game over, but again it seems to be almost universally included.

3. "What to do", with a prominent "Play" button. It would be disorienting to skip this entirely.

4. Basic Gameplay. It could be included in the "what to do" screen, or it could be done over the top of the actual gameplay screen, but you gotta at least tell somebody "click two gems to swap them, try to make rows of three" or "shoot the colored balls to make groups" or whatever or people won't have a clue what to do.

I think it's a very interesting area to think about, and thanks for pointing out that less is better!

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Thinking it over further, it seems like it would be a good idea to include "Basic Gameplay" info on the Loading screen (with in-game hints if there are other mechanics that need some explanation).

After loading is complete, controls from the "What to do" screen can be added to the initial loading screen in place of the progress indicator, with "Play" prominent.

I don't see any reason really that the name entry can't wait until after the game is over (like on the old arcade games to get your name on the high score list), unless the name is needed for dialog or something.

Then, skipping the metastory entirely until a first level is complete, the game starts right away.

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