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Adapting the UI of a PocketPC game for lower resolutions

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Hi! I'm developing a simulation game for PocketPC and, till now, I've been focusing on a single resolution (480x640) so I could concentrate my development efforts on the game itself. Yesterday I decided to convert the game so that it can support lower resolutions such as 240x320 and I ran into a series of problems. Since this is my first game on a mobile platform, I thought I might ask for advice here. My first question has to do with font size: What do you think is the appropriate minimum font size for a game's UI? I'm currently using Tahoma Bold 8 (for both the 480x640 and 240x320 versions) but I've noticed that some popular games use even smaller fonts. My second question has to do with text and the use of abbreviations: in the 480x640 version, there are certain buttons that contain some lengthy text (eg. "CREATE A NEW PROGRAM" or "MANAGE OPENED PROGRAMS"). Unfortunately, those texts don't fit in the 240x320 version. Do you think it's a good idea to use abbreviations for those texts in the low resolution version even if that makes both versions different? If not, what do you suggest? Thanks in advance for all your answers, --Ignacio

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For the text, remove every unnecessary word and choose the remaining words carefully. Consider "Create a new program". "Create" is implied by "new", so you can leave it off. You can leave off the connector, so you have "New program". Next, if you only deal with programs, you can remove that word, so you just have "New". Same with "Manage opened programs", you can probably reduce it to just "Manage" or "Edit" or a similar verb that describes the action.

For the font size, you must consider the purpose of the text, your target audience, and the screen space available. Very small fonts may be appropriate for small amounts of UI information that is rarely used, but fine print doesn't work for large amounts of critical text (except maybe in legal screens...)

User interface design is important, and there are many highly-paid people who specialize in crafting screens for usability. If you can't afford one, the next best thing you can do is build something you think is good, show it to many people, carefully watch their reactions and usage patterns, and also ask them for criticisms. Use both sources of information to revise and improve your UI.

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Thanks for your reply frob! I'll take your advice of trying to reduce the number of words. I was also planning on testing it on friends and classmates at a later stage of development, but I wanted to ask here first in order to see if I was missing something obvious.

Thanks again for your input.

--Nacho

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