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User Interface Design

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This is for a game I'm creating called Islander. It's a pesonal project similar to tropic just not as advanced. I'm using it to help me grasp AI. Here is what I want the UI to have: A Mini-Map Descrition/Details of selected object Build button and building options --There's only going to be 6 buildings: --House, Apartment, Constrution Office, Farm, Dock, Fisherman Dock Currency($xxx,xxx,xxx) Local happiness bar Any design I make seems to have too much space. I know this is simple but I'm just a programmer not a designer. I hate Tropico's UI(to many tabs). I guess I could make it so you have to click on the construction office in order to build things.

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It looks like this is a game design question. As such, it might get better replies if it was in the game design forum.
And the replies would probably be better if the question was more clearly worded as a question (or series of questions).

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I think the key to UI design is to display the information that needs to be together, well, together. This includes the game objects. For instance, currency may be something you need at all times, same with a mini-map. But the building options are only needed when you want to build. Maybe clicking the build button should cause a contol to expand that shows building options. Once the building options are selected, they should disappear to give the user plenty of screen space to choose his location. The mini-map could be partially transparent most of the time except when the user hovers over it. This would make it visible and yet they could see the screen behind it. The local happiness bar just goes in a corner of the screen and could be made partially transparent as well seeing as you don't need to see it clearly to make out what it is. Just as long as you choose a color that will conflict with very little with the stuff on the screen. There is a lot of things that can be done with the descriptions and details of a selected object. This would depend on why they need the details. Could they possibly need to take action? Do they want to monitor the details because they are constantly changing? Or does it just provide extra information to increase immersion in the game? Just think of what else they may want to do while they have the details open and make that stuff available while the details are open. For instance, if they need to click another object easily, then you are limited on screen space you can take up. If they need to perform some kind of action, then you may want to provide an action toolbar as well. Also think about what they will not need when they open the details. For instance, they may not need the mini-map and so you could hide it and use that space while the details is open.

I don't know if any of this information is helpful. UI design just requires carefully analyzing what your players are going to be doing at each step with the UI. It sounds simple, but you are trying to predict what hopefully will be thousands and thousands of players of your game. Good luck.

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I guess I should of put this in the game design forum.

For some reason I was thinking of a UI across the bottom of the screen.
I didn't think of having a button that would open up.
I'll set it up like this:
__________________
|||||||Buildings||
||Map||Details--||
|||||||Options--||
||Happiness Bar-||

With the system I set up I should be able to make it transparent when the mouse isn't over it.

Thanks

[EDIT more for me that for you:]
Building categories:
Housing, Economic, Offices

Oh yeah I deleted the double post.

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