Looking in to…

…some game menu design.

So as I’m googling to find good and bad designed menus I’m not finding many tutorials that goes through the steps of making a good design choices or what bad ones to avoid. At least not in particular for a start menu in a game!

I mostly stumble upon forums where gamers write what they like and don’t like. And Overall I can tell that players think a menu should be…. (and these are quite understandable off course!);

  • Easy to understand (The user should easily see where they want to look and go)
  • Not too “over animated”(Having too much animations and/or too long animations makes the menu impossible to get through fast when some players just want to  quickly get in to the game)
  • Easy access to main buttons (Like ‘New Game’, ‘Load’, ‘Continue’, ‘Options’)
  • A menu that makes sense to the rest of game overall (Like the menu is setting the mood, showing the graphics and tells a little of how the genre of the game will be)
  • No overly annoying elements that just doesn’t make sense

A lot of these are of course individual tastes and as always it’s impossible to make everybody completely happy. But a good balance between them all is probably the best.

We have the usual design choices like light, colors, placements and animations which draws the eyes to different areas in the screen. Using them you can direct the user’s eyes in different directions and where you want them to go and where you want them to focus.

If you don’t want the user’s eyes to fly all over the screen things should happen and be portrayed in the closest space of the buttons that they are currently looking at.

The font of your choosing should also be easy to read. So that the user can quickly make out what they are reading and what they are searching for.

You should not have to squint or stop to feel confused when you look at it.

One thing that also helps a menu make it or break it is the choice in music. Music is a very strong mood setter but off course it has to be the right kind of music.

Something really colorful and happy looking will most probably not go well together with some really sad music.  Could maybe make a funny twist depending on the game and all but you get my point.

And as I am writing about sounds I come to think of all the smaller sounds that also make the menu and game come to life. For example the push of a button, swooshing between different choices or perhaps the animations happening in the environment around it all

So at the same time as one might want to do a really cool menu there are some pointers to be careful about as to not overdo things or completely go the wrong way!

Here is a site where they have picked out some good menus;

http://criticalindex.com/video-game-menus/

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