Jetboard Joust Devlog #21 – HUD’s Up!

Designing a game HUD is one of those things that always feel a bit of a drag to me. It’s not very exciting, not really part of the gameplay, and when it comes to coding often requires a lot of tedious repetition. You know the sort of thing – when you know exactly what you need to do and how to do it it’s just that it’s going to take a lot of typing to get there.

On the plus side, often when the HUD is added your game starts to feel much more like a game rather than an elaborate demo of some kind. This is good!

I spent a fair bit of time messing around with alternate layouts for the Jetboard Joust HUD. I’m pretty sure what type of info I want in there – obviously score and lives but also your currently selected weapon and the amount of ammo for it. It was tough to get everything in there whilst still remaining visually balanced and leaving enough space for the scanner.

I liked the idea of pretty big digits for the score and wanted something that looked vaguely ‘sci-fi’ whilst still being readable. In the end I designed my own font for this (though it was heavily based on Space Odyssey). For the small text I used the excellent 04b24 which is (with the exception of the letter ‘i’) a monospaced bitmap font.

I think it looks pretty good. The one thing I’m not sure about is displaying the amount of lives on the right-hand side. I’d rather have kept this area just for weapon info but as I can’t really think what else I might put in there other than amount of ammo and currently selected weapon it was looking rather empty.

Couldn’t end this post without a shout out to two of my favourite game HUDs…

Firstly the scroll from Ultimate Play The Game’s wonderful ‘Atic Atac’. Ultimate were pretty much experts in the art of taking up most of the screen with an elaborate HUD so that they could push the refresh speed in the little amount of screen real estate that remained for the actual game – ‘Gunfright’ being a great example. The ‘Atic Atac’ HUD though, with its roast chicken that gradually gets picked to the bones as your health depletes and its completely pointless ‘scroll’ legend remains an absolute classic.

And secondly the HUD from ‘Dead Space’ which, rather than take you to a separate screen, is actually projected into the game environment from your super-advanced tech helmet (or whatever it was called). This was a great way of presenting complex information to the player without disconnecting them from the game experience. Shame the game experience itself was so clunky though – I still shudder at the thought of that dreadful ‘Asteroids’ style minigame…

Dev Time: 1 day
Total Dev Time: approx 22.75 days

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HUD Elements In Close Up

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HUD in game (click for a closer look)

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Getting A Roasting In Atic Atac

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Gunfright – More HUD, Less Game

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Dead Space – Nice HUD, Shame About The Gameplay
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