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Design Details in Virtual Environments

Games are one of the most sophisticated forms of escapism. Virtual game worlds fill our imaginations the same way a good book does. Increases in graphical quality over the last few decades have allowed game-makers to add an astounding level of detail, making them even more immersive.

Traditional graphic design exists as an idea on a screen or printed page, separated from a real world context. Sure, there are often elements of interaction but it largely exists as a concept. Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) is how design behaves in a physical (or virtual, in our case) context. It includes things like wayfinding signage, architecture, and branded spaces.

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No Man’s UI

No Man’s Sky has captivated me with its vast alien landscapes and desolate exploration, but its user interface leaves a lot to be desired. I struggled to navigate the game early on as the game bombards you with dense panels of cacophonous typography.

I’m frustrated with many of the UI design patterns in the game, which often distract from the fun of space exploration. Browsing recent threads on the No Man’s Sky subreddit confirm that many of these complaints are common among players.

This article seeks to provide some constructive criticism for the game’s user interface and identify some of the UX problems present. When crafting a design system, it’s important to keep these things in mind!

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The Evolution of Soulsborne UI

The Soulsborne games are well-known for their difficulty and steep learning curve. While you’re fighting, dodging, and repeatedly dying to a myriad of nasty enemies, you also need to learn how to navigate the games’ interfaces, which can be especially confusing for new players. Even the control scheme is unlike most action games, but it starts to make sense after you’ve invested some hours.

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The Joy of Unlockable Color Palettes

I’ve been playing a lot of Downwell since it came out recently and it’s got me thinking about the value of color and customization in games.

As you play the game you unlock additional color palettes. It’s a nice incentive to continue playing but they’re also an opportunity to personalize the game and express yourself through your palette choice.

The colors technically have no effect on the gameplay but they can completely change our perception of the game. Each color palette in Downwell has only three colors and it’s amazing how much depth and variety can be created with so little.

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