U and I discussing Game UI

User interface design is something I think is sorely over looked so I thought a thread discussing your favorite, least favorite, and that one really cool UI trick you saw in one game that never showed up again was warranted.

To assist here’s a few websites dedicated to them:

For starters I think to no one’s surprise that Persona 5 has one of the most visually appealing UIs of all time. Regardless of what you think of the game the UI design is visually stunning.

Conversely I think the default UI in XCOM 2 is garbage. It’s slow, it’s clunky and worst of all it is unintuitive. The thing that drives me up a wall the most however is how easy a lot of these fixes actually are and how readily apparent that they’re needed if you sit down and play the game. Just watch Austin and Rob play this game and you will quickly realize how needed these all are.

To fully articulate this here are what I would call mandatory UI mods for it.

Cost based ability colors. You know what is really annoying? Not knowing what actions end turns. This mod sets up a simple color system so just by looking at the icon you know. Green is a free action, blue is a non turn ending action, and yellow ends your turn.

There is no indicator for how long an ability will be on cool down after use. This mod fixes that

Enemies by default I want to say have two target icons. This makes distinguishing enemies apart incredibly difficult. Are you going to be able to shoot the priest or the normal grunt if you move? Default there’s no telling. This mod gives all enemies a unique target icon

You know what really sucks? Trying to determine how much health bigger enemies have and if you have the fire power to kill them. You know what solves that? Putting the health value next to the health bar

The squad deploy menu is just bad. You do not get enough info and have to go into various sub menus to change equipment. Robojumper Squad Select fixes that

Anyway that’s my rant on XCOMs UI. What’s everyone else’s game UI thoughts?


All other games are a step behind the smooth UI of Amplitude Studio games.


I was going to mention Endless games but you be me to it… I’m not even that big a fan of those games mechanically any more (I really have a hard time enjoying 4X games that have unit designers and tactical layers) but the UI is absolutely best in class. Weirdly another game that comes to mind with respect to good UI is another 4X game: Jon Shafer’s At the Gates which got absolutely roasted on launch but has really slick tool tips.

My big gripe about XCOM 2 is that it will show you the maximum possible damage roll in shot preview, instead of the minimum possible, which is really what you should be using to make decisions. There’s mods to fix it of course but I think it’s kinda revealing about how that game’s designs have aged versus tactical games that have followed it which are usually much more deterministic.

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i love it in text-heavy games when they use the speed at which text appears to give flavor. in Chrono Cross, the speed matches the pace of the dialogue in a really charming way. you can almost hear the characters’ voices here:

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Not really a UI person, but it’s definitely an interesting and under-discussed aspect of game design.

Only game that sticks out to me is Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It’s one of the many maddeningly designed aspects of that game, and from what I can tell it’s all about the menus connecting in frustrating ways. For example, the plus button on switch opens a big menu that includes fast travel. Pressing x opens the fast travel menu, but WON’T back out to the general menu. Found myself frequently pressing x for menu (especially after playing Pokémon) and then being frustrated I had to exit all the way back out and open another menu.

Similarly, you couldn’t see certain characters’ (blades if you’ve played) skill trees unless you were using the “blades” menu or actively equipping them, which was frustrating because it meant I had would start in the equip menu, back out to a different menu to find certain information, and then go back into the equip to arrange my team. I’m… not sure I’ve explained that well, but essentially it felt to me like there was no reason to restrict information the way they did.

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Interesting one for me right now is the ongoing process of trying to make Guilty Gear Strive’s UI not suck. The game is still in development and they’ve been taking feedback, but the first iteration was extremely poorly received, both aesthetically and functionally. People even hated the character select menu (and I don’t think the new one is that great, either.)

From the first “playable” version (that they admittedly said was very much a placeholder):

From the most recent(?) thing they’ve shown: