HE: In game UI design

In the Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Hope Diamond game we wanted to do a few things different regarding the in game UI. Nothing too drastic though, just a few wrinkles.

Most games have inventory that occupies the lower middle of the screen, and always has an ‘interface-y’ feel to it. And it always felt like a blocker to me. We had this idea of a backpack that you would take with you during your adventure…so we literally created a backpack. When you clicked on it the array of available items would slide up as if they were coming out of the pack. It would only go up as far as the items you had so if you had 2 items, it would only go up so high, and not waste space on the screen.


You can also see a few other things for the player here. They are carrying a journal in the front pocket of pack that is clickable and it would turn into a full screen personal player journal.

We introduced something that had never been done in our genre; giving the player a sense that they were not always on a predetermined path, so that they could feel like they are in a real space. When the button on the bottom middle appeared, the player could turn around 180 degrees. This wasn’t available on every screen but for a handful of scenes  it was featured. One of the first reasons we thought of this was that our game was based on real spaces, the Smithsonian Castle and the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) both located directly across the Washington DC mall from each other. Our adventure had you get dropped off in-between the two buildings and we wanted the player to decide which way they wanted to go, and since we were not in actual 3D space, we needed a way to do that.

To the right, there is an element we called ‘The Device’. There is another post going over that in detail.

Game design Erik Haldi and Jeff Haynie, art and additional Design Bill Meyer.

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