I’ve been playing video games since I was 7 years old and somewhere along the way I decided to be a game developer. More specifically, I’m a UI Designer and UI Scripter due to my background in both design and programming. I’m a graduate from the level design track at The Guildhall of Southern Methodist University and the Computer Science: Computer Game Design program at UC Santa Cruz. Though UI is my primary focus, I also like doing a level design or programming side project from time to time. When I’m not making games, I try to play through my evergrowing gaming backlog. Some of my other interests include: anime, video game music, philosophy, mythology, and camping.
- I regularly listen to video game music and opening/ending themes from anime
- I love dystopian fiction like Fahrenheit 451 and V for Vendetta
- My favorite video game is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
- My favorite movie is Mystery Men
- I once hiked down a mountain in the middle of a thunder storm
- The first video game I ever played was Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES
So what is a UI Designer anyway? Well first UI stands for User Interface, and it’s a set of characteristics that define how a person interacts with an object. For example, a doorknob is part of a door’s user interface. It defines how a person interacts with it, i.e. how they open, close, or possibly lock the door. Good UI design means making an object’s interface as simple and intuitive as possible. For a doorknob, it should be easy to turn, push, or pull in order to open the door.
I’m a UI Designer for video games. That means I design the characteristics that define how a person understands and plays the game. There are three major categories of video game UI:
First is the Heads-Up Display (HUD). The HUD is a collection of elements on the screen that communicate information to the player such as the game state and the player’s progress. For example, in Mario Kart, one element of the HUD would be what position the player is in during a race.
Next is the Menu System, which allows the player to select options, view additional information not on the HUD, and to navigate between various game modes. In Mario Kart, the player would use menus to choose their character and to select which racetrack to race on.
Finally, there are the Controls. These dictate how the player performs actions in the game and how they interact with the other UI elements such as the menus. Going back to Mario Kart, the controls determine how the player steers their kart and how they accelerate.
My job is to make sure the player receives all information they need to understand the game and to provide them with the interface to play it. I do this via scripting, which is a type of programming. Through scripting, I create the UI that I’m also designing. Above all, I must ensure the simplest and most intuitive UI possible so that the player has an enjoyable experience.