PlatinumGames has updated their company blog with the latest look at their upcoming game Astral Chain, this time focusing on UI aspects that has to mesh with the aesthetics and setting of the game.
Check it out below:
UI artists design and create the game’s user interface: lock-on cursors, health bars, dialogue boxes, map screens, title menus, weapon and item icons, so on and so forth. On top of designing and making all these UI elements themselves, we also create animations for them, so that they react properly as they appear, disappear and respond to user interaction.
A game’s user interface needs an overall design concept, just like characters and environmental art do! The main defining characteristic of ASTRAL CHAIN’s setting is that it’s a technologically advanced near future, with plenty of information and detail shown through holograms.
I took on the mantle of lead UI designer right as the development team was focused on strengthening that setting. Thus I had a goal as I designed the UI: Make it look and feel like a hologram projected in physical space, as if it were something the main character uses themselves, not just the player’s way to interact with the game from outside.
The UI that was already implemented at the time had a flat design and an orderly layout. Its planar layout and simplicity made it look a bit like futuristic paperwork from some government office or police department.
After a bit of thought, I decided that the existing flatness and official “paperwork” motif was appropriate for ASTRAL CHAIN’s setting. Not to mention there’s a lot of information that needs to be shown onscreen in ASTRAL CHAIN; the simplicity of the existing design suited that very well. So we would be keeping that general idea.
I took the existing UI and tried showing it from different angles. I offset some of the meticulously-ordered windows to make it look as if they were subtly tilting into the background. Little touches like this made the UI look more like it was projected into space in front of the player character.
Then it was time to adjust and animate. I gave the UI high-contrast color schemes to fit in with the overall graphical tone of the backgrounds and Legions. The UI animations are smooth and use sharp lines and digital noise to add to the sci-fi feel.
There are countless other details about the game that informed the UI design. For example, though the cityscapes of the Ark are brimming with color, as a police unit, Neuron’s HUD elements are serious and subtle. Since the game is set in a near future, Neuron’s holograms often play a role that physical paperwork plays in our world; this creates a bit of cognitive dissonance that we emphasized to interesting effect. And most of Neuron’s officers, including the player characters, are young people, so a balance between the official, formal aesthetic and a more pop anime sensibility was essential.
I finally arrived at two main pillars for the UI design that take all of this into account:
- A high-contrast simplicity that evokes official documents
- A sleek, futuristic hologram look
I put a lot of emphasis on making the UI animations as smooth and sleek as possible so that they’d fit in with the movements of the player character and their Legion. These pillars informed not only my own UI work, but also all the efforts I oversaw from the UI artists on my team. Believe me, I could gladly keep gushing about my personal thought processes behind ASTRAL CHAIN’s UI design, but I’ve gone on long enough already. I think it’s time to hand the reins over to my teammates!
You can watch the UI in motion, and more on the title screen animation, in the original post here.
Astral Chain will come to the Nintendo Switch on August 30, 2019.