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UI buttons.

UI design, and 2d artwork in general is one of my weaknesses.
I'm trying to improve my work in this area and one thing I've been told is that it looks better to have cleaner textures, not so much grunge as I've been adding. Also thinner borders with more room for the icons.

Here's a mock-up of the buttons I've been working on:


The top ones are deactivated or not clicked, the bottom ones are when something is selected or clicked.

I think they look pretty good, even when small on screen.

Let's compare them to some other games:


One game UI I like the look of is "Order of battle". The icons look clean, the faded paper texture is nice. It's similar to the UI adopted for the Blitzkrieg spin off, Stalingrad:

I like this three tone effect. it doesn't detract too much from the main game action and it's pretty easy to tell one icon from another even if it's not easy to tell what they mean.

The blitzkrieg 3 UI goes back to the metal and color theme of the past, though I don't like the sci-fi look of the paneling. It's supposed to be a WWII game. Also the UI takes up quite a lot of screen space in order to be readable. Similar to "Company of Heroes" with its big buttons.



The UI looks too colorful to me, too chaotic and difficult to tell what's going on (though you can probably at least make a guess as to what each button does). It's almost as ugly as the UI from Blitzkrieg 2:


That's hideous! Every time I look at Blitzkrieg 2 I find a way in which it was inferior to the original.

The UI for the original Blitzkrieg was much better:

 
That's where I'm going with mine currently. I've still not given up on the smoother, faded paper appearance favored by Order of battle and Stalingrad, but I have to admit I'm a sucker for that rusted stamped metal look.

I like the simple icons, although they aren't easy to guess, I prefer to have mouse over tool tips so you can find out the meaning and then just remember which button does what. With Blitzkrieg I usually use keyboard shortcuts more often than the buttons in any case.

Another thing I'm thinking about right now is the position of the UI. Older games placed the UI at the side of the screen:


This gives you a play areas which has a similar amount of space both horizontally and vertically. More modern games usually put the UI along the bottom of the screen.


What a waste of space. Nearly a quarter of the screen space taken up by a UI that is mostly empty anyway.

With wide screen monitors more common these days I think the first one is maybe better. It doesn't force you to scroll up and down so much to see things that don't fit on screen.

What do you think?

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