Sometimes, you produce a UI that makes perfect sense to you, but when you introduce it to another player, they can’t follow it.

That happened to me with Icefall’s UI bar. Originally, my layout placed the player character’s health and mana bars in the bottom left corner, with the player’s current target displayed next to them. The action buttons and experience bar were in the bottom centre, and the status window was on the right:

Original UI Layout

Original UI Layout, with player/target health bars at the bottom left.

This made sense to me, and was based on Angband displaying the player/monster health stats in that corner. However, when I got a couple of friends to play it, both of them struggled to track the player’s health without me explicitly pointing it out, and one got the health bar confused with the experience bar in the centre.

So, as a result of this, I did some tweaking of the layout and the UI graphics. I’ve put the player and target information in the centre, and shuffled the action bars to the left hand side. I have to admit, after playing for a while, this configuration makes more sense:

New UI Layout, with player/target health bars in the centre

I also took the opportunity to update the UI backdrop to make the player/target area jump out a little more with a “leather canvas”-type frame.

The lesson? Always test the UI on people who have never seen the game before, and be resigned to the fact that you might have to change it.

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