Visual Design of Games

with respect to Cheese or Font and Identity V

In analyzing games, such as Cheese or Font, it is sometimes best to determine elements of importance:

Core elements: C or F/input text box, name of object, scoring feedback, timer, player score
Supportive elements: buttons (next, prev, pause, give up, refresh, etc.), small descriptions (number of plays, comments, etc.)
Extraneous elements: trivia about the cheese or font, score statistics

And moving from there, we could even venture to redesign the game.

In creating these redesigns, I wanted to maintain the original’s simplicity in interaction, focusing on the choice of cheese or font and designing around that choice being the focal point. After all, it is perhaps the only point of interaction for the game.

We can also apply these design principles to other games to better analyze their structure. Here, the game of my choosing is Identity V, a horror game with asymmetrical gameplay for two types of players — the hunter and the four survivors — as they engage in a survival match.

Identity V’s splash screen.

A quick look at its splash screen already shows efficient applications of color, value, and lighting in directing the eyes to the person in the middle and his many reflections in the mirror. Proximity is also applied — text and buttons are grouped appropriately so as to not crowd or overwhelm. Typography is paid close attention to, as there is the focal display font and a less-intrusive body font.

A screenshot of the interface during a match.

While initially seeming clustered, the designers of the game decided to champion the idea of proximity for player convenience and to maximize usability; all attack options are in the lower right-hand corner, statuses of all players is in the top right-hand corner, a mini-radar in the top left-hand corner, and overall status of the game in the top. This creates a nice grouping of icons and text and also creates a neat window to view the game through.

The character selection screen before a match.

These are all, of course, in addition to the wonderful horror atmosphere created by the low lighting, eerie and deserted environments, and haunting background music.

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The focus of CS 247G is an introduction to theory and practice of the design of games. We make games (digital, paper, or otherwise), do rapid iteration, and run user research studies appropriate to game design with the goal of improving and refining our design instincts.

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