Virtual Reality UI: An Interview with Survios Game Designer Christopher Ng

Kenneth Ng
Jul 27, 2018 · 6 min read
“Cyberpunk City” by artursadlos on DeviantArt
Sprint Vector gameplay by Node

Traditional 2D UI on the screen doesn’t work anymore.

Nearly every game you play on desktop has UI elements on the screen overlaid on top of the game. Since the monitor remains static on the desk, all you had to do was turn your head to see your health bar or ammo.


Place UI elements in world space.

In the virtual world, you must pretend that there is no screen between you and the virtual world. You are in a place where the real world and the virtual world coexist. Whatever you do in the real world is also applicable in the virtual world, so treat the UI elements as if they were physical objects.

Rick and Morty: Virtual Rickality gameplay by Let’s STFU and Play
Raw Data gameplay by jacksepticeye

There are exceptions.

Health, for example, requires immediate attention from the player. Some VR games place the health bar right smack-dab in the middle of the screen like you would do normally with cross-hairs — very obstructive.

Desynchronize the avatar for positive reinforcement.

Most VR games have fully synchronized avatars, meaning however you move your hands, the avatar that you embody in the virtual world moves its hands in the exact same way.

Thrill of the Fight gameplay by PhilanthroPwn
Creed: Rise to Glory
Sprint Vector gameplay by jacksepticeye

Be creative.

At the moment, there are no accepted practices. What’s going to be the universal quit button for AR/VR experiences? Nobody knows yet, so designers and developers are getting creative.

Job Simulator’s exit burrito concept by Owlchemy Labs

Whatever technique you use needs to make sense.

As fun and as creative as the exit burrito is, it doesn’t make much sense if it’s used in a sci-fi or western game.

Thrill Of The Fight gameplay by iBallisticSquid

Accepted practices will take time to develop.

When Nintendo first released the N64, players were baffled by the three hand grips. I personally remember going to Target when I was a little kid to play the demoes—I held the controller on the far left and extended out my thumb to touch the middle joystick. It was so uncomfortable. Once I realized I could hold the middle grip, I was absolutely mind-blown.

Kenneth L. Ng

AR/VR Developer at Alibaba. Welcome to my portfolio.

Kenneth Ng

Written by

AR/VR Developer at Alibaba

Kenneth L. Ng

AR/VR Developer at Alibaba. Welcome to my portfolio.