Navigating complex systems through a clean and simple UI is one of the key aspects to an enjoyable game experience.
To help developers create their ideal user interface we've put together a list of eight popular handy tools at their disposal.
But of course, these aren't all the UI tools out there. Let us know what you're using and we'll get it added to the list.
One of the leading UI solutions on the market, Scaleform can be used to create user interfaces for games across devices. The tool enables devs to use Adobe Creative Suite to create menus, UI elements and 2D graphics.
It also provides a library of pre-built UI components that cover uses such as check boxes, dropdown menus and text input boxes. The latest release, 4.4, includes a new ActionScript 3 virtual machine to reduce memory usage, while its redesigned rendering engine takes advantage of multiple cores.
Iggy Game UI
Company: Rad Game Tools
Rad Game Tools’ Iggy Game UI is a system for creating graphical user interfaces using content created in Flash. Developers can harness the solution to create graphics, scripting, animation and interactivity, and can be used in conjunction with authoring tools such as Adobe Flash CS5.
Features include ActionScript 3 support and performance tools such as Telemetry to track CPU usage.
The tool is compatible with mobile, last-gen and new-gen consoles, PC, Mac and mobile.
Company: Tasharen Entertainment
NGUI is a user interface system designed specifically for both the free and Pro versions of Unity, and has long been the go-to tool for users.
Tasharen’s tool has full support for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Notable features include drag and drop ready-made controls and built-in localisation support.
The standard licence is available for $95 from the Unity Asset Store, though the free version, based on the last of the NGUI 2 cycle, is also available.
Company: Bohemian Coding
Designed for Mac, Sketch is a useful vector-based workflow designed for user interface creation.
Features includ bitmap editing, various vector modes, a grid tool to create object grids, support for basic text lists, and ready-made iOS and web design templates. Enhancements to Sketch 3 include an improved Sketch Mirror for better resizing and scaling, improved scripting support and a more advanced export tool that allows users to simultaneously export to multiple sizes and formats.
Company: Coherent Labs
The software provides a browser that can be embedded into a game to create heads-up displays, web browsing, in-game shops and interaction with social media sites.
As well as a multi-threaded renderer, Coherent UI can be integrated into Unity, CryEngine and Unreal Engine 4. Supported platforms include PC, Mac, Linux and mobile devices.
Company: CEGUI Development Team
Crazy Eddy’s graphical user interface system (CEGUI) was first released in 2003, and supports the creation of user interfaces on multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux and Mac.
It has support for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures, and is a flexible tool that allows developers to code their own widget renders and choose their own XML parser and script module. Games that have harnessed the tool include Torchlight (pictured) and TUG.
Company: Noesis Technologies
Noesis GUI uses a workflow based on the XAML tool, and is built to be easy to use for artists, without the need for extensive programming resources.
The tool is vector-based, which its creators say allows for resolution independent UIs with optimum quality, and is designed to take full advantage of multi-core processors.
Licencing options come in indie, Pro and Premium options, with Pro options costing anywhere between $495 to just under $5,000 depending on gross income and project budget.
Kanzi Studio is a user interface solution that has traditionally been used in the motoring industry, but is also applicable for use in the games development sector.
The tool, powered by the Kanzi Engine, is optimised for the latest mobile devices, and developers have access to 2D and 3D GPU effects, letting users implement depth-of-field and shadow maps, for example.
It can even be used to develop a full game by adding features such as physics, sounds, networking and AI.