I was originally interested in System Era’s indie game Astroneer after watching early alpha gameplay and a handful of trailers. The concept of exploring procedurally generated planets, building a space base and crafting items in a gorgeous polygon-style universe, grabbed my attention immediately.
But it wasn’t until jumping in and playing the game myself that I started to realize how well the user interface was designed.
It’s hard to argue that Arstoneer’s HUD elements aren’t inspired from EA’s Dead Space. This isn’t a bad thing - it’s wonderful actually. Dead Space did a wonderful job of removing UI clutter, thrusting the player into the world and creating a better sense of atmosphere. The same can be said for Astroneer.
Your character’s power and oxygen levels are shown on your backpack at all times. This allows the player to take in the beautiful environment without a stack of gaudy status bars positioned in a corner of the screen. Toggling this backpack to view stored items presents a wonderful animation where the backpack spins off and zooms in for quick access to it’s contents.
Having all of this information and content on the character’s backpack just makes sense. It creates the feeling of a true explorer and works with immersing the player into the game.
Far too often many indie survival/crafting games use overly complex UI screens for building and creating (which is the main objective in most of these games). Again, Astroneer excels at it’s approach on the crafting experience.
Building and growing your space base is as easy as: seeing the placeholder material to make said object (with accompanying text) and then placing that material into the placeholder UI. I know this sounds ridiculously stupid to point out - but you’d be amazed how may games fail to make it this simple.
Of course, the game itself isn’t 100% perfect, though this is to be expected since the game is in early access. It will be interesting to see where and how this game develops over time.
If anything - Astroneer will always be a great resource for video game UI inspiration.
Published on December 16, 2016.
06 / Herman Miller in NYC