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In Your Face: Why the UI is Super-Important and Needs to Stop Being Ignored

Oh my, it's been a while, hasn't it? I knew I'd falter on the every-week thing at some point, but since I did two articles a while ago I'll pretend nothing happend and move on. Also: By "UI," I'm talking about not just various kinds of menus but also HUDs and similar data displays; this may not be technically correct in game-speak but I need a general term and it's good enough for this article

Not only that, but it keeps trying to sell me things

Here's one: does a game even need traditional menus? Of course there has to be an array of technical options tucked away behind a Start or Select button, but imagine slotting in a fresh disc, sitting through the obligatory legal-speak, and then hopping straight into gameplay. A journal (which the player would be conveniently sat in front of) may take the place of a load or even a level-select menu, for example, and the inventory could be just that - a backpack or a briefcase which opens to show its genuine contents, to be rearranged, emptied, or enlarged by the character's own hand. The effective actions and "steps" the player has to take haven't changed - merely the manner in which they are presented.

As technology improves and designers get more creative, I have no doubt that that we'll eventually start seeing some real widespread effort placed into these kinds of things - while I dismissed Gears UI strengths as fairly pedestrian a couple of paragraphs ago, the fact that they are there and are now commonplace does indicate progress is being made. With another console generation on the horizon, another leap can't be far away.
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About Altum Videturone of us since 11:44 PM on 11.04.2011

My earilest memory is of playing a PC port of Pac-Man on my dad's computer. My next earliest memory is of playing a PC port of Tetris on my mom's computer. I've been happily and hopelessly into video games and everything to do with them since, and while I have my favorites - pretty much the entire Metroid series (except, you know, that one) - there are very few good games I haven't played and enjoyed.

Now that I've been here for a few months I guess something else should go here, so: I've set upon myself a personal goal to write and post a blog at least once per week. Sometimes, meeting this deadline means that those articles are not up to the standards I would like, and I'll simply shove them away unpublished and try again next week. More rarely, they turn out great, and up they go. Even more rarely, I'll actually feel very satisfied and accomplished, and will get all excited for the loads of attention I won't be receiving. The following blog entries are ones that I believe fit into the latter category, preserved here in order of appearance for my (but quite possibly also your!) amusement and enrichement:

Battlefield 3: On Scale, Freedom, and Wookies
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - David Sarif
Bigger, Longer, also Harder - A Counter-Case for Longer Games
Location: Darkest Africa
How About a Mass Effect 3 Article with No Ending Controversy (Spoiler-free!)
Quest for Blood: How Seeking Ultraviolence Showed Me the Best Side of Videogames

Also, I mantain the monthly Cblog Analytics series, which tallies up a bunch of statistics and presents them in a simple and organized format. The results are always interesting and often surprising - all the math is done on my end, so no matter how number-phobic you might be, it's worth checking out! This year's entries are listed here: