HUD Discussion


Aug 1, 2020
Now, onto some food for thought.

An aspect that lately I've been paying attention to in general gaming is the HUD, our ever-present head-up display.
Certainly one of the most useful tools that the player has at his/her disposition, where the constant feed of information auxiliates in split second decisions, specially when we're talking about the frenetic hack'n, slash'n, curs'n and swear'n of the ARPG style, which seems to be the general direction DHS is following.

However I'd like to take a moment to reflect with you on different takes on HUD's across the industry.

In the last decade, we saw the release of many titles which work on the concept of No Hud, in many cases they are there, just not how we tipically expect, and that's where I'm trying to address here.
Having a HUD that's not ever present can really benefit in the game's immersion.
One of the games that's outstandingly does that is the Deadspace series, where info such as HP, ammo, objects where scene objects that the character actively interacted with. You wanna know how much HP you've got? Check your spine RIG. Objective? Look no further, there is the guiding hologram!

In this brilliant interview, Deadspace director's James Schofield elaborates on that. (I've bookmarked the video where the subject starts, no need to browse. Viewer discretion might be advised)

Going further, we also have Metro game series, where the player could opt to forfeit said ammenities and go all in.
How much oxygen you've got left? Check your watch, blyat!

In the realm of Braveheart's facepaint we also have Senua, who had to make do with what skill she's got. Apart from some indicator flashes, she doesn't really have much elso to rely on.

I could go on citing many other games we know well, but I think that's fine for the point I'm trying to make.
Do I mean that the HUD is a pariah when it comes to immersion? Of course not.

We don't have to look far, if we just look at DHS's inspiring muse, Blood Omen.
I mean, once I had to put a guy in suit in a coffin and that was already tough, just imagine the hassle it is with someone dressed in spiked armour. Kudos to this guy for immersion.

It might be a little outdated for today's standards, since we've got gamers that play with 2 monitors, let alone let them admit a HUD that takes a 1/4 of your screen.
But we've everything we need there, HP, mana, roundworms (??), sword, and even better, even his armor would change. So atmosphere-wise, at least for me, it went along pretty well.

All in all, obviously it's a balance to strike.
• On one side, the game has to be immersive, that's why we have so many other discussions on music, visuals, lore, etc;
• But it also has to be accessible, after all it's a commercial product, that has to gather an audience and, some gauges and indicators might have to make it in so as to not create a steep curve of adaptation.

But at what level? Would it be possible to strike a balance between accessibility and immersion?

What are your thoughts on it? What HUD philosophy (is that a thing?) would you like to see in DHS? Is there any unthought approach to it?
Or which you think would be the most feasible?

Please share your thoughts, leave a like and press the bell button.
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Denis Dyack

Pale Rider
Staff member
Cat Adopter
Vampire Scholar
Dec 26, 2017
Niagara, Ontario. Canada
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LOL excellent first post @Bolonha - we are discussing this very topic and I look forward to seeing what the community has to say on it. BTW - we have literally gone over some the exact points and games you have mentioned here!
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Herr Pfannkuchen
Grim Scribe
Eternal Champion
Feb 21, 2018
A "no HUD" is a pretty cool approach - though not all that new, the original Tomb Raider did it in 1996. Forcing it at all costs can, on the other hand, lead to questionable design choices that might actually oppose immersion, see the "boob tattoo" HP bar in the Jurassic Park licensed PC game Trespasser.

In my opinion, the most important thing is to have a clear separation between game mechanics and in-world elements. For example, an NPC who increases your max HP should say something like "I can teach you techniques that will help you persevere longer in battle" rather than "I can add another heart to your row of hearts in the bottom left corner of your screen". In a tutorial, it shouldn't be Toadsworth telling you to press the A button in time with your jumps to increase your damage output, but it should be a separate kind of dialog box clearly distinct from anything in-game characters use. Or perhaps even better, make Toadsworth explain it in a way that makes sense in-setting, like "if you time your jumps perfectly, they will be even more effective," but obviously, this might not tell the player how exactly to do that, or it may appear to be just story flavor unrelated to any game mechanic, so it must be done carefully.

I like no-UI. On the other hand, I also like a gameplay experience that's easy to pick up, for which a (good) UI may be helpful. For online games, there also needs to be a way for players to communicate, which is traditionally done in form of a text chat inside the game. So those things will have to be considered.

Edit: As a side note, when I was researching for this post, I came across an article by PC World Australia naming the 7 best life bars in gaming... their list made me slightly question their standards:
  1. Hearts in Legend of Zelda
  2. Doomguy's face in Doom
  3. Rock Meter in Guitar Hero
  4. Spine Bar in Dead Space
  5. Boob tattoo in Trespasser
  6. EKG in Resident Evil
  7. Heart and Brain in Primal Rage
Certainly not the winners or order I would have picked...
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