Improvements for the HUD

Hi Team,

every time I see your prototype in action, it looks to me as if you already have some solid piece of software that already performs very well as Sandbox. The only thing, which looks alot like a place-holder is the HUD. Thus I just tried to come up with an idea for an Improved HUD that hopefully fits most of the requirements for I:B.

First, here are the Meters I am suggesting:

Most promient you have a health-bar at the left-hand side and a speed-o-meter at the right-hand side. Health is measured in percent and speed in 10^x m/s (so 2 would be 10^2 = 100 m/s). The scale for x itself is logarithic (like 2^n) this helps to end smoothly after 4 sections with c which is the speed of light and approx. 3 times 10^8 m/s.

At the bottom, from left to right you have:

  • Weapons
  • Repair (can later be changed to shields with a bar on top)
  • Speed
  • Energy (this is actually a bar from 0 to 100%)

These are sections you can redirect your power to. For that you have the little indicator at the bottom which shows to which item the power is currently directed.

Above the energy-bar at the right-hand side, are two markers that will indicate if the reverse-thrust or warp-drive is enabled.

Secondly, here is a suggestion for the markers of a selected ship:

And when putting all together, a complete cockpit could look somewhat like this:

Different to the current prototype, I would suggest to have the bars at the left and right side fixed on the windows and not fixed to screenspace.

Please let me know what you think about this :grinning:


Some nice thoughts there. I agree that health and speed need to be prominent, but I think energy should also be very visible. It sounds like the intention is for energy management to be an active part of the game (and certainly already exists in the prototype), so having clear indicators and meters for that will be important.


I agree. Also because if energy (or something related to energy, like temperature) ends up being linked to detection, like the devs indicated in some of the streams, then such a thing should be easily seen in the corner of your eyes so that you can learn to instinctively be aware of it and manage it.


What I find really difficult to understand is, that the energy bar is rather some kind of additional battery that has to get charged. Similar to KERS at Formula One. To be consistent here, the ship should even work when powered down by using this charged energy.

Regarding the placement, I also understand that this is one of the most important things. At the same time I wonder if the bar isn’t visible enough at the corner. I mean I could render it a bit bolder at that place, but in general it won’t be hard to find it easily…

is the speed bar logarithmic?
i like the designs, they look neat

Sorry, maybe I used the wrong expression? I meant in your peripheral vision. You know, your eyes are focusing on the action, but you can also sense what is going on at the edges of your vision if the change is big enough. Small things should exist in the HUD only for things that are checked quickly every once in a while or require you to wait for a while and pay some attention. And even then, if something requires you to take your attention off from the action, then it should probably be in a popup or a different menu. That’s my opinion for HUDs.,

A way to make the change easier to see without making the energy bar bigger would be to use colours. Another would be to have the bar fade in, so that it normally doesn’t clutter the view but can appear when needed.

Considering things that enlarge, pop up or fade in when needed might solve some problems. For example, having a small coloured display that indicates the various ship system status and where you are redirecting your power means that it’s easy to understand your ship’s state with a quick glance. However, when you need more info, you can press a button to enlarge said display. And whenever you change where you redirect your power, it automatically enlarges and shows you where the power has been redirected to make it easier to avoid situations like “oh, I meant to redirect power to shields, not sensors, but I only figured out my mistake after I died”.

Unless we are only meant to suggest more simply and easy to implement hud suggestions here?

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Using different colors could be a solution although I like to keep the old-school look-and-feel with monochrome HUDs as they are used in todays jets.

Having popups or hidden info at all is something I am not a fan of. I rather like having information compressed in very view items. Here I even think that not everything has to be self-explaining, most important is, that all stuff is there for a reason.
I know that my current suggestion is already using alot of pixels… maybe too many… but at least no thing in the HUD is there without a reason.

Fading stuff in and out in general is a good thing, but for good UIs you often don’t want to hide elements completely. Often UIs are only understandable if you can see all available buttons even if they are disabled.

Well, actually it is like 10^2^n where n is between 0 and 3.08.


An excellent suggestion; please don’t draw stuff in screen space. Everything that sits on the screen tells me that I’m playing a game instead of flying a space fighter. That includes the targeting reticles.

If you want stuff drawn inside the cockpit, then convince me that I’m wearing a helmet and that stuff is being displayed directly on my faceplate. A reminder is that anything displayed there can’t be ‘touched’ by the player in order to manipulate it.

Why that? For me it could be transparent LCD segments placed over the glass. Maybe even have wires run to them and don’t let the edges be prefect. Perspective doesn’t matter for all those displays except the reticule. There you can explain the line up with eye tracking hardware in the front panel.


The style looks great! I wonder how it looks in green. I’m a big fan of minimalistic, functional design, and this one doesn’t go too far from that.

For the HUD on the glass panels. While it arguably looks better, gameplay will probably require it to be on the helmet, sorry JB. At the very least, it will be mandatory for things like the target reticle. Also, how does it work in 3rd person?
There is a reason every military is spending obscene amounts of money ensuring their pilots have those.

Now, how can the game make the player feel that it actually is a helmet? IIRC, some games actually have the character’s face being slightly visible when particularly bright flashes lit you up. Others slightly deform it, as to follow the curve of the faceplate.
Is there anyone here that has worn a HMD, or knows someone who did? Military, astronaut or otherwise?

For anything that is not on the helmet, instruments on the cockpit should probably replace some of them, to keep the glass as visible as possible. For example, the bars could be on the two frame bars between the glass panels, and physical buttons could indicate warp, weapons & cie.
It would make it look less futuristic, but it would fit the SFC well. And some people love having actual functioning instruments on their cockpit. I don’t know how much more work it is for the devs, though.

I would make the two bars a bit thinner, but maybe that’s just me.

The energy bar needs to be as visible as the two other bars, as it is as important. So it needs to be bigger and more central, and probably stand more on its own.

The doubly logarithmic speed bar is smart, kudos! Good idea for dealing with those massive variations.
Warp speed may go beyond c, depending on gameplay. (And don’t tell me about realism and physics, it doesn’t work that way in the first place.)
However, it should probably be a “fillable” bar, like the health bar, or something like that. The speed indicator is too thin to be seen with peripheral vision in an instant like health is.
Also, when the indicator is low, the number will cover the 10x legend. Maybe it moves a bit to the left when there?
Also you need a bit more under the bar for when you go lower than 1 m/s (100). Knowing if you go at 1 or 0 m/s may be important.

You’re right to keep it monochrome, there are colour-blind people that will want to play this game, and the brain is not good at reading information by colour, so it’s better to avoid it in a time- and awareness-critical HUD.

Pop-up elements can be useful for those things you rarely need most of the time, and that are not time-critical. For example, detailed info on some object.

For the target indicator, it’s a nice touch that it changes depending on relative speeds. How does it change depending on the current distance?
Also, what are the two grey arcs around the target?

Let’s not forget, now, that the final HUD will have much more data to show:

  • Where is my ship moving towards (in the current reference frame)?
  • What is my current reference frame?
  • Where is my ship trying to point to (aka where is my mouse cursor)?
  • Several target, with one active. Potentially hundreds of them.
  • Friends and foes and other foes
  • Six to seven player ship types
  • Varied installations and NPC ship types
  • General status, how is the war going?
  • Who is targeting me?
  • Who is shooting at me/damaging me? (The source of damage needs to be indicated in both axis, not just in a circle like in FPS: in a 6DOF environment, the difference to “to the left” and “nearly behind” can spell doom. This was the biggest mistake in Shattered Horizon IMHO.)
  • Missiles? How many do I have? How many are rushing at me? Where are they? What about my counter-measures? I don’t want to die!!
  • Altitude? Atmosphere? Artificial horizon when close to the ground (there may not be enough visibility - there probably needs to be an alternate planetary mode
  • Ship status, if we reach the more detailed damage system stretch goal.

The first time I heard that … but whatever.

Colour can increase information density substantially. On a HUD where space is precious, that’s a method one can’t just neglect.

[quote=“Lomsor, post:11, topic:1306”]that’s a method one can’t just neglect.

From someone with a colour-blind brother: Yes. Yes it is.

The lack of a plaid-scale thrust velocity leaves me saddened…


Nice design, but it shouldn’t conform to the shape of the prototype cockpit. What happens when they add other ships with different cockpits? This design would no longer work that well, since it would likely be overlapping with the structure of the cockpit.

I’ve said before that I’d personally prefer things to just be on the glass displays, and I understand that’s not for everyone, but can’t we have both? Display the information on the glass displays and as a togglable HUD overlay, that way people can choose to play how they want.

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It’s a direct feed from the ship via neural jack, eliminating the need for physical displays except as a redundancy in case of jack-failure.

There. Can we move on now?


Actually, I would have the target reticles still in screenspace. But I’d suggest to draw them only if they are on the reflective surface (glass) and maybe distort them a little when they get to the far edge. This should keep the realism.

Good point. I suggest to draw the HUD-stuff just flat in the lower corners of the screen.

As more I read people mentioning this, as more I think they are right. But my problem here is, that I don’t have a good solution for this at the moment. I don’t know how to integrate a third big meter.

It doesn’t change on the distance. You only see the absolute distance at the left number.
The two gray arcs indicate that your target turned around and is now coming towards you. This is something I saw alot in streams of dogfights in the prototype: People don’t realize that their target turned around and suddenly it is approaching much too fast to keep tailing it.

I don’t. I have a list of more important stuff, but this is just the basics for now.

Very good point. I was thinking about this too. My suggestion is, to have 2-3 similar layouts which are slightly different to get applicable for all ship types.

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I’d argue the opposite: when mass-producing space ships, it is to be expected that the HUD layout fits the cockpit. The real question is does it take long to adapt one HUD from one cockpit view to another? If possible, I’d rather have a tailored HUD for every cockpit view, with of course the same informations.

This will make the identification of ships, when watching streams for instance, much easier, for instance, and feel more polished.


This was exactly my point; other ships would need to have slightly different HUD layouts so as to not conflict with their respective cockpit structure.

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I could imagine doing it that way. But you have to ask the INovae guys if they have money and time for that :smile:

It doesn’t, and that’s awesome. Combat? Sit in the cockpit. Sightseeing? Go external and take those postcard shots.

The key is to give an appropriate degree of visibility to players while they’re in the cockpit. It’s a science fiction game, so that can mean any degree of visibility that you’d like, including a full and seamless sphere of screens around the pilot that shows every direction. That can even be turned into a gameplay feature where damage could reduce your visibility, producing blind spots or spectrum dropouts.

Having a spherical set of screens would suggest a redesign of the ships, with less emphasis on a visible cockpit. It would, however, allow all ships to use a single HUD system.

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