In which the author explores what kinds of ‘poor craftsmanship’ can be gotten away with when developing dialogue boxes.
Recently when I was making a dialogue box system for The Book of Invasions, I decided I would open the PlayStation-era Final Fantasy games to see how they were done there. Specifically, I wanted to know:
Is it okay if a dialogue box obscures a character?
Does it need to be near the character who is speaking?
How big can I make them?
In the end, I discovered that the answer to each question (and some unasked questions) was: nothing matters very much.
UI graphics are essential for providing information to the player that would be impractical to provide through the game’s environment. It would be difficult to inform the player of which weapons they can equip and how to equip them without a weapon wheel, for instance.
On the other hand, we don’t want our UI to intrude on the atmosphere of the game’s environment. While it’s almost impossible to make a UI that is entirely unintrusive, we can take some measures to limit that intrusiveness.
This is where it helps to know what effect the basic shapes give off, and
what their strengths are.