It’s worth mentioning some of the interesting features in Splinter Cell Blacklist’s game interface. Firstly the Strategic Mission Interface or SMI, which acts as the main menu for the game. Secondly the interface design which includes the overall style, typography and iconography.
There was quite a lot of hype prior to the release of the game around Creative Director Maxime Beland wanting to ship the game without a main menu. Instead the SMI is introduced in place of the main menu, and is presented as an application of sorts, which the main character can access at anytime. The difference is, instead of jumping out of the experience into a traditional menu to switch game modes, this option is presented on a map as just another mission. As Maxime Beland puts it, “You’re Sam Fisher. You’re in your plane, you’re in Fourth Echelon, you’re looking at the status of the world on your SMI, and you can jump in or out of anything.”
The benefit of this approach is a more immersive and less interrupted experience. This idea came from the creative director’s frustration that with most games, the multiplayer game mode feels almost like a separate game entirely to the campaign mode. He says “We’re blurring the lines between our game modes.”
This makes a lot of sense and I’m interested to hear how players feel about this approach.
I really like the overall feel of the interface design. It’s a good combination or colour, typography and iconography. The icons for me were the highlight, love the treatment of the route markers and all the equipment icons. The thick type used on all the mission objectives and results screens creates a really nice feel, especially in combination with the square grid device they use as a wallpaper or carriage. The interface elements and the panelling are treated with semi-transparent gradients, which creates a light glassy look. The combination of all these details creates a strong overall look.
There’s a noticeable appreciation and emphasis on game UI these days, as there is in FUI for feature films. So it’s a really awesome time for UI designers right now!