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After coming from a 10 year stint developing the Halo series of games exclusively for the Xbox, we were tasked to create a user interface for an entirely new IP, Destiny. For the first time in company history, we needed to simultaneously ship a title on four major platforms. The interface had to support a dense investment system, social gathering and matching, a large number of 3D assets that stream on-demand from the hard drive, and seven languages that it could be displayed in. This interface needed to be authored using a proprietary tool we worked closely with our engineers on.
When people think of sci-fi interfaces and HUD, they usually think of cool hues and lots of noisy bits & tech. Our approach in Destiny was to take a less expected route and lean on Swiss type, minimal footprint, and clean form factors. We also wanted to hint at the fantasy aspect of the fiction, so we gave the Director map a look that echoed old mariner cartography. This disparity between the two styles is made more harmonious as subtle echoes of both stylistic approaches permeate each other here and there throughout the game.
We opted to use a free cursor in the interface. While common on a PC where mice and track pads are predominant, consoles rarely, if ever, employ cursors to browse game interfaces. This allowed us to hide blocks of data on tooltips to free up screen real estate. It also made the browsing of dense inventories require much less effort by eliminating button presses to navigate. Panning around with the cursor also allowed us to open up the interface and allow the compelling 3D assets from the game to have a visual impact on the user.