A Trend in Strategy Game UI’s

I’m looking into some screen layouts from strategy games, and I’ve noticed something a little peculiar about how they have evolved over time. Observe the layout for CIVILIZATION and WARCRAFT:

Both of these games’ main view, where most of the action takes place, is square. The UI is all bundled into one quarter of the screen. Compare it to the later installments of these series:

The main view is rectangular. The UI has retreated to the bottom of the screen. Is it to take advantage of wider, bigger monitors? Maybe it’s to give the player a more sweeping effect of the lands they explore. Our natural range of vision is similarly rectangular: perhaps it’s designed to take advantage of the fact that we can see quickly and easily from side to side.

Whatever the reason, I think these more recent designs are indicative of the better solutions. I’m looking into UI resources for the prototype I’m working on – it’s time to make the UI work well and convey what needs to be conveyed, especially as I start to playtest it more. I’ve always been interested in UI, especially menu design, so it’s nice to get to learn by making and then testing.

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