After working on the Valheim UI, I realised that I made many creative decisions that were very different from the original design. Be these subjective or objective changes, there were many elements that I moved to different locations around the screen.
I realised that, while these changes to location made sense creatively, not everyone would agree with my placement decisions. These placements may also cause issues in terms of playability. For example, my design may subconsciously cater to right handed players, as I myself am right handed. This layout would not be as user-friendly to left handed players who may find themselves at a disadvantage during intense, game changing moments.
I started to think on how I could change this in order to benefit all players and maximise accessibility. The problem I found is that you can’t please everyone – there will always be one person who dislikes or disagrees with your design.
But what if we could let players design for themselves?
What if there was a game option to drag and drop menus and toolbars around the screen?
What if players could customise their own game space to their exact needs?
I realised that this ability already exists in design software that I myself have used since I was a child. Programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and XD; the Unreal Engine; Autodesk Maya, etc… It is common for programs to allow their users to drag interfaces wherever they need during their design process.
UI designers would create menus and toolbars in a default location that they consider to be optimal. Players would have the choice to keep this design if they are happy with it or change it if they prefer. They would then have the ability to enter the game options menu and drag and drop each component into their desired slots. This design would then show in-game and allow the players both creative freedom and increased accessibility if needed.
If we brought this ability into gaming, we could completely change our players’ experience. This would allow for limitless customisation and advanced accessibility options for handicapped players. It would even allow for players to set up their game interface in a way that avoids overlaps with livestreaming overlays, such as camera boxes, subscriptions and messages.