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BioWare toying with Mass Effect 3 HUD

Senior designer loves Dead Space interface.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

BioWare is thinking about how it can improve the heads up display for third-person science fiction shooter Mass Effect 3 – and Dead Space may provide some answers.

One of the signature visual effects of Visceral Games' superb action horror series is how information is integrated into the environment – from health bars to inventory to the map.

Mass Effect, which employs a cover system, utilises a more traditional HUD. But could that change for the hotly anticipated Mass Effect 3?

"We actually had the exact same thought during ME2 development and did a few prototypes of a health and shield indicator in world on Shepard's armour," senior designer Brenon Holmes wrote in a response to a fan post on the BioWare forum.

"The end result was not as great as we'd hoped...

"It was OK when Shepard was out of cover, like in the image you linked. The issues started to crop up once you popped into cover, with the way that the camera was positioned and with Shepard's orientation changing we had to do some fairly crazy stuff to get the health indicator to display in a reasonable position.

"Even then it ended up being rather confusing to reference when you were in the middle of a fight. I think if we'd simplified our health system so we only had one meter or bar it might have been easier to represent it on the armour (like on Isaac's back in DS).

"All that said, we're still really interested in trying to move information into the world. That's one of the things that I love about Dead Space; the interface... it feels really immersive. I just want to touch the hell out of those buttons.

"So we are still investigating ways of putting some of our HUD elements into the environment... we'll see what we end up with."

Little is known about Mass Effect 3, due out on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 simultaneously this Christmas.

The Mass Effect 3 teaser video, below, shows a war torn London ravaged by aliens. An English-accented voice over reveals Earth is under attack. A sniper shoots from inside Big Ben, and male Commander Shepard is seen viewing the destruction from space.

The official blurb reads: "Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race.

"As Commander Shepard, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth."

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