Build a user interface that keeps getting better

Developing Game UI: Bridging the Gap Between Design and Code

Monday, October 23, 2023

Creating user interfaces for video games is a uniquely challenging problem in development today. While tools like Figma empower designers to mock up static UI, bringing those visions to life interactively requires specialized skills. The lack of solutions to streamline UI creation slows down game production and results in poorer design. Studios and developers must shift towards a more agile and more focused process, one that will allow  developers to iterate quickly, unlock more creativity, and form a clear vision of what is being built before development ramps up.

Key Points

  • Game UI is a major pain point in development, requiring specialized skills and lots of iteration
  • Current tools like Figma don't address the dynamic, interactive nature of games
  • Developers need to pivot from design to coding as soon as any interactivity is required
  • Results in wasted time, slowed development, and poor UI design
  • A solution is needed that bridges the gap between design and development

The Pain Points of Game UI Development

Game UI stands apart from other software UI because of the dynamic, living nature of games. Modern tools excel at enabling designers to mock up interfaces, but games demand so much more. As soon as any interactivity or dynamism is required, developers must pivot from visually laying out UI elements to pure coding. This context switch slows down the iteration process tremendously.

Developing game UI requires expertise across design and development. Most studios rely on dedicated UI programmers to bridge this gap. But hiring these unicorns is difficult and expensive. Without the right skills on staff, UI creation grinds development to a halt.

Many developers rely on placeholders for as long as possible to avoid the pain of building polished UI. This allows them to focus efforts on core gameplay first. But it leads to games shipping with hastily assembled UI that suffers from minimal iteration and user testing.

The Fundamental Problem of Separation

At their core, the issues with developing game UI stem from the separation of design and development into discrete disciplines. Designers mock up interfaces in tools like Figma or Photoshop. Then developers have to recreate those layouts from scratch in code. This hand-off leads to slow iteration cycles with lots of back and forth.

The divide also inhibits creativity and problem solving. Designers create UI in a vacuum without access to dynamic data. Developers code UIs based on static specs without considering the bigger picture.

As soon as interactivity enters the picture, developers have to discard any layouts created in design tools. No longer can UI be visually arranged - it must be meticulously programmed. This context switch away from spatial manipulation hampers the entire iterative process.

Bridging the Gap with New Tools

Game developers need tools that close the gap between design and development of UI. The ability to transition seamlessly between visual layout and coding enables faster iteration. It removes roadblocks and bottlenecks that drain productivity.

Ideally both designers and developers could work in a unified environment. Designers could mock up layouts and establish style guides. Developers could then bring those UIs to life with interactivity and dynamics. Moving between spatial design and adding logical complexity would flow naturally.

With real-time previewing of interactive UI in the game environment, iteration could happen exponentially faster. Testing UI in-game exposes issues and opportunities early in development. Developers could take advantage of the full context for UI design.

More intuitive processes for game UI creation enables studios to invest more time perfecting their interfaces. More iteration leads to more refined design and stronger usability. Players ultimately benefit from games where UI fully enhances their experience rather than distracts from it. The seeds exist today for tools that unify design and development of game UI. The next evolution in this space promises to revolutionize workflows and enable new levels of quality.

Moving Forward with Better Tools

To move forward, new solutions must connect design and engineering disciplines more tightly. Building game UI should leverage the strengths of both spatial manipulation and logical coding.

Introducing Evolve UI Engine

Evolve UI Engine aims to transform workflows by enabling a unified UI creation process. It lets developers visually lay out UI while integrating interactivity through code in the same real-time environment.

With Evolve, creators can:

  • Mock up UI layouts and style guides visually for rapid iteration on design
  • Link UI elements to game data to create dynamic interfaces on the fly
  • Preview UI in an embedded game view for real-time testing in the actual game environment
  • Make tweaks to UI structure, appearance, and behavior in a single intuitive workspace
  • Build UI interactively without switching contexts between design and development modes

Evolve removes the bottlenecks from hand-off workflows. Designers can set the visual language. Developers can make it dynamic. No more throwing away layout mocks once interactivity is added.

The tool is built specifically for game UI with support for common UI needs out of the box. Creators can focus on innovating instead of reinventing basic components.


Clunky, disconnected workflows for game UI hike budgets and hamper innovation. With Evolve UI Engine, game developers can close the gap between design and coding at last. Building interactive UI is now a fluid, unified process enabling higher quality results in less time. Studios and developers must shift towards a more agile and more focused process, one that will allow  developers to iterate quickly, unlock more creativity, and form a clear vision of what is being built before development ramps up. Evolve brings game UI workflows into the modern era.

Join our private beta to see what its all about!

Don't let UI hold your game back.

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