So here’s something that might be interesting – a Youtube original series called “DR0NE”, about a military combat robot in trouble.
Although one thing bugged me about it very quickly: in the protagonist’s view of the combat scenes, there are target reticules over both friendlies and enemies. These reticules are almost absolutely identical for both sides; the friendly ones are, to my eyes, MORE visually interesting because they have “FRIENDLY” written by them, while the enemies just have anonymous reticules.
Moreover, there’s a lot of scenes where the enemies are against a bright sky – and the white reticule is almost completely invisible against it. This is just some terrible information design.
So I guess this leads me to propose two theories of information overlay design:
1. Important information should be more prominent than unimportant information. In the example here of a combat HUD, for instance, the reticules over enemies should be much more noticeable than those over friendlies, which can be achieved by color, shape, and amount of detail.
2. Your HUD should always be visible over the world. If you want it to be all white as in this example (which I would not recommend, color is an important cue) then find SOME way to make your information appear over bright things – maybe a black outline behind it, maybe having mission-critical stuff blink between black and white, SOMETHING.
I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a lot, since I’m constantly superimposing bits of Rita1′s HUD on the world. I do things like big gaudy triangles with exclamation points hovering over the heads of hostiles to make it a pretty unambiguous communication to both the reader and to Rita that HERE IS A VERY IMPORTANT THING, I’ll hint at color changes here and there – admittedly I’m constrained in that a lot by the abstracted nature of the comic; if I was doing more representational color, you’d definitely be seeing bright reds and yellows as cues for DANGER!!! and CAUTION!!.
I’m not entirely sure this little piece is worth critiquing – but heck, seeing it made me codify a couple of the unconscious rules I’d been applying in the comic, so I guess that’s good!
It’s also worth noting that this HUD is MARGINALLY better than the Terminator’s; here’s a compilation of all those scenes from Terminator 2. Notice how pretty much ALL the text overlays are out on the periphery of the screen, drawing your attention away from what’s happening? Bad, bad, bad design, at least from the point of view of “would this work for an enhanced human”.
(Also there is the plot hole where the drone is clearly shown to be able to see through walls now and then, but is then surrounded. I guess its heat-sensing camera takes power it doesn’t have? Or the environment it’s in before that is really IR-opaque? I dunno, it bugs me that they spend several shots establishing quite firmly that it can see through walls, then have him ambushed.)