Designing Windows 10 games

Designing game UI

Games share common user interface elements and design principles with apps, but are more often characterized by the unique look, feel, and goals of their UI. Games succeed when thoughtful design is applied to both aspects—when should your game use tested UI, and when should it diverge and innovate?

The presentation technology that you choose for your game—DirectX, XAML, HTML5, or some combination of the three—may influence implementation details, but the design principles you apply are largely independent of that choice.

Color guideline and palette

Following a consistent color guideline in your game improves aesthetics, aids navigation, and is a powerful tool to inform the player of menu and HUD functionality. Consistent coloring of game elements like warnings, damage, XP, and achievements can lead to cleaner UI and reduce the need for explicit labels.


Appropriate use of typography enhances many aspects of your game, including UI layout, navigation, readability, atmosphere, brand, and player immersion.

UI map

A UI map is a layout of game navigation and menus expressed as a flowchart. The UI map helps all involved stakeholders understand the game’s interface and navigation paths, and can expose potential roadblocks and dead ends early in the development cycle.

Design basics

Design principles

The philosophy of modern app design is exemplified by clean, uncluttered elements that operate quickly, minimize typing, and automatically notify users of new or updated info. Users interact with the content, rather than with controls that represent the content. Visual elements have crisp fit and finish.

Supporting multiple screen sizes

Windows apps run on a variety of devices with different screen sizes and resolutions. Players may also want to change the game’s size, orientation, or screen position during gameplay. To ensure that your game UI looks good and maintains functionality across phone, PC, and Xbox One, the following guidelines help you design UI that looks great, adapts to various screen sizes, positions, and orientations, and dynamically adjusts to user preference.

Designing Games for a Windows Core World

How can your game take advantage of the broad reach of multiple form factors shipping with Windows 10, and provide the best experiences to your target audiences? Can a one-size-fits-all design approach succeed or should you tailor the experience to each device? We will discuss and demonstrate the design implications of Windows Core game development scenarios from casual to AAA games, as well as some common pitfalls with an appropriate checklist to mitigate concerns around legibility, input schemes and content density. This talk also examines user engagement expectations and how to map usability goals to user trends for each device.

View this GDC 2015 game development talk

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Download, tools, and information you need to start developing your Windows 10 game.


A full library of documentation and technical information for Windows 10 development.


Programs and partnerships to help you publish your game in the Windows Store, for phone, PC, and Xbox One.

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