I am trying to design a UI system for a computer game I am creating, but I don't know how to have the player access the main menu without clutter and unnecessary distraction. The ideas I have considered are:

  • Put an actual button on screen, somewhere out of the way, like on the side.
  • Add a keyboard shortcut to the menu. (how would I communicate this to the player?)
  • Add a "hidden button" effect, where the button only appears when the player moves the mouse toward the button itself. (like if the button is on the bottom of the screen, then when the player moves the cursor toward the bottom of the screen, the button fades in.)

The problem is, ironically I don't play many computer games, so I don't know how most other people go about doing this. Can anyone give me a suggestion?

  • A game in a window (browser/window mode) or a full-screen game?
    – TomvB
    Nov 17 '10 at 8:31
  • What kind of game is it? There are different conventions for FPS, RTS, RPG, etc. Also, try asking this question at gamedev.stackexchange.com, where professional game developers might be able to tell you what the industry does.
    – Rahul
    Nov 17 '10 at 9:09

escape key is your best bet and is very familiar with computer gamers. I've been computer gaming for 20+ years and that will be the first key I'd hit to get to a "main menu". Other rpgs (like world of warcraft) have a main menu bar with icons for all the options at the bottom of the screen near the action hotkey buttons.


If it's for a computer and not a console, the escape key is a common gaming convention to reach more options. Many games also put a main menu button on the lower left corner (think Windows Start Menu) or upper left corner (think the File dropdown menu for most applications). Chances are that you'll have some interface elements, so if you have the button, blend it in with the rest of the interface. You don't necessarily have to use text if you have a tooltip.

  • It will be an fullscreen RPG. I will prabably go with putting a button in one of the corners, then. Nov 17 '10 at 11:24

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