In a full screen mobile game, where all four corners have already been taken to display status and information, where should I put a menu button?

I was relying on the hardware button of Android devices. But then Google decided to remove the hardware menu button. I must place an icon/button on screen now.

Here's an example of all four corners being taken:

Here's an example

  • I'm fairly certain Google doesn't have final say on what hardware an android phone contains. They provide the software, and maybe some input on hardware, but they don't make the phones. – Dom Oct 7 '13 at 21:58
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    @Dominic, they have final say. They told developers and manufacturers "say good bye to the menu button" and introduced the action bar and the navigation bar. since then, the number of phones with hardware buttons is decreasing. – Lovis Oct 8 '13 at 8:17
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    Is it not a touch-screen game already? I assume much of the screen is taken up with the touch controls already, no? How do they map to the screen positions? – JonW Oct 8 '13 at 8:34
  • How does the user access the navigation bar if you hide it? – AndroidHustle Oct 8 '13 at 8:36

That's a tough problem. You could use a drag-from-the-edge to reveal a menu. I would make drag from the left edge to pull a menu "drawer" from the left.

You could put some visual cue that this feature exist, something minimal like so:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

or teach that this feature exists with no visual cue. Neither is ideal, but we're kind of boxed in here. To teach it, you could have a modal window come up on startup that says "Slide from left edge to pull out menu" with an 'OK' button and a "Don't show this message again" checkbox.

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@Obelia has proposed good idea. I just want to show how cue could be implemented in unobtrusive way, so instructional modal window could be eliminated. The menu itself explains the feature with its behavior.
enter image description here

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  • +1, thanks a lot! That is better than showing an message box for sure. – user1032613 Oct 8 '13 at 17:07

My question is how you handle pause? User doesn't need to see menu button all the time. I personally prefer not seeing too many things while playing a game.

So when user pauses game, then you show the menu button. You can show it on a translucent modal screen on top of the game? You can show a Pause screen with options like continue game, exit, menu etc.

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  • That's true. But in my case, I'm doing a puzzle game, where pause is not necessary since it's not real-time. – user1032613 Oct 8 '13 at 17:06
  • OIC. My response was based on your game screenshot example. There can always be ways to combine multiple options into a single option. Obelia's suggestions is also a great way to achieve what you want. – Sachin Palewar Oct 11 '13 at 6:36

A popular game Osmos uses three-finger click to show menu. They have a lot of instructional screens though.

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