#5 Create the user interface with Canvas.

Introduction

In this article we are going to analyze in detail the video 5 of the labyrinth series, in this video we create a simple interface with the minimum functionality so that the user can interact with the game.

This article covers the design of the graphical interface, the programming of the operation is done in the following article.

Go to the project’s Main Page

Before we begin, I invite you to watch the video.

User interface

The user interface of our game will allow the player to configure parameters such as resolution, volume, load and save games, start playing, see your score and so on.

In our case we will focus on making a graphical interface with the minimum functionality we need for the project, which is first a “Main Menu” where the game starts and from there we can start the game.

The second thing we need is a graphical interface that is shown while we are playing, for the moment we want to visualize the countdown.

User interface functionality

What we’re going to do is create a Canvas type GameObject that is a basic element in the GUI and then two empty GameObjects that will contain all the elements of the main menu and the game.

When the game starts the graphical interface of the main menu will be active, which will only show us a button to start the game.

Pressing the button will turn off the graphical interface of the main menu and turn on the game which shows the remaining time to complete the mission.

When the game is over, we’ll turn off the game’s graphical interface and turn on the main menu interface again.

This way we don’t need a second separate scene for the game and we can solve everything in the same scene.

Procedure

Before we start making the graphical interface we will create a prefabricated object of the door to be able to replicate easily. We took the scene as it was at the end of the previous video (figure 1) and eliminated three doors and three points of appearance.

Fig. 1: Estado de la escena al final del video anterior. Se borran tres puertas.

We take the point of appearance we have left and make it the son of the door.

Fig. 2: The spawn points are also eliminated by leaving one.
Fig. 3: Take the spawn point and make it the child of the door.

Then we take the GameObject Gate from the hierarchy and drag it to the Prefabs folder of our project, with this we create a prefab that we can place as many times as necessary in our game.

Fig. 4: Taking the GameObject from the hierarchy we create a Prefab.
Fig. 5: This allows you to replicate the GameObject as many times as you like.

We are going to create a camera that will be initially active for when we show the graphical interface of the main menu.

This camera will be turned off when the game starts so that it doesn’t conflict with the camera included in the character’s prefab.

Fig. 6: In the hierarchy we create a camera that will be active in the main menu.

User interface design

Now we begin to create the necessary elements for the graphical interface. First a Canvas where the elements will be placed.

Fig. 7: In the hierarchy we created a GameObject type Canvas for the user interface.

Como se dijo en la introducción, creamos dos Empty GameObjects para que contengan los elementos de cada pantalla.

Fig. 8: In the hierarchy we create two Empty GameObjects.

Vamos a nombrar a estos objetos “MainMenu” y “Game” para identificarlos fácilmente, como se observa en la figura 9.

Fig. 9: One empty object is called Main Menu and the other Game.

Right-click on the GameObject “Main Menu” to create a button.

Fig. 10: For the main menu we create a button to start the game.

To see our graphical interface, in the tab “Game” we will select an aspect ratio 16:9.

Fig. 11: We adjust the game view to have a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Inside the button we have like son a GameObject type text, we are going to select it to modify it in the inspector.

Fig. 12: Select the GameObject text that is the child of the button.

Type “Start Game” in the text field shown in figure 13 on the right.

Fig. 13: In the inspector we can configure the text of the button.

Using the basic tools we can position the button on the screen.

Fig. 14: Position the button on the screen.

When entering the game mode we see that the button has an animation when you press it, but of course it still does not perform any action.

Fig. 15: When testing the game, the button has an animation for the pressed one, but does nothing yet.

Let’s give the button the name “StartButton” to easily identify it in the hierarchy.

Fig. 16: Rename the button to make it easier to identify.

The next thing we do is create a text type GameObject, this time as a child of the “Game” object.

Fig. 17: We created a text type GameObject for the game interface.

In the inspector we write any value with the time format, only to visualize it on screen. Later we will modify the text using C# code.

Fig. 18: We write a time value in the text. Then we will program the operation.

In addition to writing the text we can do other actions such as center, change the size of the font, font type, color and so on.

Fig. 19: Center the text using the options in the inspector.

We choose a font size that fits the button well.

Fig. 20: We modify the size.

With the GameObject “Game” selected, at the top of the inspector we have a button that allows you to enable and disable it (figure 21), this makes it show or not in the graphical interface.

We will use this property from the C# script to program the behavior of the GUI.

Fig. 21: Using the button at the top of the inspector it is possible to disable the GameObject.

Adaptation to different screen resolutions

How to make our game look good in any screen resolution is not a minor problem.

There are several ways to approach this issue, for example we could create a different user interface for each resolution, then using a c# script we could detect what type of resolution the device has and show the appropriate graphical interface.

In this video we use a component that is assigned to the Canvas and is called “Canvas Scaler”, canvas climber.

This component will make the graphical interface bigger or smaller depending on the screen resolution. For the moment this will help us.

Fig. 22: Select the GameObject Canvas in the hierarchy and observe its parameters in the inspector.

Display the “UI Scale Mode” menu which by default is in “Constant Pixel Size” and select the “Scale With Screen Size” option.

Fig. 23: The UI Scale Mode option selects Scale With Screen Size.

Then we set a reference resolution, in my case I’m going to use 1920×1080, as shown in figure 24.

Fig. 24: Let’s set the reference resolution to 1920×1080.

We must now adjust all the elements so that they look good for that reference resolution.

Fig. 25: It is observed that we must correct the size of the elements.
Fig. 26: Using the Rect Transform component we adjust the size of the element.

Adjusting the canvas scaler is something that would have been better to do from the beginning, but in this labyrinth series we’re showing all the elements we count on to make a game in Unity, it didn’t make sense to show the canvas scaler before showing the canvas and its elements first.

Fig. 27: We adjust the font size to taste.

Once we have adjusted the elements to the new reference resolution, we can observe the behavior of the Canvas Scaler, selecting Free Aspect for the aspect ratio, using the drop-down menu we use in figure 1.

Then making the window wider or narrower we observe in figures 28 and 29 that the button becomes proportionally larger or smaller.

Fig. 28: Let’s look at the Free Aspect option for the aspect ratio. As in figure 11.
Fig. 29: Changing the width of the window shows that the button changes its size proportionally.

The last thing we do is create a new resolution for the game window. FullHD 1920×1080.

This resolution is only for viewing in the editor, it has nothing to do with the resolution that the executable game will have.

Fig. 30: We add a resolution of 1920×1080 to have reference in the game window.

Conclusion

In this article we have reviewed the key points to create a simple graphical user interface, i.e. the minimum necessary elements that the player needs to see to use the game.

The basic element of the graphical interface in Unity is the Canvas, inside the other elements will be placed.

The “Canvas Scaler” provides us with a simple solution for adapting the graphical interface to different resolutions.

As the project has not yet advanced much, the game still does not have more functionality than placing the character on the stage. Later on we’ll have to include more elements in the interface and probably create more screens.

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