One of the less glamourous parts of game design is designing the menus. I’ll talk about the graphical part of menu design another time. What comes first is deciding what menu options there are going to be. Aurora’s Nightmare will naturally need save and load options (with lots of save slots), and the standard return to title and quit options as well. But what else? Well, visual novels often include an option to temporally hide the text and other GUI elements, for when you want to get a really good look at the artwork. There will also be an option to skip to the next scene and/or choice (for sections you’ve previously read), though I haven’t yet decided if that will be a fast forward or a straight up skip (maybe I’ll include both). And, of course, there needs to be an options menu to mess with sound and graphics settings, among other things.
At some point, I’ll actually create a little flowchart containing all the menu options and how they connect to each other, which will help ensure that I don’t miss anything and also give me a quick way to evaluate the menus’ usability and organization. The graphical design is secondary, or at least it should be for any sort of good GUI. Focusing on the appearance ahead of the usability is fairly common, but rarely turns out well.