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Diegetic Interface

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Every button on your $200 controller affects something in the cockpit.

A diegetic interface is when a game's interface elements exist In-Universe; the Player Character sees them, rather than just the player ("Diegetic" meaning "within the narrative", such as diegetic music). This is generally handled in one of two ways. Sometimes the normal player HUD is explained as being part of the character's equipment — common if he's robotic, a cyborg, or wearing Powered Armor, and justified if the game is in first-person perspective. Other times, the game simply uses in-game indications of things that a HUD would normally tell you; a wounded character will limp instead of having a Life Meter, for example.

Vehicle simulators call this a virtual cockpit, and it tends to be the most detailed and realistic interface mode short of a hardware sim with actual panels. In these cases, a 2-D control panel laid out for easier reading without scrolling is usually included as an easier-to-program option.


Generally, this is done in order to increase immersion and enhance Willing Suspension of Disbelief; it's much easier to believe that your character is a real person in a real situation when the screen isn't cluttered with inexplicable icons representing health and ammo. In some cases, this also leads to an aversion of Menu Time Lockout: browsing your inventory may leave the player open to attack, instead of pausing the action mid-battle while you apply a handy medkit.

It also helps that drawing the interface all the time can reduce the screen area that needs to be drawn using the more expensive world rendering.

Robo Cam is when one is applied to a character's view outside of video games. Justified Save Point is related. May justify Interface Screw as well. See also Painting the Medium, where this is temporarily invoked for the sake of Postmodernism, and usually Played for Laughs.



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    Diegetic HUDs 
  • In DOOM (2016) the Praetor suit's internal helmet display functions as the HUD, displaying transmissions, signalling impact compensation, and even reacting to the installation of tether technology.
  • Halo, a First-Person Shooter in which you usually play as a Space Marine wearing Powered Armor. Your HUD is projected on the inside of your helmet's visor, and some weapons have readouts as well: small LCDs for human weapons, and holograms for the aliens. During Noble Six's Last Stand in Halo: Reach, the visor, and thus the interface, Shows Damage.
  • Half-Life (and its sequels and add-ons), also with Powered Armor. Strangely, Gordon is never depicted wearing a helmet, unlike several other anonymous scientists found wearing the same suit, helmet included. The discrepancy is never commented on.
  • Crysis, which overlaps with Interface Screw when certain enemies and weapons (like EMPs) cause your HUD to go fuzzy or fail entirely.
    • Crysis 2 also adds a gorgeous new bobbing effect for the HUD when you move, and makes it look more realistic (like a fighter plane HUD). All of this is a wee bit strange when you consider that the Crysis: Legion book calls it a "Brain-Up Display," like a neural interface, but there is some acknowledged discontinuity between the two.
  • Far Cry 2 has a mix of diegetic and traditional interfaces. Common things like your health bar and ammo counter are on screen for good. Other things, take form in the game world, like the weapon shop which is an old computer in a shack, or the map which is an actual map held by the Player Character in front of the camera.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy, which also has some Interface Screw elements similar to Crysis, though Metroid Prime predates it by several years.
    • For example, when Samus gets past certain enemies, they actually cause "interference". Rezbits in Echoes can actually make Samus' Power Suit crash by infecting it with a virus, and the player has to reboot it by pressing a key sequence, much like pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del.
    • There is a proximity alert that warns you when you're near something dangerous (like lava), which is helpful to Samus as well considering her peripheral vision is obstructed by the edges of her helmet and her ability to sense her surroundings is dampened by the suit's armor.
    • Several environmental effects also serve to remind the player that they have the suit's visor in front of them (e.g. steam fogs it up, water splashes droplets on it, bright flashes cause Samus's face to be briefly reflected on the inside, etc).
    • Certain visor modes, such as the X-Ray Visor, also have overlapping effects on the interface. When the X-Ray visor is enabled, Samus's skeleton can be seen within her arm cannon, and changing beam types shows how it functions (she changes the mode by changing the way her hand is positioned).
    • The four lights at the top of Samus' field of view, which did nothing in the first two games, represent the power level of the batteries in the Wiimote in Corruption and Metroid Prime Trilogy.
    • The side-scrolling Metroid games naturally avoid this by virtue of being third-person, but they still manages this in a form: the pause menu from Super Metroid on is designed to look like the inside of Samus' helmet. Additionally, Metroid: Other M allows the player to go into first-person view to shoot at enemies, complete with a Prime-esque helmet view.
  • Azrael's Tear, in the form of the high-tech MS-2 helmet. Not only does it display information in the protagonist's field of vision and provide a mapping facility, but it also has buttons to turn the BGM on and off, as well as saving and loading the game.
  • System Shock, as part of the cyber-interface implanted in the beginning of the game. The player can even improve the interface by finding hardware, such as targeting aids, health monitors, infrared, a widened field of vision, and a multimedia data reader (a CD drive?).
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has all the interface elements as part of the PC's Demonica Suit.
    • Likewise, the contents of the upper screen of the DS is identical to the display of the characters' Demon Summoning Program in Devil Survivor 2: this is where they find out the names of the monsters they're being attacked by and they directly refer to the skills shown there later in the game.
  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary: While onboard the Enterprise, all relevant stats for the ship are shown as displays around the bridge (shields, hull damage, power levels, speed, weapon status).
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution your HUD doesn't even exist until Adam Jensen gets cybernetic implants (including his eyes) after a brutal beatdown (despite the fact that he didn't actually need his eyes replaced; he signed a really terrible contract, so his boss decided to go with some upgrades in addition to repairs). A hit from an EMP weapon will cause it to short out and reboot, unless you buy an enhancement that renders you immune to electrical attacks.
    • It was also implied that this was also the case with JC Denton in the first game.
  • In Bulletstorm, the player character has no HUD until he puts on the Leash, which then injects him with nanomachines.
  • The The Journeyman Project series has two variations. In the first game the interface is a tactical eye display and, in the first version, a hand-held device. The second and third games have the player wearing a full helmet which is lined with various holographic interfaces and capable of zooming and highlighting on the visor.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando, once again with Powered Armor. As with Crysis, there are certain areas and weapons that cause your HUD to go crazy.
  • Battlefield 2142 has the HUD projected onto everyone's NetBat Helmet visor from within. Like the above example, the HUD disappears and the entire screen appears washed-out with flickering static if an EMP weapon goes off nearby. Interestingly, this disruption also disables the networked battlefield system that displays the positions of hostiles spotted by one soldier to everyone on the team.
  • FEAR 2's HUD is projected on the character's glasses and goes missing when they are briefly removed.
  • The Project Eden interface appears to be projected on some kind of contact lens as it is seen booting up when the character does something with their eye.
  • In Borderlands, the cute Claptrap robot gives you the device displaying your HUD before you can even move.
  • Tribes outfits everyone with Powered Armor as a rule, but the HUD doesn't look particularly diegetic until Tribes: Ascend. Julia from Tribes: Vengeance gets the diegetic HUD without a helm... because she had replaced her eyes with electronics to get the combat feed without restricting her field of view.
  • In Uplink, you're a hacker running a computer program and connected to a BBS, and the game interface is the program.
  • I Miss the Sunrise is a Turn-Based Strategy example. Yes, really. The main character is a commander of a fleet who has a unique protein in their body that, when combined with a chemical, greatly augments their mental capabilities, allowing them to take as long as they want to formulate an order without taking any time from an outside perspective. The images displayed on the screen are what the character literally sees from their cockpit (probably not the menus, though).
  • In Perfect Dark, Joanna is equipped with a headset that deploys a small screen over her field of vision which acts as the game's menu, similar to James Bond's wristwatch computer from GoldenEye.
  • MechWarrior Living Legends has the visor HUD for battle armor. When the user's armor takes damage, the visor will start to crack. When the armor is breached and the player begins to take damage directly, it'll get splattered with blood and harjel sealant; at the brink of death, the visor will helpfully plaster USER DEATH IMMINENT on the side of the visor. When the Auto Doc kicks in, it displays that it is dispensing morphine. All of the HUD is built into it; weapons, missile status, radar, and health are all integrated into the visor's design.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, the HUD (health, ghost HP, and pack temperature) is displayed right on the Proton Pack itself. Things that pop out of the pack tell you which gadget is in use.
  • The computer game of Monty Python and the Holy Grail had a "King Arthur vs. the Black Knight" minigame. Playing as the Black Knight gives you a Robo Cam HUD with a (useless) sonar display, a very tiny screen (comparable to an actual knight's field of vision) and a miniature Black Knight icon showing which limbs are getting hacked off! When all arms and legs are gone, the "ATTACK" light changes to "BLEED," as King Arthur taunts, "What are you going to do, bleed on me?"
  • République has the player remotely controlling cameras using a phone/tablet-based interface that you are connected to via a third party.
  • Serious Sam gets his HUD, including a crosshair which tells him how much health a currently-targeted enemy still has and detailed info on his weapons and enemies, through having an AI implanted in his brain. Serious Sam II implies that the "Secret <whatever> found!" messages are also the result of the AI, due to her being Suddenly Voiced and announcing these found secrets to the player if they have her set to do so.
  • Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter has a helmet visor HUD, which displays the locations of visible enemies, allies, vehicles, and objectives. ECM devices or other disturbances will cause it to get jumpy and fill with static, and it even gets damaged in one of GRAW 2's missions. Future Soldier continues the trend, including having a mission (Ember Hunt) where the system has to be rebooted, denying you its use.
    • Similarly, Call of Duty: Black Ops II has a HUD accessed through the player character's Cool Shades. Unlike Ghost Recon, the game doesn't go out of its way to create a plot point existing solely to jam it for long periods of time - there are still a few Interface Screws, but they are temporary and usually self-afflicted at best. Modern Warfare 2 and 3 also treat the HUD like this in multiplayer, where getting hit with an EMP knocks it out entirely for a minute or two.
  • Quake IV has a HUD that gives your standard health, armor, and ammo readouts, at least part of which is given from the medchip implanted into every Marine, and displayed to Kane through his cybernetic eye. Additionally, most weapons in the game have some form of ammo counter on them to inform the user of how much ammo is left in the magazine (the SMC's Machine Gun and Shotgun have numeric readouts, while the Strogg's Nailgun and Lightning Gun have a series of pips and side-tube-things that depress, respectively).
  • Star Wars Droidworks has two different interfaces.
    • The first is the Droid workshop inside Wimateeka's sandcrawler, in which you get to build and customize a droid of your own making. It's packed with buttons showing dozens of different droid parts, a paint kit, view controls, switches to test the droid, and info tabs describing each part right down to the materials they're made of, your droid's full description, and the requirements for your current mission. Interestingly, what you assemble on-screen is simply a projection within the Holographic Design Grid, as the droid itself only gets built when a mission is started.
    • The second is what you see when sending your completed droid on missions. Holocam-E, or Cammy, simultaneously serves as this HUD, and to follow your droid around as you pilot it remotely. It monitors the droid's speed, battery power, and amount of damage; manages your droid's inventory, and even gives you prompts on what to have your droid say to whoever it's talking to.
  • Breakdown at first appears to provide you with a HUD as regular part of the gameplay. Then, about halfway through the game it reveals that you have been inside a machine reliving your memories, and the HUD was an artificial addition there. For the rest of the game you have to go without.
  • The obscure point-and-click game Gord@k has one, in which you're a secret agent infiltrating an animation company's server to track down the titular sentient Computer Virus and destroy it. You begin the game looking at a regular computer monitor, but the game proper begins by starting a "Virtual Link" program that creates the HUD outside the screen, with a visual feed of the 3D animated space inside the server.
  • The Daedalus Encounter has its HUD tied into the backstory. You, Casey, have no body except for your brain which is inside a life support system, and the HUD you're using is to give you some menial interactivity with the environment around you, including controlling a remote drone for when outside the Artemis spaceship.
  • Interestingly, The Splinter is an example of this in a Tabletop RPG: You play a Player in a virtual reality simulation. Your Player must make a control test against their Avatar in order to bring up their HUD (which is the Avatar's IRL character sheet).
  • No Man's Sky features this and a virtual cockpit below. Such things as the name of the planet you're currently on and health (along with a few other unspecified elements) are projected onto your suit's helmet.
  • A partial one for Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. While these are primarily third person shooters, both games feature a first person mode for specialized marksman or sniper weapons, even though not all of them necessarily have scopes as we know it. The interface there is more likely to be the view through the Transformer's own optic sensors, and thus the health gauge, ammo counter, charge rate indicator, and other important gauges are directly projected over their field of view. This falls in line with much of the canon established by other Transformers media.
  • Normally, the HUD in Fallout 4 is non-diegetic (though the menu is diegetic; see Other Examples, below). However, when the Sole Survivor gets into a suit of Powered Armor, the HUD changes to a diegetic version as instrumentation in armor's helmet, which also adds additional information on the armor health and how much power the armor has left before you have to switch out the fusion core.
  • The menu and HUD in NieR: Automata are explicitly things that the android Player Character has displayed to her. Each element of the HUD (enemy health, your health, damage, etc.) is enabled by a different equippable program chip, which you can disable to get more room for other upgrades. Just make sure you don't remove the OS chip.
    • During the final fight in the game, if 9S hacks A2 repeatedly, the hacking minigame eventually breaks into A2's menus screens. Succeeding with this hack ends the fight immediately.
  • As seen in the opening to Pokkén Tournament, just about all of the game's UI elements, even the map and miscellaneous menus, are a part of the in-universe Battle Augmented Reality device all player characters and rival Trainers wear.
  • Downplayed in Alan Wake, where most of the HUD is traditional. However, as Alan is an Action Survivor rather than a straight-up badass, the game represents this by doing away with crosshairs and having him (and by extension the player) use his flashlight as a makeshift Laser Sight.
  • Hypnospace Outlaw centers around an operating system accessed while asleep via a Brain–Computer Interface, and takes place entirely within said operating system. Since the game is set in The '90s, it has an appropriately low-resolution and Retraux look, reminiscent of Windows 95. The system boots up with an audible whir, can get infected with viruses that cause interface screws, and will eventually crash if used for long periods of time (due to running out of memory). At a climactic point in the game, the system lethally crashes and you wake up, completely removing the game's interface.
  • Amiga and DOS action-adventure Blade Warrior 's artistic direction was so ahead of its time (1991), made of Limbo-like shadow theatre, that the devs decided to not pollute it with a classic HUD and to represent the player's energy in the crescent moon in the sky.

    Virtual Cockpits 
  • Many older Racing Games replace the HUD with the car's dashboard when using a first-person viewpoint. However, Battle Gear is the first racing game to actually have modelled interior dashboards. Taken Up to Eleven with its final game, Battle Gear 4.
  • Gran Turismo: starting from 5 the games have realistic simulated interiors for its cars, a first for the series. In 5 and 6 "Premium"/"Detailed" cars have painstakingly detailed interiors, while "Standard" cars have generic black interiors, though the standard HUD gauges are laid out in such a way that it looks like the car has a working tachometer and speedometer. From Sport onwards, the games would ditch standard cars entirely, and with some exceptions (those being very few concept cars that actually don't have an interior), each car is detailed down to the last screw.
  • Forza has fully modeled interiors for all its cars since 3, with appropriate gauges depending on what the car is equipped with - tachometers, speedometers, boost gauges, fuel gauges, accelerometers, clocks, et cetera. In the high end purpose-built cars, you can actually disable the entire HUD and still remain fairly aware of your status - the car's electronic dashboard or wheel-mounted display will list lap times, your position, remaining fuel, RPMs, gear, speed, and so on. In cars like the Apollo IE or Lamborghini Reventón, with its fully digital fighter jet-esque dashboard, it goes all the way to Technology Porn.
  • Driveclub has detailed interiors for each and every car, and goes beyond the line by using the proper lights when the traction control is activated, and will also notify you of the KERS and DRS levels, if the car (such as the P1's) has them.
  • Driver: San Francisco, when played in the first-person view, has accurately modelled interiors for all its cars, with functioning tachometer. It also accounts for vehicle damage, with the sound of rushing wind when you've destroyed the windshield, and your view being completely blocked if the bonnet/hood flips up (at least until it gets ripped off entirely).
  • The HUD in Ace Combat, especially in Cockpit View. The same applies for Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X..
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the VR mode for 7, where two HUD elements (The minimap and your aircraft's weapons status) are instead displayed on three of the F-22's displays in the cockpit.
  • Descent and its sequels provide an optional cockpit view to increase the sense the player was Material Defender in the Pyro-GX and successor ships.
  • Digital Combat Simulator, being a full-fledged simulator more than a game, features fully interactable and functional cockpits for its high-fidelity models, including the F/A-18, MiG-25, and a host of other aircraft, with various scenarios such as damage engines and whatnot requiring the player to use them. The low-fidelity models on the other hand have the same detailed cockpits, but many if not most of the buttons are non-functional.
  • The MechWarrior series. In the third game, you could even get a crack in the glass from a non-lethal cockpit hit. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, the tank HUD is designed to look like a view through the tank's mirrored periscope/window, with different interface elements arranged on separate "monitors". The high-tech battlemech HUD on the other hand is set up like a jet fighter, with a heads-up-display.
  • Steel Battalion, in spades. Every VT generation has its own cockpit, and Line of Contact adds even more cockpits with support/indirect-fire and Jaralaccs VTs now having their own. The VT Operations Manual goes into extensive detail on what all of the cockpit lights and gauges mean, and not a single one is there for mere decorationnote .
    • Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor takes this even further by its use of Kinect, potentially allowing you to reach out and interact with secondary cockpit controls, or interacting with your crewmates. Unfortunately, the Kinect's usual sensitivity and motion-reading problems means that you're likely to grab the wrong thing every damn time (Angry Joe suggested renaming the game "Steel Battalion: Get Your Fucking Hand Off That!").
  • Orbiter has one for the most popular built-in spacecraft, and the space shuttle. Unfortunately (or maybe not) most of the switches on the shuttle panel are dummies, and most of the special functions aren't usable from the mouse interface. A lot of the better realized add-ons have them, but most skip the extra work and only include a 2D panel.
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator has had active virtual cockpits since the 2004 edition, and a basic implementation of an instrument panel going all the way back to Microsoft's first version in 1982. The original Apple II version from 1979 only showed an airspeed indicator and altimeter, with sliders and plain text providing additional data.
  • Too many combat flight simulators to count. Fully realistic settings in most of them will even enforce cockpit view, with no non-diegetic gauges to rely on. The HUD, radar, gauges, etc. may be disabled by damage. In extreme cases such as Falcon 4.0, DCS: Ka-50 Black Shark and DCS: A-10C Warthog, the cockpits are fully clickable to the point where the player can even go through a cold start procedure using the virtual cockpit!
  • The original Starsiege games: Metaltech: Earthsiege and Earthsiege 2 have virtual cockpits which were unfortunately not present in Starsiege. The entire HUD is displayed on the HERCULAN's cockpit displays, such as the ammo count being displayed from a small counter on the pillars of the cockpit. When the player switches to the command mode, they look down at a map display in-front of the cockpit's joystick. Each HERC had a different cockpit layout.
  • Ships in the X-Universe games from X: Beyond the Frontier to X2: The Threat had virtual 3-D cockpits, where parts of the HUD were also projected onto panels in the cockpit. On a fighter, for example, the hull, shield, weapon status, and speed may be incorporated into small screens built into the cockpit's pillars. Or on a capital ship, different aspects of the HUD may be incorporated into different "stations" in the virtual bridge, such as having a large Star Wars-esque radar screen to the left of the captain's seat. X3: Reunion removed the cockpits entirely, but they are easily re-added via mods, and some mods add new cockpit designs.
    • The full cockpit returns in the seventh game, X Rebirth and almost completely replaces traditional HUD elements, with menus such as trading and the system map being integrated into the Albion Skunk's cockpit through a large sliding video screen dividing the pilot and copilot areas. An option in the 2.5 update allows you to disable most of the diegetic interface in favor of a faster traditional HUD.
  • All of the capsules and cockpits in Kerbal Space Program have fully modeled interiors with instrument panels displaying speed, heading, and altitude, though they have significantly fewer displays and controls than real spacecraft and aircraft. Most of the buttons within the capsules are non-functional, however. The RasterPropMonitor Game Mod gives all cockpits functional multifunction displays with buttons, allowing one to pilot the ship entirely from first person bar using the map to set up orbital maneuver nodes.
  • Aircraft and ground transports in PlanetSide 2 have a 3d cockpit, which displays the vehicle's height, speed, utility status (such as flares or turbo), weapon status, and lock-on warnings on various cockpit displays. Going into third person only shows the vehicle health and weapon ammo on the HUD. Tanks lack a 3d cockpit, though each empire has a faction-unique heads-up-display for the driver.
  • You can optionally choose to play any of the vehicle levels from the cockpit (including a first person perspective of the speeder bike) in the Rogue Squadron titles which were released for the Nintendo GameCube.
  • Star Citizen prominently features virtual cockpits on all its ships. The price and function of the ship usually determines how advanced the displays are - the cheapo Aurora uses simplistic displays, whereas the Origin 300i, a space BMW, uses high-tech holographic elements.
  • Evochron shows almost all HUD info through the cockpit's three displays; a radar in the center, ship status on the left, and target info on the right. The only non-diegetic elements are the heading indicator at the top of the screen and various menu such as trading menu or the system map.
  • No Man's Sky has one for your ship that displays such things as your ship's current speed and radar that combines with the diegetic Heads-Up Display mentioned above.
  • Elite Dangerous has a series of holographic displays in the cockpit of each starship showing all relevant information. Advanced options are available in holographic panels that pop up when the pilot looks to either the left or right side of the cockpit. If the ship's canopy is shot out, you lose most of your heads-up-display, forcing you to eyeball your shots with no crosshair or ammo display.
  • Grand Theft Auto V was the first game of the series to feature functional car interiors with a working tachometer and speedometer. GTA V also adds a special gage for the electric T̶e̶s̶l̶a̶ ̶R̶o̶a̶d̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ Coil Voltic that measures your engine's power usage in kilowatts.
  • Euro Truck Simulator actually offers no other way to see your engine RPM and the status of your parking brake and axle lock other than by looking at your truck's dashboard; chances are you'll find yourself alternating between the third person view to look at the scenery, and the first person view while accelerating, stopping or taking sharp corners. Operating controls such as the flasher, the retarder or the parking brake results in a button being pushed, and the side mirrors are functional, adjustable and you can use them to look behind you while changing lane or maneuvering. You can even add decorations and accessories to liven up your factory default interior.
    • 2 and ATS continue this tradition.
  • Newer entries in the Farming Simulator series have highly detailed, usually unique cockpits for every tractor, harvester, truck or other vehicle you can drive. While not all of their countless displays are functional, most are, and some are actually exclusive to cockpit mode - if you drive in third-person, which switches your view to a standard video game HUD, you won't be seeing this specific readout anywhere. Similar to the Euro Truck Simulator mentioned above, cockpit mirrors are also fully functional, albeit not adjustable. A few specialized vehicles even have external cameras on crucial parts like cranes that you can access for precision maneuvering.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic's turret minigame, to your disposition are a hull integrity gauge and an Enemy-Detecting Radar, both of which appear as a part of Ebon Hawk's gunnery station.
  • Star Wars: Squadrons has a virtual cockpit that gives you nearly all the information that the regular HUD overlay does; really the only thing missing is the arrows that point at selected target along the edge of the screen and over the cockpit view. Players who want a challenge are given the option to turn off the HUD and rely only on the cockpit instruments.
  • In the previous generation of Star Wars flight sims (X-Wing, TIE Fighter, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and X-Wing Alliance) each flyable craft has a unique cockpit layout with displays for sensors, shields, energy levels, weapons, etc., along with a central screen displaying info on the player's current target. Notably, should the player's ship take sufficient damage, any or all of these displays could be knocked out for the duration of the mission. X-Wing Alliance took things a step further, introducing a pair of secondary displays to either side of the targeting screen, which were used to display information such as mission objectives and communication logs, info that in previous games could only be accessed by pausing. The games also featured an in-flight map screen that would likewise not pause the game while the player was looking at it.

    Other Examples 
  • Virtual Reality software generally regards diegetic interfaces as a best practice, since the user is expected to be able to interact with the virtual world and its contents, often directly with tracked motion controllers. Many VR games on the market actually have the player storing items right on their body as opposed to pulling them out from a menu, and even in cases where there are menus, they are often interacted with by being physically touched with the other hand controller.
  • In Anachronox your game cursor physically exists in the world as a "LifeCursor", basically a flying, sentient PDA. Other characters will acknowledge it, and at certain points you'll even see other characters' LifeCursors. All interface screens are also presented as a function of the LifeCursor.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser was probably the first first-person game to have absolutely no HUD. Instead, the player character would verbally call out the amount of ammo left in a gun ("five shots left," "feels half full," etc.) and a tattoo on her chest (which could be viewed by looking down) indicated the amount of health the character had. In addition to the lack of HUD, there was no "use" key; instead, the player must physically reach out and interact with objects through a simulated arm, the same one that holds your weapons and would need to be aligned just right to use the iron sights properly.
  • Slender: The Arrival is played through a physical camcorder, so your interface has a camera overlay that displays how long you've been playing and your camera battery life. The battery, however, is not dynamic and only changes according to the level.
  • In the first Titanfall, the entire theme of the whole game can be said to be diegetic. The HUD is part of the Pilot’s helmet, the Titan’s HUD is part of the Titan screens themselves which can go off screen when ejecting as you look down for a moment to pull a cord, and after you get propelled in the air, your Pilot HUD turns on again. There is never a third person sequence or cutscene in the entire game except death. Takedowns/executions are in first person, entering your Titan mech is in first person (complete with the Titan’s arm helping you inside occasionally), even the campaign itself is diegetic in a way, due to the fact that it isn’t a traditional single player campaign, and instead consists of multiplayer matches with real players vs players set in a chronological war between the two factions in game (the fact that the campaign was essentially multiplayer only to emphasise the story was why it was criticised) And yes, this extents to each player having their own unique cutscenes in first person, depending on their faction, their mission and even their individual slot in the lobby itself.
    • Titanfall 2 builds on this by having everyman Jack Cooper Falling into the Cockpit of the eponymous Humongous Mecha. There is an (extremely) brief opening segment, during which the player has no HUD, ending with the player being saved by Capt. Lastimosa and his Titan, BT-7274. Lastimosa is wounded and names Cooper his successor as BT's pilot, telling Cooper to scavenge the helmet and Jet Pack from his body. Only when Cooper puts on that helmet does The Player get a HUD.
  • In Dead Space series, everything is diegetic. Health levels and power-up charge are given via displays on Isaac's suit, menus are Holographic Terminals projected by either his suit or the machinery he's interacting with, and even the "Now, Where Was I Going Again?" hints are glowing lines on the floor generated by a projector in Isaac's glove, presumably in conjunction with the ship's computer (which would, naturally, know how to get you where you want to go).
    • It does blur the line a bit by providing instructions for Quick Time Events using the same holographic projections. The health bar is explicitly for the benefit of Isaac's coworkers, who can help monitor his wellbeing, but how does a big ol' display saying "MOUSE2!!" help them?
  • Metro 2033 handles almost everything diegetically. Damage causes your vision to narrow and red out, while low air causes blurry vision and labored breathing. One button lets you look at your watch (which shows time until air runs out and ambient light level, for sneaking) while another brings up his notes (listing your next objective, with a compass pointing the way). The menu is Artyom looking at notepads he wrote his inventory and objectives on. The only non-diegetic part of the interface is your weapon selection and ammo count — though for some weapons, even the ammo count is visible on the weapon. Even better, the hardest difficulties turn off the non-diegetic parts. Better count those bullets!
  • The Director in Crackdown refers to columns of light and other things visible in the game as being part of a graphical interface attached to the player character's eyes.
  • Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 have diegetic menus in the form of a wrist-mounted computer called the Pip-Boy 3000. It somehow lets you do things like use items, manage your equipment and other inventory, and physically examine yourself for wounds. It also runs on an equivalent of MS-DOS. Note, however, that the HUD itself is mostly non-diegetic, as the ammo counter, HP and AP meters, and compass pips aren't justified in-game.
    • An interesting case in that before you get the Pip-Boy, pressing Tab does nothing. In one quest scenario where you temporarily lose the Pip-Boy due to being in a VR simulation, however, pressing Tab will bring up your wrist... and it only has a Vault-Tec watch on it. This was a small issue for some modders, who sought to remove the visible Pip-Boy wrist model from their character, only to find out that the inventory screen would end up as a close-up of their wrist instead.
    • While the nature of the gameplay makes it less apparent in-game, the equivalent menus in 1 and 2 were apparently also diegetic, using the Pip-Boy 2000.
    • When wearing Powered Armor in Fallout 4, the Pip-Boy can't be seen since it's being worn under the armor. Instead, when you open the Pip-Boy menu, it's projected as a window on the armor's HUD screen. There are also mods that apply this effect to Powered Armor in 3 and New Vegas.
  • In the Aftermath update of Mortal Kombat 11, a Stage Fatality in the Tournament arena, the "FINISH HIM/HER" announcement is on the stage screen as the winning fighter lifts up the Deadly Alliance cabinet and squashes the losing Kombatant into a pulp, with the FATALITY and "(KOMBATANT) WINS" taking place on the broken monitor.
  • The StarCraft II research and armory screens are set up something like this. The entire ship may also count as well.
  • In the Sly Cooper game series, the sparkles that mark areas that can Sly and the others can use (Climbing, Crawling Under, etc.) are noted as being visible in-universe, to Sly at least, and represent "thieving opportunities". In the second and third games, the starting locations of missions and the locations of objectives are made visible with holographic markers that are also explicitly said to be visible to the characters.
  • Pretty much everything in the Assassin's Creed series. The HUD, highlighted targets, and even things like the pause menu are explained as being part of the Game Within A Game that is the Animus. Indeed, during the segments outside the Animus, the game goes out of its way to avoid having any sort of HUD at all, except when essential. The Animus even has its own loading icon, separate from the game's.
    • This is taken a step further in the modern-day segments of the third game, which include a quadrotor hovering about to serve as a diegetic third-person camera.
    • Any visual change to any aspect of the HUD are Hand Waved as either a problem with/updates to the Animus.
  • Escape from Monkey Island displays your items in a circle orbiting around you when you open your inventory. Other characters can apparently see this and make comments like "you better clear up that clutter when you're done".
  • The Getaway and The Getaway: Black Monday doesn't have any kind of HUD to try and make the game more cinematic and immersible. Rather than a health bar, your character develops bloodstains and a limp the more they get hurt. Rather than floating health kits, leaning against a wall recovers you health (and removes bloodstains). And rather than a minimap or GPS arrow pointing you to your destination, your cars indicators will blink when you should turn, and both will flash when you reach your destination. The game did come with an actual map of London to help you find your way around though.
  • GoldenEye (1997): James Bond can switch weapons using the readout on his laser watch. The bad guys will kindly stop shooting and wait for him to finish what he is up to before resuming the firefight. You can do the same in The World Is Not Enough with a Motorola cell phone.
  • Splinter Cell mixes it with Product Placement in the form of a Palm OPSAT or a Sony Ericsson phone in pause menus, or in the case of Double Agent, a Nokia 3250 in certain mini-games.
  • In Hammerfight, the tutorial mentions that flying machines are controlled with a mouse.note 
  • In NieR, Grimoire Weiss functions as your menu/journal/inventory. When he's not in your party (such as before you meet him), your menu/journal/inventory is extremely limited.
  • Digital: A Love Story is a Visual Novel that is presented entirely in a GUI reminiscent of Amiga Workbench.
    • Likewise Analogue: A Hate Story consists entirely of what the investigator sees on the monitor of their ship's comm system, down to the connection glitching when the Mugunghwa's reactor overheats. The ending screen pulls back slightly to show the rest of the cockpit 'you' have been working with.
  • Quite a few DS games use this with whatever's on the bottom screen, such as:
  • In Minecraft, you have to craft your maps, and they only update if you're holding them.
  • Silent Hill
    • The HD version of Silent Hill 3 has the controller pulse continually, like a heartbeat, if the Player Character Heather is badly hurt.
    • The interface menus in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are in the form of a shoehorned mobile phone. While it does result in funny things like a messaging menu that can only receive messages, it does add to the immersion—particularly when you are chased by monsters and you need to look at the map.
    • Silent Hill: Downpour is a minor example; there's no HUD, but there are context commands and an inventory screen. The easiest way to tell how much more damage Murphy's taken is Murphy's appearance — whether he can still run or just barely drag himself around and the extent of bruising visible on his body are the tell tale signs of damage. The light given off by his flashlight will also grime up as he takes damage.
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie deserves some mention because its Diegetic Interface is a total lack of HUD. Despite taking the exact opposite tactic, it still increases immersion by forcing you to pay attention to how many shots you've fired, your character's movespeed and labored breathing, the ambient noise of the game environment, and so on.
  • The Persona 4 Anime of the Game shows that Rise's view of a fight uses a HUD almost identical what the player sees in the game, appropriately enough.
  • Mad TV (1991) is set in an office building. You quit the game by going to your boss's office and literally quitting, save the game by opening the safe in your office, and change the game settings by tampering with the control panel on your office computer.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn didn't explicitly state it in the game itself (though there are hints), but supplementary materials and Renegade establishes that a commander's EVA interface looks and works like that of the game (the idea being that EVA allows for 'tele-generals' that command via computers, like the player is doing). This presumably applies to the sequels, as well. It can also be seen from the side in cutscenes in Command & Conquer: Renegade - the computers your Mission Control works with have the display exactly like the strategy games in the series.
  • Zero Escape:
    • In Virtue's Last Reward, the player character isn't the only one jumping timelines, and in the last few endings before the True Ending the branching endings are openly discussed.
    • Zig-zagged in Zero Time Dilemma: while it's true that the decision interface is seen and manipulated by Delta, he's not a SHIFTer, so he doesn't jump between timelines. Therefore, the flowchart is just there for the player's convenience, a first in the franchise.
  • Mirror's Edge originally had no permanent user interface elements, just like a runner wouldn't have any in Real Life. However playtesting revealed that a lot of players suffered motion sickness, so a (very small) permanent crosshair was added to provide a fixed point of reference.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV and expansions, the player character's cell phone. It pops up in the corner of the game screen, but if you look over the character's shoulder you can see it being used in their hand. What's interesting is that the third-person cellphone model actually shows what's on the screen as seen on the corner as opposed to being a static prop. Same thing happens in Grand Theft Auto V, and even more so with the eighth-generation versions of it, as a first-person vehicle cockpit is available, and bringing up the smartphone results in the character showing his device (and thus the phone's interface) as he would with any weapon or item.
  • An interesting and very specific example in Odin Sphere. The in-between chapter menu has the player taking control of a little girl reading the events of the story, helping to serve as framing for the game's storybook style.
  • A relatively minor one: Portal has level numbers, as well as a few hints on what to expect, built into the white signs at or near the entrance of every test chamber. Of course, this stops being useful once you go Off the Rails.
  • Doom 3 features a minor example. It features a very classical HUD, but when the player is wielding a machinegun, plasma gun, chain gun, or the BFG, the ammo counter disappears from the HUD and is replaced by a counter integrated inside the actual weapon (on a screen on its top). Also, while there is a standard clip/reserve HUD display active with the rocket launcher, you can also see how many of the rockets are left in the clip just by looking at it.
    • When the game requires you to interact with a machine, instead of just hitting an "Use" button like most FPS games, you have to approach a control screen and use a mouse cursor to interact with a GUI.
  • Sunset Overdrive ... somewhat has this as a result of its No Fourth Wall nature. During one cutscene, the player chapter shows an NPC their weapons list to prove that they're not unarmed and can't be coerced into anything.
  • NaissanceE doesn't really have a HUD, unless you count the circle that shows you when to press the LMB to breathe.
  • Satellite Reign's interface is entirely within your computer, you being the handler of the agents that actually get things done. Your camera is via one of probably a million other drones swarming the city, your tactical readouts and line of sight provided by the neural links of your agents.
  • The MechCommander intro shows a commander managing his lance on a screen much like the in-game one.
  • Battletech makes heavy use of this. Your Player Character is the commander of a mercenary company who actually exists in the game as a playable pilot. All mission briefings are viewed through their eyes, all the menus and interfaces aboard the dropship represent what they use to manage their company, and all the readouts in battle are what they use to monitor and direct their lance on the ground. When you visit your ship engineer, 'Mech bay or command center, their respective menus can be seen on physical monitors near the resident specialists, only enlarged for the player's convenience. Even the external view of the battlefield from above has an in-game explanation: you're observing the op zone through the long-range scopes of your dropship in low orbit.
  • In Battle Zone 1998 and the sequel, the scope on the astronaut's sniper rifle is a diegetic display. Rather than the usual videogame method of just narrowing the player's field of view when zoomed in, shouldering the rifle instead causes a display on the gun to light up with a magnified view that highlights enemy cockpits.
  • While most of the HUD in Splatoon is just laid over the screen in the typical manner, level of ink/ammo visible in your Inkling's tank serves as an additional indicator of how much ink you have left for attacks. (In squid form, since your ink tank isn't visible, this becomes a speech bubble-like callout over your Inkling.)
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, anytime you use the Sheikah Slate, you're looking at the same screen Link is looking at in-universe. The Sheikah Slate itself was designed to look like the Wii U's Gamepad, with it also looking like the Nintendo Switch being a happy accident according to the devs (as it meant they didn't have to change the design when they were told it was to double as a launch title for the latter). Also, the HUD widgets in the lower right corner of the main game screen are actually from the Sheikah Slate's UI.
  • Most bosses in An Untitled Story have healthbars in the form of torches in the scenery which get put out one by one as the boss loses health.
  • End-of-world bosses in Purple are fought in boss rooms where a large monitor displays their remaining hit points. The final boss takes notice of this and smashes his screen with his frisbee before starting the battle. This, thankfully, does not make him invincible.
  • In The Feeble Files, Feeble's Oracle watch serves as both the pause menu with access to all sorts of options as well as the inventory.
  • It's revealed early on in Super Mario 64 that the camera is actually a Lakitu cameraman following Mario around. You can see it in some rooms of the castle that have a mirror.
  • The menus in Megaman Zero are Zero's own internal interface. Memorably, after striking out on his own at the end of the first game, at the start of the second the menu interface is too badly damaged to access parts of it. After his body gets rebuilt, he gets an entirely new menu screen out of it too.
  • Played with in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. During The Reveal closer to the end of the game, you learn that your actual Player Character isn't Agent Carter, but an ascended Ethereal named Asaru, who has been controlling Carter like a puppet, floating above and behind him (hence the third-person perspective). Most of the interface, however, doesn't apply.
  • My "Dear" Boss: The game's menu is shown on screen on the protagonist's iPhone clone, with most of the options being apps.
  • In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the map of each level is a hologram projected by the companion droid BD-1; notably it does not work underwater. Additionally, the ability tree is depicted as a mystical landscape in the Force that Cal sees when he meditates.
  • In addition to their use of virtual cockpits as described above, many Star Wars flight simulators make use of a mock starship deck - representing whatever ship or base to which the player character is assigned - for their out-of-the-cockpit interface. Different doors on the deck access different aspects of the game.note  Individual games put their own twist on the system:
    • X-Wing and TIE Fighter, both of whose protagonists went unnamed outside of supplemental materials, used mock security checkpoints as a means of managing different player profiles. The player would not be allowed access to the main deck area without signing in.
    • Outside of the cockpit, the main menu in TIE Fighter was a mock PDA that not only allowed the player to adjust game settings but also view their statistics and awards. Additionally, the "arm" holding the PDA had a sleeve which could be pulled up, revealing the player's Secret Order tattoo, if any.
    • X-Wing Alliance had a special room on the lowest level of the main deck that served as the player character's bunkroom. This room served as a hub for any non-Rebel Alliance missions, and was notably the only room accessible during the prologue, before the player character joins the Rebellion. Displayed inside the room are the player's uniform, medal case, and various memorabilia from specific missions. There is also a computer terminal through which the player can check their stats and read emails which provide additional flavor to the campaign.
  • Final Fantasy X-2's Garment Grids are real items in-universe, and your first mission is to recover one stolen from YRP by their rival. The existence of the Garment Grids implies that the Sphere Grid from the previous game is also a physical object the characters interact with, although the characters never mention it, and how either of the devices act on the characters' physiology is never explained in either game. But as is usually the case when something isn't explained in Spira, you can assume pyreflies are responsible.
  • In Astroneer, your inventory is visibly present on your character model as the backpack, and if you want to get a closer look it detaches and hovers closer to the camera. In multiplayer you can even put items into slots on other players' backpacks just like how you would onto normal storage slots. All buildings' control panels also operate on the same principle - the panel is present on the structure and it flies to the camera when you interact with it.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy finds a device that allows her to interface with advanced machines, as well as keeping track of inventory and gatherables in the vicinity.
  • Downplayed in the pinball game Alien (2017). While the game's display usually does not qualify for this trope, certain modes will replicate the screen on a relevant, in-universe device.
    • Ambush Multiball depicts an alien-detecting radar (that can briefly be seen in the movie clip at the start of the mode).
    • Sentry Guns Multiball displays the Remote Sentry Weapons System's HUD, which includes information like the number of rounds remaining (depleting with every successful shot the player makes).

Alternative Title(s): Justified Interface