I'm building a prototype puzzle game at the moment. I'm just curious as to the principles behind building graphic interfaces within games. At the minute I'm looking at designing the graphics for an interface in something like Illustrator. I'm looking at one graphic (650 x 650 px) that incorporates the play area (400 x 550 px) as a blank square, with a nice border on the right hand side (vertically down the screen) and a border along the bottom too. I'm leaving a "blank" rectangle on the vertical border to incorporate a timer into it, and three "blank" squares along the bottom to incorporate icons to represent lives or power-ups or something, which I'll design later and animate later. Is this an acceptable/sensible approach?
The first thing you need to design should not be how the game looks like but how you play it, and what the player will need to do (and how).
If you already have these things set, then your approach seems sensible. The idea is to make a fake ingame screen to see how the different interface elements should be placed, so that they give the correct information to the player and not mask any important element in the game.
Then your approach may need some changes according to what the puzzles are ?