During playtesting I realized that the HUD detracts from the game experience. The game is fast-paced enough that you spend most of the time looking at your character to dodge missiles and move around level hazards quickly. Keeping an eye on health and mana while moving around smoothly is difficult.
Only two important things are communicated by the HUD: health and mana. Currently players use one gamepad stick to control movement and the other stick to control aiming. An arrow rotates around the character to show aim direction. I have done two things to eliminate the HUD. First, characters now have a healthbar that shows whenever they take damage. It fades soon after so it’s not always in the way. Second, the aim arrow now has a filled center area that indicates mana. It empties as mana is consumed and fills up as mana is recharged. So all of the information a player needs is directly communicated on their character.
As a random side note, I also created a character in a wheelchair. My daughter has special needs, a rare disorder called Rett Syndrome. Special needs or disabilities rarely exist in game characters so I want to explore ways to represent this in a game character.