The Tau Station Universe: Design

Pretty, immersive, thoughtful, and inclusive – these are concepts that have guided us as we’ve been designing our user interface. Words and stories are the foundation upon which Tau Station is built, but we’re going beyond just text on the screen to create the universe that we’ve imagined. Our narrative, art, and graphic design all work together to create an immersive experience and the sense of adventure and exploration that’s at the heart of Tau Station.

Pretty and Immersive

One of the first things you’ll notice about Tau Station is the attractive user interface. Our art, fonts, colors, and graphic design elements all work together to give Tau Station a sci-fi feel and to support the narrative of the universe.

Gym page user interface

To contribute to the feel of the setting, we use custom art as a backdrop for each of the different areas. When your navigation screen is up, as it is in the above image, you’ll see part of the illustration on either side of it. You can also minimize the navigation screen when you just want to look at the art. Here you can see the interior of an Inn shown full screen:

Port background art

And this is one of our backdrop images of a station’s Port. Seeing the size of the docked spaceship helps give a sense of just how big these stations are:

Tau Station's Port

Most of the stations experienced heavy damage during the Catastrophe, as this background picture of the Ruins shows. It was inspired by København, a station known for its shipbuilding yards. You can see the wreckage of one of their ships amid the destroyed buildings:

Ruins background art

We strive to use science as the basis for everything in the game, and that carries through even to our art. We had several discussions about the logistics of building a space station inside of an asteroid – how it would be spun to create gravity, how ships would enter it, and more – before our artist created this image:

space station inside asteroid

The background art, graphic design, and the narrative descriptions all work together to create an immersive experience as you move through the universe.


A good user interface keeps your most relevant information available at all times, so a lot of discussion and thought has gone into what we’ll show on the main screen.  The left side shows important details like your stats, how many credits you’re carrying, and what your current mission is. To the right is a description of the area you’re in and any actions that can be taken there. Things that don’t need to be immediately visible, such as the forums and player blogs, can be reached using the links along the top of the page.

Everything on the main part of the screen speaks directly to you as a character, and we’ve tried to make the available actions intuitive. Tutorials are easily accessible on every screen for those times when you want a little more information.

Navigating to different areas on a space station or accessing more detailed information about your character is as easy as selecting a link on the left side of your screen. Each screen provides information about where you currently are and where you can go from there. Icons are sometimes used to quickly convey information such as if an NPC has an available mission that you haven’t already completed.


Tau Station is an inclusive universe and accessibility is something we consider with each design decision. Our pages are set up to work well with screen readers and other assistive technologies, and you can navigate and take all the actions in the game using a keyboard, mouse, or switch controller. Our site design is responsive and can adapt to a variety of screen sizes and web browsers. We’ve also been careful with our color choices. Here you can see how the Brig’s design, on the left, would look with different types of color blindness. The colors render differently but everything comes through, even in gray scale:

Between the beautiful art, the thoughtful design, and even the occasional narrative joke, there are thousands of small details to discover as you make your way through Tau Station. Taken together, they create a universe to explore that is more than the sum of its parts.

Other Posts in this series:
Tau Station: It’s More Than a Game, It’s a Universe
The Tau Station Universe: Setting
The Tau Station Universe: Gameplay
The Tau Station Universe: Software
The Tau Station Universe: Accessibility