From terminology, HUD means Heads-Up Display, and it’s used to display features and statistics overlaying the game view.
More specifically HUD elements are the ones that you can see from position above it.
For example, monster names and health-bars – are HUD elements.
Difference Between HUD And GUI
I would say all HUDs are part of their GUI – but not all GUI are HUDs, nor have HUDs elements.
GUI means Graphical User Interface and it involves literally everything, including the things you look at from top (HUD) and from front (game panel/dashboard).
In this Starcraft screenshot you can see that the units health-bars and selection circles are HUD (which is part of GUI) because they are part of game-view, which they overlay.
Control panel with map and other things in it is part of GUI as well but not HUD – because you see this panel from front, and it’s part of different view. In this case it’s not part of game-view but of camera-view, it follows the camera and camera follows the mouse, while HUD elements follow the units.
Most Beautiful HUD & GUI Designs
Interactive & Modern
Doesn’t this just look awesome? This futuristic HUD from Dead Space looks like if the character was interacting with some sort of light-emission based inventory dashboard.
Is that how the real life future looks like?
Professional & Militarily
Now that GUI from NieR:Automata looks absolutely simplistic, but has this impressive, professional millitary feel.
It also looks like the total opposite of all Korean games – less loud colors and more bitter grayscale, serious design.
Minimalistic & Climatic
Doesn’t this minimalistic Witcher 2’s GUI look absolutely climatic?
It makes all the player attention go to character and environment, and in this case it looks perfect.
Especially with this level of detail on character.
Was this complex terminology unnecessary to know though? I don’t think so.
I hope you will derive some inspirations from these beautiful GUIs and create your own, perhaps a mix of your favorite elements.