Given that vitals are about the only screen not hotkeyed, it is cumbersome to check your state often. It would be far more useful if any low vitals showed up in the HUD. Right now, we don't see anything on the HUD unless we're near death. A better method would be to have the vital show in HUD once it drops below 30% or so..... like 'calories 250', 'exhausted', etc. That way, it would be noticeable before your body took damage without constantly pulling up the datapad.
Food, water, and exhaustion should be in the HUD. These are things we know about ourselves without seeing anything. However, a game must compensate for this. This is commonly done on the screen where a player can see it at a glance at any time.
I understand you don't want to clutter the HUD and keep it authentic. Putting this info in the corner and keeping it small does work well. I think of H1Z1: Just Survive where many stats are visible, but easy to ignore/tune out. These are common stats which just need to be visible all the time for a good gaming experience. 20+ years of online gaming has proved this is basically required by gamers. Opening a menu with many keystrokes where you have to take your hand off the mouse to just figure out if you are hungry is unfun. This is the type of info which needs to be easily accessible at a glance, all the time. (Well, when you are just walking around and not with a menu open such as inventory)
I died many times at first, before I figured out I had to eat and drink in this game. This is the type of thing which will cause paying customers to think the game is broken, or is too confusing. They will be asking for a high percentage of refunds just due to this design choice. Expecting them to read all the text in the game will not work. Many will not unless forced to.
I have streamed this game several times now, and I have discussed this with many viewers and the vast majority agree with me on this. I enjoy this game, and wish it well. But it does need to be a bit more user friendly.
Perhaps thinking of it as the suit is monitoring and displaying vitals. Subnautica just revamped their stat display. Another good example of this being done in a non-intrusive manner that looks good.
I had the same ideas, but maybe allow 3 custom small vital HUD. let the player decide (default on: hydration, food and overal health) and if the user wants, change a checkbox in the more detailed pad next to a vital. this way, a user can select wich vitals are more important during a certain mision, like on long walks, food might be dificult to consume, while on local repairs, the hab is nearby, so just oxigen and liquids are important. eating isnt posible in a suit I gues, so its kinda most important next to hydration and oxigen. (forgive my english)
On the contrary. You can always recharge oxygen or drink when it gets critically low. By the time you see that your out of calories, you don't have time to make it to the hab before taking damage.
A simple icon or set of indicator lights that only appear when you are below 50% on something would work fine.
Customer support service by UserEcho