Advice on UI heavy game

I’m working towards building an idle game in Unity that is almost completely made of UI. This UI controls the various collections of resources, crafting queues, and other tasks (a good example of this is Melvor Idle).

As someone with a background in web software development (as a designer with some front-end experience), I was recommended to explore Unity because of the new UI Toolkit. After spending a week in Unity, I’m really impressed with what is possible, and how a lot of the familiarities of web development have been applicable.

I’m writing for advice about how to think about structuring a game with a pretty expansive UI. I’m already finding that there are limits to what is manageable thru the UI Builder in terms of complexity, and a general lack of flexibility to restrict development to the builder (vs writing UXML). In doing some research, I feel like there are two general paths.

First is to use C# to create the UI and build functions to allow for the flexibility and variations necessary. This is based off this workflow:

Second would be to build a system of UMXL templates per this guide.

I’ve spent some time doing a proof of concept of both paths.

My fear with the first option is being too abstracted from the semantic markup of the UI. My fear with the second is the lack of control over variations, and that it might result in a lot of templates to represent small variations.

Looking for some insight on what to consider, or if there’s other options or ways to think about this problem. As someone newer to Unity, I’m definitely taking on smaller projects right now, but wanted to also steer my learning path.