user interface - Page 3

user interface

A dynamic game undergoing constant development and refinement, that attempts to balance playability with fresh and innovative features.

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the-middleman
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Re: user interface

Post by the-middleman » 14 May 2010, 22:03

No I didnt read all of this thread.

I havent played CA for like a year and when I came back the UI pissed me off so much that I switched to BA for a while.
However I gave myself another push and tried fixing it. Now I have a somewhat broken UI that is "acceptable".

I can understand that the UI scares people away. It allmost did with me and I love CA.
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slogic
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Re: user interface

Post by slogic » 10 Aug 2010, 12:27

I don't like situation when i'm adjusting game speed (with gray +/i) and console is not shown. I have enter into chat mode to see console. This is sick.
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CarRepairer
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Re: user interface

Post by CarRepairer » 10 Aug 2010, 17:14

slogic wrote:I don't like situation when i'm adjusting game speed (with gray +/i) and console is not shown. I have enter into chat mode to see console. This is sick.
Hit esc and go to Settings > Interface > Chili Chat. You can have the chat show permanently (I prefer this way as well).
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Axolotl
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Re: user interface

Post by Axolotl » 24 Aug 2010, 06:27

Hi. I work in IT - the end that helps users find the "Any Key", among other things. I am a new player (~2 months) who played BA and then stopped because Spring stopped working (my problem was listed in the forums with a solution of "give up").

I installed a Linux Mint box at work to see people's reactions. I've watched people use it. I've watched people fail. I've done everything to make it easy for people, and I've had limited success. I've learned a bit about how people parse menus and other interfaces.

I just read this thread. Here is my advice - take it for what you will:

Unit Menus
Regret wrote:Image
This is a menu with sixteen buttons. Granted, only the commander has this many, but it is still unacceptable. The maximum number of menu items that people will readily put up with is around nine. The typical menu should have closer to four.
Yes, a person can learn to navigate Start > All Programs > Microsoft Office > Outlook 2007, but he will have to search for it every time. It is a serious obstacle the first few times, and a chore every time after that.

Five of these sixteen menu items have at least vague native meanings to a total newbie who has played an RTS before (Fire at Will, Hold Pos, Capture, Cloak, Stealth). These are fine, but having both Cloak AND Stealth will throw a lot of people for a loop.
Four are obvious after trying them once or twice (Ramp, Raise, Mex, Toggle Build Options). These are alright, though intuitive meanings would be nice.
The remaining seven are completely inscrutable unless explained externally or learned by dumb luck. The odds here are bad.
The game doesn't have to be Fisher-Price's My First Game (TM) but it should be close. Nobody reads instruction manuals. Nobody reads tooltips. If a button can't explain itself, it will be unused. Worthless clutter. Corrosive, actually, because it intimidates new players and slows down everyone else.

The total number of menu items must be reduced. Removing a minor game-play mechanic for this purpose should be seriously considered.

Here are my specific suggestions:
- the Fire at Will toggle seems like it would be rarely used - remove it from all non-stealthy units
- the "Hold Pos" toggle should read "Stay". "Maneuver" and "Roam" are fine.
- Cloak and Stealth should be combined, or one removed entirely. Do you really want players to have to learn the difference between the two?
- "Mex" should read "Mine". Don't use TA-specific lingo if possible. Change the name of the building itself to sync up with this, also. However, you could remove this button if you set the default action for a right-click on a metal spot to be "build a mex".
- "Toggle Build Options" should read "Show Build Menu". Fewer letters, simpler words. Hopefully, that button will be unnecessary someday.
- The terrain stuff is cute. I'd remove it. If you really must keep it, put it in a sub-menu, or restrict it to only T2+ builders. It currently dominates half of this bloated menu, when it might be seriously used twice in ten games.
- The priority button is cute. I'd remove it. Make it so that a project that isn't being actively built returns its resources with 100% efficiency as it degrades, so that players can put a project on hold with only wasted worker-time as a penalty.
- The Retreat-and-Ambulance mechanic is clumsy. Remove the Retreat button and build its functionality into the "Roam" setting. The destination for a retreating unit should be the nearest construction worker with a non-specific order (idle or patrolling), prefering workers that don't already have medical emergencies to deal with.


Build menus

BA has massive build menus. I almost gave up on the game without even trying, and I'm a Linux tinkerer! Hell, I played OTA, and I still found these build menus imposing.
When I played a game of CA, I noticed that the aquatic forms of amphibious buildings are superimposed on the land versions - that is awesome. It is completely intuitive and saves lots of space. Still, the build menus have too much. This is why you have such trouble developing UIs that can give ready access to all the options.

There is no way around it: cut some of the options. Find the redundant ones and eliminate them. "Redundant" means there is another already existing option that can substitute without significant loss of strategic decisions.
For example, in BA, wind generators are 100% redundant with basic solar. The decision to make one rather than the other is quite literally "Map X make wind, Map Y make solar". This is a stupid decision, not a strategic one, so one can safely be cut.

I've read that in CA, wind does better on hills. Even if this is the case, wind and solar are still redundant. There is a guessing-game for the height at which one surpasses the other, but other than that, the decision of which to make is always clear-cut once you have chosen the location. This is a stupid decision, not a strategic one.
However, the decision of where to place generators is a strategic one, balancing safety and convenience versus efficiency. Wind has this depth. Solar does not. Keep wind, cut solar. Tweak balance later.

I haven't played enough CA to suggest other cuts, so you are on your own. There will probably not be any obvious cuts. Every one will require an explanation of the same form as the above. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice a small but legitimate strategic decision. Sometimes you won't be sure. Take it slow, maybe discussing two units/buildings per week, with a final mod verdict at the end of every week.

This process is painful. People feel nostalgia for certain units and buildings. I feel nostalgia for certain units and buildings. Somebody spent a whole summer of weekends writing the code to change terrain heights, and you are removing it AND the accompanying unit with the Free-Licensed model? Monster! Why do you hate freedom? It must be done.

I didn't start this thread. The menus are awful and you know it. Clutter is half the reason. I don't know the rest, but this is the cure for this half.
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Yogzototh
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Re: user interface

Post by Yogzototh » 24 Aug 2010, 07:44

My very personal opinion on removing game features for the sake of easier learning is following:
Fuck casuals.

People play Dwarf Fortress all the time, and compared to CA it is much harder to learn and is even harder to play when you are starting. This means that if the game is fun enough and is advertised enough, people will play it.

On the menus which i can agree can be hidden by default unless some option in the menu is pressed:
Restore, the engine terraform sucks and is completely useless.
Ambulance icon and the retreat settings.
Putting all Terraform options in one nested menu would be fine, except the code for it doesnt even work fully yet, right?
Mex button (hell, i dont even know what it means, i thought we have buildmenu for building mexes?).
Merging cloak and stealth would also be fine.
Toggle build options can be moved to the chili menu settings.

Fire states are required, as different cloaky units require different firestates when cloaked. (compare snipers/gremlins vs com/spy).
Movestates are not really that needed, but they help decrease micro in some situations, and i dont care if there is 1 additional button as long as it makes my units slightly less dumb.
Priorities button is a must. Its extremely useful once you learn to use it. Id rather press one button on one of my cons, than click on all my other busy cons so that they dont leech the m from the high-priority construction. As i said, less micro justifies any additional buttons.
Repeat is required, but only for builder units, especially builders
Capture/reclaim/rez/attack are all also required, nothing to discuss there, they are active commands.
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hoijui
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Re: user interface

Post by hoijui » 24 Aug 2010, 10:06

i agree on all of the first part, good suggestions, worth considering.
but where you suggest to keep only solar or wind, that is a completely different thing. it is risky or save, expensive or cheap, height dependent or not, strong or weak, will easily chain explode or not, can be built on smaller/bigger spot, possibly: can LLT shoot over or not?
would be easier for noobs, but that i think the way they solve this in CA is nice (explaining it in load-screens), and way good enough.
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Google_Frog
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Re: user interface

Post by Google_Frog » 24 Aug 2010, 11:25

I agree with Yogzototh. It's also hard to take Axolotl's suggestions seriously when I really doubt he has played the game.

Also this is a discussion of default UI as most buttons can be added/removed by the user and we can add more customisation.

I'll go through the displayed buttons:

Firestate and movestate - keeping them.

Repeat - keeping it too

Ambulance and Retreat - These are a bit bloatly. I think the widget that displays those 2 buttons should default to off.

Mex - keeping the command though the button could be removed if right click made mexes. This has been tried but does not work due to limitation in Spring.

Cloak and Stealth - stealth is a silly holdover with the commander, it is the least updated unit due to politics. I think the stealth should be removed.

Capture/Rezz - due to the command implementations these buttons need to stay.

Terraforming - these could be moved into the radial buildmenu by default. But Licho tried and it did not work.

Priority - really, why would you want to remove this?

Toggle build options - apparently that is there to tell people how to open the circular menu. I would remove that button and move it to a menu.

So the default menu can become quite small without losing any options. Those gameplay suggestions seem to be needlessly removing complexity.
Restore, the engine terraform sucks and is completely useless.
Btw engine restore is not used. This is gadget restore.
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Licho
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Re: user interface

Post by Licho » 24 Aug 2010, 12:40

Firestate and movestate - make it small state icons (smaller than buttons)

Repeat - i use even for non factories (move repeat on air) - again good as little state icon (reclycle sysmbol which turns green when enabled)

Ambulance and Retreat - i would like to fix it and replace land at with one universal system. Its atm usefull for gunships but suffers from some bugs. Could be off atm.

mex - its area mex, default off. Mex building should be right click and area mex could be advanced command (widget/default off)

Cloak and Stealth - again little state button. Stealth should be indicated even if its not toggleable (using little radar invisibility icon)

Terraforming - atm too many commands and commands are very hard to use. You have to read guide. Due to strange hacks in widget, im unable to put it to radial menu. It has to use normal commands instead of button press detection.
I would reduce it in basic interface and only show 2 (level and ramp) with proper tooltips. More if you enabled in settings.

Toggle build - already removed
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Saktoth
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Re: user interface

Post by Saktoth » 24 Aug 2010, 14:59

You're completely right Axolotl, everyone here has remarked on how much of a mess the menu is, and it is bloated. Its also nice to have a critical, outside eye to go over things, and you make a lot of good points that we've even considered or already done ourselves.

As others have said, a lot of things (terraforming not being in the radial menu, metal not being context-click) are just technical problems we havent solved yet.

But there are other, much more serious things which will dissuade casuals from playing: Figuring out the engine vs game download thing and getting through the installer and lobby is a start.

The fact there is little to no singleplayer is the second, and that there are so few multiplayer sessions open.

Finally, there is the monsterously steep learning curve, the fact you are dumped in with hundreds of units from the start of the game with no instructions or hand-holding progressively unfolding missions.

We're working to fix this all (and SD helps solve a lot of these). We dont need to remove options to make it easier for new players though. What we need is a series of sequential missions that introduce the basic concepts (and give you the buttons and units) one at a time. If players can learn every hero and ability in DoTA they can learn the units in CA, its just about not swamping new players with too much at once- that emphatically does NOT mean removing functionality from the game.

We should probably go through some of the button titles with a thesaurus. Stay or Stand is probably good. 'Mine' is also the name of an exploding cloaky thing, so we need to think more about our nomenclature (TAisms can be abandoned), but as has been mentioned we dont want a 'mex' button anyawy.

For cloak and stealth, we will have custom commanders in the future all things going according to plan, and they might have a few special buttons: But you'll have to specifically give them the ability in order to get it.

As has been said terraform goes in the radial menu, or elsewhere. There is no 'T2', though possibly we could have a dedicated terraformer unit, if we want to get fancy (This wouldnt be to save buttons though: Gameplay comes first).

On Priority: 1. Constructions paused dont degrade at all. 2. If they did, it would be at 100%. 3. Its much easier to set priorities than pause projects. This one stays.

On Retreat: Id honestly forgotten that it wasnt default off. It would probably get rolled into autoskirm if anything, sticking it on roam is an interesting idea.

Anyway, we do enjoy specific, constructive criticism like this, rather than 'UI sucks, fix it', even if you're getting a somewhat hostile reaction to the notion of removing gameplay elements, and there are several key assumptions you've made about the game which have been incorrect.
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Pxtl
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Re: user interface

Post by Pxtl » 24 Aug 2010, 15:44

Sorting them into categorized (colored?) blocks might help - then at least you'd be able to mentally filter out the terraforming commands or the toggles or whatever you're looking for. 1 block for actions, 1 block for terraform-actions, and 1 block for behavior toggles + retreat.

They'd still be lots of buttons, but at least they'd be easier to glance over.
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CarRepairer
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Re: user interface

Post by CarRepairer » 24 Aug 2010, 17:32

Pxtl wrote:Sorting them into categorized (colored?) blocks might help - then at least you'd be able to mentally filter out the terraforming commands or the toggles or whatever you're looking for. 1 block for actions, 1 block for terraform-actions, and 1 block for behavior toggles + retreat.

They'd still be lots of buttons, but at least they'd be easier to glance over.
+1, this is something LOLUI does right (except it also does more stuff wrong and is unusable in CA).

Axolotl, while having good intentions, is basing some of his suggestions on false assumptions due to lack of playing the game. Those were covered already by previous posts (Priority button and thinking buildings degrade, terraforming and thinking CA still has T2). I'll address the retreat buttons which are my responsibility. I have acknowledged that the ambulance should not be in that menu even when I put it there long ago. The ambulance is a global command, not a unit command, and I have plans for adding a menu of global buttons now that I have a GUI framework to work in.

In addition to the silly ambulance I'd want to restore the defense range buttons, some buttons that change map views such as heightmap or radar, and so on. I'll get to it. Right now the "Game" button on the esc menu is the closest thing to this global menu that can be used now. It's not pretty but it gets my point across. I envision a "global game button menu" to possibly be something that expands similar to the factory buildbars.
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Pxtl
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Re: user interface

Post by Pxtl » 24 Aug 2010, 17:45

Thinking it over, right-side pop-out buildbar-likes would be nice place to put useful-and-frequently-used-but-unnecessary global commands. You could do one for the default selection-groups (IE a Select Comm button, a Select Idle Builder button, a Select Bombers button, etc.), ones for view-modes, etc.

I don't think the Ambulance has very many siblings, though. Perhaps the problem is the Ambulance itself - maybe it should be a unit command? Every unit has a retreat-point, and units inherit their retreat-point from their builder, so if you want to globally set retreat-point you select all. Means a few extra keypresses to set the retreat-point globally, but it also means you don't have this nasty singularity of behavior.
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scifi
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Re: user interface

Post by scifi » 24 Aug 2010, 17:47

complicated isnt the problem, i think the ui is to seperated, its like there are seperated ui parts floating around.

imo i think all of those butons are neaded, in starcraft you have lots of butons and micro management to make, and its great;)

maybe try making a uncustomisable united UI
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CarRepairer
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Re: user interface

Post by CarRepairer » 24 Aug 2010, 22:55

Pxtl wrote:Thinking it over, right-side pop-out buildbar-likes would be nice place to put useful-and-frequently-used-but-unnecessary global commands. You could do one for the default selection-groups (IE a Select Comm button, a Select Idle Builder button, a Select Bombers button, etc.), ones for view-modes, etc.
Yep, a bunch of those are already in the Game menu now. I even made a custom widget to "select idle builder" because the selectkeys is so disconnected from the rest of the game. I'll probably duplicate more common functions of selectkeys like "select all armed land units in view" "select all planes in view" and more.
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Google_Frog
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Re: user interface

Post by Google_Frog » 25 Aug 2010, 09:08

Yep, a bunch of those are already in the Game menu now. I even made a custom widget to "select idle builder" because the selectkeys is so disconnected from the rest of the game. I'll probably duplicate more common functions of selectkeys like "select all armed land units in view" "select all planes in view" and more.
Don't do this if the only issue is the settings in the default selectkeys. CA eventually wants to come with its own install so it is not an issue.
Due to strange hacks in widget, im unable to put it to radial menu. It has to use normal commands instead of button press detection.
It does use a command. You will have to elaborate on this elsewhere.
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CarRepairer
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Re: user interface

Post by CarRepairer » 25 Aug 2010, 17:12

Google_Frog wrote:
Yep, a bunch of those are already in the Game menu now. I even made a custom widget to "select idle builder" because the selectkeys is so disconnected from the rest of the game. I'll probably duplicate more common functions of selectkeys like "select all armed land units in view" "select all planes in view" and more.
Don't do this if the only issue is the settings in the default selectkeys. CA eventually wants to come with its own install so it is not an issue.
That still wouldn't change the fact that the only way to nicely edit selectkeys is some weird executable (does it even work on linux?). There's no way to edit them in the game*. It's separated from uikeys and all that so I say it's weird and re-implementing it, while ugly and requiring widgetry, makes it nicer for the end-user.

*If this is incorrect then I'd bet jK will let us know. I hope there's a way but I haven't heard of it.
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BrainDamage
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Re: user interface

Post by BrainDamage » 25 Aug 2010, 17:52

CarRepairer wrote: That still wouldn't change the fact that the only way to nicely edit selectkeys is some weird executable (does it even work on linux?).
it doesn't
CarRepairer wrote: There's no way to edit them in the game*. It's separated from uikeys
no and no
i made myself the change some months ago so selectkeys itself uses bind, in fact, you can bind/unbind selectkeys from uikeys, but probably i am the only person who knows/uses that feature:

Code: Select all

bind Ctrl+A select AllMap++_ClearSelection_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+B select AllMap+_Builder_Idle+_ClearSelection_SelectOne+
bind Ctrl+C select AllMap+_Commander+_ClearSelection_SelectOne+
bind Ctrl+R select AllMap+_Radar+_ClearSelection_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+V select AllMap+_Not_Builder_Not_Commander_InPrevSel_Not_InHotkeyGroup+_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+W select AllMap+_Not_Aircraft_Weapons+_ClearSelection_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+X select AllMap+_InPrevSel_Not_InHotkeyGroup+_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+Z select AllMap+_InPrevSel+_SelectAll+
in fact, the very reason why i didn't deprecate selectkeys when i did such change, was exactly the ugly windows only editor which would stop working ( i didn't want to write an uikeys editor either )

in fact i even recall a convo with you about this some months ago when you said you wanted to start writing an ingame key editor
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CarRepairer
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Re: user interface

Post by CarRepairer » 25 Aug 2010, 18:11

BrainDamage wrote:
CarRepairer wrote: There's no way to edit them in the game*. It's separated from uikeys
no and no
i made myself the change some months ago so selectkeys itself uses bind, in fact, you can bind/unbind selectkeys from uikeys, but probably i am the only person who knows/uses that feature:

Code: Select all

bind Ctrl+A select AllMap++_ClearSelection_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+B select AllMap+_Builder_Idle+_ClearSelection_SelectOne+
bind Ctrl+C select AllMap+_Commander+_ClearSelection_SelectOne+
bind Ctrl+R select AllMap+_Radar+_ClearSelection_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+V select AllMap+_Not_Builder_Not_Commander_InPrevSel_Not_InHotkeyGroup+_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+W select AllMap+_Not_Aircraft_Weapons+_ClearSelection_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+X select AllMap+_InPrevSel_Not_InHotkeyGroup+_SelectAll+
bind Ctrl+Z select AllMap+_InPrevSel+_SelectAll+
in fact, the very reason why i didn't deprecate selectkeys when i did such change, was exactly the ugly windows only editor which would stop working ( i didn't want to write an uikeys editor either )

in fact i even recall a convo with you about this some months ago when you said you wanted to start writing an ingame key editor
:shock:
Heh, okay that's awesome. Thanks. I do not remember this convo.

I can scrap my select-next-idle-builder widget (at least I got to have a feeling of satisfaction when I successfully got it working) and I don't have to write any other selection widgets.

Thanks for saving me all that trouble, lol.
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knorke
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Re: user interface

Post by knorke » 14 Sep 2010, 04:00

ca ui is still fail.
Image

just tried to play stable-8405
whenever i click a unit, fps dies.
at least one other player in chat had the same trouble.
if nothing is clicked/hovered over: 70 fps
click something: 5 fps

http://h-2.abload.de/img/screen005147bxy.png
i want to draw a rectangle to select a tank and appearently grab those buttons by accident that DO NOT LOOK MOVEABLE and then i could not get them back because i had no idea where to grab them.

http://www.abload.de/img/screen00518gzb3.png
when trying to disable stuff so i could at least play.
my minimap, toolbar resbar was gone too and i had to use /tooltip 1 to get it back

and all the other small quirks, i wont even start.
like the radial build menu.
i could not read some hotkeys because there was a tooltip over them.

also do you really want players to spend at least 30min (if they have played for multiple years and know it) or one day (if new) to config their MENU?
so i can now "expand" and "collapse" the side menu?
WOW.
is this a 3d modeling software? is it a CAD programm? maybe its a video editor? No its a GAME and the menu....oh lol.
There should be like move, patrol, attack and whatever else you can think of with your twisted brains.
maybe 3x3 buttons MAX.


why do you spend so much energy in making springdownloader lobby easy to use for players and then FUCK THEM IN THE ASS with this ui crap?
Its like every little thing ever done was included just to annoy. Like even the middle mouse button scroll has a rubberband thing or something.
and FUCK THE GOD DAM BUBBLES.
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Google_Frog
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Re: user interface

Post by Google_Frog » 14 Sep 2010, 06:35

Well part of it are still WIP.

If I had complete control the defaults would be different and much of it would be off (such as bubbles and chillichat). The windows should only be mutable in tweak mode.
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