Arcen Games

Games => AI War II => AI War II - Interface => Topic started by: x4000 on January 25, 2018, 05:13:16 PM

Title: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: x4000 on January 25, 2018, 05:13:16 PM

Turns out that it is easiest for me to show you things in video form, so that I can just talk and point, and everyone has the exact same point of reference in terms of how the GUI functions.  Otherwise we may be thinking and talking about different ways that the GUI functions in different versions, or half of us might have seen still images while the other half actually opened the game... etc.

So here's the main menu.  The simplest of all possible screens, really.  It doesn't feel right to me.  There are elements I like, elements I don't.  Let 'er rip. ;)

Take our quick poll and give us your feedback on the Main Menu!

https://goo.gl/forms/GyRlUhkzDZiYomUe2 (https://goo.gl/forms/GyRlUhkzDZiYomUe2)
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: x4000 on January 25, 2018, 05:46:12 PM
Immediately I'm doing this:

* Main menu ship changes: the main wing of the ship no longer has giant glowing bits; the unity bloom has been removed; the amplify bloom has been toned down from 0.8 to 0.5 in intensity; the extreme chromatic aberration has been toned down a bit.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: BadgerBadger on January 26, 2018, 12:06:43 AM
I think the "AIWar2" and "Arcen Games" text should be a bit larger. I'm glad you've toned down the glow from the previous wing.

I'm kinda tempted by a Main Game flow that feels like "When you open the game for the first time, you're prompted to enter your username. If you enter a username that hasn't played a Tutorial yet, you'll be prompted with a "Perhaps you'd like to begin by playing the tutorial." If you haven't done the tutorial yet, that
button will glow in some vigorous fashion.

Here's a sample proposed layout for the screen, provided mostly to get the discussion started. In my proposed layout the buttons would need to be pretty striking to stand out against the strong colours of the Ship

Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Draco18s on January 26, 2018, 02:05:25 AM
This is me right now on this one:

(http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/16/164ee159072b52c35f6b52d35a5e5ddc9fb0b015ce95a4568f64c2fed8525f84.jpg)

Ship was definitely too bright on the bloom, already fixed.
Version number...lower left instead maybe?
Layout seems fine I guess. Doesn't feel good, but I can't think of anything better.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Kordy on January 26, 2018, 12:14:14 PM
I'm just going to list some stuff that popped out to me on a mock-up.

(https://i.imgur.com/wz0P22b.png)

1) The boxes. I'm liking the availability of everything immediate, but if you're going to go with asymmetric design, do more than gray boxes. Add shapes, break those shapes, basically anything other than an excel cell filled with color, I'd say.

2) Release notes are an immediate concern (and good on you for providing them easily), but having an easier access to your website (preferably a landing page with access to bug reports and general forums, ESPECIALLY in the beta) is preferable to me. Plus it can balance the asymmetry of the menu buttons.

3) Don't be afraid of a big title! The ship marking is a bit too subtle, and there's nothing wrong with reinforcing your game's name. People are going to use screenshots of your main menu, and nothing wrong with a big title drop in there. Unless, t's outshadowed by...

4) The BLOOOOOM. I play warframe as well and it's as bad as this'un. Unnecessary glow takes away from the focal point, in this case the lovely ship. By all means show us that the engines are powerful, but not with a glare that overpowers your game's name and your company logo. Front glow is even worse.

5) Adding more dynamism to the background in the form of missiles, lasers or other types of projectiles from a presumably enemy unit might give you more action without compromising the strength of the main menu. Adding a bit more to the flight loop animation (really shallow angle banks and whatnot) might also help, otherwise it's just a 2d object bobbing up and down.

And for the future, whenever you're in doubt of a visual design, I'd suggest squinting and looking at it. Here, have another mock-up (https://i.imgur.com/sy5KFc3.png). Ze bloom, it's killing everything! Apart from that, none of the buttons are popping out! I'll make yet another mock-up to show what I mean by popping up and asymmetry.

fake edit: okay, bloom is getting lowered, hooray!

real edit: here have the button mock-up:

(https://i.imgur.com/yoTqEwc.jpg)

Obviously a bad mock-up, but that's what I mean by breaking the shape a bit. Placing more emphasis with just added color is also a possibility for promoting the tutorial over other options. Or hell, just make it the biggest button in there on first-run.

Simple contours, text color, border color etc can add a lot more to boring bland clicky boxes. I'm going to suggest you guys to have the player pick a color upon account creation and use that color to add accents to text boxes.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on January 26, 2018, 03:37:31 PM
Great feedback!

1) The boxes. I'm liking the availability of everything immediate, but if you're going to go with asymmetric design, do more than gray boxes. Add shapes, break those shapes, basically anything other than an excel cell filled with color, I'd say.

Here's a sample proposed layout for the screen, provided mostly to get the discussion started. In my proposed layout the buttons would need to be pretty striking to stand out against the strong colours of the Ship

I've seen games with centered menus, side menus, top menus and bottom menus, so I think it is all fair.  When I see bottom menus I think the task bar from Windows and those rectangular boxes really match in with that experience.  Although I agree that I really like the non-nested layout of the menu, in order to solve the asymmetry, what about collapsing that left column into a single "Play game" button that you click and then the other buttons unfold from?  Is having everything on the same layer too much to sacrifice for that?  This would also open up room for other accordian buttons without sacrificing UI space if they can be grouped with an existing column.

I don't like that there is a "Join multiplayer" button but not a "Start multiplayer" one.  I understand that starting/loading a game is the same route whether you are single player or multiplayer, but not everyone is going to grok that right away and I will admit to hitting join multiplayer to see if that was where I was supposed to start multiplayer from.  I am not saying creating some redundant start/load multiplayer ones, but is there any text that can be put on the start/load game buttons to clarify they are for multiplayer too?

2) Release notes are an immediate concern (and good on you for providing them easily), but having an easier access to your website (preferably a landing page with access to bug reports and general forums, ESPECIALLY in the beta) is preferable to me. Plus it can balance the asymmetry of the menu buttons.

I love release notes, but I don't want to have to go to a browser to see them (I can, but if I'm running full screen with a different resolution than my desktop, the changing back-and-forth is really annoying).  If we don't want dev time spent on an internal browser/window for this, can it pop Steam overlay and browser?  How would this break things for people who run from the executable (or another storefront)?

I agree that there needs to be easy access to bug-reports from in-game, whether that is connecting an in-game window to the bugtracker (preferable) or linking to the bugtracker (easier on devs).  On release a link to a Steam review can be added as well.  If the button is just pointing to an Arcen website landing page, what would it be labeled to help people understand that this was for forums/bugtracker/release notes/etc?

3) Don't be afraid of a big title! The ship marking is a bit too subtle, and there's nothing wrong with reinforcing your game's name. People are going to use screenshots of your main menu, and nothing wrong with a big title drop in there. Unless, t's outshadowed by...

I like the AI War on the ship, but the II part isn't entirely clear it is denoting "2" as opposed to just being a logo/icon.  The Arcen games part is not too legible.  I also like it blown up like in your picture, but that looks like it should be removed from the ship if you do that.  Does there need to be something else in that spot if the logo is floating?  Maybe the player's username (not sure how feasible that is)?  Maybe move the company logo there?

5) Adding more dynamism to the background in the form of missiles, lasers or other types of projectiles from a presumably enemy unit might give you more action without compromising the strength of the main menu. Adding a bit more to the flight loop animation (really shallow angle banks and whatnot) might also help, otherwise it's just a 2d object bobbing up and down.

I know Chris was going to focus on adding dynamics to the ship later, but what if it was interactable in some way?  Maybe click and drag to rotate it and make it a piece people can play with, or if that is difficult just having some hotspots that play some animations?  Probably not something to spend too much dev time on, but if someone finds that fun some players engage if they have a tactile "object" to play with.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: FalseMyrmidon on January 26, 2018, 03:56:43 PM
1.  I really dislike the amount of bloom.  I'm the kind of person that turns it off completely in most games because it feels like smearing a thing layer of vaseline on the monitor.  I'm of the opinion that in order to look good it needs to be used VERY sparingly.

2.  I don't like the 3 buttons stacked on the left side.  Having some of the buttons collapsed and then expanded when the parent is clicked could help.  However, I'd like to keep the button that players will be clicking 95% of the, Load Game (or even better a 'Continue Last Save' button) visible.

3.  I like the suggestion of having players being prompted to play the tutorial the first time they start the game.

4.  Accenting the buttons with a player choosable color is a nice idea.

5.  I think being able to report bugs from ingame would be not be a good use of time for a team this small unless it's VERY easy to implement.


FWIW one my most memorable main menus was from Heroes of Might and Magic 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74dW5js9XZs .  The menu is small, in the corner and each button goes to a new page to keep it small.  The action in the center is very memorable and sets the atmosphere for the game (even though the actual game plays nothing like that).


Edit: The game takes a while to load the main menu, it could use at least a splash screen to show that it's not frozen.  Also, the main menu only shows windowed for me whereas the rest of the game will do full screen.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Kordy on January 26, 2018, 11:40:59 PM
I love release notes, but I don't want to have to go to a browser to see them (I can, but if I'm running full screen with a different resolution than my desktop, the changing back-and-forth is really annoying).  If we don't want dev time spent on an internal browser/window for this, can it pop Steam overlay and browser?  How would this break things for people who run from the executable (or another storefront)?

I agree that there needs to be easy access to bug-reports from in-game, whether that is connecting an in-game window to the bugtracker (preferable) or linking to the bugtracker (easier on devs).  On release a link to a Steam review can be added as well.  If the button is just pointing to an Arcen website landing page, what would it be labeled to help people understand that this was for forums/bugtracker/release notes/etc?

Oooh yeah, good catch. I'm generally only using steam nowadays due to regional pricing but you're right about not everyone playing AI War on steam. I think the resolution difference shenanigans is going to be a necessary evil for nonsteam versions. For steam though, the ingame browser would be a better idea indeed.

Quote
I like the AI War on the ship, but the II part isn't entirely clear it is denoting "2" as opposed to just being a logo/icon.  The Arcen games part is not too legible.  I also like it blown up like in your picture, but that looks like it should be removed from the ship if you do that.  Does there need to be something else in that spot if the logo is floating?  Maybe the player's username (not sure how feasible that is)?  Maybe move the company logo there?

Agreed that a title drop would make the ship's text kinda obsolete. Maybe lore tidbits and an actual name for the ship, perhaps. Like, -=ARK01=- Fighter Escort or something?


Quote
I know Chris was going to focus on adding dynamics to the ship later, but what if it was interactable in some way?  Maybe click and drag to rotate it and make it a piece people can play with, or if that is difficult just having some hotspots that play some animations?  Probably not something to spend too much dev time on, but if someone finds that fun some players engage if they have a tactile "object" to play with.

I've spun ships in eve stations for too long to say no to that. Maybe post release though. Hell, I might even try modeling a few ships myself and add them there. Emphasis on 'Try' though :P

Quote
5.  I think being able to report bugs from ingame would be not be a good use of time for a team this small unless it's VERY easy to implement.

Reporting bugs from in-game isn't what I meant, but instead a button that pops up your Operating System web browser that goes to a web page that has links to the mantis bug tracker and other stuff like AI War 2 General Discussion etc.

Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: dfinlay on January 27, 2018, 04:09:11 PM
My thoughts:

1) The logo on the ship is cool, but it is also a bit small and tilted. I realize that having the ship perfectly horizontal would probably not look dynamic enough, but the title being tilted definitely seems awkward somehow, and kind of under-emphasizes it (which is really bad since it is already under-emphasized by being small and not at the top of the screen). It's also not super clear that It's AI War II as opposed to AI War.

2) Patch notes are great, but games launching external browsers isn't. I'm not sure what the development-cost of having patch notes presentable within the game would be, but I do know that it always feels a bit hokey to me when patch notes load in an external browser.

3) I'd probably change "Start New Game" to "New Game". It's just as clear what it does, is more standard, and uses less words.

4) Making "New Game" and "Load Game" different colours so that they jump out more would probably be good.

5) You mentioned the "Tutorial" button being a bit out of the way, which is probably good, but it might be a good idea to have a popup box asking if you want to play the tutorial the first time you launch the game (with "Yes", "No" and "Ask me again next time" style options).

Edit:

6) It might be a good idea to have a quick start/advanced start distinction (in which case they need to be two different buttons here). Advanced start would be much as AIWC is, letting you generate maps, pick starting planets, and adjust a bajillion levers and settings, whereas quick start would have 3 or 4 settings and then propagate all of the game's settings with settings based on those and some randomization. For an example of how this could work, the settings you would have could be difficulty, galaxy size, game pace, number of players and something like advanced features (with none/low/medium/high/maximal, which controls things like how many minor factions, AI Plots and such are randomly turned on and which ones are allowed). One of the big things that made AIWC inaccessible was figuring out how to set up an enjoyable game and this streamlining would really help new players.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: BadgerBadger on January 27, 2018, 05:51:31 PM
I must say I disagree with the desire to open game notes in the game itself. I much prefer things to open in my external browser. There's no reason to re-implement a web browser inside a game.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Draco18s on January 27, 2018, 05:59:18 PM
I must say I disagree with the desire to open game notes in the game itself. I much prefer things to open in my external browser. There's no reason to re-implement a web browser inside a game.

Agreed
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Taichikitty on January 28, 2018, 06:26:50 PM
Can't play game on my Macbook Pro, so I am going entirely off the video.

1) I cannot easily read the Arcen Games logo.  Suggest more light ( spotlights? ), and maybe move it forward on the ship.  Having the text on the ship limits changing the ship models, since it takes more work to incorporate them on arbitrary models.

2) If you stay with the text-on-ship, you could incorporate the version number as the ship's designation number.  eg. "AWT .702", "AG 1.032"

3) I like the idea of using the title screen as a vanity space for ship models.  As simple as having a random model on each start, through changing the model for major updates, to unlocking models based on achievements.  There are some cool possibilities in this space.

4) You are priming the customer for a vertical eyeflow in the center of the screen.  I feel the most used buttons should also be part of that vertical flow.

5) Agree that "New Game" is distinctly better than "Start New Game"

6) You can spend a little or a lot of time "cooling up" the buttons in general.  Ideas:
   a) 50% alpha transparent background.  White text with black border such as used in high contrast text.
   b) Custom shader to give the button background an oily roil behind the text.
   c) Give the buttons good audio feedback when activated. 
   d) New Game, Load Game, and Quit seem to be the critical bunch.  Start Multiplayer would be next in prority; I would rather it be first class than have a 2nd choice after New Game.   The rest could probably be collapsed under a More... button.
   e) After an update, give a "until clicked" hilight / difference to the Release Notes button to inform the customer that there is new information there

7) Please post a new video showing the first batch of changes you feel are worth getting iterative feedback on.

8) Think about the purpose of the title screen and the expected time customers will spend on it.  Let that inform you as to how much work is worth being put into it.  Remember the 80/20 rule.  Better to spend time polishing the stuff inside the game that people will spend many hours interacting with, than the screen most will spend the least time looking at.

9) If you have story lore, or cinematics, then putting links to them under More... would be good.

Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: ilitarist on January 29, 2018, 03:13:28 AM
Oh, late to the party. Ahem.

1) The idea with a ship in a middle and AI War printed on it. I have many problems with it. I suspect there will be many expansions - will they end up as separate ships? Will they be stuck in the corner as before? Even if we don't think about the future this looks a little amateur: people in the world itself probably don't call their ship AI War and you probably don't want to teach users to examine ships. Any user's first reaction would be to perceive the ship as background feature, that text feels almost like an Easter Egg. I think it would be much better as a traditional huge UI text.

There's another reason why I don't like the ship. Because even though it's pretty it may make you think you're playing Elite or Freelancer or any other spacesim. This game is about galaxy. The perfect image, I think, would be a demo of a culmination of some game with whole galaxy visible. Kinda like, say, N++ shows you demos of other people playing. (Random letsplay where you can see it in the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOQtWNKLPCY) I can understand that doing this exact thing can be a huge feature on itself - it means either the ability to record games or processor-heavy simulation of some sorts. Still, I'm convinced that showing player something resembling the exact thing he's playing for - big strategic showdown - would be much better than showing him graphics he won't probably care about if he likes the game itself. If there should be some vanity let there be something like a panorama of a space battle with various types of ships arriving from different sides, this will give some sort of feeling of scale and ship properties.

2) How about separate button for Create/Host Multiplayer Game? I assume Start New Game lets you chose MP game. I think it'll be easier for player to see that MP is clearly separated and he wouldn't start it accidentally by checking some checkbox. Even if Host MP game leads to the same screen with checkbox ticked.

3) How about only showing build version when you go into the settings? Also it would be nice to have a date near the build. You hear there's new patch, you check the game and see that the date is recent, you don't have to remember 3 digit number.

4) I urge you to think about a font. A lot. I have a long-standing problem with Arcen games fonts. This one is different than before and to me it looks... even worse.

As I understand, font has three functions: style, readability, prettiness. This one certainly has style. It screams of old sci-fi shows pretending that in the future we will have lot of monochrome screens with fancy fonts. But it's not readable. Every letter is too wide, there are too much straight angles with little curves. And I suspect there's a lot of stuff to read at first and to quickly glance over later, so readability is much more important than style. It doesn't look good on modern screens, it looks sort of pixelated, not utilizing high DPI. I'd argue that simpler font, even if not as futuristic, would work better. Maybe something like Ubuntu font https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Ubuntu - probably not Ubuntu specifically because for many players it would feel too familiar, kinda like Arial or Segoe. Maybe Exo 2 https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Exo+2 would work; Dosis also looks fine: https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Dosis, and more widely used fonts like PT Sans or even Open Sans can be OK.

Menu and title labels can use even more stylized font - after all, you only see it for several seconds and you know what it says. Dhurjati looks like less ugly version of current font: https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Dhurjati

Hope that's helpful!
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on January 29, 2018, 03:23:18 PM
4) You are priming the customer for a vertical eyeflow in the center of the screen.  I feel the most used buttons should also be part of that vertical flow.

Tachikitty, could you explain what you mean by that?  How is the player being primed for a vertical eyeflow?  What can be done to fix it if that is not what is desired?  Are you saying put buttons like "New game" in the middle of the row on the bottom instead of the corner?

4) I urge you to think about a font. A lot. I have a long-standing problem with Arcen games fonts. This one is different than before and to me it looks... even worse.

Oh, I like Exo 2.  Dosis also looks good, if a bit tall.  ilitarist, Would you recommend using one font for buttons and another for other text, or a unified font?

I must say I disagree with the desire to open game notes in the game itself. I much prefer things to open in my external browser. There's no reason to re-implement a web browser inside a game.

From the standpoint of someone who runs a two-monitor setup and usually runs a game fullscreen-windowed in one with chat/supporting documentaiton in another, I agree.  From the standpoint I was in previously with a single monitor and usually running indie games that often had terrible UI scaling for my 4k monitor (and therefore required a non-native resolution in-game) I hate having to alt-tab.  I agree that this is something that probably does not deserve much (if any) dev time at this point, but my understanding is if you want a larger audience to engage with a feature, don't make them leave your app to do so.  Subnautica's feedback feature was great (it even let you see responses in-app).  Book of Demon's browser-based survey feature worked because the survey was longer and it triggered when exiting the app.  (Surprised by this lately: anyone see Dawn of War 3's uninstall survey?  When you uninstall the game it pops your browser without asking and navigates to an exit survey page!)

1) The idea with a ship in a middle and AI War printed on it. I have many problems with it. I suspect there will be many expansions - will they end up as separate ships? Will they be stuck in the corner as before? Even if we don't think about the future this looks a little amateur: people in the world itself probably don't call their ship AI War and you probably don't want to teach users to examine ships. Any user's first reaction would be to perceive the ship as background feature, that text feels almost like an Easter Egg. I think it would be much better as a traditional huge UI text.

There's another reason why I don't like the ship. Because even though it's pretty it may make you think you're playing Elite or Freelancer or any other spacesim. This game is about galaxy. The perfect image, I think, would be a demo of a culmination of some game with whole galaxy visible. Kinda like, say, N++ shows you demos of other people playing. (Random letsplay where you can see it in the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOQtWNKLPCY) I can understand that doing this exact thing can be a huge feature on itself - it means either the ability to record games or processor-heavy simulation of some sorts. Still, I'm convinced that showing player something resembling the exact thing he's playing for - big strategic showdown - would be much better than showing him graphics he won't probably care about if he likes the game itself. If there should be some vanity let there be something like a panorama of a space battle with various types of ships arriving from different sides, this will give some sort of feeling of scale and ship properties.

I think this is an important point.  Part of what the ship represents to me is this game's change to 3d/less icony graphics than the original.  But it does set a tone of "focus on a ship" and not "focus on a galaxy/war".  Recent games to compare with are Endless Space 2 which has a fleet of ships.  Galactic Civilizations 3 has a planet.  Stellaris has a planet and orbital space station with a couple of ships flying to it.  Any other examples?

(Oh, and I like having the date with the version number, but I if there is a date I like having it on the front screen, I don't want to have to go to the settings screen to find the last update date.)

So what buttons are we looking at here?

Play expands to (or is a column of):
New game (quick start / advanced start?)
Load game
Continue last save?
Multiplayer (how do we define the distinction between host new multiplayer game vs host loaded multiplayer game vs join multiplayer game?)

Tutorial

Settings

More expands to (or is a column of):
Patch notes
Bug report / suggestion? (or does this need visibility and be a top-layer item?)
Forum
Join mailing list (nobody's said this yet, but I like it when devs give me a way to stay connected to their important news)

Exit Game

Did I miss anyone's suggestions?

Should the Play button/column be reorganized into a Single Player and Multiplayer pair of buttons/columns, or maybe New Game and Load Game pair of columns?
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: ilitarist on January 29, 2018, 04:56:04 PM
I'd recommend a separate font for title text and regular ones. E.g. main menu, start game button and title of popup message all should have fancy stylized font. Everything else including tooltips and buttons for mundane stuff should be a regular font like Exo 2.

Abou title ship: Stellaris and GalCiv3 remind you they're about economy and politics with their screens. AI War is, well, about war, so that wouldn't work. But it's about war on a galactic scale so it should be reflected. Maybe a fleet would be ok. I still think something like a demo of a midgame would work perfectly as a background.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: stryder2384 on February 05, 2018, 03:34:32 AM
Sorry to be late to the party, an email from here went to Spam, and I just noticed it. Also, it's past my bedtime, so I haven't watched the full video or read most of the comments, so hopefully I'm no re-hashing things everyone else has already said.

1. I love the ship, I don't like the Title on the ship. I think the Title & the Arcen Logo should be on the same 'layer' as the buttons.

2. The buttons feel very AIWC, which is not a bad thing, but also a little bland. Are they too big for the text they're conveying? Maybe rather than at the bottom they run on the left hand side?

3. Release notes : someone mentioned this, and I briefly glanced at it, so I'll comment : I liked how AIWC had a scrolling release note thing (IIRC). It felt like the game was talking to you, and I think it was engaging.

4. A game with great UI I want to highlight is Endless Legend. There's a plethora of menus, but navigating and understanding them is a pretty quick & easy process.

Hopefully I'm not too late to the party, and not speaking into the void, but wanted to add what I could!
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: ilitarist on February 05, 2018, 05:21:34 AM
Endless Legend has a pretty UI. When you're talking about usability they did a lot of mistakes, most of which they ignore. It's unique in that they've crippled some playestyles with UI, e.g. using stockpiles is a pain so you'd better not include them in your strategy.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on February 05, 2018, 12:20:13 PM
No worries stryder2384!  We are still listening.  We'll lock a thread when we have moved on to something else.  Thanks for the feedback.

If you don't have time to go through the entire video (some of them are pretty long), I have tried to include a summary of the questions Chris asked.

As far as the Endless series, I have heard a lot of people recommending their UI over the years.  I haven't spent a lot of time with their games other than Dungeon of the Endless.  What are some of the particular things they did with their UI that you think would be useful in AI War 2?

I get what ilitarist is saying about them ignoring their mistakes: I was playing Endless Space 2 the other day and was frustrated in managing the different species and setting my planet-tier bonuses.  These options are in a menu screen that can only be accessed by going to an entirely different menu screen.  (I think the species management is accessed by going to the political screen and then clicking on the population survey, as an example.)  Ironically, both of these management systems involve using your luxury resources stockpiles... the same stockpiles ilitarist was mentioning were a pain to manage in Endless Legend.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Dune on February 07, 2018, 09:41:39 AM
Take our quick poll and give us your feedback on the Main Menu!


https://goo.gl/forms/GyRlUhkzDZiYomUe2 (https://goo.gl/forms/GyRlUhkzDZiYomUe2)
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: ilitarist on February 07, 2018, 10:37:31 AM
No worries stryder2384!  We are still listening.  We'll lock a thread when we have moved on to something else.  Thanks for the feedback.

If you don't have time to go through the entire video (some of them are pretty long), I have tried to include a summary of the questions Chris asked.

As far as the Endless series, I have heard a lot of people recommending their UI over the years.  I haven't spent a lot of time with their games other than Dungeon of the Endless.  What are some of the particular things they did with their UI that you think would be useful in AI War 2?

I get what ilitarist is saying about them ignoring their mistakes: I was playing Endless Space 2 the other day and was frustrated in managing the different species and setting my planet-tier bonuses.  These options are in a menu screen that can only be accessed by going to an entirely different menu screen.  (I think the species management is accessed by going to the political screen and then clicking on the population survey, as an example.)  Ironically, both of these management systems involve using your luxury resources stockpiles... the same stockpiles ilitarist was mentioning were a pain to manage in Endless Legend.

I'm not the one you asked but I can tell you what I think is good about EL/ES UI: presentation through fonts and layout. It looks like an Apple customer site or something. You can probably see that even when it's inconvinient in ES2 you still got nice font and spacing.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Atepa on February 07, 2018, 03:39:53 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/kYQq5y7.png)

1. This whole section seems blurry to me, and I'm curious if anyone else sees it? It was actually bothering my eyes looking at it because they couldn't bring it into focus. Is it just a result of the blooming on the engines/weapon? (I think that's a weapon)

2. I like the location of the menu, but agree with Kordy that it seems like they are just filled excel cells at the moment. in AIWC you made a point to have them be various shapes and I think that would go a long way in to off setting that current feeling.

3. Like etheric42, I went into the join multiplayer to see if I could create my game from there, because the text for the "Start New game" just isn't clear enough that it is for both Single Player and Multiplayer. While the text from AIWC "Host New Campaign (1-8 Players)" worked, it was unfortunately very wordy, however, it at least let us know that it was the multiplayer interface as well.

4. A few others have mentioned it but the Version really seems out of place at the moment just kinda 'put' there. It would look best if in one of the corners. The top right is currently completely void, so it could be put up there and do okay. Including the date for the patch note as well so people know when there has been changes.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Miesha on February 07, 2018, 06:48:03 PM
So I answered the questionaire in a way I felt was sort of satisfying, but I felt I didn't get to say enough about what I want.

I really do like the idea of nested buttons, as in you click on a single option and multiple choices float out for you to select from.
"Play Game", "Multiplayer", "More Options" and "Exit Game" should be the four primary buttons, and in Play Game, you get "Quick Play", "New Game", "Continue" and "Load Save".
In Multiplayer, you'd get "Find Game", "Host Game" and "Load Game".
In More Options you'd find "Game Options", "Patch Notes", "Credits" and whatever else doesn't fit into the Play Game and Multiplayer categories.
Finally, when selecting Exit Game, you exit the game. Or get a confirmation box "do you wish to leave so soon?". Also that confirmation box should be an optional setting in the Game Options menu.

I also voted that I think the buttons should all be sorted up along the right hand side of the menu. The reasoning for this is because I believe you'll spend most of your time looking at the right hand side of the screen while in-game, so it would be nice to keep things consistent. "This is where all the important stuff always is, keep it in mind from the beginning."
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Elda King on February 08, 2018, 09:37:39 PM
I am not a huge fan of the current look of the main menu. I think the title should definitely be separate from the "background" (the moving ship). No harm having it on the ship as well, but right now the title screen lacks the title. The button layout works, I prefer vertical menus but it really doesn't matter too much so long as they are well ordered and don't interfere with the background. I think expanding menus would be good if there are too many buttons though - multiple rows of buttons would be too much.


As far as the Endless series, I have heard a lot of people recommending their UI over the years.  I haven't spent a lot of time with their games other than Dungeon of the Endless.  What are some of the particular things they did with their UI that you think would be useful in AI War 2?

I get what ilitarist is saying about them ignoring their mistakes: I was playing Endless Space 2 the other day and was frustrated in managing the different species and setting my planet-tier bonuses.  These options are in a menu screen that can only be accessed by going to an entirely different menu screen.  (I think the species management is accessed by going to the political screen and then clicking on the population survey, as an example.)  Ironically, both of these management systems involve using your luxury resources stockpiles... the same stockpiles ilitarist was mentioning were a pain to manage in Endless Legend.

I'm not the one you asked but I can tell you what I think is good about EL/ES UI: presentation through fonts and layout. It looks like an Apple customer site or something. You can probably see that even when it's inconvinient in ES2 you still got nice font and spacing.

This is a bit off-topic, but I'd like to intrude in the discussion about what is so good about the UI from the Endless games. It is not a single big thing, but a lot of details that add up better than most 4X games. First, of course, the games are gorgeous in general and the UI just plain looks good. This makes a lot of difference.

A big part is that it is generally very easy to navigate (with exceptions). You click on stuff and it just takes you to the appropriate screen - click a hero to manage him, click on a tech to go to the tech screen, a quest location to go there in the map, a unit to go to unit designer, etc. Right click closes any screen, no need to click on a close button. Menus and lists are often collapsable to save space or see a bigger list or whatever. Just mouseover anything and it will generally show you what you need to know in a nicely formated tooltip - no need for a dedicated screen or an in-game encyclopedia or an online wiki. (But when the tooltip does not tell you enough, you are generally screwed - making it somewhat hard to teach the more convoluted mechanics). You can also interact with stuff from various places - you can assign a hero to a city from the hero screen, the city screen, the system/city list. This list is also awesome - most 4X games have one, where it lists the yelds of each colony and what it is producing and etc. But in the Endless games, you can switch the production from here, assign heroes, change population from one planet to the other, or click on a system to just go there and see more details.

It also conveys information in a very visual way. It uses plenty of symbols, color-codes everything, uses boxes and cards to format "tooltips" when you mouseover, have visual effects for most things happening, etc.

It has all the quality of life features most recent games have: neat alerts every turn in the side of the screen, zoom out abstracts the maps, good sound effects, diplomacy shows you what the opposing AI will accept, etc.

I never before heard someone say the UI was inconvenient, quite the opposite - with Endless Space 2, people said it was super convenient but hard to learn. I myself often find it hard to go back to other 4X games after playing Endless Legend for example, it is just annoying. It has some glaring fails: systems like stockpiles or minor factions are hard to figure out, some screens are bad (like quests in Endless Legend or politics in Endless Space 2)... but people still like it much better than Civilization 6 or Galactic Civilizations 3 or even Stellaris - and in 4X, the bar is quite low (Distant Worlds, Aurora 4X, Master of Orion 2). AI War Classic is generally on the bad side but has some cool features.

Now, as far as how this is all applicable to AI War 2, I'd say it isn't easy to just translate as the games are very different. Maybe try to use somewhat similar layouts for tooltips and other stuff? The main menu isn't a particularly strong point in the Endless games.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Atepa on February 09, 2018, 10:47:59 AM
This is a bit off-topic, but I'd like to intrude in the discussion about what is so good about the UI from the Endless games. It is not a single big thing, but a lot of details that add up better than most 4X games. First, of course, the games are gorgeous in general and the UI just plain looks good. This makes a lot of difference.

We Might want to move this to separate thread, but to add to the discussion

My only cautionary tale addition to the comparison of ES2 or EL and AIW2 is that how you convey information in a Turn Based 4X and an RTS 4X should be quiet different. Yes we "can" pause in AIW2, but you aren't meant to play the game in "Paused Mode" setup all your actions, and then un-pause for a few moments to let those actions take place.  Similar to how some would play CK2, EU4 or HoI4, the game is meant to run normally, and you pause when you need to investigate something specific. For example you've done scouting on several systems and want to see which will be the best targets of opportunity.

When you are looking at things from an RTS standpoint, it is very important that you can quickly evaluate your overall sitrep with a few glances.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on February 09, 2018, 12:53:41 PM
Lots of really good points.  I've always seen AIW as borrowing from both the 4X and RTS genres.  I think there is a lot influences that can be synthesized.  In the parts of the game that are slow/paused like campaign setup I tend to look at 4X influences (after all, how many options do you really get in an RTS when you set up a match?) whereas in the thick of things you need streamlined controls from RTSs (except ones that can manage hundreds of units instead of dozens, and dozens of classes instead of a handful).
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: powpow on February 10, 2018, 12:24:29 PM
Sorry I'm horribly late, here are my $0.02:

I couldn't remember the last game I played with a horizontal menu but then I checked a few games and was surprised to find XCOM 2 with one!

XCOM 2 :
(http://i66.tinypic.com/33lcx76.jpg)

If it's good enough for Firaxis then it's good!  :P

I think most games I play use a vertical menu. Here is Sleeping Dogs with a simple left bar that slides down for submenus:
(http://i67.tinypic.com/14o1xmx.jpg)

Borderlands 2 another left bar:
(http://i68.tinypic.com/t728vr.jpg)

Supreme Commander went for a central menu with animation behind. The explosive animations get me in the RTS mood but I think the menu obscures the animations:
(http://i68.tinypic.com/2i8atdu.png)

Shadowrun HK went for a clever diagonal eye-line from top left to bottom right with a right sidebar:
(http://i68.tinypic.com/1rz211.jpg)

As long as the menu is symmetrical I don't think I care. I played XCOM 2 really recently and couldn't even remember it had a horizontal menu!

RE: Logos on ship instead of a title
I think putting your logos on a ship is funky and cool but also feels slightly less ..... serious ... (if that's the right word?) then having a big "AI WAR 2" title at the top. I'm not too fussed either way, but the words definitely need to be more prominent and attention grabbing.


TLDR: I will spend less than 0.1% of my time on the main menu screen. Make it functional at least and move on.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on February 10, 2018, 02:34:46 PM
Interesting note: Borderlands 2 and Sleeping Dogs don't even have logos on their main menu at all!  I never noticed that before.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on February 16, 2018, 01:02:18 PM
Here's an update as to the direction we are looking for the main menu.

The first time you open the game, it goes to profile rv 5 newedit.png.  When you launch the game in the future it remembers what your profile is and just goes to main menu rv 5.png (but you will only see the bottom row of buttons.  The buttons above them only pop up when you click or hover over the bottom button, not sure which between clicking or hovering though).

If you change your profile in the future it goes to profile rv 5.png OR profile rv 6.png, not sure which of those is preferable.

I'd appreciate some feedback, particularly in whether click or hover should expand the menu and which profile change revision is preferable.

Thanks!
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Atepa on February 16, 2018, 01:52:37 PM
Regarding Hover vs Click, I am definitely on team Click. Hovering is nice and quick, but it also can be super frustrating at times. Imagine if you will hovering over the Multiplayer button to join a new game with a friend, but because you didn't stay perfectly aligned up and down when scrolling you fell off the menu's edge and the menu collapsed on you.

Or depending on how sensitive the box for making the hover show up is, when you start moving the mouse point up from "More" to "Wiki" the menu vanishes because your pointer spend just a little too long in the white space between buttons.

Yes, I am definitely a click supporter, have the player make the conscious choice that "yes I do in fact want to look at the Single Player sub-menu". They will need to 'click' regardless for the sub-menu button and the "Exit Game"/'Settings" buttons so i say be consistent throughout them all.


Will we see our First Officer's picture within the game at all (or very much) aka do we 'care' what/who our FO is? if so I think rv5 fits better than rv6. If not then rv6 as it is cleaner and quicker.


I had some question about profile rv6.
1. Did you intend on having the patch notes / game version in there twice? if so why? if not, disregard...

2. Is the intention that when you click the 'change profile' button it would bring up the small menu to the right and then you can select / edit from there?

3. Would the edit profile bring you back to a screen similar to rv5 newedit only with your current ark and FOPortrait already selected as opposed to empty which would be on the new version of the screen?

3a. Would it make sense to have one generic screen for both? and just change the title from "New Profile" to something more generic (e.g. "Profile" or "Manage Profile")


Other questions:
4. I don't recall, but I think there was talk to the various arks being more than just cosmetically different. Is that the case still? Does the same apply to the First Officer?

5. By Starfield, do you just mean the background galaxy art that plays during the main menu or is this something different?

6. Is it possible to shorten (External Browser) to (Ext. Browser) or some other phrasing to make those buttons' text not so long. Maybe even just replacing them with an icon (e.g. the square with an out pointing out of it that steam uses to denote external sites)

7. Should we need to say Multiplayer in all the multiplayer sub-menu boxes? again in the interest of saving text space, would it make sense to shorten them to "Join Game", "Host Saved Game", and "Host New Game" since they are all under the multiplayer section to start, and really none of them use the same language as the Single player sub-menus.

8. Lastly, the Credits, personally I think these should be an in game thing. Have the galaxy flowing in the background, music playing, and having people enjoy the credits scroll by. As opposed to going to a website that will just list everything out. It does take more time to do it that way though, so I could understand this being one of those "if we have time" items.


Words of caution... if the idea of having player profile names appear on the ship is on the table two things to consider.

1) Special Characters... the 'easy' ones like é or ñ may print out okay in the fontface, but as localization comes in we'll start getting more and more various of letters (I can only imagine Chinese traditional or simple trying to print)

2) Be prepared for inappropriate / silly ship names to appear on the internet. e.g. Shippy-McShipface because well.. internet's gotta internet, heh.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Elda King on February 16, 2018, 01:58:17 PM
Definitely click to expand menus instead of hovering to expand menus.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: etheric42 on February 16, 2018, 02:41:39 PM
Regarding Hover vs Click, I am definitely on team Click. Hovering is nice and quick, but it also can be super frustrating at times. Imagine if you will hovering over the Multiplayer button to join a new game with a friend, but because you didn't stay perfectly aligned up and down when scrolling you fell off the menu's edge and the menu collapsed on you.

Or depending on how sensitive the box for making the hover show up is, when you start moving the mouse point up from "More" to "Wiki" the menu vanishes because your pointer spend just a little too long in the white space between buttons.

Yes, I am definitely a click supporter, have the player make the conscious choice that "yes I do in fact want to look at the Single Player sub-menu". They will need to 'click' regardless for the sub-menu button and the "Exit Game"/'Settings" buttons so i say be consistent throughout them all.

Good point.  I was imagining it would never deselect until you hovered over another valid option, but I could see someone being annoyed that the popup didn't go away while they admire their pretty ship.

Will we see our First Officer's picture within the game at all (or very much) aka do we 'care' what/who our FO is? if so I think rv5 fits better than rv6. If not then rv6 as it is cleaner and quicker.

Two words: voice acting.   :D

1. Did you intend on having the patch notes / game version in there twice? if so why? if not, disregard...

Whoops, nope.  Actually the patch notes/etc. is just going to disappear from the profile screen and only be visible from the main menu I think.  (For a brief period patch notes were on the top but they got moved back down to the bottom and I didn't clean up after myself.)

2. Is the intention that when you click the 'change profile' button it would bring up the small menu to the right and then you can select / edit from there?

When you hit change profile, it either brings up profile rv 5 or profile rv 6 and you can change/edit from there.

3. Would the edit profile bring you back to a screen similar to rv5 newedit only with your current ark and FOPortrait already selected as opposed to empty which would be on the new version of the screen?

Exactly.

3a. Would it make sense to have one generic screen for both? and just change the title from "New Profile" to something more generic (e.g. "Profile" or "Manage Profile")

I was just planning on it being one generic screen with a wildcard to dynamically fill new vs edit... but just calling it "manage" is even better!

4. I don't recall, but I think there was talk to the various arks being more than just cosmetically different. Is that the case still? Does the same apply to the First Officer?

The "current"(tm) plans are for it to just be cosmetic/fluff differences for now.  There's a bit of talk about that changing, but whether that is before 1.0, after 1.0 or at all is uncertain.

5. By Starfield, do you just mean the background galaxy art that plays during the main menu or is this something different?

Exactly that.  Basically all of these screens are windows that pop up onto the existing backdrop.  The advantage of rv 5 is it hides the Ark effectively and we don't have to come up with animations of it transitioning unless we want to.

6. Is it possible to shorten (External Browser) to (Ext. Browser) or some other phrasing to make those buttons' text not so long. Maybe even just replacing them with an icon (e.g. the square with an out pointing out of it that steam uses to denote external sites)

Yeah, I was wracking my brain to figure out a better way of phrasing it as well.  Not a huge fan of Ext. Browser, and I'm not familiar enough with Steam's icon to know which one you are referring to, so I doubt I'd understand what it meant if I saw it in a game.  Would just "browser" get the point across?  Any other ideas?

7. Should we need to say Multiplayer in all the multiplayer sub-menu boxes? again in the interest of saving text space, would it make sense to shorten them to "Join Game", "Host Saved Game", and "Host New Game" since they are all under the multiplayer section to start, and really none of them use the same language as the Single player sub-menus.

+1

8. Lastly, the Credits, personally I think these should be an in game thing. Have the galaxy flowing in the background, music playing, and having people enjoy the credits scroll by. As opposed to going to a website that will just list everything out. It does take more time to do it that way though, so I could understand this being one of those "if we have time" items.

Yeah, that's why I put a question mark there.  Not sure what the plan is.

Words of caution... if the idea of having player profile names appear on the ship is on the table two things to consider.

1) Special Characters... the 'easy' ones like é or ñ may print out okay in the fontface, but as localization comes in we'll start getting more and more various of letters (I can only imagine Chinese traditional or simple trying to print)

2) Be prepared for inappropriate / silly ship names to appear on the internet. e.g. Shippy-McShipface because well.. internet's gotta internet, heh.

Good points, I'll pass them along.  The name on the ship is going to be less emphasized than the current AIW2 logo is, but I think Chris should consider it a bit.  I didn't include on the mockup that Chris is planning on doing a big AI War 2 logo floating at the top of the screen.
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: Atepa on February 16, 2018, 04:57:24 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/lGX40fn.png)
This is the icon I was thinking of for external browser links, as for other words; browser or maybe even just Web or website could do the trick too. I'm sure there is another good word for it as well.

I figured that's what the credits question mark was for, heh. Really I just want another excuse to keep the game open and running while I listen to the music but not just start at the start menu. :)

Yeah, Chris posted the video of his mockup yesterday I think it does better to highlighting the game name/company, but I also was kind of fond of it on the ship itself it was 'clever' so I could take it either way.


And now... from video gaming for the long weekend. :D
Title: Re: GUI Focus Group: Main Menu
Post by: powpow on February 16, 2018, 07:55:44 PM
I'm definitely in the "Click" camp, not "Hover", to expand menus. It feels more emphatic and natural to me.

I'm leaning more towards profile rv 5 purely because the "Select Profile" text is more central and attention-grabbing. I wouldn't be unhappy with rv 6 though.

Off topic: Sleeping Dogs does have a logo but it disappears when you start clicking on the menu. Don't know why it was designed that way.