General Category > AI War II - Interface

GUI Focus Group: Standards And Goals

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Who Can Participate?
1. Have the beta?  Please fire it up and tell us what you think.
2. Don't have the beta?  Feel free to armchair it from screenshots or videos if you have something to say.

How Formal Is This?
In terms of how you provide information to us: not very.  We want people to give us lots of feedback, and people do that in different ways that are most comfortable for them.

In terms of how we consume that information: very.  Keith and I are mostly exiling ourselves from these conversations, which will be managed instead by forum users Dune and Etheric42.  Those two will be doing their best to organize the information and provide it to Keith and myself in a condensed format.  More on that in a sec.

Wait, The Lead Designer and Producer Are Exiled From These Discussions?
Correct.  But don't run away! ;)

Remember that we're a super tiny company, and you need Keith and I to be actually doing programming and so forth.  We've been doing this for almost a decade now, and we know from past experience that we love talking to you all too much sometimes.  Talking design ideas is exciting and fun, and so it can be tempting to really put in our 2c and half the posts wind up being from us responding.

That's distracting and productivity-sapping.  If we want to actually keep to a realistic schedule, we need to be working on actual implementation more of the time (there's a ton of stuff to implement or fix at all times, regardless of what is under discussion in this focus group, don't worry).

But also: we want to know what YOU think.  When we're in here constantly responding to every suggestion and debating it with you, we automatically introduce drift in opinion.  Sometimes something will be a pain in the rear to implement, so we immediately push back on that, and the conversion thus skirts around that from then on.  That can be... a good thing or a bad thing.  In the case of the GUI, I think that often that's going to be a bad thing.

So: Here's The Work Cycle
1. Keith or I will make a post about some particular area of the GUI, with our thoughts on the design at the present time.

2. The other one of us will likely chime in shortly after that, but not always.  Sometimes we're in sync, sometimes not.

3. We then run away, and you folks start tearing our ideas into shreds and floating your own.

4. Dune and Etheric42 will try to keep the conversation flowing and on track, and try to build some form of consensus or increase clarity where possible.  Their roles are to be facilitators, not decision-makers.  Although they may very well act in the same capacity as you in terms of floating their ideas or tearing Keith's and mine to shreds.

5. After a certain point, the conversation is going to either stall or run into a stalemate.  At that point, most likely it will be Dune that prepares something akin to an executive report or summary for Keith and I.  At that point, the thread will be locked from having further discussion on that topic for a little bit.

6. Keith and I will process this new information.  The obviously-yes things will be added to the todo list, and things that may need more discussion will be turned into a new post that starts us all over at #1 again.  Repeat until complete on a given topic.  A bunch of topics will be running in tandem with one another.

What If There's A Question For Keith or I During Steps 2-5?
Talk to Dune or Etheric42, and they'll bubble things up to us as appropriate.  You can trust that they aren't going to be trying to hide stuff from us and shift the narrative in their own preferred direction; Dune's actually my dad, and was a big force behind AI War Classic's early days.  Any of you who've listened to podcasts I've been on have probably heard that story more than once.

What If You Want To Actually Directly Implement Changes Yourself?
Thank you!  If that's something you want to do, please let us know, and Keith and I will make some form of tutorial that shows you how to make the changes in question.

Will This Look Pretty Anytime Soon?
Probably not.  I intend to keep Blue working on other art areas as much as possible during the next month in particular so that when she comes in to make the GUI pretty, she only has to do it once.  We're going for "it's ugly, but it's darn functional and fun to use anyway" for now.  To some extent, prettiness can make a bad GUI seem better than it is, anyway, which isn't what we want.  If you like it when it's ugly, you'll like it even more when it's pretty, so we're all doubly happy.

Consensus Isn't Everything: Minority Opinions Matter
When one or two of you say something like "I find xyz confusing," then my brain translates that to "hundreds of people are going to find that confusing, at minimum."  You might be the only person out of a group of a few dozen that finds something confusing or ugly or whatever else, but when this hits a wider audience suddenly you won't be so alone.

We're never going to be able to make everyone perfectly happy, but we SHOULD be able to make this fully usable for everyone.  Ranging from color blindness issues to font sizes to icon clarity to organizational issues.  We love when there's consensus, but there's usually a reason when there's someone with a dissenting opinion.

What Do We Need From You Most Of All?
Clarity and rational explanations. 

- "I hate that" doesn't tell us why, or what you'd like to be different.
- "That's way too small for me to read on my laptop, which is running at 1920x1080 and is 13 inches" gives us something to go on.

- "I don't like the tooltips in the upper left" is a fine thing to say, but without some reasons why, we don't have much to go on.
- "It feels alien for the tooltips to be in the upper left, and I feel like my eyes have to travel too far, plus it blocks my view a lot," gives us some real specifics we can work on.  It's still your opinion, but there's a rational explanation behind it.

Thanks for reading!  The first of the actual topics will be going up soon. :)

Thanks, everyone :)

Bear in mind that there are several UI changes in the pipeline already, so things may wind up going a different direction than discussed at least for a period of time, but that doesn't mean the discussions are being ignored.

I'm speaking mostly from a place of ignorance on that, except for the things with the ship icons that we're doing with Blue right now.  I know a variety of GUI things have been discussed between the four of us (you, me, Badger, Blue), but what ones have you turned into action items?

Or, put another way: what areas of the interface should I just avoid making any topics relating to right now?  I'd rather avoid making those topics, then just come back after your next pass and open them up for discussion fresh at that point.  I don't need to know what's going to change, just "don't talk about the tooltips yet, or the build menu," or whatever the case is. ;)  Then give me the thumbs-up when it's time, later.

The bottom-left expandable menu is getting another overhaul to make it clearer that the thing is there, and what it does.

The settings menu is getting reorganized into a group of categories, each with its own controls, rather than everything in one dump.

The gravity mechanic (i.e. the impact of Focused Gravity Generators) will actually be shown on the UI, with the effective speed % reduction or bonus that applies to the currently present friendly and hostile units. That way players won't just wonder why some of their ships just stall trying to get to the wormhole during a retreat (the mechanic itself will also be changed to never completely reduce a unit's speed to 0; that will be left to tractors and paralysis).

Similarly, the tachyon mechanic will be getting some UI feedback so you know how long it will take your tachyons to reveal the cloaked enemies, or at least roughly whether you have adequate tachyon coverage on the planet to deal with the current enemies.

The MP screen will actually show what's going on during connection and sync, rather than temporarily falling back on the main menu, etc. Similarly the lobby will tell you when someone is connecting instead of acting like nothing is happening.

Cool, so I was moderately aware of most of those things.  Can I talk about the build submenu and tech submenu, or skip those for now?  Ship tooltips and the ship sidebar and the hud top bar are all ok?


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