Author Topic: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?  (Read 315 times)

Offline Sounds

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User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« on: May 30, 2017, 07:55:39 AM »
Hi there,

Super busy since the initial version that I've rarely had time to look at this, but I thought I'd better chime in.

The only quick comment I can make is that I opened it for a sneak peek at the evolution the game and saw the new user interface. What I'm curious about how far along you are with the design? At this stage the layout, the selection artefacts and flow feels very clunky. Not mention that the font / colour choice made my eyes hurt, so much that I had to shutdown.

Has there been much feedback so far about streamlining this?


Offline Draco18s

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 08:39:11 AM »
I believe the UI is more in the "functional" stage of being built rather than the "pretty" stage.

Offline x4000

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 10:19:25 AM »
Yep, it's a mess right now.  Blue has done a variety of mockups that look much nicer, but those haven't really been integrated at all.  Keith has done a kind of bottom-of-the-screen tiny menu thing that is functional but I don't know remotely how permanent that was intended to be.

Basically it's not something I'm happy with at the moment, and it's not really at much of a jumping-off-point other than "keep things out of the way while allowing basic functions to be reached."  But that's changing very soon.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2017, 10:32:52 AM »
Yea, the concept of organizing of functions into the master menu, with the ability to directly bind specific functions once we actually know what functions there are, is basically permanent. But the presentation of it, the specific placement of which functions into which place, and whether it gets the number keys (e.g. 1) by default instead of something like M+1 (so that 1 is control-group-1 like in AIWC) by default is still up in the air.

AIWC taught us that we can't directly bind everything because there's too many things, so having the structured way of accessing N-many functions in a remember-able way (without having them be completely invisible from the interface) is very important.

But we had a bunch of engine stuff to take care of, and since then I've been trying to finish the main content so we could make actual progress towards completion, and then that's been on hold to deal with more engine/platform stuff.

Once that stack of stuff is un-stacked the next thing is to actually play through the game and fix the things that get in my way, and the UI's pretty much at the head of that line :)
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Offline x4000

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2017, 10:48:26 AM »
I have to say, I do like being able to just hit 3->5, etc, to unpause.  That said, I can't find an easy way to close the foldouts.  Just clicking somewhere outside of the foldouts is something I'd expect to close it in a lot of cases, but maybe right-click or escape would be the ways to do it, I dunno.
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Offline Dominus Arbitrationis

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2017, 10:51:05 AM »
I have to say, I do like being able to just hit 3->5, etc, to unpause.  That said, I can't find an easy way to close the foldouts.  Just clicking somewhere outside of the foldouts is something I'd expect to close it in a lot of cases, but maybe right-click or escape would be the ways to do it, I dunno.

If you mean foldout as in a menu that keeps on expanding if you click it (SMF admin panel has a bunch of great examples for that), then I'd say having Escape and clicking outside of it would be good. Both are pretty universal in terms of closing a menu, while right click sometimes pulls up fancy menu options.
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Offline x4000

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2017, 10:53:34 AM »
Good point.
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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2017, 10:55:32 AM »
I think while having 3 -> 5 be usable for pausing, we should have alternate keybindings for some very commonly used functions (for example, "P" could also be "Pause" since I expect that will be the first thing a novice will try).

I agree that "outside click" and "Esc" are both intuitive things to use to exit foldout menus, so they should probably both work.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2017, 11:15:01 AM »
Yea, P for Pause will definitely happen, as well as a bunch of others.

The main way to close the foldouts is the backspace button, which backs up one level. But yes, clicking outside or pressing escape should just clear it completely.
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Online TheVampire100

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2017, 11:40:20 AM »
I'm personally not a big fan of having "folders in folders" or "menus in menus" which dis currently is.
You have to open menu files and that open again new menus and so on. For the sake of clarity this needs to be better arranged, visuals alone won't do anything here.
Many RTS games have it, that if you select specific buildings/units, you get the commands, that this unit can fulfill, in the menu. As far as I remember, AI War 1 had this too and I don't see why it shouldn't come back.
Having all the build commands and everythign else int he menu is kind of irritating.
I rather would have a tab that selects the production facilities on the current planets, down there as what we have now.

Offline x4000

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2017, 11:56:23 AM »
It gets pretty irksome fast to have to select, for instance, science labs to do research.  For things like that there's nothing really tying it to the building, and those sort of things should be globally accessible whenever.

But for something where it's literally "the build queue at this ship," I agree.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2017, 02:44:24 PM »
I'm thinking the next iteration of the menu-at-the-bottom, when there's time, will be:

1-9 : normal control groups, as in AIWC
- one exception: control group 1 will always start as just the Ark

0 :
- if you have no selection: opens the master menu bar as it is now, just above the control groups
- if you have a selection: opens the commands menu (as a bar rather than vertical stack), above the control groups, and makes 1-9 trigger those buttons. Mouse also works, of course.
- if any of the above is still open, 0 or ESC or clicking outside the menu area will close all of it (backspace will close just one level)


The menus-within-menus can be frustrating when there's like 50 functions in the tree, but it's a lot less frustrating than 50 functions that are not listed in the game itself (outside a settings subwindow) each requiring a specific direct keybind to work at all.

Another approach is to cut the number of functions way down, but that would necessarily involve a lot of dumbing down of the underlying model, which isn't the way to go with AIW. We've cut out a lot of the you-do-this-every-time steps (in the process of capturing an undefended planet and extracting the resources, for example), but the actual decisions-with-trade-offs complexity needs to stay.
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Online BadgerBadger

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2017, 03:03:48 PM »
A couple comments. For the commands menu, can it be made to have different options depending on what unit is selected? For example, if I have clicked on a planet controller, I don't want to see a "Hacking" or "Warhead" menu since the Controller doesn't have that functionality.

I think eventually I don't want to use '0' for "Open commands menu"; when I play my right hand is going to be on my mouse, and my left hand is going to probably hover over WASD. Hitting '0' requires me to move my entire hand across the keyboard and I might even need to glance down to make sure I don't accidentally hit "9" or "P". What about using a currently unbound key, like "C"  instead?

Otherwise I'm game to give this a try. I'm no good at UI design, so I only know if something is good when I try it.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2017, 03:40:56 PM »
I would advocate for 'space' being the key to escape menus (ignoring mode clicks, I'll get back to that). I expect 'esc' to have special properties, such as "pause and bring up the menu" or "close this screen" neither of which apply well to the menus.

As for the mouse we already have a problem with "click to place this building" canceling out of placement (uh, maybe I wanted two?) with no visual change in status. If mouse clicks also close the menu we've triple-stacked that action!

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: User Interface: Where are you heading with this?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2017, 05:13:13 PM »
I would advocate for 'space' being the key to escape menus (ignoring mode clicks, I'll get back to that). I expect 'esc' to have special properties, such as "pause and bring up the menu" or "close this screen" neither of which apply well to the menus.
Space could be another key that backs out. Esc's "close this screen" behavior is the equivalent of "close the menu", though we'll see how well that maps to people's minds. I'm hoping to not really have in-game screens that aren't either the main display or something that's part of the bottom thing. There's the save/load screen and the settings screen when that comes, and probably achievements/etc, but I don't think any of that normally applies to the game flow itself.

Quote
As for the mouse we already have a problem with "click to place this building" canceling out of placement (uh, maybe I wanted two?) with no visual change in status.
It should show a ghost of the unit-to-place when the cursor is "loaded", but while the graphics were added for that I don't think the wiring up for them was ever finished.

As far as the actual cancelling, I believe that was the behavior in AIWC. If you wanted more, you held shift, which I believe still works here. It did when I implemented it, anyway, maybe it broke later.

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If mouse clicks also close the menu we've triple-stacked that action!
That's a good point. Nonetheless, many folks are used to being able to "shake off" the current UI mode by doing otherwise-meaningless things with the mouse, so there may need to be an option there.
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