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#1 Kratos

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 09:54 AM

Today's era of computers consist of three things: visual aids, enhanced GUI, and lazy users. They are not going to read the manual (or almost any text for that matter) even if it was thrown at them...I guess I am one of those people because I prefer self-taught experiences over the manual? With this point, I am trying to target the sadistic mission planner, chat, and server...but I believe we need to switch this GUI ASAP. I believe we are losing more users/developers by letting this be slowly done than the lxnt server is. And no...that is not a joke whatsoever. I have had many gamers, users, etc. evaluating the game. 9/10 think it is a poor game! From what I have heard, it is due to that lack of GUI! This is something not to be overlooked! :(

Edited by Kratos, 01 April 2006 - 09:56 AM.


#2 Blehm 98

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 11:33 AM

how can it be simpler? I guess you could have preset starting positions for different maps or something, but i don't think the GUI can be made much simpler, i learned everything i needed to know about the game in like 5 minutes, and that was a few years ago.

if people can't take 5 minutes to figure it out, then they're stupid
although i must say, the beta's interface is quite a bit harder than the stables, so i'd suggest putting something up saying that the stable is recommended for new players
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#3 Kratos

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 12:32 PM

Unfortunately, not everybody knows what "Client", "Remote", or even "Send" refers to. Names such as these need to be "Professional" at the same time "Simple". Not everybody are computer savy, mind you. We can't keep the view "You are not intelligent enough to play", that is just arrogant. Keep the view "Ok, we'll see what we can do". This is at a much more "professional" level.

The UI doesn't need to be too much "simpler", but definitely needs some optimizing. The GUI definitely needs to be enhanced (ie: Nachtwolf's new chat).

#4 Blehm 98

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 12:55 PM

well, perhaps add to the before game text something like *the Client is you, Remote is your opponent, and send means that you are prepared to start. Start means start*
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#5 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 01:07 PM

I think the issue is not only that it can be complicated to some people, it's that it's not visually appealing, it's not visually good, I think right now it's mostly functional, and though it seems stupid, a lot of people just ignore games which interface looks like an old DOS game.

#6 Kratos

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 01:29 PM

I think the issue is not only that it can be complicated to some people, it's that it's not visually appealing, it's not visually good, I think right now it's mostly functional, and though it seems stupid, a lot of people just ignore games which interface looks like an old DOS game.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, those comments are common as well. :)

#7 Blehm 98

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 01:30 PM

yeah, the pixely red/white/orange color scheme looks... old. I think it look sgood and it fits, but i can see that turning people away
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#8 Serge

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 12:30 PM

I wanted to write a longer answer (and probably will write it later providing more explanations), but why not starting with some smaller gui changes first instead of a full rewrite? For example current inventory screen gui in the battlescape can certainly be improved. I have just fixed pink text problem for no xcom mode. Also it misses some buttons when no xcom files are available. And its usability can be verified and improved. That's a rather small task, but it can be a good start. Anybody would like to do this?
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#9 nappes

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 07:57 AM

The one most confusing aspect in the pre-battle planning stage is the way how it's divided into two screens, one of which is unaccessible without the use of a cryptic and arbitrary combination of mouse and keyboard commands, but both containing vital and necessary information. Surely it would be better if all the info were immediately visible in one glance, with no need to awkwardly swap between different screens?

I noticed that when using a resolution of 800x600 (which is apparently the current default), there is quite a bit of empty space in both screens. With some shuffling around and removal of unneeded elements, I realized that it is completely possible to fit all the relevant information into one screen.

See the following mockup for reference:

all_in_one_screen.png

The layout most assuredly still can be improved, but this is just an example of how it could be done.

I figured it is pretty much unnecessary to show the names for all of the opposing player's soldiers. Also, showing the stats for the soldier on the main screen is not absolutely necessary, since they can be seen in the popup window that appears when you click on the soldier.
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#10 nachtwolf

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 07:37 PM

I don't like this approach...

The problem lies in not being able to use our instinct to see where we are in the mission planner, not in the fact that there's two screens.

The problem is that, in the map room, you actually have NO IDEA there's another screen.

The mission planner needs to be simple, yet we must lighten the number of informations shown at the same time... adding the map will simply add much more confusion as what does what.


BTW... I'm trying to make a GUI skinning LUA module...

It would be a good idea to delay the GUI issues while I prepare this stuff, it will help gret time setting GUI stuff and skinning old stuff.


For the mission planner I already made a little analysis work, grouping what goes together.

I came up with as much as 5 different screens, the difference is THE TABS!!!!!!!

P.S. : The chat area won't be a column like that... honestly.

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Edited by nachtwolf, 06 April 2006 - 07:42 PM.

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#11 Sporb

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 08:40 PM

The one most confusing aspect in the pre-battle planning stage is the way how it's divided into two screens, one of which is unaccessible without the use of a cryptic and arbitrary combination of mouse and keyboard commands, but both containing vital and necessary information. Surely it would be better if all the info were immediately visible in one glance, with no need to awkwardly swap between different screens?

I noticed that when using a resolution of 800x600 (which is apparently the current default), there is quite a bit of empty space in both screens. With some shuffling around and removal of unneeded elements, I realized that it is completely possible to fit all the relevant information into one screen.

See the following mockup for reference:

all_in_one_screen.png

The layout most assuredly still can be improved, but this is just an example of how it could be done.

I figured it is pretty much unnecessary to show the names for all of the opposing player's soldiers. Also, showing the stats for the soldier on the main screen is not absolutely necessary, since they can be seen in the popup window that appears when you click on the soldier.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I dont think cramming it all into one huge mess like that will help much - i think it should all be about buttons. Buttons will remove the keyboard commands and can be more discriptive (tooltips) They are also easier to position. Everyone likes to press buttons. I say stick with the current number of screens and introduce buttons instead of keyboard commands. Over time refinement can be added and stuff can be tweaked but jumping from the current setup into a completely new one will aggrevate the older players. Adding buttons and tweaking hte UI over the next few releases would be a better idea cause it means the older players have time to adjust and the newer players will be able to use it easier.

BTW: nachtwolf, i cant see any of those images

EDIT: i can now

Edited by Sporb, 06 April 2006 - 08:45 PM.


#12 Kratos

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 09:45 PM

Looking very well structured Nachtwolf. =b

Tabs will prevent users from becoming confused so much, good idea indeed.

Nappes: Nice attempt, but as Nachtwolf mentioned, how are you going to be aware of the opponent's existence? Perhaps it would look ok in hotseat, but I doubt we want to make seperate code for hotseat and network mission planner. :wink1:

#13 Serge

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 10:38 PM

Well, that promised "long" explanation seems to be necessery :)

The reason for providing improvements as incremental updates at least for me is the following. I usually can't spend more than a day constantly working on the code (that's on weekends), two days is absolute maximum but it means I will not get any rest at all on weekend. If a work is not done for this limited interval of time and commit is not ready yet, it should wait till the next weekend and the work should be resumed. Resuming work after a long pause is very inefficient as you need some time just to remember everything and get in the flow. That may work different for other people, but I myself doubt that I could roll out a big user interface update, it would take ages without showing any progress to anyone. So I think that the user interface update should be split into several stages, each of them providing some finished and tested incremental update that gets committed to the repository, released as a beta version and tested in the real world, so the bugs get detected early and don't accumulate.

Let's try to get the list of problems with current gui and try to solve them one at a time eventually approaching a new better gui. My list is the following:
- Each action that is currently keyboard only, should have a button on the screen (reasons - more intuitive interface, support for devices that do not have normal keyboard at all like Nokia 770)
- Buttons on the screen should look like buttons, so that they are easily noticeable, now it is difficult to tell the difference between just a static text and some buttons
- As Kratos noticed, some button text messages are not very clean for casual users 'server', 'client', etc.

My first suggestion is to add a button for switching between "mission planner"/"soldiers editing screen", that would probably solve a lot of troubles with not that much effort.

2nappes: see reply in http://www.xcomufo.c...?showtopic=8181

Edited by Serge, 06 April 2006 - 10:58 PM.

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#14 Sporb

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 12:12 AM

perhaps the first step should be background image support for the mission planner and such, that way we can get some fake interface set up. Would make it all look alot less C:/dos like

or is it C\:dos?

or C:>dos?

Edited by Sporb, 07 April 2006 - 12:12 AM.


#15 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 06:35 AM

c:\

#16 nappes

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:37 AM

Let's try to get the list of problems with current gui and try to solve them one at a time eventually approaching a new better gui. My list is the following:
- Each action that is currently keyboard only, should have a button on the screen (reasons - more intuitive interface, support for devices that do not have normal keyboard at all like Nokia 770)
- Buttons on the screen should look like buttons, so that they are easily noticeable, now it is difficult to tell the difference between just a static text and some buttons
- As Kratos noticed, some button text messages are not very clean for casual users 'server', 'client', etc.

My first suggestion is to add a button for switching between "mission planner"/"soldiers editing screen", that would probably solve a lot of troubles with not that much effort.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes, I agree, it would be best to start with small improvements (like the obvious one of the added button for switching the screen), but there is no harm in discussing what shape and form the interface should eventually take.

I actually like Nachtwolf's GUI proposal, even if it's essentially the ideological opposite of what I suggested before (more screens instead of less). What I like about it is the logical way how the setup progresses from first defining the scenario, to customizing your squad and then finally deployment - not unlike what was done in Laser Squad, where you had two separate phases for first buying equipment and then deploying your squad. The major difference being that here you would have the possibility of going back to earlier phases by virtue of the fancy tab system.

However, it looks a bit labour-intensive to be implemented in one big fell swoop, especially if the whole thing has to be scriptable. I'd say forget about customizability (for the time being, at least). Also, the amount of pages could be reduced to three, by combining the "Game" and "Map" pages into one. These seem to be closely related anyway, since a set of rules that works on one map may not be much fun on another. I'd like there to be minimum amount of switching back and forth between different screens.

Ideally, the pre-game setup should progress from screen to screen in this order...

1. Scenario Setup
2. Squad Setup
3. Deployment

...with the players only having to repeatedly click a big button in the corner that says "NEXT" which eventually changes into "READY", once the squad has been deployed.

I don't think this should be too much work, especially if we worry about customizability or making things look fancy later, and only reshuffle the elements found in the current two screens into these three, and add buttons for moving "next" and "back". (Tabs could be added later.)

...

Oh, and speaking of Laser Squad, I thought it might be cool if the deployment phase used the same isometric engine that is used in-game, instead of the flat and boring minimap. Not only it would look graphically more impressive, it would enable the possibility of choosing the map level on which you place your soldiers, as well as changing their facing and stand/crouch status intuitively. Of course, it is needless to say this would mean work, so it's probably better not to worry about this until rest of the pre-battle interface is sorted out.

Edited by nappes, 07 April 2006 - 09:44 AM.

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#17 Sporb

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 06:57 PM

Ah, that would be cool, it would also allow us to place men on different levels consistantly, which is not possible currently

#18 nachtwolf

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 10:11 PM

I've got some news with the skin module.

I have it working for backgrounds that can be loaded from the lua script.

So quite a bit of work is done here gent. I've got the lua file structure defined, the C++ <> lua dialog working and the gui class returning a few values from the lua.

I'm working on loading screen features such as button and feature placement, font colors and button states right now.

As opposed this gui class will seriously save us quite a lot of time since we will be able to use a centralised array of gui function which simply loads the layout from a lua file, Thus making a clear separation between graphical layout and programming.
:beer:

This will even allow for all sorts of customized skins and stuff like that.

And Serge will even be able to use this class for when we has to code GUI :D

Edited by nachtwolf, 13 April 2006 - 10:14 PM.

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#19 nachtwolf

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 05:34 PM

Here's a first draft of the module, on the form of a diff file.

A test screen is provided, namely main.cpp, GAME LOADING SCREEN.
Which is the most simple screen in the game.

@Nappes
I agree about game setup, game and map should be grouped.

Attached Files


Edited by nachtwolf, 24 April 2006 - 09:01 PM.

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