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Dev Discussion #36 - User Interface



  • Nothing burned my taters like realizing I couldn't be competitive in WoW Arena without covering 80% of my screen real estate with blocks of bologna.

    That said, there's a mythical balance to strike in order to appease both the sweaty folks and the fun lovers.

    In SWTOR, people moaned and groaned about no add-ons or logs, but it made the game more fun to me, personally, even though I enjoy being on the forefront of PVE progression.
  • I want to have an option to hide other players names.
  • oneeachoneeach Member, Pioneer
    Very customizable. Everything from what is and isn't shown to its location on the screen. While it should be easy to use for most people, those of us that want to take the time should be able to move, resize and remap buttons through a script (LUA for example) if wanted. It should not, however, allow anyone to get an advantage of anyone else, just allow me to press a key and quickly re-arrange my UI layout based on what I am doing.

    For example, if I am gathering resources, I may want a larger / zoomed in minimap and hide my combat hotbar. If I am attacked (Mob or Player), switch the layout to my preferred in-combat layout. Ideally, the change would happen simply because I was attacked.
  • Turning on and off, customizing transparency, dragging and locking in position. A damage meter, even if only a personal tracker to help hone attack combos and order for best dps
  • SpaceWolfSpaceWolf Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    In my opinion, the greatest UI/HUD I've ever experienced was in Metroid Prime. Now, this is a First Person Adventure game rather than an MMO, of course, but I feel a lot of the basic elements would work great in Ashes. So to break down what I like:

    The icons on the bottom-right represent every primary weapon type in the game; the one you have active is in the center, and the other three are permanently visible in their slots after you unlock them. Swapping from one weapon to another is done in a single button press (in this specific case, flicking the C-stick in a given direction, since this was a Gamecube game), and every icon has a clear visual distinction that makes it easy to track via peripheral vision, minimizing cognitive load and making it easier to develop proper muscle memory.

    The bar with the "135" and the icon next to it is your total amount of missiles, a secondary weapon accessible at all times. The bar will deplete relative to your missile percentage in addition to the number going down - I like having both a number and a bar visible, but the important thing here is that the number is independent of the bar instead of being 'inside' of it like we've seen in Ashes; in my opinion that method just makes both the bar and the number hard to parse, whereas in Metroid Prime it is quite easy to gauge.

    Importantly, the missile count is positioned to the left of the bar, which puts it closer to the center of the HUD; this makes it easier to track the number with peripheral vision, and the number + icon actually drift closer to the weapon icons on the bottom as you run low on missiles, giving your brain more opportunities to track it intense fights. While it's not shown in this screenshot, there is also an unobtrusive "Missiles Low" warning that will come up below the missile icon in a yellow-orange color, when you are below roughly 10% of your ammo.

    On the lower-left side of the screen are all of the visors (UI overlays) you can choose, and the same elements apply here as with weapon selection; every icon has a distinct shape from the others (though I find the lack of distinct colors makes these a bit inferior to the weapon icons), and it's as easy as pressing a single button. Either way, I appreciate having all potential options visible from the same UI menu, and I appreciate all of the icons clearly standing out; this made developing the muscle memory for switching between, for example, standard vision, thermal vision, and X-ray vision on the fly very easy.

    Obviously, in Ashes we aren't playing as someone in hi-tech space armor who has a bunch of cool visual modes to use, but I like the idea of 'support' abilities and 'offensive' abilities being clearly grouped into their own sections; this makes it easier to compartmentalize which buttons do what, and the closely grouped nature of the buttons (in this case, the Gamecube controller's D-pad and C-stick) minimizes cumbersome hand movement in stressful situations.

    This could apply to keyboard setups too; I play a heavily modded Skyrim install with my keyboard, and I specifically have all my combat-oriented hotkeys bunched very close to my WASD keys to minimize hand movement. Hotkeys that are less time-intensive, such as opening the map or the equipment menu, are bunched off on a different section of my keyboard nearer to my mouse-hand, and any buttons I anticipate having to hold down for a long period (such as the sprint button) are partitioned to some keys on my gaming mouse.

    Essentially, I'm really lazy and want every possible option clearly accessible and easy to track, which made playing Metroid Prime an absolute pleasure. As for some of the other UI elements I like here...

    The orange stuff on the upper-right corner of the screen is the mini-map, and that exact choice of location and coloration means that it takes your eyes a bit to move to that location on your screen, but if you specifically want to look at the mini-map, it stands out easily. This, in my opinion, is the best possible setup for mini-maps, which I have found needlessly obtrusive in pretty much any other implementation. I find that I don't actually need to reference mini-maps THAT often and mostly just use them to make sure I haven't gotten lost, or to find an exit to an area quickly, so for me Metroid Prime's mini-map has exactly the right amount of screen and color real-estate.

    The Energy bar on the top is your health, with the little blocks representing "total health bars". Note again that the bar is positioned towards the center of the screen, making it much easier to track with peripheral vision, while also being large enough to get a detailed assessment with a quick upward glance if you need.

    The circular indicator on the upper-left is an enemy radar; while at first glance the position of this radar might seem a bit too out-of-the-way, enemies will show up as vivid red-orange dots that, again, stand out easily in peripheral vision, and in my experience this is enough information to work well in tandem with hearing, to gauge where enemies are.

    Given the limited amount of abilities/hotkeyable things characters will have in Ashes, I feel this type of setup would work rather well, and would love to see something like it in future updates :)
  • TaerrikTaerrik Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I would personally like the ability for multiple UI to be saved client side. And preferably I would like a hotkey to be able to shift between the two (or more) modes.

    If I am in gaming mode. I want a lot of information. I want to be able to move all of the important things myself, and have a lot of things shown. I want to be able to put "everything" (interpret everything very loosely, as in *everything*) on the screen somewhere.

    If I am in a casual gaming mode, crafting in a city, roleplaying, then I want significantly less information on my screen. My screen will be almost clear of things.
  • I've read a fair few comments, and I would definitely have to agree that less is more. But! having the option to add more if you so desire, and also VERY importantly to be able to place them as you wish. It is just frustrating having to 'get used to.. or put up with..' some annoying thing you can't move or change how you would want it in your UI eg. where your mini map is due to habit from old games.
  • "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    It would be great if the UI can be fully customizable/modulable BUT DO NOT ALLOW external mods wich may modify gameplay/immersion telling players exactly how to play or what they should exactly do, breaking the game experience and mechanics learning (I'm looking at you DBM/WeakAura...)
  • I rather want to watch the game and get information from enemy animations etc. rather than numbers/statistics on my screen.

    So rather minimalistic.
  • Please no damage meters OH GOD NOOO.
  • JustVineJustVine Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited November 14
    Overall Ashes of creation has a fairly minimal and customizable ui. It should stay around the lines of what was in Alpha. However, after thinking about it quite a bit, I have come to the conclusion that Ashes would be best served breaking the mold of the modern mmo ui by taking pointers from Minecraft's UI in 2 key ways.

    The first change should be to the positioning of the health and mana meter to the bottom of the screen, just above the hot bar in a very minimal lowkey fashion. Minecraft is a game who's highest zone of activity is concentrated on the cross hair and it really excels on keeping the relevant information close to the zone of activity by having hearts (health) and haunches (stamina but could easily be replaced with mana). Ashes similarly plans on making the crosshair a possible main combat focus point and will have many reasons to interface in this mode. A lot of the user attention will be fairly close to the center of the screen. Keeping health and mana managed is an important skill in an mmo, that will be all the more pressed upon by the fact that anyone can join the fray at any time. Taking away your attention from the center of combat increases the difficulty of management artificially and can lead to a lot of needless strain and less awareness of enemies surrounding you. This also frees up ui space on the top left corner to fit ashes higher party count without cluttering the middle left of the screen. No one wants obstruction from the party information, but making the party info smaller than it already is will just leave to needless physical strain.

    The second change should be to the inventory ui. Minecraft's equip and inventory ui is flawlessly simple, clean, and easy to intuitively understand. As Ashes' currently stands the inventory and equipment ui is separate, despite the fact that you need to interact with the 'character sheet' ui as a separate window in order to change your equips. In Minecraft every slot for the equipment matches up with where it is on the body, and it's all accessible in the same menu. If you really needed to switch to an item outside your main hotbar on short notice, you can easily have things set up so that you can quickly switch items out at a given notice, and there are shortcuts for quickly swapping out equipment to the relevant slot.

    Ashes desperately needs something similar. As it currently stands in the Alpha equipment and inventory are separate windows. This would be ok in a standard mmo, however, Ashes has plans for having the ability to switch weapons in combat while also having a small hotbar compared to other MMO's. This means that making equip changes needs to be accessible in the same menu or user frustration will be quite high. I understand the desire for the 'character sheet' to display your equipment info, and for that info to be juxtaposed to the current equipment and character appearance so you can get a good visceral connection between stats and gear built u. But Ashes needs a similar screen that has your character, the equip-able slots, and your available inventory on the same window for simplicity and function sake.

    It also needs the equip slots to better match up where they are equipped relative to the character. This is a somewhat challenging fix in the current layout, but still doable if you change the order of equipment slots and where the weapon and secondary weapon slots are located. First of all move the gloves and the waist slot to the left half of the equip area. Then move up the accessory slots to the very top of the left hand area of the equip ui sliding your main weapon, then ranged, then shield slots vertically as if they were any other equip slot, Now that you have more room at the bottom, the right hand side of the ui can therefore go in this order of slots: Head, shoulders, torso, arms, gloves, waist, legs, feet. From there all you need to do is scale the equip slots to be closer to the size of the accessory slots. This gives you a much cleaner and understandable order of gear that minimizes fumbling around. It also has the side benefit of making the weapon and shield slots close to the right edge of the equip screen such that if you had a ui window like the character sheet with your inventory slots you could easily place your secondary weapons in the inventory slots closest to the equipped slots for ease of drag and drop if need be.
  • AmmaAmma Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    An easy way to see what people want is to look on the download counts of addons at games like wow.
    When an Addon has 100.000 downloads, or whatever other high number, then look exactly into it, what options it has and what exactly it shows you or makes for you.
    And make all that beeing able to toggle on/off, to move it around, change it size ...........
  • KarpKarp Member
    Taerrik wrote: »
    I would personally like the ability for multiple UI to be saved client side. And preferably I would like a hotkey to be able to shift between the two (or more) modes.

    ^ this!

    The ability to have different UI layouts saved and hotkeys to swap between them.

    Other than that, please make it possible to move UI elements to secondary monitor. For example moving the minimap to another monitor and resize it to less "mini" 😊

  • AnnoyingDarvilAnnoyingDarvil Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited November 14
    Minimal, and more importantly, the ability to change the position and size of UI elements. The option to see what my target is casting and who they are targeting is super important. Aion had a nice UI for what I am explaining. Otherwise, just HP, mana, stamina?, XP, cooldowns, buffs/debuffs, and corruption? Corruption because it directly impacts your ability to PvP. Maybe it only appears when you accumulate corruption.

    Also, if we could draw or pin markers on the map and minimap that would be excellent.

  • BarkerBarker Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I like to have a lot of information but ONLY show what I need the most and really focus on that, therefore having the most customisability is the most important thing for me.
  • I'm used to older-style point-and-click-esque MMOs so I need my health/mana pools, as well as those of any pets/summons/servants. I guess having ones for party members makes sense too. I also need my hot-bars, but I prefer being able to make and remove them as needed, it would be nice to have the option to make them vertical to have certain things available, but not in the way or the main screen or character. I don't really care about the EXP bars you usually see on the bottom of the screen, but I would take a menu for commonly needed windows like Inventory, Character sheet, Skills, etc...
    Maps are generally preferred to to a compass, but it depends on how big you want the world to feel and how well you want your players to be able to navigate. Oh yeah, I don't need the buff list on screen like in some other MMOs either. I guess I basically want the minimum I need to play, but I want it all moveable and re-sizeable. Of course, having everything (especially extra windows and tips and stuff)toggle-able would make it easy to serve everyone, especially those who like to change things around now and again.
    One more thing since I don't know where else to put this idea, I know a few people who like to take screenshots and make skits and such and it would be a lot easier if we had a way to move the camera's position to our own character isn't always in the middle while the HUD/UI is turned off. I don't know if this is possible without making a separate mode that isn't the easiest to get into and set up, but it's a thought.
  • I have a specific UI request-- I would like a post-caravan event information UI element that reports some information to the caravan master. This would be helpful for what will surely be a chaotic PVP event and so that caravan master can understand what happened, who was involved [and their affiliations]. This could help improve the next caravan by determining what nodes and guilds have a history of banditry.

    As for overall UI preferences - I like modularity with minimalistic options with the control to control which parts of the window each element is in. Specifically, for tanking I like to make sure the top of my window is clear [so I can see large mob health and more easily click on nameplates]. For all roles I like to make sure that 'survivability' abilities are near my hp bar display [for damage reduction abilities and health potions].

    Customization is key to making sure that regardless of role or future game activity that the player is not being restricted by unnecessary UI structure limits.
  • If my screen ever has to look like a WoW raider screen in order to be effective, I’m unsubbing and also going to riot

    Screen clutter kills the experience. I want to see the game while playing a game, not parse spreadsheet data. That’s a task for an entirely different mindset.
  • ShoelidShoelid Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I think I'm a middle ground sort of guy. I can do both extremes, but what's really important to me is being able to quickly choose what I see and what I don't.

    For some examples, I find myself wanting much more information available when I play Skyrim, but I wouldn't want that information while I'm in a city. I use Runelite to add more information to my screen when I play OSRS, but playing on the classic aspect ratio makes the screen way too crowded for me. I used a few info addons raiding in WoW (not as many as some) but had a habit of closing it all when I didn't need it.
  • NoaaniNoaani Member, Intrepid Pack
    As far as I am concerned, if every UI elements can be moved, resized, colored, have transparency set (standard transparency, mouse over transparency and in use transparency all set individually), then we have something good to start off with.

    Some people may want their health and such in the top left corner, they should be able to have that. Some prefer it just off to the side of the crosshair - they should also be able to do that.

    Basically, if ths UI dictates how I interact with the game, or gets in the way of me experiencing the game world, then the UI is failing at ita most basic job.

    Players should dictate how things are to the UI, not the other way around.
  • Complete and total customisability.
    The ability to bring up and disappear various aspects of the UI with the single press of a button.
    Don't clutter me so much that I can't see the beautiful world you've created.

    Essential UI for me:
    - My skill-bar, with cooldown timers
    - Group members (name, class, threat level, mob targeted, etc)
    - Health/Magic bars (mine, group, enemy)
    - Map with compass/direction pointer
    - Chat Box
  • The answer to the question of what a UI should be is as varied as players' personalities and intelligences. The UI as a concept is a vehicle for inputs and outputs of information between the client and user. For the user it is important to legibly receive data from this system, have ease of access to input a response, and then to receive appreciable feedback of that input to perpetuate a loop of I&O resulting in gameplay.

    The philosophy of the game style determines what total data would be available for the user to experience (ex. GCD indicator, enemy player healthbars,  quests locations on a minimap, player damage meter). The maximum offerred data should be completely malleable by the player to tailor it to the language of their personal perceptions - to tune it to their intimate semiotics (see Umberto Eco). The UI is a virtual synapse of signs and symbols that should have the potential to allow this I&O gameplay loop to be an impulsive ebb and flow to as many users as possible.

    Abundant, complex information can be displayed in a minimalist manner. Minimalism does not necessarily mean less information. Through a process of diagramming a multitude of information can be transmitted in a succinct, clean, and powerful method. Anyone designing UIs might be interested in the work of Tufte, Envisioning Information and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information: "detailed analysis of how to display data for precise, effective, quick analysis. Design of the high-resolution displays, small multiples. Editing and improving graphics. The data-ink ratio. Time-series, relational graphics, data maps, multivariate designs. Detection of graphical deception: design variation vs. data variation. Sources of deception. Aesthetics and data graphical displays."

    The UI should be inclusionary; not just in a technical way for varying monitor resolutions from typical 16:9 to ultrawide 16:3, but also for a person's physical limitations. Not everyone is playing on a traditional QWERTY keyboard OR even playing with all TEN fingers. I consider the UI not only an aesthetic graphic that could become iconic for the game, but the actual essential link of communication through available physical means. Yes, not being able to customize action bars is the equivalent of not installing an access ramp to a building for entry by wheelchair. It should be noted that if a UI is sufficiently rigid, it excludes some people with disabilities and is an ease of access issue that interferes with a lubricious I&O feedback loop. It is not all about themed colors to match RGB and cleverly placed unit frames. I would think in this age UI designers are considering all such things without a fixated, arrogant approach.
  • Overthrow wrote: »
    I have a specific UI request-- I would like a post-caravan event information UI element that reports some information to the caravan master. This would be helpful for what will surely be a chaotic PVP event and so that caravan master can understand what happened, who was involved [and their affiliations]. This could help improve the next caravan by determining what nodes and guilds have a history of banditry.

    I also greatly enjoy this idea. Things like large PvP arena matches, Castle and Node Sieges, and Caravans should all have a post-event report we can pour over, for details and a better picture of what all happened, during the event.

  • MonadMonad Member
    edited November 17
    The way cool downs are displayed through the UI is seriously impactful on gameplay.

    A GCD and ability CD indicator with various options of display would be good. There is nothing more frustrating then using an ability and then having to guess when exactly the GCD is finished. 

    Ability cooldowns are typically indicated by a grayed out box or count down of some sort. Nothing screams immersion like staring at ability boxes for hours anticipating countdowns. The game just becomes a version of whack-a-mole.

    Something that I believe was highly effective in a different game for ability CDs was the use of an aura around the character representing ability readiness or status effects.  Building a custom aura around my character with symbols/sigils or graphics of some kind that had personal meaning to that ability allowed a delightful experience of intuitive gameplay. The total aura gave my character a quality of etherealness to the likeness of an Alex Grey painting.

    The aura itself added to the customization of not only my character's appearance, but also functioned as ability CD indicators. I didn't have to constantly cut my eyes down to an action bar. I was able to focus on gameplay animation sequences and environment details otherwise missed while searching for CDs. If something could be innovated on the cool down front, it would be interesting to see something fresh.
  • NiyaNiya Member
    Will the game have non-natural colors of hair and eyes? (e.g. hot pink or blue)
  • ThulfThulf Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I think it's safe to say that the more there is the better. The only downside is that when implemented poorly (design; timing, visual; static, animated, sound) will feel like obnoxious clutter and degrade the experience even if otherwise useful.

    Customizing the various data points and their placement should be as intuitive and simple as possible. Perhaps a few pre-sets to choose from that offer the absolute most optimal layout already put together by professional psychologists or some shit. Perhaps a button that switches the screen overlay to describe the various data point boxes, the ability to drag them, change size, opacity, the ability to delete them, the ability to summon them from a quick-access list pop-up.

    The thing I hate the most is when I start up a new mmorpg journey only to be faced with 40% of the screen littered with stuff mixed in with eye catching pop-up advertisements for both cash shop and non-cash shop stuff (events, etc). At the start all I want to really see is the game world itself and the combat animations, not be distracted by some random stuff I have 0 use for at that time. At that time all I want is the very, very basics that will feel like part of the game without even realizing they're there (minimap, health/mana bar, ability box, chatbox, party members, hyper minimal info about the quest at hand).

  • I'm late to the party, but in case it's still useful, I plead and plead and plead that there be options to allow for quick cooldown tracking near the centre of the screen and that we can move and scale UI features if addons are not allowed.

    In WoW for example, it's essential for many that they can quickly see in their near-peripheral that a certain ability is unavailable or will shortly be available. We need to easily see via their nameplate if our DoT is applied to an enemy without looking all the way to a corner of the screen. Health and mana or other resources should be able to be placed under your character near the middle of your screen.

    In short, we need the ability to toggle on and off extra trackers and move features. Allow us to minimize how far our eyes have to dart for essential information. Darting back and forth from the action bar to the enemy and battlefield is terribly annoying, and we should be able to keep our eyes on the centre while having what we want tracked visible there.
  • mcstackersonmcstackerson Member, Phoenix Initiative, Royalty, Alpha One
    When it comes to your HUD, I prefer minimal as it's more immersive for me but depending on the available elements, I usually have to cover the screen to have the information advantage.

    I not sure i'd call anything essential but for the HUD, probably want your health/resources, abilities/cooldowns, and chat.
  • I like my UI’s like i like my zombies: customizable.

    To me it comes down to this: if i raid, information is king so the more info i can easily access, the better. But when i’m alone questing, i was something clutter free so i can immerse myself more.
  • daveywaveydaveywavey Member
    edited November 19
    Strangeape wrote: »
    I like my UI’s like i like my zombies: customizable.

    Customisable zombies...?
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