To vote on the idea, please sign in with your personal or social account (Facebook or Google).
To watch the idea, please sign in with your personal or social account (Facebook or Google).
The game's usability still needs work if the negative Steam reviews are to be believed. Here's my previous thread with mock UI example. Seeing as the development is in a stage of polishing I decided to try again, on this brand-new request tracker.
These suggestions regard the build menu except if noted otherwise, which is probably the most used menu in the game.
1. Block button sizes can be reduced significantly and should be less neon-colored (modern design relies on natural, nuanced coloring, keeping color blindness in mind). Drop-down menus shown when hovering over a block sub-category can also save a great deal of space. This means less clicking and a better overview. The aesthetics could be similar to the non-animated ESC menu (which is a significant improvement).
2. Blocks ought to be clearly categorized by their relation to the functional group. For example, the CRAM group can be broken down into Barrels > Firing Piece > Loaders > Loader attachments > Gauge > Misc (predictor, laser targeting etc). It's important to structure these subgroups logically, in this case front-to-back. Sub-group blocks shouldn't be hidden behind a click action and a whole new screen, like Gauge Increasers and Autoloaders currently. If a fullscreen UI is chosen simple lines and arrow symbols can be used to demonstrate to any new player how a CRAM is built without reading any text.
This is an example of how small UI tweaks can dramatically impact the player's understanding of what is being presented. In my mock I've opted for a build bar, but a full screen menu would allow for more functional drawn instructions. One is less intrusive yet the other more descriptive.
3. Tutorials ought to show as small question mark buttons which are recognized universally as a symbol for "Help!", close to the relevant blocks in the build menu. No giant yellow arrow telling us to use detection for our AI - this information must be hidden unless requested. And if there's only one change being taken from this post, it should be that the giant red flashing tutorial buttons must be removed ASAP.
3a. Built-in prefabs are whether we designate it as such or not, as new players look at them to get an idea of how to properly build a weapon or engine. These are intentionally poor to encourage upgrades IIRC. They ought to be advanced examples so players can learn advanced techniques right from the start, and used even by experienced players when the need arises.
Example: Adding a 3000+ power-per-fuel engine prefab demonstrates how inline turbos can be optimized for obscene efficiency (see attached blueprint file for example). In contrast, the current "EcoMax100" has horrid fuel efficiency, meaning no eco-engine prefab is present at all. Yet the player is led to believe that 160 PPF is "eco", and that turbos ought to be placed as exhausts for fuel efficiency - which is false.
A new player can learn more from my engine in comparison and I'm sure other players can do even better. That's what matters. The objective of prefabs should not be to confuse confused players further, but rather to clear things up through good examples.
4. Description pop-ups display an unsorted list of data currently, some separated by empty lines and some preceded by a hyphen. This data could to be visually grouped for instant recognition as shown in my mock:
- Description: "This block does X, is part of the X group and can be attached to X."
- General stats: Health, armor, weight, material cost.
- Stats specific to the block's functional group: Weapons (fire rate, guage, ammo/sec etc), projectile weapon barrels (accuracy modifiers, velocity modifiers etc) or engines (power, effect on high/low RPM efficiency etc).
- Misc data: Bouyancy, detectability, EMP susceptibility, structural soundness etc.
5. A few miscellaneous usability suggestions:
- In campaign, option for loaded units to be pulled from play automatically and set to "repair this force" upon spawning. Saves many player actions and it's a must on low-end systems.
- Option to automatically pull all constructs when battle is finished.
- Delete key destroys all selected forces, "are you sure" option can be turned off in Options but is On by default.
- Confirmation screen for save deletion (are you sure?). Also, distinguish both the load and delete buttons in their own style so they pop out - the delete button is typically red and/or marked with an X symbol.
- RTS-style build and tactical control menu (think Red Alert), since the campaign is an RTS gamemode. These industry standards sport very high usability and may be freely used by indie devs.
- Change the strategic map (zoomed out) to a static paper map image, preferably with a nautical theme and drawn compass in the corner. This is purely aesthetic. Example. Alternatively remove the bright white map border and brighten the map itself - these problems make the map look glitched rather than intentional design and is sure to put off experienced gamers.
- Unit map icons should be based on vehicle type, chosen by the player upon saving a blueprint. This allows the player to see what's going on instantly when viewing the map. Enemy icons can be more specific as well, shown for individual units instead of fleets.
- AI, engine, weapons and shield configuration (the Q key on specific blocks) should all be accessible from a central point without accessing build mode. Thankfully this has been implemented for AI but that's just a first baby step in the right direction - accessibility. Ideally there should be an overarching "vehicle" interface combining all the vehicle's configs, stats and all functions currently in the V key menu.
Lastly, on general UI design, FtD's UI is built around the "many screens" philosophy: I want to do X so I'll go to X screen. Even a handful of blocks get their own screen. Instead it's good practice to aggregate functions and data into fewer screens, though much of this data should be hidden unless requested (tooltips, dropdowns, tabs, sub-tabs). This greatly improves the user's access and overview, lowering the amount of menu switching required.
Ideally all scroll bars should be replaced with quality screen space saving options. Modern UI designers try to avoid scroll bars and for good reason - it's wasted screen space and more actions required. It doesn't help that the scroll wheel in FtD has the dual function of scrolling and changing values, leading to many mishaps.
The new AI functionality is a major improvement for example, except its UI splits into different windows if multiple AI are installed which turns into a scrollbar mess. Multiple AI windows should be tabs instead.
Thank you for reading my text-wall. Lastly, here's an example of a highly polished, modern build UI from Besiege, which has no doubt contributed to the game's smashing success: https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/besiege/images/3/35/Interface01.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/800?cb=20181121011202
[Edit:] I'm giving this my final edit given its near-0 reception after a month (there were a few flaws I didn't notice before). Perhaps one day a UX professional will be consulted and explain precisely what I explained here, but it seems my effort is wasted.