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UI/UX discussion

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For me the UI is a crucial part of the game, specially in games like this. I don't want to give ideas but I'd like to see other people aproximations to a problem, I made this thread to talk about problems with the current UI design, how to improve it or what you want to change.

These are ny whises so far:

  • Merge as many interfaces as you can. To manage soldiers you are switching between 3 tabs and I think it's better to have as many options as possible available at a glance.
  • Soldier UI at ground combat is not as intuitive as it should. My problem with this one is how it's not clear what weapon is selected. Maybe you can put the selected weapon at the top and the other behind it but with this system you lost the convenience of having all the fire modes displayed? I also would like the pathline to wotk like it does in OpenXCom. It would be great if it displayed at what point you can still make the different shoot modes, in the current itineration it only works if you have the overwatch mode activated
  • Make the UI thematically coherent with the game art/theme. Some trend I really dislike in modern games is how the interface is becoming more phone-like.

There's probably more things I'm forgetting but these are my main concerns.

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Thanks. Yes, I think it's valuable to have a thread where people can post up their comments on the UI as we're now at the stage where we can spend time improving the usability. I'm actually working on some updates to the strategic UI that might arrive in V15 if all goes well.

Generally, the most useful comments for us are those that highlight specific parts of the UI that are difficult to use - something requires too many clicks, or the information isn't displayed clearly, or it's not really obvious how a piece of UI works. Also places where you would like to have more information available, but the information you need is hidden away on another screen (or just not displayed anywhere at all).

When you spend a long time working on any game you slowly become blind to usability issues, so player feedback is definitely appreciated here.

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2 hours ago, geno said:
  • Merge as many interfaces as you can. To manage soldiers you are switching between 3 tabs and I think it's better to have as many options as possible available at a glance.
  • Soldier UI at ground combat is not as intuitive as it should. My problem with this one is how it's not clear what weapon is selected. Maybe you can put the selected weapon at the top and the other behind it but with this system you lost the convenience of having all the fire modes displayed? I also would like the pathline to wotk like it does in OpenXCom. It would be great if it displayed at what point you can still make the different shoot modes, in the current itineration it only works if you have the overwatch mode activated
  • Make the UI thematically coherent with the game art/theme. Some trend I really dislike in modern games is how the interface is becoming more phone-like.

I think you make a good point about it not being clear which weapon is selected; I remember Max Caine complaining about this some time ago too actually. We need some kind of highlight over the currently selected weapon and we probably also need to make selection "sticky" so you don't have to reselect a secondary weapon each time you want to fire a shot with it.

Would you mind explaining a bit more about your issues with the soldier screens? You're presumably switching between the Soldier tab, the Soldier Equip screen, and which other screen? And could you give me a rough idea of what information would you like to have on each screen that is currently not being shown? Thanks.

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I'm counting the dropship tab too, I usually make changes before a mission. I'd like to equip soldiers when I'm at the dropship. I noticed an improvment at the Soldier tab and I find myself spending more time here since you can manage most of the basic stuff and is way easier and faster to check soldiers here than in the equip tab, I'm happy with how it works right now. I also think that making two columns for soldier stats or using different colors in the equip tab should make it more readable.

But his is just how I feel about it, other players should have a better vision about this and you need to contrast our opinions.

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In the Point of the Battlefield Maps I agree fully with you Geno. The first upgrades there are good but not exellent. There have to be done more upgrade Work to the planed Early Access. I personaly don´t know how to make it better in the short time (3 Month) the Devs have planed for an Early Access.

But I don´t agree in the 3 already implemented Soldier-Equipment Screens at the Base. They are stable now after the other 5 or 6 Betas and light to manage. More Cooking in that will bring us back to an unstability Beta 7 or 8, which bring the Early Access to a Minimum State in Winter 2021 again. The only thing I agree is to make it more graphically better and manage the light remaining Bugs there, which can be done to the planed Early Access Status.

The Equipment Screen of your Soldiers is exellent as it is NOW, because it´s stable, the remaining small bugs are not play relevant and you have everthing you need in the the 3 Options:

1. in the Dropship (where you can split the Soldiers / Vehicle on seperate Entrys)

2. in the Crew Quarter in the Fast Chance in Sniper, Heavy, Grenadier or whatever (without the normal Equipment Screen) and

3. in the normal Equipment Screen (where you can Equip your Soldiers Calmly)

Edited by Alienkiller

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On 11/7/2020 at 1:00 PM, geno said:

I'm counting the dropship tab too, I usually make changes before a mission. I'd like to equip soldiers when I'm at the dropship. I noticed an improvment at the Soldier tab and I find myself spending more time here since you can manage most of the basic stuff and is way easier and faster to check soldiers here than in the equip tab, I'm happy with how it works right now. I also think that making two columns for soldier stats or using different colors in the equip tab should make it more readable.

But his is just how I feel about it, other players should have a better vision about this and you need to contrast our opinions.

Thanks. Unfortunately with the soldiers the biggest problem is just how much space there is on the screen, so being able to properly edit the equipment anywhere except on the Soldier Equip screen isn't going to be possible - there's just not enough space to show all the available item slots and the various items that could go in them.

I guess I should also ask how you change the equipment of your soldiers - do you use the role / loadout system to update them to new loadouts by switching them from say a Rifleman to a Sniper? If so then maybe we could allow the player to change the role of the soldier on the dropship screen too. Would that be something useful to you?

When you say "I also think that making two columns for soldier stats or using different colors in the equip tab should make it more readable" I'm not quite sure what you mean. Could you explain that any more, or maybe take a quick screenshot of what you mean?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Chris said:

I guess I should also ask how you change the equipment of your soldiers - do you use the role / loadout system to update them to new loadouts by switching them from say a Rifleman to a Sniper? If so then maybe we could allow the player to change the role of the soldier on the dropship screen too. Would that be something useful to you?

That could be useful (I'm already using the change role option in the soldier menu). I guess you can try it at some itineration and see how players react to it.

2 hours ago, Chris said:

When you say "I also think that making two columns for soldier stats or using different colors in the equip tab should make it more readable" I'm not quite sure what you mean. Could you explain that any more, or maybe take a quick screenshot of what you mean?

Something like this

imagen_2020-11-08_195254.thumb.png.95d0b5cc36285ec90a3866aef1bbfc73.png

Honestly all these things looked better in my head.

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Yup, not a huge fan of those updates to the soldier panels - it's stuff I've already experimented with in the past and found it didn't work very well.

I'll have a think about the ability to change soldier role / loadout on the dropship screen then. Future people reading this post - let me know if you think it might be useful given that you can't easily see the stats of the soldier on the dropship screen (which makes me wonder how you would choose what loadout to give them).

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I noticed that you can't sue arrows to navigate between soldiers in te equip soldiers tab like you could do in the first game (it would be nice if we could use w/a aswell). In the equip soldier tab, when you are checking weapons info in the pop-up window, could we also see the equipped weapon info? Or some way to compare both weapons?

Group saves by campaing would and delete multiple saves at once would be nice.

Edited by geno

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On 11/9/2020 at 8:01 PM, geno said:

I noticed that you can't sue arrows to navigate between soldiers in te equip soldiers tab like you could do in the first game (it would be nice if we could use w/a aswell). In the equip soldier tab, when you are checking weapons info in the pop-up window, could we also see the equipped weapon info? Or some way to compare both weapons?

Group saves by campaing would and delete multiple saves at once would be nice.

All good points. The first thing is very easy to do so hopefully we can introduce that in V15, the other two issues I'll create tasks for but will likely take a bit longer.

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I hoped more people posting in this thread, but anyway:

I'd like to see a list of events in the main geoscape screen, kinda like new XCOM have so you can check progress for stuff like researching, enginering, building...

This point has been discussed in another thread, but the hidden movement screen right now doesn't work really well. For me it isn't an elegant solution, have you consider other ways? Like pan the camera (even sligthy pan the camera to the direction of the noise when you can't see that zone)

I've been thinking too about include a message box in the ground combat like the original Fallouts. It's a heavy change an probably not a popular one, but it has its advantages: You can get rid of floating damage numbers, keep track of pop-up messages or give messages to the players. If you can make it modular, you could even give the players the option between damage number or just a message like "your shotgun made an open wound on the sebillian"/"Your attack barely scratched the alien". It can also be useful when the locational damage is implemented. Or even highlight a message and the camera pans to the source of it.

Is it possible to make the ground combat UI customizable? I want to get rid of the top right buttons since I don't use them.

Also this is not related but I don't want to make a new thread: When I press V, the LOS dissapear and I don't know how to activate it again.

Edit: Shield HP should be displayed in the UI like ammo does with weapons

Edited by geno

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On 11/28/2020 at 5:10 PM, geno said:

*snip*

I think more people will start posting in this thread (or others like it) in the coming few months, as the pool of testers right now is pretty small - it's basically limited to Kickstarter backers, and not many people have mantained their attention for the two years since the Kickstarter given the game only recently became properly playable. Usability issues become much more important once the game can be played.

Anyway, thanks for the additional suggestions. The stuff we'll want to address in the short term is the Combat Shield not displaying its HP and the LOS disappearing when you press V. The latter is just a bug we'll have fixed in the next hotfix, and the former is a little UI thing we forgot to implement.

We'll also be looking into the camera / hidden movement issues as part of our work on the next build.

The other two are interesting ideas but are definitely new ideas rather than better ways of displaying the current information. I don't think they're particularly hard to do, actually, it's just a question of designing the UI for them and seeing if we have time to include them. But I'll make a note of them because they are improvements I would like to include in the game in an ideal world.

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Fair enough. What are your plans for the geoscape UI? Specially for show the terror level in each region. (btw, did you consider to show mockups about this kind of stuff?)

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You mean the Panic Level, which is the Terror level. That is working great and reacts on UFO-Activitys, Terror Sites and much more. It has already a great surprise implemented. But if you test it, you know what I mean. The Base-Form we already have won´t be changed, but surely upgraded when more Surprises in the Game will get in.

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Its small, but a quality of life thing that i have gotten used to from mods from xenonauts 1, and the new xcom games, is that i can see if a object gives full cover or half cover when selecting or hovering a tile. Not every object in the game looks like full cover, but still is, and the opposite. 

Edited by Siniestro
spelling

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9 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

You mean the Panic Level, which is the Terror level. That is working great and reacts on UFO-Activitys, Terror Sites and much more. It has already a great surprise implemented. But if you test it, you know what I mean. The Base-Form we already have won´t be changed, but surely upgraded when more Surprises in the Game will get in.

I didn't explain myself correctly. I didn't mean the feature but the UI element to work with it. Now you have to move the pointer to the numbers to know what region it's representing, but it feels like a placeholder and there are other solutions. Maybe the regions could always display a colored outline so you can check the panic levels without seeing the numbers.

 

7 hours ago, Siniestro said:

Its small, but a quality of life thing that i have gotten used to from mods from xenonauts 1, and the new xcom games, is that i can see if a object gives full cover or half cover when selecting or hovering a tile. Not every object in the game looks like full cover, but still is, and the opposite. 

While it can be useful it can also give a bad habit to the player since you are only counting your cover but not the obstacles which affect to the accuracy. I missed it at first but now I'm not sure about it.

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1 hour ago, geno said:

While it can be useful it can also give a bad habit to the player since you are only counting your cover but not the obstacles which affect to the accuracy. I missed it at first but now I'm not sure about it.

I get what you are saying, but some times its hard to read the terrain and see what gives full cover, and what gives half cover. Some rocks, bushes and other objects looks like it might be the one or the other. And since the game already knows whats what, i dont see the harm of letting in-experienced players get that information without to much of a hassle. I do get what you are saying tough, since this game counts every object betwen you and your enemy, unlike the newer X-com games. But i think it gives more than it takes away.

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On 12/2/2020 at 8:31 PM, Siniestro said:

I get what you are saying, but some times its hard to read the terrain and see what gives full cover, and what gives half cover. Some rocks, bushes and other objects looks like it might be the one or the other. And since the game already knows whats what, i dont see the harm of letting in-experienced players get that information without to much of a hassle. I do get what you are saying tough, since this game counts every object betwen you and your enemy, unlike the newer X-com games. But i think it gives more than it takes away.

Yeah, we're planning on adding the cover indicators back from X1. They don't necessarily provide the half cover / full cover distinction but the cover in X1 is more granular than that anyway (there's lots of different cover values) and in general it should make it easier to see what is cover and what isn't. If you're still having trouble when that's in then bring it up again and we'll have a think.

On 12/2/2020 at 7:03 PM, geno said:

I didn't explain myself correctly. I didn't mean the feature but the UI element to work with it. Now you have to move the pointer to the numbers to know what region it's representing, but it feels like a placeholder and there are other solutions. Maybe the regions could always display a colored outline so you can check the panic levels without seeing the numbers.

The six numbers in the bottom right of the Geoscape screen should do this - they show all six regional Panic values at the same time. Were you aware of that?

I think we do probably want to start colour coding the backgrounds of those numbers when they reach certain values but I also don't want to turn the UI into a fluorescent mess of colour so I'll need to do a bit of experimentation to get that right I think.

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17 hours ago, Chris said:

The six numbers in the bottom right of the Geoscape screen should do this - they show all six regional Panic values at the same time. Were you aware of that?

What do I mean is that the player should be able to know the panic level of any region without highlighting the numbers. Even just adding the region name to each number should be an improvment compared to what we have now.

I understand you don't want to mess with colour, I don't think it can fit well with the current art but as I said there's plenty of solutions and you have condidered them and are itineraring ideas. I just say that what we have now is not a proper solution as I see it.

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On 12/4/2020 at 5:27 PM, geno said:

What do I mean is that the player should be able to know the panic level of any region without highlighting the numbers. Even just adding the region name to each number should be an improvment compared to what we have now.

I understand you don't want to mess with colour, I don't think it can fit well with the current art but as I said there's plenty of solutions and you have condidered them and are itineraring ideas. I just say that what we have now is not a proper solution as I see it.

OK. I guess it's not obvious that the six numbers are positioned in the same arrangement as the regions are on the map? North America is top left, Soviet Union is top right, South America is bottom left, etc? I guess it's also worth asking if you play with the map centered on Europe / Africa (i.e. the starting position of the Geoscape camera)?

I'm not criticising your views here, I'm just trying to understand the thought process so I know which parts need to be changed or explained better. What's obvious to me as the person who designed the UI isn't necessarily obvious to a player, but I assumed it would be obvious from the highlighting that the layout of the six numbers equated their Geoscape positions. Maybe it's not as obvious as I thought though.

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If you go to such a Number with the Mousecursor then the Region get framed (f. e. Europe, South America) and shows exactly like Chris explained.

The Ground-Idea for the Panic Level on the Geoscape is perfect. It shows all relevant Informations and work like it should (UFO Attacks, Terror Mission lose / win etc.). 

But I agree with Geno that for the Early Access Launch it should be updated (be it in Colours for the 6 founding Regions or whatever). That we have to test in the next Major builds, because the first look from the Players which buy the EA / Final Version is cruical.

Edited by Alienkiller

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20 hours ago, Chris said:

OK. I guess it's not obvious that the six numbers are positioned in the same arrangement as the regions are on the map? North America is top left, Soviet Union is top right, South America is bottom left, etc? I guess it's also worth asking if you play with the map centered on Europe / Africa (i.e. the starting position of the Geoscape camera)?

No, I didn't notice the order and I don't find it intuitive. And yes, I play with the map centered on Europe and usually stay like that except for ocassional zooms. I can get used to it but I think that most of the new players won't get it on the fly (on the other hand, it seems I'm the first one complaining about this so maybe the other people who were playing didin't have a problem with this) 

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26 minutes ago, geno said:

No, I didn't notice the order and I don't find it intuitive. And yes, I play with the map centered on Europe and usually stay like that except for ocassional zooms. I can get used to it but I think that most of the new players won't get it on the fly (on the other hand, it seems I'm the first one complaining about this so maybe the other people who were playing didin't have a problem with this) 

I'll add some little three letter labels for the next build, it wasn't too much trouble to do it in the end.

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On 12/11/2020 at 9:23 PM, geno said:

Can you add the reserved TU to the bar at the top portraits?

Yup, shouldn't be too hard. Unlikely we'll get this in for V16 but I've created a task for it.

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