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Some thoughts on the User Experience and the Interface


huha
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First things first, I'm no UI/UX expert, barely had to do with those thematics professionally, and I'm for sure no screen designer, so I'll pass on that - concentrating more of the experience itself. All points I _personally_ think should be adressed, so take them at least with a grain of salt. Also they seem to be nitpicky for some people, but well. Everyone plays the game differently 🙂


the main screen:

The arguebly most important part of the game is the fighting, so it makes sense to really highlight the positions of your enemies so you never feel lost in combat.
The arrow sadly is really hard to see most of the time. Depending on the sector backdrop.
I suggest making it bolder and more vibrant, adding a constrast rich outline/glow maybe

The positions of the targeted entities is too far on the edge of the screen. Especially on big screens it completely falls out of view. Also the icons disappear behind the notifications on the right. So the fallback of finding out where the enemy is (because the arrow isn't visible) can also be without result when the icon is behind those bars leading to having to zoom out to find your target. And this mid fight is quite a task.

It would help shoving the entity-icons onto the most front plane and/or moving them a bit more inward into the center of the screen. The optimal solution propably would be to give the user control over the distance icons/screen-edge

A minor complaint I have about the notifications is the order they "bubble up" - or how they don't.
The chat-box in the left-bottom corner has its newest entry always at the bottom, as chat windows normally do. My gut tells me it would make more sense if the notifications on the right also get their newest entry at the bottom, pushing the older ones one row upwards until they disappear at the top.

Having the option of turning them off completely would also be nice, they DO eat a lot of screen real estate.
I just realized in this tempo this post will be half a book, so I'll just write down what things I occasionally wish for

 

- make coordinates clickable if a players posts them in the (xx:yy) format in chat

- "Return All-button" for Fighters

- repressing r (select target) selects next-closest target (as the tab/h-counterparts do)

- alt+mouse-move repositions the camera, it would be awesome if alt-mouse wheel would push the camera out/in slightly (leaving the realm of UX now I know.)

- sector coordinates in the top left corner aren't displayed when the sector has a name (dispite the loading screen telling you to look up there for the coordinates)

- rebinding middle mouse button to interact would be really benefitial for accessibility. Also it would just be comfortable to be able to rebind it too 😉

other than that I like the main screen. Its clean, the fov depending on your zoom level makes sense, trying to give you the best overview for the sector.


the strategy & galaxy map:

I think there should be a consistent way of handling those maps which should orientate themselves on the gameplay. You are moving the ship with WASD mostly, so it would be easiest to move the maps around with those keys too. Instead we're having two completely different styles of moving the maps which is confusing to say the least. (steer your ship with wasd, steer the strategy map with arrow keys or edge-scroll, steer the galaxy map with right mouse button...)

The galaxymap having had an overhaul it may make sense to adapt those changes for the strategy map. At the top of my head would that include:

- selecting multiple ships by ctrl-clicking them in the right overview.
- ctrl-a selects all owned entities
- option to hide stations ?

- It would also be nice to re-adjust the origin-plane when hitting space to focus an object (which I don't think is mentioned anywhere?).
So you can actually position ships next to the target you just focused on instead of sending them 10s of km above/beneath.

- the "escort me"-option from "Orders" would fit right in at the bottom of the strategy map.

- The icon positions from loaded/unloaded sectors are different. Adding the "undo" icon at the top moves everything down one row for example. Which constantly results in selecting the wrong order when the sector finally loaded. I think it would make sense positioning the "undo" button at -50px on the y axis, leaving the other icons at their place. Instead of at 0px+moving all other icons 50px down (if you catch my drift? These jumping icons are driving me mad constantly :P)

- Adding the most important strategy-map shortcuts (with changed keys of course. WASD is for moving ;)) on the galaxymap would be a logical additon too. (c for salvage, q for patrol and so on. I know in the strategy map they're persistant orders and on the galaxy map they're not but it still would really speed things up)

- please remember the camera position when entering the strategy map and recall it after closing (same for build-mode). I could swear this behavior wasn't there before, it can really mess things up...

- "sort by faction" for the sector overview entities, also some of the features of the sector overview-mod could be implemented, that stuff might be helpful in vanilla too 🙂


Dialogue/interaction system:

- Using the mousewheel to scroll through the options is nice. I would love to have an "rpg"-like system too by using numbers to select the option.

- the most important and unique option of every station should be the first option you can choose in the list. Scrolling down a list when visiting an equipment dock to  "search for" the access to the equipment dock isn't the most intuitive thing. Things like build don't belong at the top position imho.


Found station menu:

- what order are the factories actually in? I still haven't figured that one out. I would like to have it alphabetically or by price at least.
- give the player a way to know what a factory requires before he sits in the station founder chair. Maybe add an overview to the encyclopedia?


Player menu:

    in general: add scrollbars or at least indicators of where you are in the list

    Fleet overview
    - hide/show stations<->ships
    - add "show only current sector"
    - add "jump to ship/station"

    Inventory
    - add "sort by price"
    - "no sorting" may as well be "recently added" or something
    - add _some_ auto-trash functionality, maybe "mark filtered as trash" - this needs a bit more thought than I can give right now.
    - add "post in current chat tab". not everyone needs to see your most valuable items. maybe there is some better way because you sure can't post them in "notifications" or "economy". post them always in the the current group/alliance tab for example?

    Missions
    - when a mission-succeeded mail hasn't been read yet, show a hint in the mission overview. Delete it when the mail has been read

    Diplomacy
    - its good, it works. I'll sneak in a gameplay-wise thing I wish for anyway ;):
        adjust and lock your reputation to someone so they cannot build a huge ship at your shipyard and then instantly have access to all your turret factories best weapons

    Alliance
    - the transfer of items should be simpler. some kind of key-modifier to at least transfer a whole stack of things instead of clicking it multiple times. (a "transfer filtered" would work here too I think, so "tesla naon" would transfer all naonite teslas to the alliance vice versa.
    - remember the last filtered items. as it is now the filter gets reset every time you open the window
    - emblem-designer: I like it for being.... unique


Ship menu:

    Ship Overview
    - if you click a turret and/or drag the ship, stop rotating it for a bit longer. If you are searching for a specific turret the 4-second pause often isn't enough.
    - right click/drag-out a turret to remove it. dunno if this is possible being out of the build editor, but I cannot see why not
    - display the maximum amount of turret slots on the right, as it is displayed in the build editor
    - too much?: replace a turret by dragging one from your inventory into one of the boxes

    Crew
    - a button that shrinks down the section to a healthy amount, unemploying unnecessary personal
    - a "train missing professionals" button for the academy

    Upgrades
    - just realized it would be just consistent to add the "sort by price" here too, being basically the same menu. Although it doesn't make sense. So I would make an exception and leave it out 😛

    Cargo
    - add a input box to drop a certain amount of items. Right now the only way to give cargo to another player is to build a separate ship with cargo capacity and fill it with the amount you want to give and then dropping the whole cargo.
    alternatively: add a new mechanic to transfer/trade cargo inbetween ships from player to player (dropping a certain amount still could come in handy, though)
    - when transfering cargo to a ship/station: at a "transfer all" for each product. Weren't there modifiers for these actions? Cannot find anything about it right now.

    Fighters
    - allow deleting a squad even if fighters are in there. Showing an alert that all fighters will be removed and you won't get anything back for it. (right now you have to drag every single fighter off the window)
    - show a note of how to delete a fighter in this window
        
        Transfering fighters
        - place fighters in a new squad when transfering the whole squad and the destination-squad being full. Right now you have to switch to the other ship, create a new squad, place that squad at the position the squad on the first ship is and then re-open the transfer fighters window to transfer the whole squad. (this is insane :D)

 

    Stations
        
        - add the "station buys consumer goods"... somewhere... right now you have to leave the station (non-factory stations), interact with it, select "trade goods", and enable/disable it with a small icon in the top right corner
        - same as with cargo: buy all/sell all-buttons for each product
        
        Smuggler
        - unbranding/selling: unbrand ALL (all like in... everything on board) and all for each product
        
        Fighter Factory
        - remember the last directory the player was in when building a fighter, also the last used fighter is displayed but you cannot add a turret unless you reselect the same fighter again. (remembering while in the same sector, I imagine it gets quite tricky if you re-enter the sector and something like this has to be recalled)
        - create a new squad automatically when there is none the fighter can be placed in instead of sayin there is no squad


Will make notes from now on when I'm playing and I come across something odd or overly complicated and maybe add it here?
There are also issues with order-chains in the galaxymap but I think this should have its own place so I left it out.

 

Just some tough love for a tough game I love...

Edited by huha
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Adding to this, I'd love to see a menu for consumer stations where I could see how much money they have made. This is available for factories that buy goods, but I don't think it's available for consumer-only stations like military outposts, shipyards, habitats, etc.

EDIT: Also, I voted for this.

Edited by Sathaerz
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In addition to these, I'd like to see the trading commands improved to require less clicking.

Instead of "sell until X amount" ships should sell as much as a station takes and then move onto the next command in the queue without getting stuck because the customer station is full and isn't buying that one piece of steel left in the cargo bay. The list of goods should show goods that the ship has in its cargo bay OR will acquire according to the command queue and show them on top of the list.

A simple "sell everything that can be sold in the sector and as much as the stations take and move on" command would be the perfect solution.

Buying command needs to be almost as complex as it currently is but it can be improved by having a toggle for skipping onto the next command in the queue if the ship buys 450 of the 500 goods it was supposed to buy but none of the other stations in the sectors are selling those goods.

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And another one for the map: Adding a map note takes several clicks and quite a lot of precise mouse movements. This could be streamlined considerably.

Currently, one needs to
- right click the desired sector (semi-precise positioning)
- move mouse to "tag sector" menu option (precise positioning required)
- click
- position the mouse pointer over the sector *again*
- right click desired sector *again*
- precisely reposition pointer to "add note" menu option *again*
- click
- position pointer over text area (only coarse positioning, but still)
- click
- enter text
- precisely position pointer over OK
- click


Instead,
- call "tag sector" from within the "add note" action (while keeping a separate tagging action though)
- automatically activate text input field when "add note" action starts
- allow keyboard completion of text input (by say, using CTRL-Enter to finish)
and profit

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1 hour ago, Valck said:

- allow keyboard completion of text input (by say, using CTRL-Enter to finish)
and profit

I completely forgot about the text stuff you made me just realize.
It might be a lot of effort but I really think its benefitial for every aspect of the game:

- including basic text and UI/button operations. You can paste at the moment, whats missing are selecting text, cutting and copying it. As well as an coherent way of acknowleding buttons (the only times ENTER is used as "ok lets do this" are the dialog options and the chat window.

I would even go so far removing ENTER as chat-opening completely and leaving this key for actual enter-stuff.

Also using tab to switch between ui-elements, as it is generally used across all platforms for this purpose.

Also I cannot say how OFTEN I see people writing "m" in the chat. Propably because they clicked on coordinates in the chat, opening the map and then wanting to close the map by the (m)ap shortcut. After which the chat is still open having cought the keyboard input.

Either don't accept keyinputs for chat at all when the map is opened (I _can_ imagine people using this though, for writing down coordinates in the chat while map is opened? But that must be the absolute minority) or autoclose the chat-window disregarding any input that was made when leaving the map.

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More map feedback:
I can't be the only one who ever noticed the map is flipped horizontally?

If you use a jump gate from one sector to another, you always have to turn the opposite way to what you think you should.
Let's say you went "north" (i.e. entering from the "south" gate), and now want to go "east", you'd expect to have to turn "right", wouldn't you? Instead you have to turn "left".


Granted, I should have reported this much sooner as it has been that way ever since I first started playing the game...

Edited by Valck
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Voted for this as well! 🙂 Tons of good proposals in here, I'll be happy to implement those. We won't be able to add everything but I'll see what we can do! (some of these are way more complex than you might think)

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If my life depended on my ability to destroy enemy ships, this UI would just get me killed. The total lack of situational awareness during combat is mind blowing and frustrating. Its almost like the developers want you to feel lost. Every element of this game (trading, combat, travel, mining...) is hindered by the lack of a proper HUD with real information. If you like minimalist, add a key to remove all useful information and tie it to the current view.

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On 8/12/2020 at 9:52 AM, huha said:

Also I cannot say how OFTEN I see people writing "m" in the chat.

Pfrlol. Came here to write a suggestion because this just happened. Again. After five years of playing Avorion, I'm still getting caught by that issue. This topic should be daily reading for the entire dev team.

On 8/19/2020 at 7:28 AM, Admin said:

Voted for this as well! 🙂 Tons of good proposals in here, I'll be happy to implement those. We won't be able to add everything but I'll see what we can do! (some of these are way more complex than you might think)

Any hopes for implementation? It's been a while... 😉

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