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Programmer16

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I still haven't returned to working on JFMEditor yet. I'm finding it hard to be motivated to work on it, because I just don't find the game interesting at all. From my point of view, I wouldn't want to play the game; I don't even want to make the levels for it. I am going to finish it because then I'll have a finished, working platformer engine and editor. I could always do something else with it; I don't have to finish Junk Food Monkey.



Onto the whole reason I decided to post! First off, I've been working on a UI system. As many of you probably know (because I've stated it on numerous occasions), I love UI development. At some point in my career, I'd love to develop and release a library that could compare (NOT compete) with ScaleForm.

Anyway, I've been working on one and getting all of the little things working together is a pain. At one point or another, a lot of us go through the hassle of designing and implementing that nice UI system with panels that the user can drag, a huge list of controls, and a skinning system. In the end however, it's mostly for naught. 90% of the controls aren't used, the project either is never finished or never gets big enough to need skinning, and the game doesn't really NEED panels that the user can drag around.

My main issue with a static system is the fact that it is static. I can't make things larger/smaller when I need to unless I draw different size skins for everything. That and everything has to have it's own skin, so it increases content requirements. The other option is just stretching, and that looks horrible IMHO.

What's your opinion though? Are you mad when your RPG won't let you drag your inventory window around? Or your MMO won't let you resize your chat window? Or you can't use a custom skin?

As a proposed solution, I've thought about just implementing a layout system. The user can select from multiple built-in layouts (or make their own.)

Or even just allowing different states for things. For example, in Baldur's Gate you can make the game's main output window larger or smaller by clicking a button.

It's really not much of a question, seeing as almost every AAA game out there uses a static UI, but I'm still interested in your input. The only real reason I can see for implementing a full on UI system is for in-game editors, but even that could use a static UI.
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I prefer when I can move the various components of the GUI where I want them. A good point is to be able to hide them independently.
The resize should not be necessary unless the GUI is not well designed: for example, an inventory should not show a fixed number of 4 items at a time when a regular player usually carry 50 items.
And if be resize you meant "show the same data but on a smaller or bigger area of the screen", I prefer when the size is a fixed [intelligent] ratio of the screen size. Things can become very small with current screen resolutions. And if you can hide/move them, there is no problem.
An idea is to make 2 versions of each item:
- the "regular" version with every information on it,
- an "icon" version with only 2 to 4 critical information.
When the user move the mouse over the "icon" version (or use a shortcut), the "regular" one is displayed.

The layout idea is a good idea but it may be difficult to think of really usable variations of the same GUI. Maybe a beta-test of the game with various players can give enough ideas of what to propose.

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A lot of AAA games are developed with consoles as the lead platform. So the static GUIs are often ported directly to the PC leaving a less than efficient experience for the player. That said, game genres like FPS and fighting games don't usually need more than buttons and sliders for either platform.

MMO/RPG are probably the last bastion for configurable GUIs. Although it's nice to have them, I don't mind if they're not movable/sizable as long the layout still works.

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Quote:
Original post by alfith
I prefer when I can move the various components of the GUI where I want them. A good point is to be able to hide them independently.
The resize should not be necessary unless the GUI is not well designed: for example, an inventory should not show a fixed number of 4 items at a time when a regular player usually carry 50 items.
And if be resize you meant "show the same data but on a smaller or bigger area of the screen", I prefer when the size is a fixed [intelligent] ratio of the screen size. Things can become very small with current screen resolutions. And if you can hide/move them, there is no problem.
An idea is to make 2 versions of each item:
- the "regular" version with every information on it,
- an "icon" version with only 2 to 4 critical information.
When the user move the mouse over the "icon" version (or use a shortcut), the "regular" one is displayed.

The layout idea is a good idea but it may be difficult to think of really usable variations of the same GUI. Maybe a beta-test of the game with various players can give enough ideas of what to propose.


Yea, by sizing I meant resizing the window (like you would in Windows), not scaling the content for view-ratio. With the exception of a chat window, I don't see why you would need to resize a window.

I like the idea of 2 versions; kind of like a tool-tip or pop-out style controls. I'll have to remember that; thanks!


Quote:
Original post by Jack Sotac
A lot of AAA games are developed with consoles as the lead platform. So the static GUIs are often ported directly to the PC leaving a less than efficient experience for the player. That said, game genres like FPS and fighting games don't usually need more than buttons and sliders for either platform.

MMO/RPG are probably the last bastion for configurable GUIs. Although it's nice to have them, I don't mind if they're not movable/sizable as long the layout still works.

I hadn't thought about the console thing. I guess either way, if you use a static UI you can port with less problems.



I've been thinking about it, and I can't really say where I stand. I guess it depends on the type of game and how it is handle. For instance, I hate not being able to move my windows in WoW, but that's because they block my view. However, in games like Oblivion I don't mind it because it covers the whole screen and the gameplay stops.) Then there are games like Baldur's Gate; it's similiar to Oblivion in that it covers the screen and stops gameplay, but I'd prefer it have an interface similiar to WoW's.

As always, it' comes down to the game. If I build a simple, yet flexible UI solution, I can use it for either situation and be happy, right? RIGHT?

Thanks for the input guys!

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when it comes to games, I prefer simple to complex.

In that respect I find the way that the UI in Guild Wars is implemented the best. Some elements are dynamic in size, others are static. But through an ingame configuration option you can still toggle, resize and position most if not all of the static elements to your taste, which you will usually do just once. It has that "don't nag me unless I want you to nag me!" kind of deal going on, and that is exactly what I like in an UI; it doesn't get in my way and still provides me the bells and whistles I need.

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Quote:
Original post by gimbal_
when it comes to games, I prefer simple to complex.

In that respect I find the way that the UI in Guild Wars is implemented the best. Some elements are dynamic in size, others are static. But through an ingame configuration option you can still toggle, resize and position most if not all of the static elements to your taste, which you will usually do just once. It has that "don't nag me unless I want you to nag me!" kind of deal going on, and that is exactly what I like in an UI; it doesn't get in my way and still provides me the bells and whistles I need.


Lol, this is actually similar to how I have thought about implementing it. The UI system would have a dynamic "Lock UI" option which will lock the UI where it is (you can still show/hide them obviously.) This way, you can unlock it and change things to how you want them and then relock it. The only issue I can think of is something like an action bar, where you'd want to be able to lock/unlock it manually. I'll check out Guild Wars too see how they handle their UI. Thank you very much for the input!

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