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What should a GUI for an RPG consist of?

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Should I make it access every function in the game or should I keep game options seperate. I know it has to be able to show every part of the users status, but should the style be menus, fullscreen, font type, etc? Also should it be done in Window with GDI or with Direct X. Umm...

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(IMO) The fewer use of world-external systems, the better. If you can replace the functions of life meters, hit points, inventory lists, etc... with in-context indicators at the same or near level of efficiency, go for it. This amounts to literal wounded images of characters (I.E. Doom), and realtime inventory. Also intersting, real-time inventory is ver realistic, no carrying 2000 pounds of gold on your person...

But if you are any kind of traditionalist, you will simply ignore my opinion.

This post was brought to you by the letter "Land", and the number "Fish!"

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Guest Anonymous Poster
list every possible thing you can imagine (including things from other genres) and then just go down the list and see if you need it. Don''t decide whether you''re going to have a big interface or something minimal, just include exactly what you need and don''t even consider how much screen space it takes. Leaving something out forces the player to go to unnecessary sub menues constantly. Adding something extra in just wastes screen space that could be spent on the main view or making another component better.

Ok now for my opinion. Personally I think the bottom 1/4 of the screen is about right. Put the interface on the bottom, if you need more room put some of it on one side. The bottom is best because it makes it horizontal. People are used to looking at horizontal things because we read horizontally. It will be easier to scan across that way.

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I have one disagreement with the anonymous poster. I think that an interface along the side can be better than one across the bottom in many cases. My main reason for saying this is the fact that it can give you a square viewable area for the game map.

Of course, it seems like most games are perfectly happy with an interface across the bottom. This can work just fine for isometric games (where the ''depth'' gives the illusion of more vertical room) and for side scrolling games where seeing to the sides is much more important than above and below.

Anyway, those are just MY thoughts on the subject.

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I just thought of something my strange illustrator friend would want to add to this, so I will speak for him;

Break the stranglehold of quadrangles on our society! Use circles. Don''t be a slave to the square frame!

(Me again)
There''s actually something to this. Try more rounded or othersuch strange shapes. You might even make the menu a reversed "L" shape with a curve on the inside. That way, you still have a large, relatively rectagonal viewing space with an interesting bending kinda thing. Come to think of it, I should use that myself!

This post was brought to you by the letter "Land", and the number "Fish!"

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Landfish,
Wow...circles...never thought of that

I see that you surround yourself w/ ppl that are as unconventional as you are. I respect that

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I''m making a big "L" with a curve on the inside.
It is reverse though(this way _/ ).
I had seen it once in a game(don''t remember which) and thought it was really cool.But i see other people too have played the game.
Oh well...
But i don''t think circles would help the interface cause it is not convinient since th SCREEN is a quadrangle.
Maybe solutions of "L"-kind would be the most appropriate.
Voodoo4

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How about a transparent GUI or animating GUI. So when you click on a feature it changes into the next feature. Consider also the fact that a player can only click on one thing at a time. Also a GUI should only display 2 types of data. The first type is the data/icons required are the status icons e.g. Health, map, mana (Status Data). The second type is input (Input Data). So you have two different sets of icons, one for the info the other for input. The next trick is to design icons that explain themselves.

Or how about this for an idea, the icon that represents things such as inventory, change. This is kind of merging Input and Display icon together. As your inventory fills up then your inventory icon displays this change (like a red bar over the inventory icon that fills up). This (icon animation) helps make more space on the GUI and reduces the amount of clicking between screens.

Animation is the Key! [Finger pointed to the sky with look of bemusement]

Paul C

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Naz, actually that particular kid is WAY more unconventional than I am... but you''re right, I guess. =)

As for Voodoo: Don''t give in to the seduction of the quadrangle! Sure, it seems easier, but soon you will find that all you use is quadrangles, and you''ll be hooked, heavy as lead! Since your screen already has a converse curve, try making individual fields circular! That creates more open space, which is good for design interfaces. Oh yeah! Make open space in your guis! Crucial design technique. The user''s eye loves open space! Makes stuff easier to pick out!

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I think that you shoudl also look into having hotkeys for your menus, so the player can get to them quickly in the heat of battle.

You can maybe have the really common menus on the sidebar, and the less comonly used, more detailed ones can be accessed from those ones.



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How about preseting your character to use an item. This way when you''re in the heat of battle you don''t have to worry about "ooops there goes another mana bottle, and another damn where''s the health, oh i''ve used them all up" situations.

This could be part of the character generation too. i.e.

Use health potion when health reaches "X" [player inputs X]
Use mana potion when mana reaches "X" [player inputs X]

This would cut down the size of the gui and the amount of time the player has to access it. You could have warnings so the player knows they are running out of potions. Why? beacause in the normal system of "do it yourself" you a more likely to notice your health potions running out.

- If lifes a bitch then game designings a rabid dog ;-)

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Or you could just design a system that doesn''t rely on consatant inventory of your material posessions... hmmm. =)

Mr. Cunningham, I enjoy your input, but it looks like we''re gonna be at odds on many things. So I want to tell you right now, I don''t dislike you personally. In fact, I love people with opposing viewpoints. Ask Kylotan! Keep saying stuff I can deconstruct! I need you!

This post was brought to you by the letter "Land", and the number "Fish!"

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Hmm, I was just going to disagree with Landfish anyway, when I saw this:

quote:
Original post by Landfish

Mr. Cunningham, I enjoy your input, but it looks like we''re gonna be at odds on many things. So I want to tell you right now, I don''t dislike you personally. In fact, I love people with opposing viewpoints. Ask Kylotan! Keep saying stuff I can deconstruct! I need you!


Hey, less of the ''love'' stuff Do you have a sister?

This statement: "Break the stranglehold of quadrangles on our society! Use circles. Don''t be a slave to the square frame! " obviously comes from someone who''s never had to do any collision detection Detecting whether you clicked in a rectangle is easy. Doing the same for a circle or ellipse is not so easy.

And this one: "That creates more open space, which is good for design interfaces." Open space is dead space. If you use shapes that don''t tesselate, you''re gonna need a larger amount of the limited screen space to get the same amount of stuff on there. The reason many interfaces are a little cluttered is not because they don''t use open space well enough, but because they need to get a hell of a lot of things in a small area. Sure, open space is useful in grouping certain elements together, in reducing clutter, etc, but it can also be a very bad thing. Look at Icq99 compared to Icq98 for a prime example. They added a few buttons in seemingly random places and the result is large blocks of useless window space that serve no purpose but to obscure my desktop below, which is a hassle.

That presents one partial solution: make your interface transparent so that only the essentials are on top, and you can see the ''game'' between the buttons. I like floating icons on top of a full-screen game, where clicking that icon would produce some sort of overlay (preferably translucent if the game is in real time).

I think that there could be more innovative interfaces, than the simple menu/toolbar concepts. I''m thinking in terms of design rather than appearance. The journal in Lands of Lore 3, for example, unites many different aspects together under one concept.

As to the original question... note down all the things you think you need a player to do. Separate them out into ''In-game'' (eg. check inventory, wear equipment, see stats) and ''Out-of-game'' (change video mode, sound volume, mouse sensitivity). Then consider presenting them in different ways, such as having in-game stuff accessible from on-screen icons and out-of-game stuff accessible from a menu when you press Escape. Or, just have 1 menu item or icon that takes you to a second ''out-of-game'' menu. Keyboard macros to access common commands are handy too. Even better if you can redefine them yourself.

Your font usage is really up to you. It depends on your game. And as for GDI or DirectX, you really need to work with whatever you are comfortable with.

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Seeing if you clicked inside a circle is EASY !!!!
    
float distance = sqrt((mouseX-circleCenterX)^2+(mouseY-circleCenterY)^2));
if (distance < circleRadius)
youClickedInsideTheCircle();

there is an equation for a elipse too (I don''t remeber it right offhand) but you can use it to figure out if you clicked inside an ellipse


"Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time"
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
themGames Productions

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Kylotan, I was speaking in graphic design terms, not technical design. The user''s eye enjoys what visual designers call "white space", though it is always white. This is the first thing they will teach you in most visual design courses.

Kylotan, (unless I am mistaken) you are a programmer. What you look for in an interace is extremely efficient compared to the average consumer. That''s fine, but know that just becase YOU use it, does not mean it is the best thing for the player.

Ideally, you could allow the player to control things such as menu density, color, and possibly even shape. That would appeal to the most people possible.

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Briefly,

quote:

Mr. Cunningham, I enjoy your input, but it looks like we''re gonna be at odds on many things. So I want to tell you right now, I don''t dislike you personally. In fact, I love people with opposing viewpoints. Ask Kylotan! Keep saying stuff I can deconstruct! I need you!



I speak my mind because i believe what i''m saying. If you can prove me wrong then i have learnt something and you haven''t. ;-)

Call me a smart arse and i''ll tell you that''s it''s only because i don''t have enough room in my head for it all.





WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"

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quote:
Original post by Landfish

(IMO) The fewer use of world-external systems, the better. If you can replace the functions of life meters, hit points, inventory lists, etc... with in-context indicators at the same or near level of efficiency, go for it. This amounts to literal wounded images of characters (I.E. Doom), and realtime inventory. Also intersting, real-time inventory is ver realistic, no carrying 2000 pounds of gold on your person...

But if you are any kind of traditionalist, you will simply ignore my opinion.

This post was brought to you by the letter "Land", and the number "Fish!"


Traditionalist? I think all of those ideas have been shown in way or another(Real-time inventory in D/DII, Carry limit in Fallout, graphical emitters in almost every game), so that''s for being traditionalist.

Now to my opinion:

I think RPGS GUI should be very simple. Everything should be maximally behind two clicks and key-combos are nice. The look should be same style with game''s athomosphere. Futuristic look for futuristic game and fantasy look for fantasy game. It''s probably good way to use emitters, pictres or bars for every critical stats. Also I like parser like thing which tells you what you are doing and shows all descriptions. Like output textbox which tells player what he has done. That output textbox can be replaced with very good graphical clearless. Like replacing texts "Goblin is hit for 12 points to head" with animation where 12 meter blood shower bursts out goblins head.

Time comes, time goes and I only am.

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quote:
Original post by ncsu121978

Seeing if you clicked inside a circle is EASY !!!!


(formula snipped)

Yes, I know that is easy if you know it, but bear in mind that a lot of the people who are doing RPGs are doing so cos they don''t want to have to deal with trigonometry, otherwise they''d be doing SameOle3DEngine #435435

Not that I am insulting the original poster here, just making a nice unquantified generalization Given how few people seem to even know what a linked list is, I''m guessing even fewer know Pythagoras'' Theorem

Of course, as you said, it''s not quite so simple for ellipses (not that much harder, either, but certainly not obvious).

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quote:
Original post by Landfish

Kylotan, I was speaking in graphic design terms, not technical design. The user''s eye enjoys what visual designers call "white space", though it is always white. This is the first thing they will teach you in most visual design courses.


I was pretty much aiming at the middle ground. The computer screen is a strange hybrid as although it needs to be aesthetically pleasing for us to look at, it''s also a tool and needs to be efficient, which in this case means making the best use of space.

quote:
Kylotan, (unless I am mistaken) you are a programmer.

That is my given job description. However, I just seem to spend all day posting on gamedev.net. But I digress...

quote:
What you look for in an interace is extremely efficient compared to the average consumer. That''s fine, but know that just becase YOU use it, does not mean it is the best thing for the player.


Well, no. But I am a consumer too, even if not an average one if there''s too little on the screen, you have to remember menus and submenus, which is awkward. And if there''s too much on the screen, you lose a lot of your workspace/playing area, and have so many menus/icons/buttons that you probably don''t know what they all do anyway.

The other tradeoff, is that if it looks crap, no-one will play, but if it looks great but is unplayable cos the interface is too sparse, it''ll be hard to play.

quote:

Ideally, you could allow the player to control things such as menu density, color, and possibly even shape. That would appeal to the most people possible.


I think this sort of thing isn''t so important, given that you don''t tend to spend much time looking at the menus. In a largely menu-driven game though, it makes sense. But, this -all- depends on the chosen interface. Some games will lend themselves to just a few things onscreen: in this case, nice circles and ellipses will look good. For example, the big vials of mana and blood on Diablo are elegant. But if you -need- a lot of stuff onscreen (and if you do, consider your design carefully) then rectangles are probably best.

One thing sadly lacking from games, is the ability to customize a toolbar like you can in many applications. You could choose your own shortcuts to within the menu structure then.

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quote:


One thing sadly lacking from games, is the ability to customize a toolbar like you can in many applications. You could choose your own shortcuts to within the menu structure then.



Most people probably want it all set up for them. They don''t wan''t to have to worry about this stuff. Application have this element because it suits that type of software. It doesn''t suit game.

It''s just lazy game design if the player has to set up all these systems. It would probably only be attractive to hardcore CRPG gamers and a few them at that.

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quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham

Most people probably want it all set up for them. They don''t wan''t to have to worry about this stuff. Application have this element because it suits that type of software. It doesn''t suit game.

It''s just lazy game design if the player has to set up all these systems. It would probably only be attractive to hardcore CRPG gamers and a few them at that.


Umm, i think you are missing the point. That''s like saying giving the players the option to redefine/rebind the keys is bad game design. It''s an -option-. They don''t have to spend time setting it up in the first place. But if and when they feel like it, they can remove or add extra buttons.

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To put all posts in a nutshell:

The GUI of a RPG should be simple to access, easy to handle, nice to look, but very informative...sounds easy, huh ?
Landfish was right. Every non-rectangular shape has a certain attraction...it looks better, don't know why. But if you make a "rounder" menu, you should be aware not to waste too much space of the screen for the shape!
Just try to find an intermediate way between efficient menu and nice-looking menu ...

How to do the easy handling? Well, you'll know what actionpoints are, i guess ...
Try to imagine an actionpoint-system behind the menu(s).
Very important actions should be accessible through 2 actionpoints, less important actions should be accessible through 3 actionpoints. Take a mouse drag, a mouse click, a mouse double-click or a keyboard input as one actionpoint...

How to make it informative? Well, that's your turn ...
That depends on the RPG you would like to make. In a Diable-Style hack&slash game you won't need stats like "Charisma" and so on...but in an Ultima-Style game "Charisma" is necessary...

As to the handling of food/mana/healingflasks and so on:

I aestimate you allow a whole party to walk around, not only one single character...I won't make the use of healingflasks automatical...I would rather insert a button into the status bar for example that says "Heal (selected) wounded party members" (put it into a self-describing sprite ), and next to the item should be a number indicating the available healing resources and the needed ones. Did you get the idea?
Then you can implement another item saying "Restore Mana" and so on...
Only to make sure I explained it very well, I'll describe a "sample scene" now ...:

After a fight, three of your comrades are heavily wounded. You want to heal them, but you don't find the healing flasks in the inventory. You don't want to search for them, so you simply select 2 of the members (because the item says you have only 2 flasks left) you want to heal and press the item on the bottom of the screen -e voilà- the selected members are healed and the two flasks are spent!
You have two mages in your party and you want to restore their mana level. So if you don't select one, the routine behind the "Restore Mana" item should auto-select all mages/wizards and other classes using mana and should restore their level using the resources available.

So, I know that's pretty much, but I hope you can use that anyways

Yours,

Indeterminatus

--consuetudo est quasi altera natura hominum...

Edited by - Indeterminatus on June 27, 2000 11:24:30 AM

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