Battle UI Tweaks, Main Menu Is Next

I think I've just about wrapped-up the changes to the battle UI today.

As I mentioned yesterday, it's not a complete overhaul. However, there were a few issues worth patching-up while I was in there working on 1024 layouts for everything. Here's the update:

IMAGE( Going for a jog in the park...with a dogman.

As you can see, still pretty much the same UI. I mainly changed the hex info and target info UI. The hex now uses the same weather and time indicator that the main map received yesterday. Rolling over that gives more detailed info. This allowed me to remove the text below the hex for weather and time of day.

And each creature's "last move" now sits alongside a sprite for the relevant target. Previously, it said "vs. monster name" alongside the move, and this was not only slower to interpret, but it often broke the bounds of the UI. The new sprite should make it clearer which specific target each creature last targeted, especially if they had similar names (e.g. "strangers").

I still need to verify one more thing: next and previous target UI. (Not shown here.) But I think I'm ready to move on to my next task, which is a new main menu layout/UI.

The current main menu has the game logo, start and continue buttons, resolution options, mute, and a few other things. It gets most things done in a spartan way, but it can also be a bit clunky. The layout here is a bit unusual, and not like most games.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that it only lists 4 resolution buttons, which leads many new users to think the game only works in those screen sizes. Usually, some experimenting reveals that they can fullscreen, stretch the screen, and filter/zoom in different ways. However, I still get support requests for some resolutions which might be helped if the user could just click a button to get the recommended settings for their desired screen size.

So I'm thinking I'm going to remove all the graphics and audio options from the main menu, and add an "Options" button on there, like most games have. On the options screen, the user will be able to select "canned" resolutions, which will try to choose the best combo of base resolution plus stretch/no-stretch to fit that size. Then, the user can manually override the settings as desired.

I'd also like to add a framerate chooser on this page, to see if that helps users with lower-end machines. The current 60fps rate can be pretty brutal on some older PCs. If I can figure out a way to change fps on the fly, this could reduce CPU usage.

I'll probably also expose the volume and mute buttons on this screen. Currently, the -/+ keys will adjust volume, and 0 will toggle mute, but few know that since it's not obvious. If I can, I'd like to make separate settings for sound effect, music, and master volume.

I'd also like to see about making sure there's some graphics options "reset" button near the middle of the screen, for cases where people launch the game in a larger resolution than their current window/screen supports. This should hopefully reduce the number of "can't see anything, but I hear music" bugs reported.

Malacodor did some great work compiling a how to manual for playing NEO Scavenger, based on the wiki, and I'd like to add a link to this somewhere, too. I already have a help screen which summarizes controls, but I'll see if I can figure out a way to include this manual and a link to the wiki, too.

Finally, there are still some kinks in the graphics options which need sorting out. Things like settings not being saved, auto-switching resolution when scaling the window, and some options not staying when switching to and from fullscreen. I'm not sure if these can all be fixed, but I want to at least try.

It's still quite a bit of work to do, but these are the kind of "quality of life" (or usability) enhancements that I think will really improve user experiences. Looking forward to having them!


Rovlad's picture

With the new combat UI, the flipped icons for enemy movement don't make sense anymore.
Look at your screenshot: it now looks like dogman is running away from the player sprite.
Either way, I'd really prefer them to be consistent rather than arguably easier to read (I'd say it's more confusing than helpful).
I also see no reason to remove the text saying "Player" under the sprite on the right side. It's still on the left one, why can't it be on the right one? What if the player is decked out in full DMC guard gear and fights a dogman and another DMC guard? Then it'd be difficult to recognize who the dogman is moving against. Yes, there is a green glow around the player sprite, but it might not be as apparent to new players. I think text works much better there.

dcfedor's picture

That's a good point, Rovlad. I didn't think of the icon-flipping in this new context. I'll go switch the enemy icon back to normal orientation, so it looks like it's going toward or away from the target sprite. (BTW, this will be for all resolutions, so they should be consistent.) Good catch!

As for the name below the target sprite, it's technically possible to add it, but there are some gotchas. For one thing, the space below the target icon fills up with some longer weapon names (e.g. rifles, bows, etc.), and would collide with the target text. And while you're right that some targets might look similar when sprites are used, that's not really worse than targets that share the same name (e.g. which stranger? Or which DMC guard?). And in practice, there is a higher probability that two NPCs will look different due to clothes/weapon differences than name differences.

Ultimately, this UI needs a more serious review, and I hope to address that in the future. Just waiting for the right time!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Rovlad's picture

I'll have to admit that I haven't played the game in quite a while, so I'm sure the flipped icons make more sense with a current UI layout, but I always preferred consistency in this regard. Especially when you have moves which are opposite by design (advancing/retreating) and are depictured by flipped icons, it doesn't make much sense to flip them yet again to add to the confusion. Moreover, moving to the right in 2D perspective means moving forward for most people, it's just how left-to-right readers' mind works.
I'll also admit you're right about the second point. Green glow around the player character sprite should suffice. Maybe you could show the name in a tooltip on a mouseover of a target sprite, though? It's not really a big deal anyway, considering there is a combat log. I might very well be overthinking things.