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UI Improvement Suggestions Thread

PeccaPecca Member Posts: 1,835
edited August 2016 in UI Discussion and Workshop
I've seen some posts on the forum asking for a general thread to express people's problems with the current state of game's user interface and suggestions about how to make it better. So here it is. Feel free to describe any issue you have with the UI and say what solution you'd like to see.

Edit: As the discussion went forward, some specific topics were split from the main thread:
Record Screen
Dialogue Window
UI Skin
Inventory Screen
Worldmap

I'll start with a rather extensive list of things I've gathered so far.

Area map
-Introduce an option to disable zoom animation in order to smoothen the gameplay. Previously it was possible to use the map screen to shift to another location on map in just about a second, now the time is unnecessarily prolongued.

Worldmap
-First out of two times in this post I'll say turn it back as it was pre 2.0. The extra text clutters the screen, traveling became clumsier. There is also no way to know travel times to unnamed areas.
-Plus, when the worldmap area is stretched by modding, it creates a scrollable gap underneath, which of course shouldn't be there.

Journal
-Finished and unfinished quests are very badly unrecognisable from each other, use another color (like black) for the finished quests headings.
-Introduce filters to show only finished or unfinished quests.
-All in all, do everything what Mr2150 did with his journal mod, he pretty much perfected it.
-And more than that, introduce an option to have a center based modal journal, which would act like other screens (and pre v2.0 journal) for those who prefer that rather than one sitting in the corner of the screen.

Inventory
-A large portion of the inventory graphics shifting everytime an item is picked up to show item comparison is very distracting and rather clumsy. Use available space to just change the text, like in this photoshop mockup:

-Introduce an option to turn the yellow portrait hightlight suggestion off for those who find it too distracting (currently it's not possible to disable even by modding).

Spell screens
-Introduce a toggle that would shift between a list of know spells and icon based group of known spells (as in pre v2.0) for players to choose their preference.
-Display memorized spells in order in which they have been memorized, instead of alphabetical order, which makes the spell management more confusing.
-In the list of known spells, introduce a fitting graphics for selected spell instead of the red shade. It looks inappropriate on a "paper" background.
-Reintroduce arrows that shift between spell levels (next to the spell level buttons is an appropriate space).
-There is no need for two similar labels "mage spells" and "mage book" just for the sake of contingency, it looks odd. Replace the "mage book" string with character name, keep the contingency string.
-Memorizing spells from the list is confusing. Either explain clearly in the rightside tooltip, that spell icon, not the text, needs to be pressed or make the spell description display on hovering over the spell and have the text memorize the spell too. Now you can get rid of the memorize button. (this must happen for icon based group of known spells anyway)

Escape menu
-Make the logo change depending on the campaign.

Store screen
-Make it centered for heavens sake!!
-Allow escape to close the store screen.

Dialog window
-The second time I'll say revert it back to the pre v2.0 state. If the idea behind the change was to allow the height to be stretched for longer dialog texts, I can only say it is absolutely not worth loosing the ability to conveniently go through the log history with just a scrollbar. That functionality is being gravely missed.
-Introduce an option to turn off spacebar advancing the dialog.

Main menu
-Introduce SoD style main menu into non-SoD games, namely the option to continue the last save, load game, new game and shift between campaigns all from the first screen.

Character Generation
-Change the way custom portraits are selected. There are many ways, just pick one that displays more than one portrait at the time. Currently, having more than a dozen custom portraits makes it a real pain to choose.
-Introduce button graphics to the lists of elements instead of the red shade. It will look better.

Load screen
-(this is not exactly UI related but still) If possible, introduce the option to select a number of quick saves. Also make the chapter saves optional.

Record screen
-In all other cases I have a pretty solid vision of how the UI should look, except this one, so I'll present a possible vision, rather than suggestion.
-First thing though, unite the design (mainly in SoD case, but BG2EE graphic is kinda out of place too). Dragon heads look cool, but either give the edges to all other ingame windows, or none. Otherwise the UI gives a non compact feeling.
-Now, the problem at first sight is that there are too many buttons at too many places (plus "abilities" and "stats" being rather improperly named). Also the space for status effects is way too small. Overall it looks chaotic.
-On this screen, it is especially important to save space and use it modestly and intelligently, since we want to show much information at the same time and in orderly fashion, so it must not confusing for the player.
-So for the vision - two big lists with information contained in collapsible paragraphs based loosely on the old familiar (pre v2.0) design:

-Those paragraphs can be collapsed to make more space for information below them (kinda like the journal works now). Ideally it should be possible to customize which paragraphs would be collapsed by default.
-Some of these paragraphs would also have a button to show more information (double arrow). That would substitute the tab buttons. Double arrows would also collapse all other paragraphs to make a clear space for the desired information.
Anyway, I don't actually know if it's possible to have many expandable/collapsible paragraphs (and with button graphics) inside one list of items, so this is just an idea. But I would recommend to keep a design familiarity with the old record screens.

So, this is my input about what I think would help to percieve the UI more positively overall.

P.S. All pictures here are only rough photoshop mockups to serve as an inspiration.

Edit: fixed typos, added another worldmap bug.
Post edited by Pecca on
KamigoroshiMr2150dibDeesarevok57mf2112argent77RavenslightlefreutShandyrDoubledimasBillyYankAedanswitKilivitzJuliusBorisovCrevsDaakineth
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Comments

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 2,928
    I agree with so many of these points, especially the things that slow down gameplay need to be taken out ( like your area map solution)

    and also, the inventory, why oh why, did they add unnecessary lag to it? every time you pick up an item in the inventory screen you have to at least wait a full second before you can drop it again, ( and this is at 60 fps, couldn't imagine how much a nightmare this would be at 30) so they need to get rid of that unnecessary lag, some complaints people have about bg is the inventory management, and now it is even worse when trying to move items through it, its almost so bad I don't even want to play the EE's anymore because of it

    speaking of inventory, lets talk about selling stuff, every time you go to sell something, why did they make it so if you have a stack of something it sells ONE AT A TIME, this is a colossal pain in the bunions, because EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to sell a stacked item, you have to double click it first and then press okay, unnecessary button pressing for nothing, 100 times out of 100, if you are selling stuff, and its a stack of more than one you want to sell the whole stack, if you didn't you would give a stack to someone else, so this "double clicking on stacks to sell the whole stack" garbage really needs to go

    so if they could fix those 2 options, then I would be content, although I like your map idea as well Pecca, but the inventory thing, is driving me banana sandwich and if I could I would play this game at 120 fps, and when im forced to wait half a second for nothing, my brain neurons start exploding
  • argent77argent77 Member Posts: 1,793
    Very good list. I agree with most of these points. Especially the lack of proper keyboard support is seriously missed, like pressing ENTER to accept stack selections and other input dialogs, or as already mentioned, closing various screens via ESC.
    sarevok57JuliusBorisov
  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 2,928
    argent77 said:

    Very good list. I agree with most of these points. Especially the lack of proper keyboard support is seriously missed, like pressing ENTER to accept stack selections and other input dialogs, or as already mentioned, closing various screens via ESC.

    yeah, I don't know why they got rid of the "ENTER" key function, it was quick and easy, I actually hate using ESC because its aaaaaaaaaaall the way across the keyboard, they should have left ENTER alone

    another one of those "fixing things that aren't broken" sort of deals

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,472
    Some good suggestions, I think.

    I would certainly second the suggestion to revert the dialog window back to the pre v2.0 state. This one is a deal breaker for me.

    I would also like to add that I think the artwork and the colors used for the UI should be consistent with what was used in the original games. If this was suppose to “bridge” the gap between BG and BGII, why was it made to stick out like a sore thumb? The overuse of dark colors and black in the SoD UI is especially unpleasant to try to look at for any period of time. I find it downright depressing.
    markzakuJairyanna
  • ajwzajwz Member Posts: 4,107
    My suggestion:
    When playing BG:EE using the new SoD UI, The scrolling text chapter screens (for example travelling to werewolf island) should not use the older Blue UI
    Also scroll speed with mouse should be much more sensitive at higher settings. It's still slower than its keyboard scrolling equivelent
    argent77JuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • argent77argent77 Member Posts: 1,793
    ajwz said:

    Also scroll speed with mouse should be much more sensitive at higher settings. It's still slower than its keyboard scrolling equivelent

    That's a major issue for me as well. The map scroll speed was still alright in v2.1. I don't know why they reduced it so drastically in more recent patch versions.
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,433
    That issue's actually been reported as a bug: http://support.baldursgate.com/issues/23460

    The chapter screen thing sounds like a bug, if it's what it sounds like. I would go ahead and report that on Redmine. Same thing with any screen that used to have Esc/Enter functionality but doesn't anymore. Those are all separate issues and will need to be fixed separately, but making sure they're reported is the first step to fixing them.

    On a broader note, this thread is a great idea; thanks to @Pecca for starting things off! Have a Promote.

    I don't want to tell people how to discuss or offer feedback, but part of the difficulty in filtering through the feedback so far has been that it frequently bleeds over into ranting (Why would they ruin this feature on purpose? The answer is usually, "Obviously we didn't ruin it on purpose.") and hyperbole (I can't believe they took the perfection that was the old way and replaced it with this pig slop of a Record screen! This effectively conveys that you liked the old way and that you don't like the new way, but doesn't give us any useful information beyond that).

    While both of those things are healthy things to do, and I don't want to discourage them, I would recommend formatting specific requests (like what seems to be the purpose of this thread) in a way that makes it clear what you're suggesting and why. Bullet points help; headings help even more. (@Pecca's post at the top, for instance, is super easy to sift through, which means I'm more likely to read his suggestions in greater detail.)

    So I'll say again what I've said in other threads: If you don't like something in the UI and you want to propose an alternative or an improvement, take a few minutes to think about what specific thing it is you don't like, and why.

    If you can articulate that, not only will you help us better understand what needs to be changed, but you'll also develop a better understanding for yourself of what it is you're looking for in a game's interface. You may discover that the things you're looking for are also missing from other games--or you may find that they exist in games you hadn't tried before, which might be worth playing. Everybody wins!
    mf2112PeccakanisathaJuliusBorisov
  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 1,835
    I noticed that the inventory lag has always been specific (I guess hardware specific). Some people never had a problem, some had and was fixed for them and some appearently still have it. So it's definitely worth further investigating. I had a serious problem with it after the first v2.0 patch, but after the last patch, it works fine, I don't notice a lag anymore.

    About the lost ESC and ENTER shortcuts for various screens, we should put together a list of screens that lack this I think. The store screen was the only one I could think of from the top of my head. The next would be the level-up screen, which needs a bug to be fixed before it can happen though. Another is the ground container. Those three should be able to be closed by ESC. I never actually used enter so I don't know which screen should have it.
  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 2,928
    Pecca said:

    I noticed that the inventory lag has always been specific (I guess hardware specific). Some people never had a problem, some had and was fixed for them and some appearently still have it. So it's definitely worth further investigating. I had a serious problem with it after the first v2.0 patch, but after the last patch, it works fine, I don't notice a lag anymore.

    About the lost ESC and ENTER shortcuts for various screens, we should put together a list of screens that lack this I think. The store screen was the only one I could think of from the top of my head. The next would be the level-up screen, which needs a bug to be fixed before it can happen though. Another is the ground container. Those three should be able to be closed by ESC. I never actually used enter so I don't know which screen should have it.

    basically any screen that had a "done" tab was closable by pressing ENTER

  • argent77argent77 Member Posts: 1,793
    I've listed the bug reports regarding keyboard shortcuts:
    • Pressing Enter on the "Choose Amount" dialog should work: Link
    • Container screens should provide proper keyboard support: Link 1 Link 2
    • Store screens should provide proper keyboard support: Link 1 Link 2 Link 3
    • "Import Character" in "New Game" screen should provide proper keyboard support: Link
    • "Save Game" screen should provide proper keyboard support: Link
    • "Load Game" screen should provide proper keyboard support: Link
    • Remove dialog skipping functionality from the Space key: Link
    • Pressing the number key associated with an empty character slot should not select character 1: Link 1 Link 2
    Peccamf2112JuliusBorisov
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    I think there needs to be some kind of standardisation across the whole UI in that respect.

    Pressing Enter is 'confirm', 'ok', 'next', 'done', etc - the positive response
    Pressing Escape is 'cancel', 'no', 'back', etc - the negative response
    Peccadunbarsarevok57JuliusBorisov
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    I'd like a better way to manage inventories between my party:

    The existing shop screen setup could be used (if it were bigger, so it showed all 16 slots) and you simply select which character you want on the left, which you want on the right...
    ineth
  • dunbardunbar Member Posts: 1,124
    Can't you just 'click and drag' the item to the recipient's portrait like you do in 1.3?
    Ravenslight
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    Yes - but how long does that take if I want to transfer 10 items from character 1 to character 3 and 5 items from character 3 back to character 1? How many clicks and drags is that? Too many. Also - for the people complaining about inventory lag (something I've not experienced myself) it must multiply the time taken...

    This thread isn't what did 1.3 do better than 2.0+ it's what improvements would you like to see...
    dibsarevok57
  • dunbardunbar Member Posts: 1,124
    I was simply asking the question because that wasn't something I'd tried to do in 2.x and I don't have it installed anymore so I couldn't find out for myself.
  • ThelsThels Member Posts: 911
    @Mr2150: You can improve it a little bit with keyboard support. Move items from character 1 to character 3? Press 1, pick up item, press 3, drop item, press 1, pick up item, press 3, drop item, etc...

    Not exactly what you're asking for, but offered as a bandaid.

    As for your idea itself, how would you recommend opening this NPC to NPC interface? I think it's tricky to implement this in an intuitive way.
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    @dunbar - no worries, and apologies, it just concerns me that any discussion of the UI seems to turn into 1.3 vs 2.0, and I don't believe that's the intention of this thread.

    @Thels - yeah, that's a good suggestion as a band aid...

    On how to open the interface - it could be a button inside the inventory screen (maybe double-clicking the backpack), click it when in character x and it opens up the swap interface with character x on the left hand side.

    You then have the 6 portraits on the top of the screen and you right-click one to bring their inventory on to the right hand side. After that it works just like the shop/bag screen so you can transfer items back and forth... Why right-click? Because left-clicking when in this interface would change the current left-hand side inventory.

    So you start in character 1's standard inventory, double-click the backpack symbol, and it opens the swap inventory screen. Right-click portrait 3 and you can start swapping inventories between 1 and 3, left-click 2 and you can now swap between 2 and 3, right-click 5 and you can swap between 2 and 5....

    EDIT - Since left-click / right-click wouldn't work on tablets and phones maybe a solution of dragging the required inventory to each pane would be better (or could also be used)...
    Post edited by Mr2150 on
  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,472
    Why isn’t using what 1.3 did as an example of what you like and don’t like a valid way to explain it?

    I can totally understand why people who didn’t like things about the old UI are happy about the developers opening it up to all kinds of modifications. I am honestly happy for them.

    What I really don’t understand is this tendency I’m seeing for people who want these changes, to bash anyone who mentions the fact that they liked things the way they were.

    As popular as this game has remained, despite it’s age, do you really believe that everyone hated the old UI? I can assure that is not the case.

    You can only toss out so much of the old before you start loosing some of the feel of the old experience as well.

    For me, at this point it is starting to feel more like some modders personal realization of how they would like their game to look, rather than an “enhanced edition” of an old classic.

    I fully expected that there would be some changes made to the EE editions that I might not personally like. It is inevitable that when a new developer takes over they will bring in some changes that fit with their own vision.

    I personally didn’t like the use of blue in the 1.3 UI, rather than using the tones found in either of the original games. I said nothing. I didn’t like the changes they made to the way thieving works, or some of the decisions that were made to how some of the spells worked or the “rebalancing” of certain weapons. I could go on, but I won’t.

    I said nothing about these changes, accepted them all. But this new UI, as it stands now, is the final straw for me. It not only makes radical changes to the look and feel of the original games, it tosses them out the window.

    I think that the focus of this thread should be about opening up the possibility to mod whatever parts of the new UI there are that can’t currently be modded. At least this way there is the possibility for everyone to have something that they are comfortable with.

    Making such radical changes, then not allowing them to be modded, feels very unfair to me.
    Shandyrsarevok57
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170

    Why isn’t using what 1.3 did as an example of what you like and don’t like a valid way to explain it?

    ...

    I think that the focus of this thread should be about opening up the possibility to mod whatever parts of the new UI there are that can’t currently be modded. At least this way there is the possibility for everyone to have something that they are comfortable with.

    I'm not saying you can't compare 2.0 to 1.3, just that a discussion about the UI doesn't have to only be about that. There are plenty of threads that discuss that, Pecca was providing feedback and list of changes/improvements he'd like to see...

    I made a similar suggestion for something I think would improve things and the immediate response was 'it works the same way as it did in 1.3' ... well 1.3 isn't the only way of doing things... and maybe 1.3 and 2.0 both do it wrong.
  • BillyYankBillyYank Member Posts: 2,161
    With regards to the suggestion for an option to turn off the Chapter start saves, I'd also like to see an option to expand those saves. Right now, there's only one save per chapter for the whole game. If you have multiple runs going, when your second run reaches Chapter 3, it overwrites your first run's Chapter 3.

    Since we now have the main character's name on the saves (great idea, BTW), it would be nice if we could get: "Chapter 3 start - Michael" and "Chapter 3 start - Guilliem" so we could keep the full record of the run.
    Mr2150dunbarmf2112
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 2,601
    While I am one of those people that largely love the new UI, I have to agree the dialogue box is atrocious. One scrollbar is all that is needed, with the current implementation, I have actually been prevented from accesssing all the dialogue choices in several conversations. I had to hit number keys to select options completely from memory at times.
    Ravenslightsarevok57
  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 2,928

    While I am one of those people that largely love the new UI, I have to agree the dialogue box is atrocious. One scrollbar is all that is needed, with the current implementation, I have actually been prevented from accesssing all the dialogue choices in several conversations. I had to hit number keys to select options completely from memory at times.

    an example of this would be the Halfling guy in the elf song tavern

    ThacoBell
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 7,171
    edited August 2016
    Great thread idea.

    First thing I want to mention is, there have already been several instances of people giving very specific and reasonable suggestions on how to improve the UI, and I don't want them to be missed or demand that people repeat themselves. So @Dee please also consider this thread:
    https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/59771/rant-sad-state-of-the-ui-and-the-ees-in-general/p1

    Yes it's a bit rant-y, but if you sift through the rant there are, as I said, some nicely specific and reasonable points made.

    Second thing: my personal biggest gripe is with the dialog boxes. The top two boxes are very big and present largely duplicative information. I honestly don't see the added value of separating the dialog history from the current text.

    MUCH more importantly, the bottom "player response" box is only 1 to 1.5 lines high, even if there are 4 different possible responses. It's very hard to read, and the scroll bar controls are teensy-tiny mouse targets. I've literally had people report bugs on my mods because they did not see the extra player responses I included in dialogs.

    So: my suggestion is to merge the top two boxes, and give the player response box some room to breathe. Like really a lot of room to breathe. Why not?

    Third thing: the Record Screen.

    A lot of ink has been spilled about this, some of it not very nice. So let's stay focused and constructive and specific. I will refer people to @klatu's criticism which is in the post I linked above. The main points I'll emphasize are 1) five tabs with different information is too many, especially given some of them are very sparse; and 2) the "status effects" box is too small to do its job well.

    @Pecca here has some nice suggestions, and has done a lot of work modding the UI. I'll use his mockup in the first post as my starting point because it's very good, but (no offense) I don't think it gets the job done either. I'm on a phone and don't own photoshop anyway, so please bear with me as I try to use words to paint a picture:

    The center column is almost perfect, except this screen is a little talk. The box with "Male - Human - Ranger - Neutral Good" can be moved to the top left of the screen, and let's combine the first two lines to simply "Male Human." Yes, there will be space to the right of, but we will fill that soon.

    Having those left- and right-hand columns on either side of the picture is both functional and visually pleasing. But look at the Status Effects box: if you have 12 effects there, this design will be just as inefficient as the current tiny 2.3 box.

    So I suggest keeping those tabs across the top of the screen... but! only 3 of them. Here's how I would do it, using the boxes of information in Pecca's mockup.

    The left/hand column would be static. It would contain (starting at the top) the "Class" box, the "Abilities" box, and the "Status Effects" box. This column would always be visible on the left side of the screen. The bottom "Status Effects" box should be at least eight or so lines tall; it's okay to have some blank space at the bottom there.

    At the top of the screen would be three buttons, to the right of the sex/race/class/alignment box: "Combat Stats," "Skills & Abilities," and "Information." Clicking these buttons would change what is displayed in the right-hand column of the screen.

    Clicking "Combat Stats" would make the right-hand column display (from the top down): the "Combat Stats" box, the "Saving Throws" box, and the "Resistances" box. Importantly, this set of boxes should be the default display - every time you go to the record screen, this is what you should see. This is the information that is most important and most often needed - after the information in the static left-hand column.

    Clicking the "Skills & Abilities" button up top would make the right-hand column display: the "General Info" box, the "Skills" box, and the "Proficiencies" box.

    Clicking the "Information" button up top would the right-hand column display: the "Biography" box and the "Statisics" box. This is the information that is needed least often.

    SO: the result would be, still a few buttons on the top of the screen like 2.3 has, BUT only three instead of five, and the default screen would present enough information that you would not need to click those buttons 95% of the time you go to the record screen. Why are those buttons better than Pecca's collapsible boxes? 1) Fewer things to click on; and 2) larger click targets.

    I hope I was clear. @Pecca if you want to mock that up I'll, um, give you a cookie. :wink:
    dunbar
  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 1,835
    @subtledoctor: sorry I'm a bit lost by that description, try to create a simple picture when you get home (really all that is needed are squares and labels). But I may have explain the mockup insufficiently. The list on each side is supposed to be one area with one scrollbar and the paragraphs are supposed to stretch height depending to the information they contain - so the status effects paragraph would stretch to always show all effects (the paragraphs below would then be needed to be scrolled down to, but it would never be too much of scrolling, so it would stay clear).
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 7,171
    edited August 2016
    Okay, here is a super stupid-looking drawing. Sorry for the file size, I'm on my phone and can't manipulate it before uploading.



    So every time you go to the Record Screen, you will automatically see (in a way that hopefully is uncluttered and not too squeezed-together):
    - your class and XP etc.
    - your ability scores
    - any status effects affecting you
    - your HP, AC, thac0, APR, etc.
    - your saving throws
    - your resistances

    If you're not concerned with your current combat effectiveness and want to see more general about your character, one click of a nice big button will replace the info on those last three lines and the screen will show:
    - your class and XP etc.
    - your ability scores
    - any status effects affecting you
    - your lore and reputation
    - your skills
    - your proficiencies
    JuliusBorisov
  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 1,835
    @subtledoctor: Okay here is a rough photoshop mockup. Personally the layout doesn't work for me, the character description at the top left doesn't look good (neither with centered text) and the three buttons area wastes too much space. Also if you had fixed sizes for the areas, then you would have to scroll the class for dual/multi classed characters. If you'd enlarge that area, then you would have left very small area for status effects.

    JuliusBorisov
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,433
    A thought: Try putting the portrait on the left side, with the name above the race/class/alignment block. Then put the ability scores where the portrait is now, with the status effects below them.

    That way everything gets read left-to-right, with the most important information on the top left.
    Mr2150
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