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Making it Work: Conversation Window

DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
edited August 2016 in UI Discussion and Workshop
The discussion here yielded some great constructive feedback about the conversation window. We don't have a final mock-up yet, but @Mr2150 has done some exploratory modding to get the ball rolling.

The key features at play here:
  • There should only be one scrollbar for the entire conversation window, allowing the player to scroll back through their conversation history or down through dialogue responses with greater ease.
Be aware that any mock-ups or designs posted in this thread are advisory only; nothing is promised or guaranteed for future implementation. All we're doing is discussing and honing ideas.

Post edited by Dee on


  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    edited August 2016
    I thought you got rid of that red divider?

    Edit: Umm… separator?

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    This is the current version... not 'my version' so we can discuss what's wrong with the vanilla version.

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    Here's a list of things that I've seen people complain about...

    - the little white lines at the bottom of the window
    - the Message History contains the current line from Conversation
    - It's not clear you can drag the Message History box up and down with the Handle
    - The confirm button is outside the main window
    - When the amount of text in Conversation increases the amount of space for Options decreases
    - When there is a lot of text in all three areas you can end up with separate scrollbars controlling the three elements Message History, Conversation, Options
    - The scrollbars can become unusable if the available area is too small
    - Putting the Message History on top of the Conversation&Options looks untidy
    - The Separator feels out of place
    - When the font size increases all of these issues are made worse

    Post edited by Mr2150 on
  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    Here's some examples of how it can go wrong when those things happen:

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    And finally - here's my modded version:

    Largest Text Size:

    Regular Text Size:

    With Message History open:

    The mod I'm using is Dragonspear UI++ (Graphics By @Pecca , Dialog Code by me with support and advice from @Pecca )

    Key things I tried to do:
    - Keep the two windows separate (so no need for a separator)
    - Moved the Portrait out of the window to allow more space
    - Made the Portrait bigger
    - The Conversation and Options are now at the top of the screen and the Message History (which can still be toggled on / off with the Open Button ) is aligned in the bottom middle.
    - Set Minimum and Maximum Heights for the Conversation and Options window.
    - If the user toggles the Message History box it matches its size to the regular message box (so it doesn't look out of place).
    - The Conversation and Options window can be dragged using the Handle anywhere along the top edge of the screen and has three default positions (top right, top middle, top left).
    - When there is more text then the Conversation and Options window automatically resizes
    - Only if there is too much text will a scrollbar appear
    - Only one scrollbar appears in each window
    - The Confirm Button is clearly part of the Conversation and Options window.

    My version is for Dragonspear UI++ but many of the design decisions might be relevant ...

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    For me, this one is especially important. This worked much better in both the original games and ver. 1.3. I can see no need to divide the Dialogue window up. As a role-player who enjoys the longer conversations with many available PC responses, both in the base game and ones introduced with mods, the new version makes the game unplayable.

    Please remake the dialogue window into a single box with one scroll bar and the confirm button inside at the bottom of the box, as it was before.

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    Can you share some pictures of that?

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    It looks pretty much like the combat log, with no action button bar below it, and with the height tall enough to fit the conversation and responses, with a button at the bottom.

    I like the styling you did though, @Mr2150 - the ornamentation at the bottom helps tie the window together nicely.

    I can draft up a quick squares-and-blocks version to illustrate what it might look like, unless someone with more artistic talent has the time or inclination to do it first.

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    @Pecca did the graphics... I did the code. And we argued discussed it a lot ;)

  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 2,016
    I don't think the confirm button was inside the box before.

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    Certainly, many great improvements were made in that mod, but having two boxes instead of one for all the information is something I would never choose to use. Having the dialogue window at the top of the screen is really the biggest problem for me here.

    It feels very awkward, certainly a big departure from any previous version of the game.

    Do you mean that you want a screen shot of how it is in ver. 1.3?

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    @Pecca I think you suggested first to separate the windows and move the dialogue window up to the top. Which game was it that used that method?

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    Yes @Ravenslight - I think it helps to compare old and new ... and then to try to define what features from both we all like.

  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 2,016
    Neverwinter Nights games. The division we made in that mod was to make the dialog history more conveniently accessible. If it could be scrolled up like before, it wouldn't be necessary.

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    OK - I just loaded up my v1.3 steam version - it's actually been so long since I've played the old versions now.

    Speaking to Phlydia:

    I can see the advantage of that approach and having the history like that, however, when in a conversation and then not in a conversation the text jumps back and forth in the window to make room for a potential portrait. I don't recall thinking this previously but I have to say that it's really annoying.

  • NatregNatreg Member Posts: 100
    Sometimes something simple works best. The new UI dialog window had some good ideas behind, but it made everything more complex that it needed to be.

    The dialog box on 1.3 worked well because it was simple. Just one window and just one scroll bar. There is no need for anything more there.

    However I would maintain the sizable window option instead of the fixed sizes it has on previous versions.

    Something interesting to add though would be being able to select text and with etiher a button or a key press, copy it into your journal.

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    I like the fact that things change when you’re in dialog. It is only then that you have a portrait of the character that you’re talking to and it takes my mind into “dialog mode”.
    It is very distracting to have dividers and everything else in the window at the same time.
    It has worked well for me for every version of the game from ver. 1.3 back to the original.

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    I'm not sure I understand you...

    Currently 1.3 changes windows when you are in a dialogue - that's evidenced by the fact that the text annoying flips back and forth (as per the screenshots I posted yesterday). You posted this with regard to it: "Everything is contained in one window and can be easily scrolled up or down." and that's not actually what's happening.

    It's also worth remembering that not every dialogue NPC has a portrait so it's sometimes hard to know when you are in a dialogue at all...

    2.0+ has the two windows jammed one on top of the other. You can see when you are in a dialogue but the request has been that everything should be in ONE WINDOW instead, so that's what I've proposed.

    However, without the separators but with everything still in one window you'd end up with one of the following:

    In the one on the left, you can clearly see there is a separation and the mode has changed, however without a portrait it looks odd (in my opinion) - the text is just randomly indented. The one on the right, is even worse, because now you can't even see you are in a dialogue.

    My proposal would look like this when there is no portrait:

    I prefer the one on the left as the separator and indent show that there is a change of 'mode' clearly and it leaves space for a portrait if there is one.

    Altering the text position (the ones on the right) also require more coding to make happen as you have to realign based on the portrait status.

    I'd even go further and say my proposal is better because it keeps the portrait with the conversation when you scroll up and down which 1.3 doesn't offer. See:

    The portrait shown relates to the text as indicated by the arrow but when I scroll up it is next to other text.

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    @Mr2150 said:
    Currently 1.3 changes windows when you are in a dialogue - that's evidenced by the fact that the text annoying flips back and forth (as per the screenshots I posted yesterday

    Yes, it is this comment that I was referring to. I have never found this annoying. I have always liked the fact that it changes. Even if there is a blank instead of a picture, I never have had trouble instantly knowing that it has gone into to dialogue mode.

    I’m not sure that I’m understanding you, but I don’t like it leaving the picture, or blank picture, in the window after you leave dialogue mode, as it does in your screen shots.

  • 00zim0000zim00 Member Posts: 267
    I suggested something similar for the Record Screen, but i think the same tech could be applied to the combat log as well if its implemented.
    00zim00 said:

    ...we could get a "hover" tool-tip over each of the things in the record screen? Even with things like status effects where it might show you what the effect does and how long it has left? This could also be for things like dex where if its red you hover over it and it says eg: Dex 18- 3(Curse of X). .. then maybe include to say AC Bonus + X.

    Just a thought. More helpful for new players.

    So in the combat log for example if you fail a save vs. poison and get poisoned you hover over the "Poison" text in the log that maybe green to show its highlight-able. And it says something like "Viconia: Poison (Necromancy) - 3d8+3 damage per round (3 rounds left), or simply, "This spell poison creature, damage depends on caster level". Tho the latter may be more difficult and impossible to easily implement and i think the first example would be much more helpful.

    Another thing I was originally thinking, you could also hover over the spell names in the log that are being cast like if your Hit with a flame arrow it brings up the spell description for Flame arrow. However I know there is alot of spells that the AI cast which are unique to the caster and do not connect or have a corresponding description. But at the very least being able to see Status effects we have on us from the log or thing things like what was dispelled by Dispel Magic might be nice. Especially if they can be added to the record screen anyways might as well use the info in as many places as possible.

  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 2,016
    I would say that being in dialog mode has always been noticable at a glance, I never really had a problem not knowing that I am in dialog mode. So I don't think that there needs to be a visual clue for it (simply when the actionbar is gone and the text is shifted to the right - you are in a dialog).
    Also visually, the text needs to stay aligned in one line, it's really distracting and odd-looking otherwise.
    I don't see a need for a separator either, but that's just minor thing, doesn't really matter to me.
    And lastly I would be against having the dialog advancing button inside the box, I would put it under as before.

    Basically, the only thing I see that using the new code can do to enhance the dialog from its v1.3 state, is adjustable height of the box if the text is too long (to some degree, for example half of the screen). Only if the text was longer that the maximum height allowed, it would scroll down and the scrollbar would appear.

  • 00zim0000zim00 Member Posts: 267
    edited August 2016

    @Mr2150 said:
    ... I don’t like it leaving the picture, or blank picture, in the window after you leave dialogue mode, as it does in your screen shots.

    Just a thought.. could for NPCs that dont have a portrait. Could we just add their idle animation sprite inside the box, would show whos is talking aswell as give a reason to always have the box there. Would be kinda cool to tbh.

    (Bad Paint Art, it would have the real idle sprite not just a paper-doll from the inventory lol)

  • Mr2150Mr2150 Member Posts: 1,170
    edited August 2016
    Can you draw what you mean @Pecca ?

    That's a good idea @00zim00

    I think there are two requirements here - when people say "Have it one window like it was before" they don't realise it wasn't all in one window... you moved from MESSAGES to DIALOG mode (from MESSAGES window to DIALOG window) it's just that DIALOG mode also had the MESSAGE HISTORY above it but formatted in DIALOG format now (indented).

    That's what I see as the flipping back and forth and it's not the stated requirement for one window, and it's also the issue that causes the portrait misalignment.

    I've tried to propose a solution that uses the existing MESSAGES mode but inserts the DIALOG mode into it - that way there is only one window - and it's clear to see the separation between the two modes and any portraits then stay with the dialogue are connected with.

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    @Pecca said:
    I don't think the confirm button was inside the box before.

    Your right of course, I was getting fuzzy after looking at all these different versions all day yesterday. I meant at the bottom. :)

  • dunbardunbar Member Posts: 1,603

    Here is the dialogue window from ver. 1.3 of the game. Everything is contained in one window and can be easily scrolled up or down. Having a long list of dialogue options for the PC to choose from, or long blocks of text within those conversations is not a problem as it is easily scrolled through using the one scroll bar on the right-hand side of the box.

    Might I suggest that for each of these "making it work" discussions, as they are an iterative process, a 'control' example is established that can be referred back to. This helps with both with mapping progress and focusing direction.
    Then, suggest one change at a time and ask: "Is this better than the control?". If the answer is "Yes", earmark it for inclusion and move on to the next suggestion, but always referring back to the control. Then, when all the areas under discussion have been covered, collate all the earmarked suggestions and check to see if they are mutually compatible and mechanically possible. If they are, then put forward a proposed 'final package'.
    I admit that this is a tedious process as it must be undertaken one small step at a time but this sort of discipline is required in order to define the end goal.

  • PeccaPecca Member Posts: 2,016
    edited August 2016
    Well, when I say "Have it one window like it was before" I mean the dialog connected to message history with just a scrollbar (thus in one window), not separated into individual areas like in v2.0+. That dialog mode window and (non-dialog) message log window are two different screens doesn't matter at all.
    I don't see the thing with the portrait being solved in a really satisfactory way though. It is an element that will always disrupt. Non of the proposed solution cut it. I can only say it's important that the text stays aligned in one line.

  • RavenslightRavenslight Member Posts: 1,611
    No matter what is actually happening “under the hood” It was in one window as far as the player is concerned. I personally don’t like the look of leaving the portrait in after you leave dialogue mode.

    That’s an interesting idea, though I personally think I prefer a blank if it doesn’t have a portrait shot.

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