Rethinking the UI

luovahulluus
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by luovahulluus »

impaktor wrote:So I think a game that automatically shows the missions that are in range, or in the same direction, and automatically figures out where to go, and which goods to buy for that destination, and which route in the star map to take etc. would just make the player into a zombie. Just click wherever the game tells you it's profitable to click, and the loop.

Part of the fun in the game is to plot a course, find a mission and be bold and see if you can make the deadline, etc.
You have a good point there. Where is the line between too simplified and streamlined? And at what point does streamlining start to eat away from the game instead of adding to it?

I'd love to redo the whole interface, but I don't think anyone would be willing to start the thing from scratch. So I'm going to think about what we already have, and suggest improvements based on that. My biggest problem with the game is knowing what to buy and knowing where to sell it, and all the hassle to get it done.

The current process is this:
-> go to the Galaxy sector view
-> go to the system info
-> go to the economic info
-> try to memorize the exports
-> go to the Galaxy sector view
-> choose a planet at random
-> go to the system info
-> go to the economic info
-> try to remember what the exports were
-> go to comms
-> go to shop
-> buy stuff

First of all, I think it makes no sense that I have to go to the system economic info screen to know the imports and exports. Same information could be given in the shop screen by coloring imports and exports with different color. Also, there is room in the right side of the sector view to show imports/exports. If there is room for that, adding a buying/selling buttons doesn't take that much more space... Could we do the whole mess in one screen? Time to start up Photoshop!

Edit: My image doesn't seem to work so here is a link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/05fczzqzhlpx5 ... ock-up.jpg

Looks pretty good for me! Now you have the stuff you can buy on the right, and see the price, in stock and in cargo hold information with one glance. You can buy and sell stuff by clicking the blue boxes. Different shades of green and red indicate imports and exports. When you click another system the price and stock info is hidden, leaving only colored item names. Refueling is also possible in this screen. You could add one more check box to arrange items by color. This mockup was made in 800x600 resolution, so it's kind of the worst case scenario. Wider screens would have more starmap visible.

This way the computer doesn't help you with searching for the next place to go or the most profitable trade route, you still have to do it by yourself. The only thing essentially different is that everything happens in the same screen, instead of seven. You could do the same thing with bulletin board. The other tabs at comms screen don't need the starmap, so those can be left as they are.

The process is simplified to
-> go to sector view
-> click trade info to see the exports
-> choose planet at random and see the imports (and if you have forgotten the exports you can find them quickly by clicking your system)
-> (click back to your location)
-> buy stuff
-> (click back to your destination)

You could simplify it even further by allowing the player to buy when viewing the other system, but it might be confusing to see the local prices and stock info while viewing other systems. Maybe it would help if they were visible but grayed out?

So what do you think? I'd love to have feedback and discussion about everything.
luovahulluus
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by luovahulluus »

Image
Now I think I figured how I can embed pictures from Dropbox :) This is the missing mockup from the last post.

The following is going to be a little offtopic, but as we are talking about trading...

Trading is not only tedious because of the current UI, but it's also not as rewarding as it is in Frontier: First Encounters. In FFE there are more systems with something valuable in major imports/exports, and there is more variation between planets. It feels like nearly all the planets in Frontier are either mining or industrial, and they rarely provide anything of value to trade in. In FFE it was great to make a big profit transporting a ship full of luxury goods to another planet, especially when hitting the jackpot and someone in the bulletin board paid double for it. In Frontier I'm moving around some farm machinery and consumer goods, and there is no fun in that. In addition to the mining and industrial colonies, I'd like to see more terraformed planets with a billion people with a craving to have anything valuable on their hands.

To me, the human occupied space seems quite large. We have only been hyperspace capable for about 400 years, and already there are places like Grezeed (-58,-49,-50), 730 lightyears away, with 28 million people living on two tiny rocks with no atmosphere. It's a mining colony, but why are they all there? In the year 3200 I doubt they are using pick axes. I'd say more like 28 000 people tending the mining machines would be a better population for a world of 0,02 Earth masses and with only one starport. I'd understand the population amout if there was a nice green planet capable of sustaining human life. I don't think that that many people would have wanted to live on a deadly barren rock for nothing.

I'd also like to propose a new type of bulletin board message: Smuggling. The mission would be to buy your ship full of something and to fly to a place where it is illegal. The landing shouldn't be on a major starport, but in a separately created landing pad somewhere in the middle of nowhere, or docking to a larger ship on the orbit. This way it would be more likely to avoid the police. Maybe all/some of the people trading in illegal goods should have their own ships on orbit as smuggling stations?

[even more offtopic]
I had to do some calculations about the plausability of the size of the human space.

if 1 000 000 people left the earth to live in the very inhospitable new worlds * 4% population growth (about the largest there has ever been on earth) ^ 400 years = 6,5*10^12 people.

Populated area now seems to have a radius roughly 700 lightyears => 3/4*Pi*700ly^3= 808 million ly^3. Every 7,5*7,5*7,5 lightyear cube on the map seems to have on average about 0,3 inhabited systems. (808 000 000ly3/421ly3)*0,3= 600 000 inhabited systems. That leaves about 8,5million people per inhabited planet. So I guess it is possible.
[/even more offtopic]
impaktor
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by impaktor »

All valid points.

Trading in pioneer is very unbalanced, and needs a lot of love. I don't know if that code will/should be in Lua or C++? I envision it, once it is redone, as each station having fluctuating prices. I've seen several space-trading games where this works, though they have not been *infinite* as pioneer.
I'd also like to propose a new type of bulletin board message: Smuggling. The mission would be to buy your ship full of something and to fly to a place where it is illegal. The landing shouldn't be on a major starport, but in a separately created landing pad somewhere in the middle of nowhere, or docking to a larger ship on the orbit. This way it would be more likely to avoid the police. Maybe all/some of the people trading in illegal goods should have their own ships on orbit as smuggling stations?
I could write something like that, minus the last part with special bases. But there must be some risk of being detected by the police, or else there will be no "downside/risk" to the mission other than being attacked by pirates.

In general, one could have a small probability of being fined when docking with illegal goods, unless the ship has hidden compartments where any illegal goods would be stowed. One could just buy X units of "1t hidden compartments", then whenever "illegal goods" <= "hidden compartment", police would not detect it.. No need to have player transfer cargo manually between real/open storage space to hidden.
bszlrd
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by bszlrd »

At last I have the needed brain-power to say anything meaningful on this topic. :)
Putting the trade interface on the sector map makes it even more cluttered in my opinion. And you don't really need any spatial information for trading either. And at least for me it feels quite disconnected. I mean you fly to a station, so you would expect to communicate and do stuff with it, and it feels strange for me to interact with the station trough a map. It's like "Welcome traveler. May I ask when you are going to leave?"
The map needs a lot of streamlining for sure. That's why I made a few mockusp, and I'd include every information about a system in the sidebar instead of a separate screen. And there could be filtering options for system types and exports/imports too.
Image

I'd approach it from the other way around:
Image
The cargo hold side of the trade UI has quite a lot of empty space most of the time, so there could be a trade information area. A drop-down menu where you can select any inhabited system in range, and the ones you favorited (if that's going to be implemented). The default would always be the hyperspace destination (and the in-between destination would be there in the menu too, if there's one selected). I'm not sure how would that work if prices are different within a system. Another drop-down with the star-ports could potentially solve that, but would make comparisons a bit more difficult.
And it's always clear which cargo list you are viewing, because the left side always shows the current station, and the right is your hold and the info of the other system. The last known prices could be on the right too.

There's nothing about buying or selling cargo here though. I think the current way of doing it is a bit strange, because you just click away, and can't really make up your mind. And it's a pain when you want to buy hundreds of tonnes of an item. Maybe if you could select any cargo, then a buy button and an amount selector would appear next to it, along with a total price indication. And if you can select any cargo, then there would be some kind of indication in the above drop-down if it's an imported or illegal item in that system.

Also, if there's some indication in the list of goods, which item is an export and import, then we don't need any separate list visible for that. (not pictured on the above image.)
luovahulluus
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by luovahulluus »

The trade interface over the sector map makes it more cluttered, you are correct about that. That is why I added a check box on the left where you can switch it off. I frequently need spatial info for trading, as I sometimes do BB missions or have a direction I want to explore. I want my trade route to take me in the right direction. I'm a free spirit, roaming the galaxy, making money on the side ;)
nozmajner wrote:I mean you fly to a station, so you would expect to communicate and do stuff with it, and it feels strange for me to interact with the station trough a map.
Yeah. Maybe it would make more sense to have the map on the trade screen instead.

You could use color coding for imports/exports of the current system and the imports/exports of the viewed system would fit on the left side in writing. If the you move the cargo info next to the stock info, there would be a lot of room for a map.

Maybe you could shift-click to buy/sell 10? In FFE you could hold the buying button to buy alot. It's better than clicking a 1000 times.
luovahulluus
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by luovahulluus »

Image

I had something like this in mind. I even added the drop-down menu for you ;)
(Click the picture to get a less terrible quality version of the image.)

If each starport has it's own prices, are the imports and exports still system wide? Just small variations in the price within the same system (short trip+small risk => small profit)?

Edit: Just realized you can't access trade screen in space, so you would still need the imports/exports info from somewhere else. Still think the best place for it is in sector view, even if you can't buy anythin in it.
CoSm1c_gAm3r
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by CoSm1c_gAm3r »

After some fime I downloaded new version of Pioneer and I noticed changes in menus on stations but also new option to enable cockpit. And i like changes but I very much like that cockpit. And I have idea that every button from UI could be transfered onto that cockpit like in Rogue System. Maybe in future those small monitors will be functional. I would love to see for example on one monitor my orbit around planet/star. To see it now I must go into star map and then to orbit view.

If I can suggest it here I would also like to have option to togle RMB because while holding it it is tiring and also it causes sometimes to enable time acceleration or pause which is weird. Sometimes while holding RMB I see that my invisible cursor is highlighting some menu and I see description of that menu.
FluffyFreak
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Re: Rethinking the UI

Post by FluffyFreak »

Yeah the idea, is to get as much of the HUD into the cockpit as possible. We wanted multiple cockpit types available too but... time :/
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