We are opening this feedback tread to talk about the game UI and interface design, as it is a topic that is emerging in some other treads and we think it deserves its own.
So we are moving here some of that posts.
Keep in mind that current UI is in very early stage and it will change a lot.
But for the reasons explained in below post we have decided to use a minimal non invasive UI with a very generic ancient feel attached to it.
Feel free to comment and suggest about this decision !
As explained before -I think- we don’t want to theme the UI for Neolithic times, because the UI needs to fit well for the upcoming ages and cultures as well. Keep in mind that the final goal is to start a city in Neolithic and move it to, - after some years of development and expansions - the middle ages?. The first idea was to theme it in the -XIX century, or even modern- archaeological world, but even that was too distracting for our taste. We have tried using some decorations and materials, but decorations -even tiny details- are based in some culture, or it looks too classic for Neolithic, or too rusty for Rome, or too oriental for South America or too Gothic for Mesopotamia. You get the idea.
So we have decided to use a non invasive and minimal UI with some generic “ancient” feel attached to it. Even icons have to feel generic enough.
Final UI will be a very much improved and polished version of what we have now though.
I like this “cave art” style as opposed to the 3 dimensional sketches in the current UI panels. If this style is too period specific, a simple but more refined style might work too. The white on grey icons at the bottom are also highly readable, compared with the rest of the UI.
Looks good from the basic structure first. Very extensive, but with a good encyclopedia during the game learnable (better maybe with an explanation of the respective icon in a line of text at the top -optional) By feeling I would put some information about the NPC directly to the figure, similar to Tropico or Cultures. The problem is that the figures differ only slightly in clothing, the first provides optically no information, even the gender is visually difficult to distinguish
P.S. In this context, did you think of a zoom feature in the game?
Rounding of sharp edges, As well as slight okay city may help the aesthetic. You may find gray works better in such video games than tan.
Will there be diversity in the icons for the people’s faces?
I see the description, but will that be editable? It would be nice to be able to list details about people. Notes, basically.
You have stated before that there will be key interfaces, but I wish to stress the usefulness of this. Many of us computer nerds have carpal tunnel from years of programming, and very much appreciate he’s LOL
Is there a zoom function? Maybe like mouse scroll wheel?
Also, you mind reposting the list of icons and their meanings once more, please? Some of them I don’t get, though most of them I do.
Regarding the UI theme, I think there could be another option rather than a generic one for all ages. May the theme can change according to the current age, something similar to what happens in Civilization or Age of Empires sagas.
I am being lazy and not reading the whole post, but the thing with icons is that they get confusing very fast. Will there be a easy reference to what the icon are, like putting the mouse pointer over the person to see what they are doing? The game is looking great.
Should be. We would like to make a system capable of variety and match it with the game 3D models, But we don’t think we have time before release for that, so we should find a middle ground for now.
Tool tips are almost every where. Leave your mouse over any icon and you will have a description:
Only the name is editable.
If we found people asking for notes and we found it useful for the game we may introduce it. But it is not a priority right now.
There will be keys attached to some common actions like moving the camera, or change time speed, but mouse will be mandatory for lots of UI interactions.
Yes, there are lots of published screenshots where the point of view is near the ground.
There will be not a clear point to decide that UI change. We intent age or cultural transitions to be smooth. Changing the UI style in the middle of the game can be distracting too. It also would need a lot more work on our side that could be used to improve what really its important: That thing below the UI
I think it is still too attached to some specific culture.
I do agree with the necessity of keeping the user interface less attached, aesthetically, to a specific culture or era, such a the Greek feeling of Zeus: Master of Olympus, or the ancient Egyptian feeling of Pharaoh, or the Roman feeling of Caesar III, not to mention Chariots of War. The same attachment can be seen in for instance Age of Empires II (if I remember correctly), though it changes according to the ages, from more “primitive” to more “developed”. I also agree that any changes in the interface according to level of development would be completely dysfunctional in this kind of game, it simply would not work.
I would, however, argue, that barely anyone even dreams of pushing the game further than the iron age, including the European mediaeval era. No steel age, as it were, no enlightenment or industrialisation. If anything, that would be a decade ahead. And there surely are certain materials and techniques, for example stone and wood and ceramics and leather, in common for all pre-industrial eras, I should say, especially pre-gunpowder societies. That seems to suggest a great deal of possibilities in making increasing the immersiveness of the game’s appearance, user interface-wise.
For instance: cutting stone was popular and important from at least 10 000 BC to at least 1400 AD is most places where civilisations evolved, so how about instead of having menus and sub-menus as perfect rectangles, with sharp edges and tiny corner decorations mimicking paper (as seen in the picture in post 12, 18:41), maybe a slab of grey or light brown stone with somewhat rough edges? Something that would feel a bit like something you would see in olden days. I am sure it would do wonders for the feeling of the game. Sure, it might work slightly worse if the game is set on the Mongolian steppes, or the shores of Hawai’i, but for the foreseeable future?
I know of course that the current appearance of the user interface is not by any means a final product, but I believe that a more natural feeling would be the right direction in which to move the development of the user interface. Right now, it all looks so… modern, so clear, so cool, so high-tech, as if it were Cities Skylines, and not the earliest nervous footsteps of civilisation.
Of course, I think it obvious that there should be plenty of opportunities for modding the user interface, simply changing one “menu background” to another, one skin for another. That would make it all much easier.
Hear, hear! I would love some symbols over the head of the character walking about, denoting a problem. Maybe an exclamation mark? Something to show he’s hungry, or thirsty, or cold, or angry? When you start to see lots of signs, you know something is wrong… On the other hand, some games include speech bubbles or the likes, to show what the characters are talking about, but that might be a bit over-the-top. There should naturally be an option to switch these off, at least some of them.
On the other hand, a sign might instead appear in the corner of the screen, for example an exclamation mark, telling the player there is “a problem”, whether it’s someone being cold, the food supply running low, or something else. Though as always, more important messages should show up as a pop-up, I believe…
You aware that all of the examples you posted are firmly attached to a culture or age, right?
Is not that easy as deciding to use stone, leather or paper for background.
After that decision comes the what kind of stone, how the cut of the stone, how the carvings on the stone… at that point you are attaching it to a specific artistic style, this is, to a specific culture, no matter what. That’s unavoidable, I have tried it already. And while trying it I was growing a fan to the completely “detached” look, capable of carry the game along any age or culture with the less “this not belongs here” feeling.
The game represents ancient times, but is not ancient itself.
The bubbles you see in the screenshot are just a very early work in progress of that.
The screenshot was taken with all people complaining about not being able to find food.
Starts are a mark for favorite. Any character can be flagged that way, and the proper icon will be always visible on the map. This way you can always track favorite characters. Its because the WIP that all characters are marked as fav in the screenshot.
There is also a fast key to hide all interface elements.
There will notifications for eventual problems.
Critical notifications even will set the game speed to normal if running fast.
I’m a bit skeptical. When acting in a very detailed game, the controls and information should not be puzzling but unique. A typical example was Pharaoh. Sure, you learn over time where to find something, but it’s exhausting. The same with Total War, Rome was very successful, even Napoleon, the new Attila very elaborate, but not really nice and not better. Of course, the tapestry of Bayeux is great, but as an icon in a game or in addition to the scramble of the early Middle Ages - exhausting. And if a game then goes through different epochs and plays in different locations … better something sober, but the game itself immersive (music / sounds Optic). I also think that the general trend is going in that direction. Due to the high level of detail and speed, the controller must be an anchor that creates familiarity and constructive effect.
Very good point !! A problem of many “real-time games”. Of course, the AI is at an advantage when it comes to information, and when time is against the player, the impression is “unfair”. Typical example in Age of Empire - one fights and outside the screen gradually disappear the fields.
This never happens to the AI …