Designing the Galactic Civilizations 2 User Interface. Part

The Great Mini Map Controversy of Ought Five.

By on February 21, 2005 10:15:41 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

mormegil

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Designing the Galactic Civilizat
Designing the Galactic Civilizations 2 User Interface. Part 2:
The Great Mini Map Controversy of Ought Five.
 
    It seams odd to me that we are nearing our first beta for Galactic Civilizations 2 and I am only now on Part 2 of designing the interface. This is for a few reasons. I have been buried under the task itself, as well as 16 hundred other little projects that I keep trying to find time to do; and because it has been going relatively smoothly, making it not quite so interesting to write about.

    This week I did however have some "trauma". And it all boiled down to the aspect of the MINI Map, in the main UI of the game.

    The problem started when we realized that we needed to place the MINI map view buttons on the main UI, rather then in a popup, which is what I was thinking of from the beginning. This will save the player 1 click every time they want to change the view of the Mini Map. This is great for game play, but not so great for my UI.

   So I start trying to figure out where we are going to fit our buttons; the problem is compounded when we realize we have 9 buttons in GC2 as opposed to 6 in GC1. Quickly I realized that it is going to look like poop, and might cause some hit detection problems if buttons overlap the map. This will not do.

   What happened next is what became painful. Someone said "You could fit the buttons on fine if the MINI Map was a square". Ok so I'm paraphrasing but it was something like that.  Now this is a long standing issue in GC2's UI, and I have to admit a sour point for me. A SQUARE MINI MAP. For all the hard core gamers who would play the game if it was X's and O's my reluctance to change the game back to a Square Mini map will seem odd if not downright foolish. But I do have my reasons. Let me explain.

   First let me take the side of the Square Map people and admit some of the strong points:

   1) The Map in GC1 was Square, people are used to it that way.
   2) It would allow for more buttons to be placed around it without hit detection problems.
   3) Most Strategy games do it that way.

    Now let me defend myself and the beauty that is the rotated (and slightly squished) mini map.

   1) We end up with a larger Mini Map, that takes up less or the same amount of the screen.
   2) We are making a 3D game, and the aspect of all of our default views in the game are rotated. So our MINI map should reflect the default views.
   3) Sure lots of other games use a square; do we want to just be like every other game? And beside it looks cool rotated.

Our Map needs buttons:


Our Aspects don't match.



Now we have buttons and Matching Aspects:

   Now these are not the official debate points we had, and the truth is everyone had good reasons for wanting the map their way. But it is my job to be the annoying "artist" and make the programmers life's a living hell. And I still say that it looks better this way.  

    In the end, and after a night of trying to find a place for the new buttons I came up with a solution that I think everyone likes. At least for now. Now comes the real test: The Beta. Lets see what the users think; they get the veto one way or the other.
 
   I will admit, this is not so much a Great Controversy, but hey, I make games for a living how bad can it be.


"Final" Button Layout.

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February 21, 2005 11:52:48 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums
Good decision, imho.
From my experience from different games, I absolutly hate it when the minimap and the main screen are viewed from different angles. It makes navigation far less intuitive.
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February 21, 2005 1:55:53 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
ury/Rank", there's a lot of room to make the interface cleaner and more ergonomic. But that's just my opinion.
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February 21, 2005 3:35:46 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
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February 21, 2005 3:56:00 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Wait untill you try it in the game, if you are playing it on a 3d plane, and you have a square it feals really wierd. But thats what the beta is for.
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February 21, 2005 4:49:04 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
going to get very busy very fast - and a busy interface is a scary thing to a new player.
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February 21, 2005 7:37:09 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Sorry for my dumbness, but where are the buttons, I don't see anyone???
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February 21, 2005 8:50:23 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I think this was a good decision. It's certainly a lot more visually interesting than a straight vertical line for the map and buttons.
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February 21, 2005 8:52:51 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
minimap...
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February 21, 2005 8:55:55 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
Sorry, the buttons are in the Display on the right side of the map. They are mostly toggles, ment to be LCD like. We may tweek these to make them bigger, or even move some of them off to a "Advanced" Diologe. We just wanted to have all the Mini Map options avalible for the beta, so people can see witch ones they use, and so we can tell witch ones need to be avalible at all time. As it is some of them will not be used that often.
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February 22, 2005 2:11:49 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
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February 22, 2005 5:01:51 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
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February 22, 2005 5:16:52 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I must admit that Alax G. The guy who did most the UI for GC1, had mocked up a Rotaed map in his concept for GC2. So when I came on to the project it the idea was already planted. But as I do these screens I am constantly worrying about
"why's" thats have the challange of UI Design.

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February 22, 2005 5:25:51 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I think the MiniMap is great rotated... I'd even go as far as to say it looks better this way.

And yeah, you definently don't want your aspects mixed up. That can really get you disoriented after a while.
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February 22, 2005 7:35:27 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Looking great. I'm totally happy with rotated maps, especially if the play may is in isometric view.

Paul.
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February 22, 2005 1:08:43 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
What about making the minimap changeable by the user? same display - but the user can make it sqaure?


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February 22, 2005 1:26:44 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
That could be possible, however it would require a compleat redesign of the main ui.
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February 22, 2005 3:03:04 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
ck.com/gc2/smiles/Smile.gif" border=0 ALIGN="absmiddle">
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February 22, 2005 11:40:25 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I also like the diamond... It brings back good memories of wasting all my time playing Populus 2.

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February 23, 2005 10:14:38 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
The direction East is usually to the right of the direction West.

I like the diamond/slanted version better than the flat rectangular version.
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February 23, 2005 12:00:07 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I dont think I have the directions correct. That was just to show aspect.

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February 23, 2005 3:53:01 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
pshhh... it's obvious we're looking from beneath the galactic plane, so of course east and west would be reversed!
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February 24, 2005 12:09:37 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
the first beta before do it though, and you really should try it before you make up your mind to hate it.

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February 24, 2005 12:22:23 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
ys reskin with square interface later,

Paul.
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February 24, 2005 12:49:55 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums
Since you guys are using DesktopX to do the UI, will it be possible for an enterprising DesktopX developer to make a customized UI for the game? Sort of how Blizzard allows for UI Mods with WoW.

Just an odd thought.
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February 24, 2005 12:55:17 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Yes. You should be able to use DesktopX to mod the UI. 

The minimap is a specific case where we would need code to make it work both as a square and as a diamond.  It wouldn't be a high priority, but it may well be worth doing.

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