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The difference between a good UI design and dumbing down the game

QuirhidQuirhid Member UncommonPosts: 6,230

The point of this thread is to discuss when does the a good UI design turn into something that dumbs down the game. Or is all good UI design just dumbing down the game in some degree?

1st example: I'm sure I'm not the only one who has carefully aimed fireballs in Baldur's Gate to burn enemies and at the same time only singed the nosehair of my frontline fighters. I have to agree, I was quite pleased when I succeeded, but after awhile you got used to it and developed a good eye to it, so to speak. I ask you this: Would a circle showing the range of the fireball something that dumbs down the game and how so?

2nd example: Also, in some games, one must drag and drop itemas back and forth to loot them from a corpse. Why isn't this achieved by just clicking the items you want to pick up or with a button or key that picks up everything? What is the purpose of this strenuous back-and-forth with the mouse?

3rd example: Marked quest givers and quest objectives in your HUD. They certainly make it easier. Does finding the quest giver or checking your journal constantly make it  that much more complex to you?

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

Comments

  • UOloverUOlover Member UncommonPosts: 339

    WoW UI is good enough for me.

  • arcdevilarcdevil Member Posts: 864

    a good game design would allow UI addons. Let people customize it they way they wish, instead of trying to find the perfect formula that will never satisfy everybody all the time...

  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 28,410

    Originally posted by arcdevil

    a good game design would allow UI addons. Let people customize it they way they wish, instead of trying to find the perfect formula that will never satisfy everybody all the time...

    As long as those addons don't give an advantage to a player by giving information or allowing one to do things that another can't do, I'm in agreement.

    In my opinion the best UI is one that just allows a lot of customization within the context of what is allowed in the game.

  • djazzydjazzy Member Posts: 3,578

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    Originally posted by arcdevil

    a good game design would allow UI addons. Let people customize it they way they wish, instead of trying to find the perfect formula that will never satisfy everybody all the time...

    As long as those addons don't give an advantage to a player by giving information or allowing one to do things that another can't do, I'm in agreement.

    In my opinion the best UI is one that just allows a lot of customization within the context of what is allowed in the game.

     ^

    This

  • uquipuuquipu Member Posts: 1,516

    WoW's UI is adequate. With player made mods it becomes awesome.
    .
    It used to be that mods were allowed to use logic, if-then statements. This was banned in patch 2.0. I loved the if-then statements and hated to see them go.

    Well shave my back and call me an elf! -- Oghren

  • TorikTorik Member UncommonPosts: 2,342

    Originally posted by Quirhid

    The point of this thread is to discuss when does the a good UI design turn into something that dumbs down the game. Or is all good UI design just dumbing down the game in some degree?

    1st example: I'm sure I'm not the only one who has carefully aimed fireballs in Baldur's Gate to burn enemies and at the same time only singed the nosehair of my frontline fighters. I have to agree, I was quite pleased when I succeeded, but after awhile you got used to it and developed a good eye to it, so to speak. I ask you this: Would a circle showing the range of the fireball something that dumbs down the game and how so?

    2nd example: Also, in some games, one must drag and drop itemas back and forth to loot them from a corpse. Why isn't this achieved by just clicking the items you want to pick up or with a button or key that picks up everything? What is the purpose of this strenuous back-and-forth with the mouse?

    3rd example: Marked quest givers and quest objectives in your HUD. They certainly make it easier. Does finding the quest giver or checking your journal constantly make it  that much more complex to you?

    To me an UI is an aproximation of actually being a character in a game.  So the UI for a spell should follow how a magic user inside the game would actually cast the spell.  Alternatively the UI should also act as a shortcut for activities that are not really a core part of the game.

    1.  If the game assumes that a trained mage can target his/her spell with precision then one would also assume that the mage can correctly judge the area of effect of the spell.  So a area of effect circle makes sense in that situation since it gives the user a better approximation of what a mage character can actually do in the game.

    2.  Is the goal of the game to improve the users ability to move a mouse around?  If not then a multi-loot or auto-loot option enables the focus on the core goals of the game. 

    3.  If the character has a map and is assumed to know how to use a map then marking key goals on it makes perfect sense.  If the quest giver gives me a location where I need to go then, I would mark it on my map.  Similarly if I have to return to the questgiver I would mark his/her location on the map for future reference.

    As far as the modern use of exclamation points to indicate that an NPC has a quest for you then those are borderline for me.  On one hand if the NPCs have quests that they want me to attempt for them then they will try to get my attention in a noticable way.  If the devs do not want to code a full RP experience for those NPCs then an exclamation mark is a valid shortcut.  The big ! just means that the NPC is shouting for you to come to him and is gesturing wildly.  On the other hand I would prefer a more immersive RP experience when dealing with NPCs so I would not mind a more evolved way of receiving quests that does not go into the ludicrous (ie needing a guide to figure somthing that should be pretty simple).

  • TorikTorik Member UncommonPosts: 2,342

    Originally posted by uquipu

    WoW's UI is adequate. With player made mods it becomes awesome.

    .

    It used to be that mods were allowed to use logic, if-then statements. This was banned in patch 2.0. I loved the if-then statements and hated to see them go.

    The logic is still all there.  The limitation that were brought in simply prevent when certain actions can be executed.  So an addon can still be very smart about suggesting a course of action for you but it cannot automatically execute it for you.  eg it can show you who needs to be healed the most but it will not cast the spell for you or make it easy for you to taret that person.  Also a lot of dynamic functionality only works outside of combat.

  • MMOExposedMMOExposed Member RarePosts: 7,096

    Interesting Question OP

    image

  • RivalenRivalen Member Posts: 503

    I have a firm believer that when it comes to UIs that less is more.

    UIs that simplify gameplay (combat be it PVE or PVP, actions, decisions)  scenarios will always lead to a less emersive and challenging game, it also leads developers to create encounters around the UI which is in my point of view horrendous.

    I'm perfectly fine with UIs that simplify grinding (looting, mining, fishing, to a certain degree crafting) scenarios, as long as it doesn't remove the actual action of the gameplay, you should have to click to loot or mine, but it can be a single click and not ten.

    People will demand the gameplay to be simplified but in the end those features will diminish the actual imersion and fun of the game.

  • DrakynnDrakynn Member Posts: 2,030

    This question could be applied to many mor ethings than jsut UI.A lot of people mistake streamlining for dumbing down and vica versa on many gameplay mechanics.

     

    As tot he question at hand though...I like to be able to customize things to my liking but also appreciate the way not allwoing mods keep the playing field level.So I'd have to agree that allowing as much customization as possible within the default framework is the best way to go.

     

    There is notihng wrong with streamlining the process of accomplishing mundane tasks like inventory management ,resource gathering or information management .But I think taking those tasks away or making them somewhat minimal is dumbing things down not good UI design.

  • EbonyflyEbonyfly Member Posts: 255

    I think it's often a fine line between good UI design and dumbing down and i'm sure different people will have different ideas about where the line should be drawn.

    As a rule I think that:

    - A UI mod should not allow a player a competitive advantage over another.

    - A good UI design should consistently reflect the difficulty and importance of respective tasks.  A difficult task should not be rendered absurdly easy (eg WOW's decursive mod) nor should a menial task (eg inventory management) be made unnecessarily fiddly.

    With regard to the OP's 3 examples:

    Example 1 - In the context of Baldur's Gate I think showing the area of effect of the fireball would have been dumbing down as you already had control of all friendly characters, a top-down view and the option to pause the game while you aimed. However in a real-time 3D MMO, showing the area of effect seems fair enough to me since it really only makes up for the lack of visual and spatial cues you otherwise get through a TV screen.

    Example 2 - For the most part I don't think auto-looting represents dumbing down since it just makes the game less fiddly. The exception is FFA PvP where players should have a fair chance to defend the corpse of a fallen comrade and looting should therefore not be an instant, automatic process.

    Example 3 - I regard showing quest givers and progress updates as good UI design but showing the player where to go and what to do as dumbing down. Since the only objective of some quests is to find a specific location or creature I dont even see how that can be regarded as anything other than dumbing down.

    For me the classic example of a UI dumbing down a game is the threat meter. Part of the art of good DPS used to be judging when to hold back and when to let rip. The threat meter rendered that skill trivial. I can't see any justification for why a player should know exactly when a mob is going to turn on him other than it makes the game easier.

    On a sidenote I also have an example of a bad UI design dumbing down a game. In vanilla Oblivion you were restricted to just 8 hotkeys (presumably for console gamepad users). This wasn't nearly enough once you had acquired a few spells or weapons. However to use any of your other abilities you basically had to pause the game and select them manually so I quickly found myself just sticking to my hotkeyed abilities and ignoring most of my tactical options for the majority of the game.

     

     

  • nordamaxnordamax Member Posts: 92

    Aion's UI is good. 

  • thepureonethepureone Member Posts: 18

    eve's ui is good just some ppl dont get it we call them noobs.

  • QuirhidQuirhid Member UncommonPosts: 6,230

    In other MMOs, it is automatic that defensive spells (healing etc.) cannot be cast on enemy players and similarly offensive spells cannot be directed to allied players. In Eve Online the is no restriction to this. Only recently they added an icon to your target indicating if it is friendly or not. Would it be dumbing down Eve if these restrictions would be added to Eve aswell?

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

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