top_image
Author Message

<  Writing & Interface Design  ~  GUI design conventions

Michael
Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 9:22 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
I find myself feeling very comfortable when playing Dungeon Siege. The game interface works exactly like the GUI of my OS. There's windows and there's a pointer and there are menus, etcetera. Only, they look very ornate and "medieval" (in that Caifornian style...).

Yet, while sticking to these conventions makes navigating through the game a painless experience, it also limits it's dramatic potential, I think. By overstressing the convential in the interface, it plays down the exceptional in the game's narrative. In the end, the experience is not much different from dragging icons over your computer desktop. Surely that is not what we want from games! Yet the risk exists that too much non-conventional graphic and GUI design could make the game very difficult to use.

Wipeout comes to mind. The graphics of Wipeout 3 were very modern and the interface very hip (I believe they were designed by Designers Republic). But it required a million clicks to even start a game and by that time you were totally turned off after attempting to read some "e x p e r i m e n t a l" typeface in tiny white on grey. They "corrected" that mistake in Wipeout 4. Wipeout 4 has a very "technicolor" interface filled to the rim with "cool" 3D effects. It's completely nauseating but it sticks to conventions much more and is therefore much easier to use and puts the focus on the 3D game world rather than on how to get there. Yet while using the game, I found myself longing back for the old Wipeout with it's serene screens and its timid blips.

Should we try to find a middle ground or do we need an entirely different solution?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Michael
Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 3:53 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Black & White is an example of a non-conventional interface. It takes some time to learn but once you master it, it's extremely convenient and pleasant to use. It turns out to be much more useable than more conventional interfaces like those in Dungeon Siege and it helps emotional involvement in the game narrative rather than standing in its way.



So, the solution seems to be to not be scared of unconventional interfaces as long as they are well made.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Auriea
Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 10:36 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 454 Location: at your fingertips
It might be interesting to do some sort of comparative study of RPG game interfaces. I wonder at what point it was decided that they should all look like this:

http://146.145.201.109/reviews/pics/neverwinternights5.jpg
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Gopherism
Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2002 6:15 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 1 Location: Australia
The tendancy for RPG games particularly to have a similar interface seems a little insulting to game players. The relative complexity of RPG gameplay is now aparrently offset by providing us with the same interface everytime.



I think the balance between developing a comfortable and intuitive interface and using the same interface as everytning else is closely tied to how imersive the gameplay actually is. B&W is a great example of this. This system made me feel like I was actually bouncing from emergency to emergency, and as a result the unconventional control style was totally fitting for that game and very compelling.



By drawing the player more completely into the world of the game, you have a greater licence to do the unexpected with the control systems. We are prepared to learn and adapt our playing styles to continue more effectively, simply because we are drawn on farther into the game.

For me, at least, the first true 3D first person shooters are a great example of this. I never played Doom with a mouse, but the totally immersive evironments in Quake made me switch to using a mouse to control the character because I was navigating (and not dying) more effectively. In truth, the Doom system was more effective for the player, as there was no Z axis to consider in aiming, but Quake's dark, gothic feel and unique (at the time) style of play encouraged me to adapt what I had previously done.



Dungeon Siege seemed the soft option. Challenge your users to engage with the game and its world, by presenting them with a variation, either subtle or radical, from an established system. Particularly if this project is an abstract puzzle type game, the acts of solving and exploring should be the most important aspect of gameplay. If it is too pragmatic, the process of playing becomes yet another similar experience to other games. (I tried to get into Vampire: The Masquerade but it felt too much like I had already played it before.)
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
cyberdigitus
Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 11:35 am Reply with quote
Joined: 24 Nov 2003 Posts: 18 Location: Belgium
maybe the user interface benefits and drawbacks are not really dictated by the gui or input devices, but on the vocabulary the game has to offer (chris crawford thought long and hard on this) ie, what things a person playing get to do and how. it's all been about jumping shooting etc.

this does have a realtion with interface devices however. the dance games of late and that eye toy thing on ps2 are pretty novel, and we migtt see realtime facial emotion recognision from a webcam soon, if the ai in the game can interprete this well and do something meaningful with that, it could open a lot of possibilities.

and we aren't even talking about vr yet then ...
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
shaeffer
Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:11 am Reply with quote
Joined: 10 Dec 2005 Posts: 70
I read this earlier, and have been thinking about it.
The best kind of gui I can think of is one with the ability to change dynamically, as the user sees fit.
Frequently used actions for, lets say fighting scenarios, could be grouped together according to the player's fighting style, while travelling options may be removed completely, because the user prefers to use the keyboard for those things.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Michael
Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:08 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Sometimes, however, it seems that the ability for the user to configure everything leads to laziness of the designers. Personally I prefer a well designed interface that I have to adapt to a little bit, over having to figure out my own way to interface with the program conveniently.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
picklebro
Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:13 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
I think the more complex a game is, the more customizable its interface should be, as many people develop their own gaming styles and it may be more convenient for them to customize it in a way that the developer would have never thought to do.

However, I would most certainly agree that while a lot of R&D is usually done on the game, often the menu itself is largely overlooked unless detracts from the game. Not a lot of work is done to encourage menus to be an immersive part of the game. I look forward to seeing more and more of that (if it ever starts Smile ).
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger

Display posts from previous:  

All times are GMT + 2 Hours
Page 1 of 1
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.

Jump to:  

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum