User interface

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Roots
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User interface

Postby Roots » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:09 am

There has been some recent discussion on the current user interface. Particularly, the default keyboard interface. Allow me to lay out our current default implementation and please give us feedback on what you think should be changed, if anything. Here we go.

Configurable Keys

Code: Select all

UP          :: up arrow
DOWN          :: down arrow
LEFT          :: left arrow
RIGHT          :: right arrow
CONFIRM          :: f
CANCEL          :: d
MENU          :: s
SWAP          :: a
LEFT SELECT   :: w
RIGHT SELECT  :: e
PAUSE          :: spacebar


Non-configurable Keys
These are meta-key combos, such as Ctrl+Q = quit game, Ctrl+S = take screenshot, etc.

Joystick
Default joystick configuration is totally dependant on the joystick. You can only map configurable keys to the joystick. I thought about maybe adding Ctrl+Q as a bindable joystick button, but when I did that on my gamepad I found it was too easy to accidentally hit it when I was trying to hit another button, so I removed it.
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roos
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Re: User interface

Postby roos » Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:43 am

The current setup is good because all the keys are close together (fdsa, etc)... It's definitely not obvious though, to someone who is playing for the 1st time so personally I'd be in favor of having them changed to something more intuitive...

Since there are a lot of keys, I had some trouble assigning all of them, but here is a possibility:

* Enter for confirm
* Backspace for cancel
* Tab for menu
* ESC for pause
* Insert for left select
* Home for right select
* Shift for swap
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Postby Roots » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:11 am

I like the idea of using ESC for pause. Seems much more natural than spacebar (which is too easy to accidentally hit anyway). The other keys, while a couple may be slightly more intuitive (enter and backspace), the way you defined that the user would have to be jumping across the entire keyboard. I definitely don't think that's what we want. :uhoh:


The reason I had the default setup we have now in the first place was because I figured arrow keys are very intuitive and familiar to use in games, so that leaves the left hand to handle all other commands. I thought it would be best if the user's hand was in the standard position for typing (ring finger on the f, others covering d, s, a).


I think that instead of trying to find a "more intuitive" default key binding, when the user is playing the game for the first time, a little box should pop up that defines the keys for them. That way they don't have to get stuck initially, open up the README, etc. Just an idea :shrug:
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Postby gorzuate » Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:50 am

No other game has a popup box when playing it for the first time telling you what the controls are. Whenever I play a game for the first time, I always go to the options menu first and look at the default keybindings, changing them if necessary.

Personally I think this discussion is moot.
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Postby Ranger M » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:55 am

just have the first thing that happens when you start up the game be a tutorial style thing, which explains how you interact with the world, and what the keys are, that way people know. (and if they forget then it's their own stupid fault, but all they have to do is start a new profile and do the tutorial again).

alternatively you could have the tutorial as an option on the main menu screen (so that you don't have to make a new profile, and it is optional if you have already played the game before.)
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Postby MindFlayer » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:30 am

gorzuate wrote:Whenever I play a game for the first time, I always go to the options menu first and look at the default keybindings, changing them if necessary.


Exactly. But how would the user know to press 'F' for the options menu? Maybe we should use alternative keys (like return) only for the main menu confirm?
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Postby Roots » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:56 pm

gorzuate wrote:No other game has a popup box when playing it for the first time telling you what the controls are. Whenever I play a game for the first time, I always go to the options menu first and look at the default keybindings, changing them if necessary.

Personally I think this discussion is moot.


So maybe instead of a popup box, when the game starts for the first time, the user should automatically be taken to the key configuration menu so they can change the keys if they like, and they won't be frusterated trying to figure out what the default keys are.
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Postby roos » Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:03 pm

OK, that idea sounds fine to me. The only reason I was pushing for the intuitive layout is because the very first time you play, like MF said, it's not obvious at all that you press "F" to confirm.
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Postby gorzuate » Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:44 pm

We don't need any fancy shmancy tutorials, popup boxes, "taking the user straight to the options menu" doodads. :rolleyes:

Leave all the keys as they are now, except for the confirm key, whose default will become Enter/Return. This is obvious/intuitive enough that the first time the user plays the game they should be able to figure out how to get to the Options menu and lookup/change the key bindings.

Voila! Simple and straightforward.
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Postby Zorbfish » Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:15 pm

Why is it so hard not to simply add the default configuration inside a readme?
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Postby Roots » Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:34 pm

Zorbfish wrote:Why is it so hard not to simply add the default configuration inside a readme?


It isn't. But the fact is, most people who download the game and want to play it are just going to want to jump right in and won't be bothered to look at the readme.


In response to gorzuate's comment, having only confirm as the default key sounds like a bad idea to me. Then, you have all the other keys to the left side and the confirm key on the right. Not to mention the user might not always go directly to change the key configuration in the beginning, and then they would wonder which key will allow them to go back in the menu tree.


I still stand on bringing the user directly to the key configuration screen for the first time that they run the game and keep all of our current default settings (except I vote to change pause from spacebar to esc as roos suggested). There, they can either see the default keys and not have any initial frusteration with the game, or they can change the settings to whatever they would like.


Maybe I should add a poll, because we seem divided on this issue. :shrug:
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Postby alenacat » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:19 pm

Is it possible to keep the keys as is but add esc as a secondary button for pause and enter as a secondary button for confirm?
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Postby gorzuate » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:29 pm

Roots wrote:Not to mention the user might not always go directly to change the key configuration in the beginning, and then they would wonder which key will allow them to go back in the menu tree.


The fact of the matter is that the user should either read the manual before playing, where the controls would be listed, or one of the first things they should do is go check out the key bindings in the Options menu, and for the latter to work the confirm key needs to be bound to something intuitive, like Enter or Space (Space you might like better, Roots, since it can be accessed by the left hand comfortably). None of the other defaults matter that much as long as the user can get to the Options menu.

Another thing we could do is explictly add a "Back" menu option on all sub-menus, so the user doesn't have to know which key to use to go back in the menu tree.
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Postby turin » Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:15 am

I would say that ENTER should be avoided, since, although I don't know about others, I find it extremely awkward to use when playing any game. I prefer SPACE as a replacement.
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Postby Roots » Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:27 am

alenacat wrote:Is it possible to keep the keys as is but add esc as a secondary button for pause and enter as a secondary button for confirm?


It is possible, but I would prefer not to do this.

gorzuate wrote:None of the other defaults matter that much as long as the user can get to the Options menu.


Which is why it makes sense to automatically take the user to the key configuration menu when the game runs for the first time! :bash: Even if the default confirm is "easier to guess", the player still has to guess!!!


gorzuate wrote:Another thing we could do is explictly add a "Back" menu option on all sub-menus, so the user doesn't have to know which key to use to go back in the menu tree.


I firmly reject this. :disapprove:
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Postby gorzuate » Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:34 am

Roots wrote:
gorzuate wrote:Another thing we could do is explictly add a "Back" menu option on all sub-menus, so the user doesn't have to know which key to use to go back in the menu tree.


I firmly reject this. :disapprove:


Okay, but I'm curious as to why.
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Postby Jetryl » Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:48 am

gorzuate wrote:
Roots wrote:
gorzuate wrote:Another thing we could do is explictly add a "Back" menu option on all sub-menus, so the user doesn't have to know which key to use to go back in the menu tree.


I firmly reject this. :disapprove:


Okay, but I'm curious as to why.


Yeah - why? :huh:
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Postby Roots » Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:03 am

I just don't like it. We're going to have lots of menus in the game (during battles, dialogues, menu mode, etc) and I think it is in our best interest that the all share the same behavior and expectations. There's no way we'd put a "back" option in a battle menu, so I don't think there should be one in the boot menu, or anywhere else.

Currently the *only* exception to this is when the user requests for the game to quit, they are presented with a menu "Quit Game --- Quit to BootMenu --- Cancel", although hitting the cancel key achieves the same effect as selecting the cancel command and hitting confirm.
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Postby eleazar » Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:37 pm

based on my experience with keyboard controlled games, i strongly expect 'space', 'esc', 'return/enter', and the arrow keys to do something. Sure they aren't the most ergonomic control keys, but they are easy to guess and to hit. 'Space' especially is easy to hit no matter where your hands are on the keyboard.

I don't see a problem with some alternate keybindings for some of the commands like "confirm." Let the obvious keys do something. Then once the player gets weary of the less-ergonimic arrangment, he can check the options menu, set up his own keys or use the 'asdf' default alternate bindings.

Also i suggest that the default keys should all be found on a small-sized keyboard, such as a laptop has. "home" and "insert" arent' keys that everyone has.
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Postby Roots » Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:53 pm

I agree with what you said eleazar and have been thinking the same thing myself. Only I want to make sure that these keys can be turned off because it sucks accidentally hitting a key you didn't mean to (and that you can't unbind) or having your cat walk across your keyboard. :heh: Allowing for multiple inputs will add a small performance hit to the input engine though.


Another idea that I was thinking was when the player starts the game for the first time (ie a clean install), force them to view a window on the boot screen that shows them the default key layout.
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