when the NPC just really has to talk

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eleazar
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when the NPC just really has to talk

Postby eleazar » Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:54 am

i just played the demo.

here's a less mechanical dialog bubble.

[img:128:128]http://www.jwbjerk.com/dl/dialogue_icon.png[/img]
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Postby rujasu » Wed Jun 06, 2007 5:33 am

I like the "mechanical" dialog icon myself... then again, I'm a weirdo. Besides, I have to admit that the "speech bubble" is more intuitive. Maybe it can be an option (bubble icon (default)/current icon/no icon) in the menu somewhere.
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Postby gorzuate » Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:21 am

rujasu wrote:I like the "mechanical" dialog icon myself...


:eyebrow:
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eleazar
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Postby eleazar » Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:54 pm

rujasu wrote:...Besides, I have to admit that the "speech bubble" is more intuitive. Maybe it can be an option (bubble icon (default)/current icon/no icon) in the menu somewhere.

I don't really care that you dislike the version i made,
but the suggesting that this element should be alterable in the preferences is crazy.

Options should be significant and worth the player's notice, not a salve to someone's ego when his favorite tiny detail of the game is replaced.
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Postby Jetryl » Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:51 pm

Eleazar's new icon is almost preternaturally like what I was intending to do - I'll commit it to svn when I get a chance. I might make it slightly transparent if it's not already, but other than that I'm not going to futz with it before the demo.

eleazar wrote:Options should be significant and worth the player's notice, not a salve to someone's ego when his favorite tiny detail of the game is replaced.


This is a hugely important point of software design. Hugely important.

It's why, for example, Firefox doesn't suck.
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Postby rujasu » Wed Jun 06, 2007 5:57 pm

eleazar wrote:I don't really care that you dislike the version i made,
but the suggesting that this element should be alterable in the preferences is crazy.

Options should be significant and worth the player's notice, not a salve to someone's ego when his favorite tiny detail of the game is replaced.


Whoa... I didn't mean it like that... actually I do like the bubble you added. And I don't think I'm anyone who should be consulted when it comes to art design. I certainly don't expect anyone to put an option in the menu just to make me happy... it's not like I care tremendously either way.

Actually, I do think there should be an option, and not because I think we should keep the old icon. Rather, I think there will be gamers who will want to disable the icon entirely. I have a suspicion that some will find that any icon floating over the NPC's head will get in the way, or it will somehow be holding the player's hand... I agree that it borders on micromanagement, but I don't personally think it's beyond consideration... maybe we should wait and see if anyone playing the demo actually even cares about the dialog icons, though.

Personally, I like having the icon, and I think the bubble is the way to go. Like I said, it's more intuitive.
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Postby Jetryl » Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:17 pm

Rujasu is right that there's a bit of a problem with the current plethora of icons. When you walk into a new town, it's assumed that everyone will have some chunk of fresh dialogue. Having all those icons is redundant, and it's also very visually ugly, IMO, no matter what the icon is.

On the other hand, the icons do solve a major problem wherein the player can't tell if people do/do not have fresh dialogue to tell them.

This is a bit of a long-term design problem; something we should deal with in the future. My thought would be to have these only appear when the player walks near (withing 5-7 tiles of) someone they haven't talked to yet, with the major exception that certain dialogues flagged as "important" would always show an indicator, regardless of the player's position.
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Postby Rain » Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:25 pm

eleazar wrote:I don't really care that you dislike the version i made,
but the suggesting that this element should be alterable in the preferences is crazy.

Options should be significant and worth the player's notice, not a salve to someone's ego when his favorite tiny detail of the game is replaced.
Thats needlessly harsh. :eyebrow: I don't get the feeling that he was putting your design down.

Final Fantasy Tactics is a game which makes such characteristics alterable and imo, it offers both something to beginners and veteran players alike. Its an aesthetic option to be sure, but the choice to customize the game will best suit the experience of the individual player.

Whether or not our current brainstorming for implementing these measures is valid remains to be seen.

My thought would be to have these only appear when the player walks near (withing 5-7 tiles of) someone they haven't talked to yet, with the major exception that certain dialogues flagged as "important" would always show an indicator, regardless of the player's position.


:approve:
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Postby Jetryl » Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:31 pm

Rain wrote:Its an aesthetic option to be sure, but the choice to customize the game will best suit the experience of the individual player.


I wholeheartedly disagree with that. :nono: Lots of options, especially visible options that a user can check off, are bad user-interface design. It's the essence of Microsoftian design to give the user a hailstorm of options.

It's an extension of the zen idea that "less is more". Too many options is just as bad as too few options. It's bad for the user, since they have to pick between several things that are only marginally or situationally better than each other. They waste time reading up on these options, and trying to gauge the relatively benefits of them, when it would be better for them to get on with the basic operation of the program. And even if they understand the options, the presence of them gets in the way of their operation of the program. It's also very bad for the developer, since they have to carefully insert checks throughout their code to provide different behaviour depending on the options a user has set. The detriment to the user probably wouldn't hit us too hard, because of the nature of our program, but the detriment to our programming team would hit us really hard.

Options should only be included when they affect functionality in a major way, and should be laid out such that there are the least logical set of user-interface "switches" (be they checkboxes, etc) that a user has to click to change some functionality. Whenever possible, a software designer should strive to make it such that "one size really does fit all"; to make it so that the default choice works well for (practically) everyone. This often, as it would in this very case we're discussing, entails additional programming above and beyond the job of coding the basic feature.



:angel: No offense taken, and I hope none given; this is just a very central tenet of my software design philosophy - and something I also happen to share with Dave, Wesnoth's lead coder. (He and I disagree about several other things, but we both agree on this.)

Rain wrote:Final Fantasy Tactics is a game which makes such characteristics alterable and imo, it offers both something to beginners and veteran players alike.


:huh: All the above said, certain purely visual options can be nice to have; it's just in where the "threshold" lies for "is this worth having?" In this case, I don't think the tradeoff in code checks is worth having an option for (by far).


Rain wrote:
Jetryl wrote:My thought would be to have these only appear when the player walks near (withing 5-7 tiles of) someone they haven't talked to yet, with the major exception that certain dialogues flagged as "important" would always show an indicator, regardless of the player's position.


:approve:


I'm -hoping- something like this can work out; it remains to be seen, though, and I'd love to see some other brainstorming on the subject.
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Postby gorzuate » Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:04 pm

Jetryl wrote:In this case, I don't think the tradeoff in code checks is worth having an option for (by far).


Well actually the code check for this would be (should be) only one if statement when processing the options menu:

if checkbox is checked, load speech bubble
else, load mechanical blue thing

Once loaded, that's it. Nothing else necessary. Simple.
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Postby rujasu » Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:20 pm

Jetryl wrote:I wholeheartedly disagree with that. :nono: Lots of options, especially visible options that a user can check off, are bad user-interface design. It's the essence of Microsoftian design to give the user a hailstorm of options.


Honestly, this particular issue isn't a major one either way, so I don't really care if it's configurable or not. Personally, I don't agree with that philosophy on options... and I'm the type of user that believes Microsoft products aren't configurable enough.

Now, I view Allacrost as a game that is somewhat targeted toward the console feel/audience, and thus, maybe it shouldn't have quite the exhaustive list of options that PC games tend to have. Still, I don't think less configurability is a sign of superior UI design. Obviously, preferences on this are going to vary.
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Postby Rain » Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:03 am

Jetryl wrote:I wholeheartedly disagree with that. :nono: Lots of options, especially visible options that a user can check off, are bad user-interface design. It's the essence of Microsoftian design to give the user a hailstorm of options...
...I miscalculated the argument. Dialogue is but one aspect of user interface and I think I was getting ahead of myself with some of my comments making a comparison between FFT and Allacrost user interface, as a whole. I shouldn't have brought this comparison into the equation at all.

but the suggesting that this element should be alterable in the preferences is crazy.


I clumsily misread Eleazar's statement beyond its scope. I assumed that he was referring to all types of interface but it is clear he was referring only to dialogue.

To clarify my thoughts, I agree its a good principle not to complexify the experience unnecessarily. In regards to the 'dialogue bubble', I agree that there needs to be a singular universal constant that everyone will be able to appreciate or at the very least recognize.

I like Eleazar's design for now. It should be easy enough to implement and will serve its purpose well. The little 'circuit halos' serving as dialogue indicators at the moment, seem more like a futuristic cyber-punk feature...even 'gasp' 'trekkish'. Its always bugged me a bit.
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eleazar
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Postby eleazar » Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:31 pm

Jetryl wrote:
Rain wrote:
Jetryl wrote:My thought would be to have these only appear when the player walks near (withing 5-7 tiles of) someone they haven't talked to yet, with the major exception that certain dialogues flagged as "important" would always show an indicator, regardless of the player's position.


:approve:


I'm -hoping- something like this can work out; it remains to be seen, though, and I'd love to see some other brainstorming on the subject.

If it's not too tricky, a gradual fade-in from a mostly-tranparent icon when far away, to a nearly opaque icon when close up would feel smoother than having a binary cut off point.
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Postby prophile » Sat Jun 09, 2007 5:47 pm

Well, if you specify alpha blending and do it based on the length of the vector between the player and the NPC, that would work.

Put it to the power of 0.3 too, cause that looks better.

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