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Zero-K - November UI work

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AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
7 months ago

Learning from GDS, I have been focusing on the user interface this month. The current default looks like a disparate collection of panels arranged in a convention-breaking way and is probably the source of much confusion. Most of the work was spent on making the panels support enough skinning to make them look like they fit together. Another large part of the work was the complete rewrite of two of the widgets. Too many changes needed to be made and the widgets were unmaintainable spaghetti code from at least five years ago.

A not-insignificant amount of effort was expended on keeping the rewrites and new layout options compatible with the old defaults. Maintaining compatibility with the varied way people use and modify their UI probably increased the workload by at least 3x. Some compatibility options were missing over the month but they are probably all present by now. You can try out the latest work in Settings/Hud Presets with "New UI Minimap Left" or "New UI Minimap Right".

Balance


  • Duck torpedoes are slightly better at homing.
  • Completely submerged units can no longer cloak.
  • Fixed Commander surface visibility and vulnerability. They should now be visible exactly when they can be damaged by weapons with no AoE.
  • Buffed Support Commander's ability to shoot at things very close to it. In other words, added a workaround for its poorly thought out gun length as compared to its height.

Unit AI


  • Added Global Build Command. It is currently disabled but can be toggled through Game/Worker AI.
  • Added overkill prevention for Ravens against structures.
  • Fixed Raven diving insufficiently low against Commanders with speed modules.
  • Fixed jumpjet activation when retreating.

Interface



Rewrote the command menu:
  • Command menu hides itself if no units are selected.
  • Bound Priority to Ctrl+Q and Repeat to Ctrl+R.
  • Added consistency between clicking and hotkeys. Grid hotkey display is now consistent.
  • Reorganized factory production tab to group units by role and ease of use.
  • Added a command to clear the factory build queue.
  • Fixed Aspis icon border. It used to be bordered as if it were armed.
  • Added an option to make factory queue Alt insert put the new command behind the current construction instead of canceling it when repeat is not enabled. Repeat already has this behaviour.
  • Added an option to make Ctrl disable grid hotkeys while held.
  • Space+Click on command buttons now shows the command hotkey configuration menu.

Rewrote quick unit selector:
  • Factory selection can now be bound to hotkeys. They are unbound by default, I am experimenting with Alt+Q for my first factory, Alt+W for my second factory etc..
  • Selector panel can now be aligned vertically.
  • Fixed some really stupid things related to quick selection positioning itself.
  • Fixed flash upon switching between teams while spectating.
  • Selector supports spacing, padding etc..
  • Selector can now be skinned.

Economy panel:
  • Added warnings for metal excess and energy stall.
  • Changed the metal storage mechanics to make the resource bar actually full when you are excessing metal.
  • Fixed incorrect reporting of energy reclaim.

Reorganized main menu panel:
  • Removed tweak mode, FPS and game flag.
  • Made the menu behave properly when resized, removing or squishing its options.
  • Made the menu able to reduce to 32 pixels high to save space.
  • Rebound widget selector from F11 to Ctrl+F11
  • Removed binding to hide the menu. Esc now opens the menu identically to F10. Hiding the menu can still be bound with hotkeys.
  • Added a button to switch to the lobby, for Chobby users.

Chat:
  • Added an option to disable the backlog arrow when not chatting.
  • Added an option to show the backlog arrow on the left.

Terraform:

  • Build height selection used to queue a terraform command and later queue a construction, based on your ping. Now terraform is properly queuable so both construction and terraform commands are sent simultaneously. This allows for much faster and bug-free structure placement.
  • Improved persistent build height visuals.
  • Persistent build height now works well when constructing floating structures.
  • Each type of terraform now has its own mouse cursor and queue icon.
  • Terraform now split builds, if you tell a spread out line of constructors to make a wall they will each work on their closest block.
  • Added a widget to replace the buttons underneath the minimap.
  • Fixed lasso terraform UI interaction with water.

Misc:
  • Non-Mex structures can no longer be placed on metal spots. This isn't quite a mere interface change because it is enforced in game mechanics.
  • Fixed docking API position remembering for non-docking widgets and added an option to only dock with the screen edge, not other widgets. Commander upgrade windows now remember their position.
  • Removed Stop and Repeat commands from units that have no use for them (such as Solar Collectors).
  • Added an option to toggle whether the mouse cursor is confined to the game window.
  • Fixed nuke launch warning location.
  • Tooltip healthbar display now updates instantly when a new unit is moused over.
  • Trees are no longer reclaimed by basic area reclaim. To reclaim them with area reclaim either hold Ctrl while giving the order or give the order with a tree at the center (left click and drag on a tree).
  • Fixed Space+Click being non-functional on anything underwater.
  • Fixed floating structure placement (Spring change, thanks ILrankAdminhokomoko).
  • Recon Commander replaces old Strike Commander on the Commander Selection icon.

Graphics



  • Grid outlines now merge instead of adding their transparency on overlap.
  • Added HDR rendering widget. It is not fully featured so the HDR option is disabled and marked as experimental. Try it on in Settings/Graphics/HDR (experimental).
  • Claw ghosts are now much easier to see.

Fixes


  • Fixed a lups error.
  • Lightning spark effects now form a circle, not a square.
  • Debris is now more consistent in inheriting unit momentum, it no longer drops vertically.
  • Fixed old Reef naming conflict.
  • Fixed invisible Crane wreck.
  • Fixed edge extension with water level modoption.
  • Fixed initial queue mex positions with water level modoption.
  • Added/fixed start boxes for Flooded Valley v2 and Onyx Cauldron 1.7.
  • Removed the little flags that sometimes appear in the top left corner of the map.
  • Removed some deprecated unit tags.

+12 / -0


CArankAdminShadowfury333
7 months ago
So, "New Minimap UI Left/Right" is the expected default? I kinda liked the original "New", but I'm cool with either, so long as I know which is expected. The chat box should probably be widened for the New Minimap presets, though.
+0 / -0




AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
7 months ago
quote:
So, "New Minimap UI Left/Right" is the expected default? I kinda liked the original "New", but I'm cool with either, so long as I know which is expected. The chat box should probably be widened for the New Minimap presets, though.
Yes. I think something with minimap on the right will be the default.

I looked around on the internet and discovered that the UI of most (similar) games mainly consists of three things arranged on the bottom: minimap, selection and commands. Minimap is always on the left or right and almost all the UI arguments I could find where about whether the minimap is better placed on the left or right. Selections and commands are placed in any configuration once the minimap is set, either can be in the middle. I want the minimap to be on the right by default because:
  • The most objective thing I could get from the arguments about minimap left/right was that people prefer the minimap on their dominant eye.
  • Wikipedia says that dominate eyes are a real thing (not something made up in an argument) and that 2/3 of people have their right eye dominate.
  • Command panel then selections looks similar to the old ZK default.
  • Command panel on the left puts state toggles in the middle of the screen, not the edge.

NOTA and the Command and Conquer series are outliers with a UI vertically stacked on one side. I didn't do this because our current widgets are all designed to be wider than they are tall so making a nice coherent UI would require much more rewriting and redesigning. Also, I personally dislike it when the center of my viewing area is too far off the vanishing point of the view. Old games (Wacraft 2, TA, old C&C games) get away with side UIs because their isometric or fixed camera viewpoint lacks the perspective required to create a vanishing point in their viewport.

I went away from this design:

because it felt too unbalanced.
+1 / -0

DErankSurfmaniac
7 months ago
thanks for the work and keeping zk fresh with constant updates. much appreciated!
would it be possible to bring up some youtube tutorial about all the fancy widgets and UI options and link it to the manual of the webpage?
+0 / -0

ATrankSkasi
7 months ago
quote:
Non-Mex structures can no longer be placed on metal spots. This isn't quite a mere interface change because it is enforced in game mechanics.

Is this also true for Geos? If I remember correct, BlackStar had an extra low-yield metal spot at the same location as a geospot. Players would have to make a decision on which they value more.
+0 / -0


USrankaeonios
7 months ago
quote:
Is this also true for Geos? If I remember correct, BlackStar had an extra low-yield metal spot at the same location as a geospot. Players would have to make a decision on which they value more.


I don't think there's any non-derpy map that has geo spots on top of mexes.
+0 / -0


USrankFealthas
7 months ago
IS there a way to disable minimap and the minimap buttons?
+0 / -0




AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
7 months ago
What do you mean? There is a way to do anything if you try hard enough. Configuration can be sorted into levels of danger and power.
1. Opening the menu and changing settings.
2. Ticking "Advanced" and changing settings.
3. Enabling/Disabling widgets, tweak mode.
4. Messing with config files directly. Springsettings, hotkeys, lua config.
5. Overriding widgets with copied and modified local versions.
6. Writing your own local widgets.

Hide minimap buttons is a 2, disabling minimap is 3.
+0 / -0


PLrankAdminSprung
7 months ago
quote:
quote:
Non-Mex structures can no longer be placed on metal spots.

Is this also true for Geos?

No. Geospots can be blocked.
+0 / -0


USrankFealthas
7 months ago
I found the option to hide minimap buttons, but messing with widgets hasn't yielded a way to remove the minimap. Removing the chilli widget for it just replaces it with the standard ugly spring one.
+0 / -0


JPrankgajop
7 months ago
(edited 7 months ago)

If those (top left) are minimap buttons, then they should be near the minimap. (example: & http://www.hiveworkshop.com/attachments/wc3scrnshot_120710_001605_03-png.93780/ )
+0 / -0




AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
7 months ago
Well then they're not minimap buttons. You'll have to do better than just posting a screenshot.
+0 / -0

USrankBeamer
7 months ago
I agree with JPrankgajop that the buttons in the top-left corner seem out-of-place. Not necessarily because they are minimap buttons, but because they are so far away from the other command buttons. Specifically, the "set retreat zone" and "set ferry zone" buttons are essentially buttons for organizing your commands. It seems weird that they are so far from all of the other buttons that you will use in the game.
+1 / -0


CArankAdminShadowfury333
7 months ago
Well, I'm using the new minimap left setup (I'm pretty sure my left eye is dominant), so that's been pretty neat to look at. I'm not sure why the chat panel is so small, it seems like it would work well to be all the way across the selections box.
+0 / -0




AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
7 months ago
I previously tried putting the buttons on the minimap and it always ended up messy. That many small buttons close to the other buttons results in a cluttered UI. The buttons break the clean square border of the minimap into steps or make the map look uncentered.

Buttons on top mockup:


Buttons on right:


The minimap shrinks itself to the required dimensions, provided it doesn't fall below the selection window.

On lower screen resolutions there won't be room to place the buttons next to the minimap. The minimap may be too short or thin to support them. Lowest supported resolution:


The top buttons counterbalance the menu. Otherwise the top left would just be empty space.

Finally, I barely think the buttons should be used and I don't mind if new players don't see them. The top of the screen, away from the main clicking UI, seems like a good spot for rare options. I don't think there is much of an overlap between people who would use these buttons and people who would use them without a hotkey.
+1 / -0

ATrankSkasi
7 months ago
(edited 7 months ago)

quote:
Lowest supported resolution <1280×721px image>

Supporting widths of 1024px for 1024×768 displays could be a good idea as well. Allegedly that makes up 1.65% of all gaseous dihydrogen monoxide users.

Oh also what does the game controller button on the Menu bar do? If it's for hotkeys, shouldn't it be a keyboard(+mouse)?
+1 / -0


CArankAdminShadowfury333
7 months ago
quote:
Oh also what does the game controller button on the Menu bar do?

It doesn't do anything, it's just the marker for which time is game time, as opposed to clock time.
+0 / -0



GBrank[GBC]1v0ry_k1ng
7 months ago
UI is looking really good ingame these days, great job!
+0 / -0




AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
7 months ago
quote:
Supporting widths of 1024px for 1024×768 displays could be a good idea as well. Allegedly that makes up 1.65% of all gaseous dihydrogen monoxide users.
I looked at that number, thought about the power of a computer with a screen that old, and decided not to. You've got to find about 250 pixels to shave off the 1280 UI. The resource bars stop being centred and the selected unit window becomes so squished that it complains. The selection window has hardcoded sizes, no scaling at all, and the widget is much more awful than the two widgets I rewrote. Any non-trivial change should really be done with a rewrite.
+0 / -0

ATrankSkasi
7 months ago
Could the UI be made to automatically rearrange itself? As in, to allow different layouts depending on the resolution?

How about something like this for 1024px width then?

+0 / -0
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