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Why Zero-K's User Interface sucks

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CHrankAdminDeinFreund
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

If you've ever shown Zero-K to another person or read some feedback from new players, you'll have encountered that many feel overwhelmed or even intimidated by the game. This is detrimental when it comes to attracting new players to the game, especially for those new to RTS games.

While Zero-K is a very technically demanding game at a high level, it can be enjoyable, for some people even more enjoyable, without knowing every aspect of the game. The problem is that our current user interface doesn't reflect that in any way.

I reset my settings to default and joined an on-going team game. Here's what I was presented with:


This is overwhelming even for me as a veteran of the game. How should a newbie even get a grasp on the situation at hands?

I'm going to suggest some changes to the design to deal with this issue. Of course all of these changes are meant for newbies, they should all be configurable and don't have to be used by experienced players. The goal is to order the visibility of different UI elements by their significance to the current situation. The color palette should be limited to the absolute minimum required, preferably choosing colors without too much contrast or saturation.

Widgets


Map markers


Goal: Communicate location-specific information that is relevant to the current situation.

Layer: 2nd look. Map markers give additional insight and should not take priority over main elements.

Suggestion: Map markers and drawings are all over the map and only accumulate as the game progresses. They should quickly fade to have some transparency and possibly even disappear entirely after a few minutes. No player should have to know about the eraser for normal marker usage.

Player colors


Goal: Differentiate between friend and foe. Recognize allies and your own units.

Layer: 1st look. It should be very clear where allies and enemies are.

Suggestion: Default to simple colors. There should be a color for enemies, allies and your own units. Detailed information about which ally/enemy a unit belongs to would be excessive at a first glance. Try to avoid using fully saturated versions of red and green.

Small shading differences can be used to differentiate between specific players, but they should be kept so small that one wouldn't notice them at a first glance. They are secondary information and should thus have a visually secondary role.


These two simple changes yield us this result:


Now one can actually recognize the two parties involved in this battle. Next up I'm gonna have a look at some of the smaller UI elements.

Chat




Goal: Gain insight into your allies' latest plans.

Layer: 2nd look.

Suggestion: The chat is using way too many and oversaturated colors. Messages should be a very light grey but not white. Communication with allies should be just slightly tainted in green. Player names should not be colored or use much less saturated colors. I'd also suggest putting it into the top left as it is otherwise blocking valuable space in the center of the screen.

Global Commands




Goal: Allow new users to discover and try commands that'd usually be limited to power users.

Layer: 3rd look.

Suggestion: This is a very rarely used feature and has fittingly small icons. I don't think it is important enough to warrant the use of so many colors. The icons should either all be grey unless hovered over or use a common, simple color scheme. It would be nice to add a button for placing map markers. There's a button to erase map markers, yet markers can only be placed with an undiscoverable hotkey.

Economy panel




Goal: Give an overview over the current economic situation of the battle.

Layer: 1st look. Economy alone decides many battles.

Suggestion: This is the only UI element where I find there is no need to reduce the use of colors. The placement of stored resources, income and pull is unintuitive. It would be nice if it could be made clear that pull represents how much of your income is being used, for example as a fraction.

I disagree with the use of red and green for negative and positive numbers - as long as this is the same red and green used for enemies(bad) and allies(good) which I would recommend as to not use too many colors. If red means bad, then a lack of metal use should be red while using lots of metal (but not way too much) should be green.

Menu bar




Goal: Allow players to adjust game settings and control what they are playing.

Layer: 3rd look. Not needed for active play.

Suggestion: No colors should be used here, all white should be replaced by light grey. If hotkeys need to have a color it should be much less pronounced than full green (the most luminescent color). It might make sense to put a pause button here, as it is otherwise only accessible indirectly via the settings menu or by knowing the hotkey.

Player list




Goal: See who you are playing with and against.

Layer: 3rd look. Possibly 2nd if it updates during play.

Suggestion: There are way too many colors here. There's a detailed player list accessible via the tab key. This should be written in grey for discoverability. Flags, Clans and Rank can all be moved solely to the detailed list. CPU and Ping status would make more sense as a warning instead of being constantly displayed. Only display the CPU/Ping icon when they exceed normal values.

Zoomed in unit selection




Goal: Show what units are being commanded.

Layer: 1st look.

Suggestion: It is way too hard to find the selected unit(s). It's supposed to be visible on the first glance what units are selected. I'd suggest a white outline for selected units. Personally I also prefer the BAR selection widget over the one used in ZK. It uses animated white outlines that are much easier to see.

Zoomed out unit selection




Goal: Show what units are being commanded.

Layer: 1st look.

Suggestion: The white radar icons are easy to see, but they don't correspond to the icons shown in the selection bar. As in the single unit selection, the radar icon should be shown somewhere near/on the unit icon. The damage, health and value information at the bottom right is only supplemental information for power users. It certainly shouldn't be full white, instead I'd recommend using a middle grey (see stored resource color).

Command panel




Goal: Show what the currently selected units are capable of.

Layer: 2nd look.

Suggestion: There are way too many buttons and colors here. Priority should be given to the most important commands: stop, fire, attack, move. The other commands should be in a second row with smaller, less colorful buttons. I like the use of similar colors for similar commands, but it would be better if all of these colors were much less pronounced.

State toggles should similarly be ordered by importance with only fire and move state getting the full icon and others being smaller in a second row.

Alternatively to having first/second row commands/toggles, the less important buttons could also be simply hidden with an easily discoverable "advanced mode" to enable them.

Building placement




Goal: Show where a building can and can't be placed.

Layer: 1st look.

Suggestion: Nowhere in this pop-up is a text explaining that the terrain is too uneven for placement. The hotkey displayed (Space+click) doesn't even work in this context. Instead placement hotkeys such as long click for terraform could be shown. Rotation hotkeys should also be shown, as the ability to rotate buildings is otherwise undiscoverable.

Core selector




Goal: Quick access buttons to select frequently used units.

Layer: 3rd look.

Suggestion: The hotkey text is nearly unreadable because of the excessive use of color. As with all other 3rd layer widgets this would preferably just use grey-scale/simple colors.

Economy overlay




Goal: Visualize mex and geo spots.

Layer: 2nd look.

Suggestion: While the mexspots are held in a very subtle grey, geospots are marked in the brightest possible yellow. The yellow should be much less pronounced.

Afk detection


Goal: Make sure no units get lost due to players leaving/going afk.

Layer: 1st look (afk person). 2nd look(receiving person).

Suggestion: When a player is AFK, there should be pop-up on the center of the screen, similar to the pause screen, explaining that units have been given away due to afk and that they will be returned by moving the mouse. When a player is able to receive units, there should be a smaller window on the side of the screen, informing him that he has temporarily received units from an ally. Possibly this window could also have an option to reject receiving units in the future.

Maps


Maps are the canvas that the game is painted on. They should try to be as neutral as possible such that they don't distort what's on them. Many recent maps have already gone in this direction by only using a single, desaturated color in different intensities. Visual focus should lie on features that are important to gameplay.



Skybox


The skybox is probably the least important feature on screen when looking at the map from above. The light blue background on Akilon is way too bright for that.

Terrain coloring


The highlight should be put on terrain features that matter to the player: pathability, slopes and elevation. This means that ramps should be clearly shown. Instead the terrain color (see green areas) seems to have no correlation with elevation or slope.

Although not the worst example, Adansonia uses very saturated colors that can distract from the game and UI:


The texture patterns and variations on Wanderlust have too much contrast, which can make it hard spot units on them:


Conclusion


Although I've probably missed many things, I'm hoping to have stepped on every developer's feet here. A lot of work has been invested in the design of each individual widget/map and I'm not trying to invalidate that. Instead I'm hoping on the feedback from the widget creators and to end up with a common color scheme as well as a clear visual order.
+13 / -0

PTrankraaar
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

Clearly there's lots of work put into having all the UI config options ZK has, but imo it has too many. Many years ago I tweaked keys and such when played games, but more recently i've just tried to stick with defaults. Maybe it should have better defaults (I don't even remember what i've changed at this point).

Overall I think the ZK UI is good, but have some issues with it:

- the lobby client's "spring.exe" still keeps a full cpu core busy while idling (this is a performance issue)

- when in-game you have to click on "lobby" before being able to alt-tab

- not sure if this has changed recently, but the inactivity threshold may be too low on team games often i'd alt-tab a bit and find that my resources had been shared away for whoever took control

- not being able to skip getting units from AFK allies

- when you have multiple factories selected (assigned to group 0, for example), the units tab only shows the set of build options from one of them at a time, but you can click on them on the UI to select the one you want

- ctrl-z deselects builders (prevents them from being disrupted, but is inconsistent)

- "low" build priority is generally useless. Why not have just "normal" and "high"?

- factory build orientation is set automatically, and most of the times it's the desired one, but sometimes it's not (or you may want to invert it for extra protection) and I can't find where to change it!

- the chat commands for ringing etc. other players should be case-insensitive
+0 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
32 days ago
PTrankraaar I'll add your suggestions to the list. Just keep in mind that this is just about things that are in-game. I'll make another thread for lobby and website.
+0 / -0

CZrankpsaniac
32 days ago
I am afraid I don't really agree with many of the complaints. In fact, I fear that the game experience might actually be worse if some of these things were implemented.

Some of these are good, like the marker fading.

But I just can't agree with the colors. Colors allow quicker distinction of things at a glance. They can naturally help convey very important information without the brain even realizing it. And ZK has a lot of information that is really good to know. Even just defaulting to simple colors would change the game experience drastically - newbies would view allies and enemies as a mass instead of individual players. If some player says "help me" in chat, the people who use default settings won't know where that player is.

The notes about color saturation seem kinda subjective to me. The map coloring could be solved by the unit outline feature.

(The one good reason for complaints about colors might be that some people have colorblindness without realizing it. Or that they can't find the really well hidden colorblindness acessibility options.)

Though it is good that you've posted this here for open discussion rather then a shortened version in the patch-notes of a new release.
+1 / -0


CHrankConnetable
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

CHrankAdminDeinFreund You raise good points but I don't agree with :

- markers: most markers have limited lifetime but think about bertha or nuke spotting? You wanna have these the whole game...
- ally colours. It is imo quite easily understandable which colors are "friendly" and which are not

+1 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

CZrankpsaniac CHrankConnetable From your perspective, you're completely right. You want all the functionality right at your fingertips and the screen to show as much information as possible. As someone who has played hundreds if not thousands of hours that's exactly what I'd expect. When you design a user interface for people who spend thousands of hours training you get:


But Zero-K is firstly a game and not a profession. It should be accessible to people who just want to tinker around for a few hours in their free time. Of course as much functionality as possible should be retained without having to change any settings, but the user interface should help the player along the way. Powerusers like you can already and will always be able to adjust their settings for maximum efficiency.

CZrankpsaniac More colors allow you to display more information. More colors also mean you have to learn what each color means. Besides that, color is a very helpful tool to guide the player's eyes. Color should be used in a very targeted way, to accentuate the most important information on screen. That means recognizing whether a unit is good or bad or whether your economy is doing well or struggling. If you introduce more team colors, you're putting the difference between Enemy #1 and Enemy #2 on the same level as differentiating friend from foe.

quote:
If some player says "help me" in chat, the people who use default settings won't know where that player is.
Once a player has been playing the game enough to be in the position to help out his allies, I think we can expect him to do the single button press at the top left that allows you to turn on advanced team colors. Still, I agree that small shading differences between allies be a reasonable default, but they really have to be small unlike the current colors. The goal of the defaults is visual consistency, not maximizing information.
+1 / -0


AUrankAdminAquanim
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

I agree with the map markers and player colours points (although I would personally not use the default for player colours in that case). I don't think I agree with a fair fraction of the rest.

In particular I think removing colour from many of the GUI elements you suggest will make them less newbie-friendly, not more. Newbie-friendly is not only "how noisy is my screen", it is also "how easily can I find the buttons I want to find", and making everything grey is going to make many buttons difficult to distinguish, identify and find.

Playerlist should just not be on the screen all the time, unless the user wants it to be.

Unit selection could use some thinking about. Dunno how I feel about putting the radar icons on the selection screen, I feel like that might just introduce movement on the screen where it is not necessary. The selection screen can be photo only, icon only, somehow squeeze both in at once, or photo/icon depending on camera height or something - I don't think there's a clear case for something besides photo only.

Building placement thing could use improvement. Geo-locator could be more subtle. AFK units stuff is a known issue.

I'm not sure that it is useful to put the map design issues in the same thread as the rest.
+1 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
32 days ago
quote:
Newbie-friendly is not only "how noisy is my screen", it is also "how easily can I find the buttons I want to find", and making everything grey is going to make many buttons difficult to identify and difficult to find.


Making many buttons grey will make the important buttons stand out. I often see newbies clicking around the Global Commands bar when they're just trying out the game. That's not really a place a newbie should ever be clicking. The UI should lead players to the right actions.

Once a player knows that he's looking for a specific button, I agree that it'll be harder to find that button if it's only faintly colored. Yet the player is already looking for that specific button, thus all the UI now has to do is to differentiate buttons within a single element. Do you really need the full arsenal of colors and shapes to do that?
+0 / -0


AUrankAdminAquanim
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

quote:
Making many buttons grey will make the important buttons stand out. I often see newbies clicking around the Global Commands bar when they're just trying out the game. That's not really a place a newbie should ever be clicking. The UI should lead players to the right actions.

Once a player knows that he's looking for a specific button, I agree that it'll be harder to find that button if it's only faintly colored. Yet the player is already looking for that specific button, thus all the UI now has to do is to differentiate buttons within a single element. Do you really need the full arsenal of colors and shapes to do that?

There's more to being a newbie than "the first few moments where you're aimlessly clicking on stuff", there is also "the process of learning the game after you know generally what side of the screen a given button can be expected to appear".

edit: I can see a case for making some of the more obscure unit commands harder to find, but I don't think the global commands and menu bars are actually a serious distraction. I can barely even see them on your screenshot...

edit2: A basic familiarity with at least some of the stuff on the Global Command bar (contour map, pathing map, etc.) doesn't seem like a bad thing for a new player to have, or at least for them to know exists.
+1 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

quote:
There's more to being a newbie than "the first few moments where you're aimlessly clicking on stuff", there is also "the process of learning the game after you know generally what side of the screen a given button can be expected to appear".

That's what the whole layering idea is about. You tell the player what he should look at first. Once he's familiar with that, he will go ahead and look at the less obvious buttons and learn their function.

There are many ways you can differentiate buttons just by the use of shapes. Using the full palette of color for every UI element only leads to a lack of consistency and (as you said) a noisy interface.

For an example, look how Blender has managed to make their UI more organized and easier to read all while reducing contrast and use of color.
[Spoiler]

quote:
I can see a case for making some of the more obscure unit commands harder to find, but I don't think the global commands and menu bars are actually a serious distraction. I can barely even see them on your screenshot...

[Spoiler]
+0 / -0


AUrankAdminAquanim
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

I don't think the analogy to Blender is particularly useful. Blender is a tool used with cool calm reflection where very few or none of your button presses are time critical. Its GUI design has different priorities.

I don't really think there is a meaningful difference between your two screenshots.

edit: That being said I don't have a serious objection to merely lowering the colour saturation on the corner menus. Going full greyscale seems like it loses far more than it gains though.
+0 / -0



AUrankAdminGoogleFrog
32 days ago
(edited 32 days ago)

TLDR:
  • Fade out map markers and drawing.
  • Apply simple team colours.
  • Make the economy panel colours the same.
  • Make the menu bar and unit selection information gray.
  • Somehow dull the player list, chat, core selector, and global command buttons.
  • Replace unit selection with something that looks like the BAR selection widget.
  • Remove many of the colours from the command panel. Do this: https://github.com/ZeroK-RTS/Zero-K/issues/1248
  • Improve structure placement tooltip.
  • Improve geospot visuals in economy view.
  • Make an opt-in/explained AFK unit transfer system.
  • Some stuff about maps that I am going to treat as off-topic.

Most of what PTrankraaar said is duplicated or off-topic.

TLDR the TLDR:
  • Some simple improvements that nobody has gotten around to, often due to poor work:benefit ratios.
  • The revelation that your complexity-penalty for the use of colours is much higher than mine.

I notice that you haven't disagreed with the placement or inclusion of any of the UI elements, yet the UI "sucks" (a bit clickbaity?). It's an interesting focus and it is useful to think about colours, but I disagree with most of what you said here. I agree that the playerlist and chat are a bit of a mess of colours, but at least one is static while the other is transient. I think that a generally gray/desaturated UI would look terrible and I am not convinced that such a change is required. Some other small changes may be good, such as the whitening of the game-clock or de-emphasing the global commands, but I don't feel strongly enough to do it.

Joining midgame as a spectator and person who likes to play fully zoomed out is not an accurate depiction of the new player experience. In the case that a new player joins as a spectator, there is no time pressure so they have more of an oppotunity to look around. I have no heard any reports of new players being overwhelmed by colours in particular.

On other stuff:

+3 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
32 days ago
(edited 31 days ago)

quote:
I don't think the analogy to Blender is particularly useful. Blender is a tool used with cool calm reflection where very few or none of your button presses are time critical. Its GUI design has different priorities.

People are spending thousands for alternative software because they're more familiar with their user interfaces. In a professional setting of all cases does time matter. These UI changes are made only because they save valuable seconds that would end up adding up to the price of a commercial tool.

Even though you might hardly notice it, it's exactly these subtleties that cause UI designers to ask me if we'd ever even thought of what an outsider sees coming into the game.

quote:
I have no heard any reports of new players being overwhelmed by colours in particular.

This is what I've been told from talking to other game developers and general UI design guidelines, not specifically new zk players. I believe colors are on of the easiest things to change in the UI while also being able to achieve a much more coherent look. By generally reducing the use of colors we can then emphasize important elements much easier.

The post was intentionally a bit clickbaity and provoking to see how the reception to such a change would be. Seeing that you mostly agree with the ideas, except for some details, the implementation will be the next step.
+0 / -0


AUrankAdminAquanim
31 days ago
(edited 31 days ago)

quote:
People are spending thousands for alternative software because they're more familiar with their user interfaces. In a professional setting of all cases does time matter. These UI changes are made only because they save valuable seconds that would end up adding up to the price of a commercial tool.

Wanting to get the overall task done in as short a time as possible is *not the same thing* as individual button clicks being time critical as in a real-time game.

quote:
Even though you might hardly notice it, it's exactly these subtleties that cause UI designers to ask me if we'd ever even thought of what an outsider sees coming into the game.

I quite agree that Zero-K's GUI is probably not a professional job but I am unconvinced that some of the individual things you have suggested are by any means an improvement.

edit: I think if I searched for "grey" in the OP and replaced it with "desaturated colour" I would have many fewer issues.
+0 / -0


CHrankAdminDeinFreund
31 days ago
quote:
I quite agree that Zero-K's GUI is probably not a professional job but I am unconvinced that some of the individual things you have suggested are by any means an improvement.

I'm far from a UI designer and this list is mostly just a list of things I stumbled upon since the steam release. We agree that the UI can still need some work, so I'm trying to find out what way to go with the changes. If the result isn't as appealing as expected we can still go back. Desaturating colors is on the same axis as replacing colors by grey, so it should be easy to find a reasonable trade-off there.

AUrankAdminGoogleFrog I'm sorry if this all sounds a bit pretentious for an actually small changeset. Especially compared to the UI work you've done in the year before steam. I'm aiming to keep UI design an active topic and to possibly get more people involved in it. After all it's one of the things that are hardest to conceptualize yet generally easy to implement.
+0 / -0


USrankthe_green_squig
31 days ago
What I found hard as a newbie (with other RTS experience including TA, but no Spring RTS experience) 633 hours of Zero K ago was distinguishing the units (and their icons) from each other (in particular cloakfac as many of them are pretty small). I've learned to recognise (most of) them since like most people who have put in plenty of hours but do like the proposal about unit icons gaining the radar icons somewhere. I also found the r-click for standard move vs left-click for modified move commands (e.g attack move) distracting.

I can't think of any occasion where I've benefitted from drawings being persistent. I know one or two people like to draw a line on the map showing the half way point but personally it doesn't help me focus my attention on pushing forward. The point markers are more valuable especially when they're highlighting important intel (bertha, anti etc) with long term value but they do also rightly get used to highlight intel that needs an immediate response but which gets outdated quickly. I've certainly been distracted by markers relating to raiders that slipped through 5 minutes ago and have already been dealt with. I do think a button for markers would be useful somewhere though (and that global command bar could do with a title so I know what it's actually for) and maybe its usage could be modified with second key like the build, guard, etc commands. It could default to temporary markers but the modifier key would make it permanent.

I like simplifying the chat window colour scheme. All you need to know is what your team are saying and what anyone else is saying. I'm somewhat in two minds about simplified colour schemes though. On the one hand I can tell who the bad guy is, but on the other, if it's a lobster pot, I might find myself opposite several players, all with different facs in play and sometimes it's useful to know that, say "red is cloak, yellow is tank" since I know at a glance roughly what sort of force archetype I'm going to face from each of them. Sure, a newbie won't start thinking in those terms but if the defaults don't make it possible to think that way, it'll be harder to think about the relative threat posed by their opponents' compositions.

On a related note, losing distinct colours also means it's harder for me tell how dangerous my opposite number will be in a large team game. If the map deployment zones stretch along opposite edges of the map instead of corners then we tend to think in terms of lanes and the objective is to get as far down the lane as possible.

For all his many merits, I'd be less worried knowing that CHrankConnetable for instance was my direct opponent in a team game and rather more worried knowing that it was CHrankAdminDeinFreund. If anything, a consistent but varied team colour scheme that assigned colours by rating (and perhaps the player list could be shuffled as well to reflect this) would make threat assessment more intuitive. Yes, there will always be occasional black horses, but so be it, I can deal with that.

I definitely would like fire and move state to be more prominent. I might even go as far as suggesting equalising the size of commands and state toggles, but perhaps the commands could have square icons and the states have round ones so they can be told apart by shape.
+2 / -0


GBrankdyth68
31 days ago
(edited 31 days ago)

Great post CHrankAdminDeinFreund!

As someone relatively new I thought I'd share my experience:
For background, I had a reasonable amount of previous RTS experience, including Balanced Annihilation and Complete Annihilation.
  • I was somewhat overwhelmed by all the buttons, but I figured I could just ignore the little buttons and played through the campaign a bit as a tutorial (which it was actually pretty decent for). I didn't use the top left buttons until at least game 40. The small buttons on the unit command menu got slowly absorbed from games 20 to 100 (some of them could perhaps do with being a bit more prominent so that they get used quicker given how useful they are).
  • I was also overwhelmed by all the unit options. Again, the (first few levels of) campaign helped by removing most of them.
  • The mouse over text was an awesome help.
  • The hints on the loading screen were a godsend. So useful to be fed bitesized reminders about useful mechanics and hotkeys. There should be more of them.
  • I didn't figure out markers for a very very long time.

About the proposed changes:
1. Map markers: I didn't see map markers til very late (was initially playing team games with equally new friends or 1v1s) so I can't comment. I did find it annoying trying to watch a game when someone has drawn a big dick on the screen.
1a. The ability to use markers and erase things should be way more discoverable.
2. Player colors: I didn't mind the team colors, found them reasonably intuitive (brighter colors are one team and darker ones are the other). I even tried the simple color mode around game 4 and didn't like it.
3. Chat: No opinion on message colors. Seems fine.
4. Global commands: Making these more clearly ignorable initially might be nice.
4a. Having the markers be via one of those buttons rather than an undiscoverable hotkey would have been awesome.
5. Economy panel: I don't agree with swapping the colors, that would be immensely confusing to past me.
6. Menu bar: Sounds good.
7. Player list: I think having rank readily visible was useful, gives an immediate idea about how threatening that player is and whether I should be cautious. Country flags were nice flavor.
7a. I really think the mouse over for this should show that you can press Tab for more options! Took over 100 games to realize that I could give units and share resources!
8. Zoomed in: That was definitely a problem. Selections were very tricky.
8a. Also, for some of my friends telling units apart was very difficult.
9. Zoomed out: Yeah, the icons took a bit to get used to. That said, I had no issue with the white text. Was useful from the get go to realize how much metal worth of stuff I had and how many I'd selected.
10. Command panel: This was indeed somewhat overwhelming.
11. Building placement: Very much agreed. I still don't know how to rotate buildings.
12. Core selector: Green on a green background is a pretty poor color indeed.
13. Economy overlay: Mexes are way too subtle and geospots too blaring. Just to confirm: is starting with econ overlay the default? (it should be but I'm unsure if it is)
14. Afk: No comment.
15. Maps: Sure.
16. Skybox: I guess.
17. Terrain: Good god YES! The inability to clearly see slopes etc. is one of the worst things about Zero K. Particularly bad when they've been Tremored for a while.
+1 / -0


AUrankAdminAquanim
31 days ago
I don't think it's even possible for the readability of most maps to survive Tremor.
+3 / -0



CArankAdminShadowfury333
30 days ago
(edited 30 days ago)

I generally agree with CHrankAdminDeinFreund's points (and I might be able to do some of those changes over the Christmas break), but to break down some disagreements:

Economy panel:
I partially agree, the colours here could be desaturated, especially the red, but it's important to have it immediately obvious that the numbers differ in function, and it's way easier to glance and see the income and drain without also having to parse position or the use of '+' and '-', which would be more taxing on the brain. This element should retain colour, but the colours could use some revision.


Player list:
I've never really liked this UI element (I have it on for casts pretty much only as an aid for editing/video descriptions). I mean, there is a playerlist you get from hitting Tab, but I can kinda see the point for team games, considering there isn't any display of the game's players in the load screen or anything.


Zoomed in unit selection:
I mostly agree, but in my experience the currently publicly available BAR selections widget doesn't have any of that animation, and doesn't have a selection preview when making a box (something I quite like about the default Unit Shapes widget). Maybe I just got the wrong version of the widget, I'm really not sure, though either way it would need some finagling to work with Epicmenu.


Zoomed out unit selection:
I thought there was an option to show the radar icons in the corner of each selected unit's box, but I might be mistaken. I suppose this would be worth a try, probably in the bottom-left corner, extending at most 1/3 of the box in either axis, since that's usually a spot where the unit image isn't. I am a bit concerned about it being noisy, but that's why I figure it's worth a try.


Command panel:
Good luck. The command panel is built to show the union of available commands and states for every unit type currently selected, so while there are shared elements, ensuring their placement is fixed may be untenable, especially once you get transports in the mix and there ends up being more than 18 buttons. I'd love this to be doable, but it would involve quite a bit of careful consideration of all the possible mixes of commands.
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CHrankAdminDeinFreund
30 days ago
(edited 30 days ago)

As I said, I believe the economy panel to be one of the most important elements on screen, so you don't have to worry too much about color there - the income is supposed to stand out. What I think needs more explanation is the concept of resource pull. GBrankdyth68 how quickly did you realize the meaning of the three numbers? Changing colors might only be more confusing with the current layout, what about changing it to a ratio?



PA even has their center element dedicated to showing how much of your metal you are using. It doesn't have to be like that, but a simple percentage representing current resource usage might be helpful and stop noobs like myself from excessing every game :|

If it is a percentage, maybe it'd also be more intuitive to color numbers near 100% green and red when going over/under. This would make it much easier to visually match. I usually never look at the exact numbers while I'm playing, so I find changes in shape and color (resource bars and the colored arrows) to be the most helpful.
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