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Author Topic: Interactive Design course. Project 1. It's about Dwarf Fortress GUI.  (Read 958 times)

Sarmatian123

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Few months ago around january and februari I was writing some sad commentary here in suggestions about many issues still afflicting Adventure Mode including UI design. My answer was to some commentary, that there are university courses on these design topics these days. Then it came a great news about DF, that DF is coming out into the big world on Steam from its cloths' cabinet. There will be people helping out with UI design! I would never guess that myself. Yay! :)

Game design and UI/UX GUI design are two distinctively separate scientific topics. I took course in UI/UX Interactive Design. One of the projects on this course had a topic, for which I could pick a game's GUI. I picked Dwarf Fortress's GUI. The grade I received for it is 4 (out of range 1-5). The course takes months, while to read pdf with 6 pages with big pictures will take immensely less. I think I covered all major UI/UX topics in the reference listing. Though reading through all these pdf and some major pdf material they are relating to in their turn, can take a "wee" longer. :)

It comes with a flashing red warning to avoid some particular game design in Dwarf Fortress game design, which is simply unfit to DF.

http://dffd.bay12games.com/file.php?id=14380

My hopes are, it will serve some greater good, but it is just a suggestion.
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voliol

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+1 for a well written text, with cited sources that could be used for additional UI research. Also, considering Zach/Threetoe is currently working on redesigning the UI for the premium release, it couldn't have been posted at a better time. I am a bit averse to the suggestion of moving all the hotkey menus to the rightmost side of the screen, though that seemingly boils down to obstinacy rather than any logical sense, as I do like it in that manner.

Sarmatian123

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Thank you voliol! So kind.

Yes, obstinacy, force of habit and muscle memory pains is what I expected in comments. :) Actually, I waited for whole week to see how many folks declare my utilitarian GUI proposition, as too many too drastic changes for them. :D 17 downloads resulted only in one comment. Not too shocking change? :D Well, I didn't propose any revolutionary change for sure. Just tried to streamline the DF's GUI design with what is already generally accepted. Only one comment, which also sets my suggestion to +1. Thanks! :)

Due words limitation set on report, I had to concentrate entirely on UI/UX GUI design. It hurts, when you write stuff about game design, which you have to cut out. It prolonged my report writing few weeks. Game design also impacts UI/UX GUI design. I think, as I never obtained MUSE tool to play with (ehem for testing purposes lol), MUSE tool covers this with its modularity. Heuristics in comparison is like Nielsen's bare bone 17 tumb rules for general software application to MUSE's over 600 rules for a particular game type.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 06:38:37 pm by Sarmatian123 »
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SixOfSpades

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     I was generally uninclined to reply because I was, to put it very bluntly, unimpressed. This is not to say that I think there's anything wrong with your suggestions--to the contrary, I think they're all good--I was simply expecting MORE. I for one am ready for Dwarf Fortress to start using pixels instead of nothing but ASCII characters. When I imagine improvements to the GUI, I see each dwarf's Thoughts & Preferences screen augmented with a picture of that dwarf, so if, for example, "her close-set violet eyes have slit pupils", I can see that for myself instead of just reading it. Similarly, I should be able to view my fort (the aboveground portion, at least) from any angle, zooming in & out and rotating on all 3 axes. Or, Adventurer mode should offer a first-person view option, and use similar functionality in Fort mode for taking 3D screenshots from literally any point on the map.

     But your goals were more modest. Okay, let's go with that. As for your paper, first off, I would enlarge all of the screenshots so that they fill 100% of the horizontal space: As they are now, the text is almost large enough to read, which is annoying. I would make the list of flaws in your Section 4 a bit shorter ("the game with cruel vindictiveness does not forgive any mistakes", in particular, seems quite extraneous), and Section 5 (your actual suggestions) longer: You can do both at once by listing small flaws with your proposed improvements to them in Section 5.
     Additional suggestions:
Include a mention of how various names (especially dwarf names) are oddly truncated, and often unrecognizable, in menus like the Health screen or assigning furniture.
Place much greater emphasis on mouse functionality: At present, it's not useful for much except mining designation, and even then (at some zoom levels), the game can only read a mouse click if it's in the upper-left hand area of the Active window. Additionally, it would be very convenient to be able to access common menu commands, like Look and View Unit, by right-clicking on the tile in question.
I personally think the game's Active window should always be a perfect square (when it covers less than the entire screen), but that's just a matter of taste.
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Dwarf Fortress -- kind of like Minecraft, but for people who hate themselves.

Sarmatian123

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Thanks for the reading the pdf and comment SixOfSpades. The scale of pictures is balanced, so 2 of them, with their descriptions, can fit on one page. Without descriptions (which I had to have) pictures could be stretched more. Structure of the report was lined according to academic specifications, I received. First I had to "read" GUI. Then secondary I was to give some suggestions. Indeed, some descriptions are too extraneous, but for a reason. I didn't want to be more specific with even more depressive negative details. I had to cover all Nielsen's rules. I think I did mention fixing mouse support for short keys listed in menus. I believed that would cover as well using the new short key, which would unite "look", "view unit", "view building" and so on. There is a golden mine with suggestions in this forum for GUI, but I had limit set on number of words in the report. My proposal for changes is really simple and short but I tried to keep GUI proposal as functional as possible. Something that will greatly improve interface of the game on one side, but without too drastic changes for those players, who on regular basis both play DF for last 10 years and are supporting financially Toady. Something, that Toady theoretically could program under couple weeks already into next release. Exception only to touch screen interface, but to play DF on mobile phone, I was guessing, someone have to play it through channeled remote on home PC. Playing casually DF on laptop or mobile phone (by channeling to home computer's DF session), when commuting, was actually my vision here.

3d is beyond scope to deal by 1 programmer. It would require creating a 3d engine from scratch. This would take an entire team few good years. Maybe even a decade with realistic physics engine and accurate face's muscle movements. Alternatively Toady could buy license for DF. Red Engine? :D 3d engine is a very very expensive piece of software to purchase. Just getting 2d tile support into DF will already take 1 programmer around one year with all fixes and patches to stabilize it. Toady hopes to do it just in 6 months. We will see about that. DF could be reprogrammed into 3d game. It can be done. Many games did step from 2d graphics into 3d. Many of them, thanks new 3d, got very very lagy. DF already is a lag generator on its own. DF could introduce GPU support for 3d graphics. However to use more CPU cores then 1 would take reprogramming whole DF. That could relieve the lag from both pathing algorithms and 3d view. I doubt Toady on his own will ever be able to accomplish that. Maybe 2d DF sale on Steam could prove successful enough for him to consider maybe hiring some people to help him out with DF? I would believe letting other people to help him with 2d graphics and the GUI issue, is already stretching his comfort zone. Still, I am glad he is getting finally some professional help there. I am sure they already are covering all GUI details better, then I ever did. :)
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Craftsdwarf boi

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Re: Interactive Design course. Project 1. It's about Dwarf Fortress GUI.
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 08:16:57 am »

A very brief yet engaging paper, 8/10.
Errors:
Coping and pasting should be copying and pasting.
Corrections:
One can set auto-pause at game initiation in the init.txt file.
Direct access in-game would be rather favorable
Abort game is also an option (In case the floodgate for the magma superweapon was made out of wood) .Or one can simply force quit with task manager.
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Sarmatian123

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Re: Interactive Design course. Project 1. It's about Dwarf Fortress GUI.
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2019, 12:57:52 pm »

There were 51 downloads. I hope it helped. I did take down the link though. If Toady ever wants me to re-upload it, then just let me know.
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