Improving the Interface

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Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:12 pm

Hello all, longtime no see, I’m sure there aren’t many people who remember me but I contributed a few ships and redid a good chunk of the cargo images a couple of years ago.

With all the great progress that’s being made on the engine, now seems like a fairly good time to attempt to start up a project to redo the in-game interface, HUD etc, as it’s starting to be a bit of a drag on the improvement of the project that seems to be occurring in every other quarter. I'm sure most VS veterans are used to it, but it's reached a point where I think for a lot of people the state of the interface would be enough to put them off playing the game entirely.

I’m hoping that there’ll be some interest from some of the very talented coders here on getting this done as I think it would really add a lot to the user experience, especially so for new players, who are probably a bit intimidated by the monstrosity that has evolved over the years.

Concepts!

Current HUD
Image
Image



New HUD
Image
Image



Current Nav Computer
Image
Image



New Nav Computer
Image
Image
Last edited by rivalin on Sat Nov 26, 2011 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby klauss » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:53 pm

It doesn't look like you'd need new code to do that.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:22 pm

Really?!

I just assumed that the reason the interface had been left as is was because everything was heavily hardcoded.
What about things like text rendering, the distortion that seems to occur at modern resolutions etc, is that just a matter of no one being interested?

Coding proper aside I'm hoping, what with the lack of much info on the wiki, and my lack of technical proficiency, that there will be people in the know enough to help worl out what files have to be changed and how, and what is and isn't possible.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby TBeholder » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:25 pm

klauss wrote:It doesn't look like you'd need new code to do that.
Targetting reticles and boxes are hardcoded (the immediate cause of my "load vectors" request). Crosshairs - maybe, can't remember.
The rest probably can be done on cockpit data level, yeah.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby pheonixstorm » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:34 pm

No cockpit?? That makes me all sad..

The new concept kinda reminds me of X3 Its a change from our usual cockpit HUD. Kinda hard to read the top left section with that image size though. I think most of this would not require a code change, just a graphics change.

Do you have any of the art changes done?
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby pheonixstorm » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:42 pm

Best way to check out cockpit files is under /data/cockpits/(folder with .cpt extention)

this is normally used i think \data\cockpits\disabled-cockpit.cpt
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:00 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:No cockpit?? That makes me all sad..

The new concept kinda reminds me of X3 Its a change from our usual cockpit HUD. Kinda hard to read the top left section with that image size though. I think most of this would not require a code change, just a graphics change.

Do you have any of the art changes done?


Updated the thumbnails to link to high-res images for you Pheonixstorm

Cockpits will come eventually! My plan is to try and work from the most elementary stuff upwards, seeing if what I come up with is acceptable to people and then work from there, so that we can really get Vega Strike's rough edges cleaned up and everyone can see it's heart of gold :wink:

My basic ideas are

1. Title screen and pre-game menus; these make a huge impression on new players so they're worth doing well
2. Website presentation; again one of the first things prospective players and developers see so it's important to make a good first impression
3. In-game HUD and Nav Computer
4. Base Interfaces and related menus; some of these are pretty appalling (the menus, not the base renders themselves, which are all pretty impressive.
5. Cockpits; these will require a lot of design input in order to do properly, it'll take a lot of brainstorming by everyone to decide on how cockpits are going to work (faction cockpit types, differences between fighter cockpits and capship cockpits etc)

I've got a fair amount of work in various stages of completion.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby pheonixstorm » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:22 pm

Can't recall if it was you or another artist that had some rough 3d cockpit work done, but in either case I have 2 cockpit files that were not (to my knowledge) included in the game. Still haven't looked at them yet either...

As for the site design, I am working on a redesign of the site based on our current design. Still havent finished though... had to redesign yet again as I wasn't happy with the last two I came up with.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:26 am

Yep, if they're the ones I'm thinking of they were by me; they didn't seem to raise much in the way of interest at the time so I ended up just giving up on them. My new HUD design is really designed to be a starting default HUD, and to be mnimalistic enough to show cockpits off to their full advantage.

As for the site, I've come up with some new design ideas for Vega Strike generally (logotype etc), but my forte is more on the graphic design side rather than actual web design so I'd love to see what you've come up with.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby klauss » Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:55 am

rivalin wrote:Really?!

Really

rivalin wrote:I just assumed that the reason the interface had been left as is was because everything was heavily hardcoded.
What about things like text rendering, the distortion that seems to occur at modern resolutions etc, is that just a matter of no one being interested?

The reason is probably lack of capable, motivated manpower.
Some things are hardcoded. They can be de-hardcoded rather easily, though.
Text rendering, yes, it's horrible. We had some contributions there, but very limited stuff. We really need a better text rendering engine. But that's only one independent element, a lot can be done independently of that.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby Dawe » Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:34 pm

What are those ships in the background? x3?
Just curious..
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:11 am

Yah, just a pleceholder image because I couldn't find any vega strike screenshots at high resolution and without the default HUD on them
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby travists » Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:41 pm

Sensor displays need a center mark.

Current rotation of the shield/armor displays does not mesh well with the fore/aft/port/starboard ratings of such.

New cross hair display needs some explaining (arrow on the edge, two circles)

Number of targeting brackets feels cluttered: if using them need to differentiate current target.

I think there are a couple of new displays that I am not seeing on the "current HUD"

Nav comp looks good!

Over all: change is hard, but it's time. I'm game...
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby Dawe » Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:07 pm

I like it as well. It has a cleaner look to it!

go for it!
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:49 pm

travists wrote:Sensor displays need a center mark.

Current rotation of the shield/armor displays does not mesh well with the fore/aft/port/starboard ratings of such.

New cross hair display needs some explaining (arrow on the edge, two circles)

Number of targeting brackets feels cluttered: if using them need to differentiate current target.

I think there are a couple of new displays that I am not seeing on the "current HUD"

Nav comp looks good!

Over all: change is hard, but it's time. I'm game...


Thanks! A few good points there;

-Current rotation is off, i think I got a little caught up in the aesthetics, so that can be rotated around.

-Crosshair, double circles are theoretical place holders for warning icons that would flash up, but they wouldn't be permanently in view, the triangle around the edge points in the direction of the currently selected target and will change colour to reflect their stance.

-Number of targeting brackets; fair point, I was undecided about this one too, which is why the brackets aren't full squares, but you may be right. I think there is tactical value in having all ships in view highlighted to some extent, this one will probably require a bit more thought. Currently the red-grey circular indicator over the ship to the right of the picture is meant to act as the currently selected target indicator, and the intention, when the engine can handle it, is that it would rotate to draw the attention, the red/grey arrow at the top of the screen acts as the currently selected target indicator when the target is outside the field of view

-I think all of the displays appear on the current HUD, except that they tend to only appear temporarily (unless I'm misunderstanding you)
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby travists » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:08 pm

Yeah, mission one, docking info.. few things like that. Run ie play the latest SVN currently?

On the brackets:
short = non-selected (should be able to turn this on/off)
long = selected
box = locked
color coding:
Red = hostile
Blue = friendly
Green = neutral
Yellow = missile
Orange = incoming missile
Grey = astronomical object
All should be based on scanner type/sophistication
What warnings did you have in mind?
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby travists » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:13 pm

Looking at the proposal again, I see the red/grey target indicator, looks more like a subunit target bracket, which is not a bad thing. (If some of the other changes get implemented targeting engines, flight decks, launchers, etc would be handy.)
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby pheonixstorm » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:49 pm

I'm still toying with the idea of rocket/missile batteries and multiple target locks. Would be a key switch to turn the tracker function on my radar and limited mostly to military grade sensor (most likely cap and bomber class, maybe some other type, but needs more thought)
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:46 am

travists wrote:Yeah, mission one, docking info.. few things like that. Run ie play the latest SVN currently?

On the brackets:
short = non-selected (should be able to turn this on/off)
long = selected
box = locked
color coding:
Red = hostile
Blue = friendly
Green = neutral
Yellow = missile
Orange = incoming missile
Grey = astronomical object
All should be based on scanner type/sophistication
What warnings did you have in mind?


Had SVN installed before but not yet after my latest OS wipe, will get it set up again though and can take a closer look.

For warnings I was toying with the idea of icon notification (e.g. an @ sign in the circle when a message comes in etc, but honestly text is simpler and requires less time spent trying to think up icons for things, so I'll dump the two circles.

As for the targetting reticle, sub-system targetting is a good idea for that, as it clearly isn't obvious enough as the selected target indicator.

Updated Version:

Image

the grey brackets for currently selected target work fairly well I think, and they match up more logically with the arrow used to indicate a currently selected target when it's out of view. The red/grey target that will serve (theoretically) as the sub-system targetting reticle I have made smaller so that it will point more accurately at what you've targeted, and the small red circle with the grey outline serves as a lead indicator when necessary.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby Hicks » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:05 am

It looks a lot better then the current one in my opinion, a big improvement. Would be happy to use that now, and i am sure it will only get better
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby klauss » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:01 am

So... what do we need to implement the new one?

I'm thinking, bitmap-based targetting reticles at least.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:42 am

Hicks wrote:It looks a lot better then the current one in my opinion, a big improvement. Would be happy to use that now, and i am sure it will only get better


Thanks

klauss wrote:So... what do we need to implement the new one?

I'm thinking, bitmap-based targetting reticles at least.


Right, I'm not technically proficient but in what I imagine is order of best returns on effort I'd say;

1. Bitmap based whatever possible, targeting reticle, brackets etc,
2. Elimination of the distortion of bitmaps that occurs at different resolutions, so that they're consistent in proportion (not sure whether this is an engine issue or not) so that the mouse pointer etc are consistent
3. Not sure if this is an issue as I haven't played in a while, but making sure that the UI renders above everything else (except text and radar dots obviously)
4. This is probably the last thing to be done as I imagine it would be significant, but improved text rendering, although again I'm not knowledgeable here, but the aim would be to have text that looks as close to the bitmapped text as possible, which I presume would require the use of font sheets. I'm also planning proposals for the menu screens and base interfaces which would also benefit from a decent font renderer as well)

Effectively the ability to render bitmaps anywhere on the screen, the ability of those bitmaps to do translations (for the targeting brackets), and the ability to obscure them wholly or partially (i.e. for filling and unfilling bars)
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby klauss » Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:02 am

rivalin wrote:Effectively the ability to render bitmaps anywhere on the screen, the ability of those bitmaps to do translations (for the targeting brackets), and the ability to obscure them wholly or partially (i.e. for filling and unfilling bars)


I don't get that last part.

I would probably get it with a picture (or, instead, 1000 words should suffice :p )
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby travists » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:15 am

Much improved, blows the current one out of the water!
Another nit-pick though, again situational awareness:
Jump, assuming your status, should be on the left or center
GCNT is listed twice, is it really showing your targets setting on the right? If not remove it.
Still guessing as to the center of the "radar" displays

Question to everybody: does a fighter need all of the targeting brackets, or is that something more for a cap-ship?

Now a question for those that know the engine. Can we do lens flare when looking toward the local sun? Ship art here is great too (not ours :cry: :cry: ), but a little detail like that would bump up the classiness of the game.
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Re: Improving the Interface

Postby rivalin » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:41 pm

klauss wrote:
rivalin wrote:Effectively the ability to render bitmaps anywhere on the screen, the ability of those bitmaps to do translations (for the targeting brackets), and the ability to obscure them wholly or partially (i.e. for filling and unfilling bars)


I don't get that last part.

I would probably get it with a picture (or, instead, 1000 words should suffice :p )


sorry, just that some of the bars (e.g. shields etc) need to be able to be filled and unfilled by rendering only part of a bitmap. I'm guessing this is how it's done already,
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