Posted by: SOE | February 19, 2008

EverQuest User Interface Thoughts…

I know that one of the biggest issues many of you have with EQ is not tied to hacking, cheating or even zone stability. It is that unforgiving UI that EQ has always had. I know that many of you have asked for a user defined or customizable UI, I understand your headaches.

The UI in EQ has evolved over years and years, with multiple hands touching it along the way. I would love to say that the original system was planned out and made for a very streamlined custom UI support tool, but as many of you already know, that simply isn’t the case.

Since UI is such a subjective topic it makes it difficult for substantial progress to be made on the Dev side. I know that there are many of you that have a “solution” for some of the larger UI lingering issues. I am talking to the community people at SOE to see if there is any way to have a focused discussion/ submission regarding specific UI areas in the game.

Tackling the entire UI as a project is extremely time and resource intensive. Maybe a better way of approaching it is one area at a time? What do you as the players think?

~ Clint “Jourdian” Worley
Producer, EverQuest

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Responses

  1. If you guys can just make the code more flexible, opposite of the “new” item window which has almost every element hard coded into position, that would allow modders to make the custom UI’s that people want.

    Give us the info (EQTypes) and we can run with it.

  2. Redoing the UI peicemeal could work well, if you are committed to getting it finished after beginning.

    Also work in close conjunction with the team at Eqinterface.com They do a very good job. If you could committ a Dev to helping them, it could work out faster and cheaper on SoE than redoing it all yourself.

    Eqinterface already has many good custom UIs. I used to use my own custom too. Problem of why I abandonned the great custom UI for the crappy default UI, is because the custom gets broken with almost every patch.

    Just having a Dev work with Eqinterface and chooseing the best of the custom windows there, could possibly satisfy the majority of players at a considerable savings to your bottom line in developement costs.

  3. if i had to pick an initial target for UI adjustments, itd be the item window, most notably the ridiculous size of the window itself and the lag between clicking a link and an item coming up, particularly when loading multiple links. a quick second would probably be a request to convert the player bank system to a variant of the guild bank, would make it easier to sort and find everything without opening 400 bags

  4. One at a time is definitely better than “nothing at all” (I know it’s not really nothing). For example, I am a (mostly) fan of the new Item Window, but I think there are several issues that could be addressed and changed with its implementation. There has been a lot of actually thoughtful input by several community members on the subject, and almost no response in several months. It would be nice to have a focused area to submit ideas that wouldn’t be drowned out in non-constructive ranting.

  5. The item window is in serious need of some attention. The current design makes it look like a copy/pasted excel spreadsheet.

  6. As you know, there are a lot of issues with the UI. Especially since features have been added in a piece-meal fashion for so many years. While I’m not a mod-UI maker (I just hack bits for people that need it), my main gripe is this:

    - Hard-coding features into windows.

    There are 16 classes and a massive amount of information available in the game. No UI would be able to handle all classes, so the Default UI will always be considered “lacking” for this reason.

    As such, all parts of the UI should be adjustable, at least to the best extent possible. The two worst offenders I can think of are the Aura Window and the new Item Display Window. The Item window is the worst because it’s a 77k UI file that loads very slowly for most. Especially if you click multiple links. This is really quite annoying. There a lot of other ones like this. The EQinterface community can probably bring up a lot of other good points. But I do have some easy suggestions to start:

    - Create a section on the EQplayer’s page for “UI Modification information”.
    - Create a sub-forum on the EQlive boards for UI discussion. Encourage the coders in charge of the UI stuff to post there. Maybe leave an E-mail to report bugs in the Default?
    - On the EQplayer’s page, always have a copy of the current EQtype designations from the UI.

    Those seem like easy, “little” things that can happen and help out. If the coders for the UI can interact with the community a bit, I’m sure some of the major UI-mod makers can help out a lot.

  7. I think one of the reasons why the UI runs into issues is that only a small amount of information is made available to the client itself. I hate to reference to world of warcraft, however one of the reasons why the UI there works so well is that so much information is passed to the client that it allows for a lot of creative ideas to come up by the players on their own. I doubt major modifications to make more information available for the users to play with when building custom ui’s or features for interfaces are possible or safe in most cases but if it would be an option you’d probably see more interest there instead of the same information being reproduced over and over again with a different layout/skin slapped on it.

  8. I think the first priority would be to show all the player-related information: stats and current max with hero values, mod2/3 sums, etc. Having to add them up manually is as lame as “a rattle snake says, ‘hit by non-melee for 23 damage’” days. :)

  9. The most important thing about the UI is if you change it, don’t break our custom UIs.

    The lack of any caring at all about this was a major reason for people getting upset the last time the UI was changed.

    The reply we got from you, Jourdian, was that since custom UIs aren’t officially supported, too bad.

    That kind of reply is a total lack of any concern for the players. I’ll repeat again what I said at that time, which is that since the Custom UI was promoted by SOE as a reason to play EQ and we were encouraged to customize it, the fact that SOE refused to do very, very minor tweaks to prevent breaking everyone’s custom UI was an insult to us.

    Basically, you didn’t care about the fact that you broke it. Zero thought about the players.

    If you will work with the players and the web sites and fans of the game with customizing it, then everyone will be happy. If you take the attitude you took before that it is your game and you can do whatever you want to without any thought of the players, then you will have people upset, again.

  10. Hail,

    in the EQ forum onec there was a thread asking for ideas about the user interface.

    Those ideas posted were great.

    To generalize it I would focus on 2 aspects:

    1) Player would like to modify further the UI
    2) A new UI should be less place consuming and more intuitiv (compare with WoW or Dofus)

    The actual is not bad but several menues are well hidden and take a long time to open (sure I know there exist shortcuts). E.g. The Buff Block Window I need if a port several groups within a raid to the end of Norrath. Or look the Fellowship. THey are all accessable via the “EQ”-Button but it’s confusing in which menue the are so you klick all menues through…

    Chat windows and the Abilities need too much of place -> here tabbed chat windows would be nice (e.g. for damage or guild spam I only look if essential)

    - If you construct a new UI then make it easy customizeable for the community!
    - Provide all information and data tags as objects modders can easily use in usermade UI pieces.
    - provide the abiltity to colorize the UI
    - provide a default setup of the UI pieces

    When a totally new (from look and technic) UI will come community will cry – but if you make it good and moddable then we will happy for sure.

    Once again -> look to other modern MMORGs! They are a good example things can be done better.

  11. The biggest beef I have about the UI is that even on a good customized UI, it’s like trying to fly a plane with the number of buttons you have to have up at once in order to do things. And the various windows, such as bandoliers, abilities, spells, disciplines, don’t have a standard number of buttons in them. And then slapped on top of that is a hotbar setup with 4 hotbars, which each have ten different pages, with 10 buttons on each page for a grand total of 400 different buttons available. Hard to remember where you put them all.

    First off, standardize the setup. If you’re going to allow us to save spells sets, let us save 10 of them, not 8. Now we’d have a spell set for each page of our hotbars. Make it so that it’s the default that if you flip one page , all your hotbars go to that page. Get what I’m getting at here? Now you can have your spell casting keys for spell set one on page one, of Hotbar 1, the socials on Hotbar 2, the discs or abilities on Hotbar 3 , the macros on Hotbar 4. Change spell sets, they should all flip pages automatically, and bring up the buttons for that set.

    I’ve done this to my own toons, but it took some doing, and I had to override a lot of defaults, and after spending an entire afternoon working a system out, I thought to myself, why the heck couldn’t the dev’s have just designed it this way to begin with. Take a hard look at how many mishmashed button boxes the game has added over the years , and simply consolidate them into one simple system, that’s clear and easy to understand, and that doesn’t break when you switch toons.

    The best hotkeys are ones you don’t have to have visible to use, you already know what the key combo is to activate it. It used to be simple, but it’s grown increasingly complex over the years. Ask yourself, if all the veterans were to suddenly stop playing tomorrow, and every player you had on every server was a newbie, would they be able to figure out the buttons and how to make socials or hotkeys? Highly unlikely, the only thing saving that old dog of a UI that you guys still work with, is the fact that the veterans know how to beat it into submission and make it behave itself and are still willing to answer questions. Well some of them anyway…

    Sometimes I like to just hit F10 out in the middle of nowhere and just stare at the scenery with the chat boxes, the buttons and the UI completely hidden from view. It’s a beautiful game, when you just let the scenery and the art shine, anything you have to clutter that up with should be out of absolute necessity.

  12. I would like to see an XP and AA bar in the player info window that shows XP and AA exp in %’s instead of that impossible to figure, I need 5 blues a yellow and a half and a large fry to get my next level.

  13. I personally know how to modify the UI, my biggest frustration is making a change loading it in, seeing if it works, hoping that EQ doesn’t eat the UI and crash. It has gotten better. One of my biggest pet peeves is running a new character, or loading in the default UI after wiping out the .ini the layout is horrible. I usually have to spend 5-10 minutes just getting the layout where I want it. It would be so nice if we could resize any xml window, have them minimize out or have them attach or dock to a location. EQ has made many innovations that others have used, continue to pushing the envelope with the user interface helps SOE and the playes.

  14. One big thing I would love to see with the UI is the .ini data being tied to your character on the server side. Granted with the amount of .ini errors that seem to pop up from time to time this isn’t feasible now, but perhaps after a revamp or changes in the future it would be possible. Being able to play and not have to setup a UI on every machine/workstation you play on would be an excellent addition.

  15. In many ways I think the EQ interface is functional….but bulky.

    It is a mix bag though with UI design. You want to make it so it doesn’t look too mechanical too break immersion but designed a way too look nice with alot of information.

    The big tackle is the item description window too me…it has many flaws as people pointed out.

    The target window, compass, etc are small stuff and probably can be done in a short order.

    I would say start small with feedback. Allow customization like always….but please don’t make it like the stuff you see in WoW. Some of that stuff is game breaking.

  16. What I personally would like to see is a way to toggle the timer that was built into the UI. Once you check the button on the window that says do not show again, its pretty much impossable to get it to show up again. Its a valueable thing to have to time some mobs spawning and I just wish there was somthing to be done with this issue that I am bringing to the floor.

  17. the default ui works fine for me. I liked the previous default which is no longer supported and i feel i’m just getting used to the latest default ui. I know other players who feel the same. Why fix something that isn’t broke? If it’s possible to make custom ui survive patches do that, but why create a whole new default ui because so and so doesnt like whatever window?

  18. Well, my thoughts are there are just too many different pieces to the current ui, & condensing them down & allowing resizing of hotbuttons etc would definitely be a good move.

  19. I would love to see an official WYSIWYG UI editor from the UI team.

    As for the UI itself, I would agree with all of the other posters so far. EQTypes for everything is a must.

    One thing I did not see mentioned is the ability for UI coders to create brand new windows so we would not be confined to the limitations of the current UI (AKA canabalizing other windows such as the Pet window or the MP3 Player window).

    Bonechip the Springy Sprocket Stockpiler
    Stromm Server

  20. Some of my frustrations with the current UI are the response time to clicks in the UI. For example, clicking an item to put it on the cursor can sometimes lag for a second or two.

    I also find the UI very click intensive and it can sometimes be painful to use. For example, when trade skilling, the number of clicks can go into the thousands or tens of thousands. By the end of an hour or two of trade skill combines, my hands are just plain cramped. The UI just doesn’t lend itself well for that many clicks. Being able to define shortcut keys for certain UI buttons would be nice.

    I really like the WoW method of trade skilling where it will auto combine your recipe as long as you provide the stacks of components. There is still a delay and we should still be able to have the same failure rates, etc. But it would eliminate the need for the sore hands and thousands of clicks.

    I use a customized UI and I really like it over the default UI. However it’s a pain to fix every time new UI changes are released.

  21. The number 1 thing that would make UI modders happy would be….

    If there is a piece of information displayed on the ui,
    a) it must have en RQTYPE associated with it
    b) it must NOT be hardcoded to a specific window/position/size/whatever.

    Give us ALL the information we need and see what we can come up with, there are some great people on eqinterface.com, stop hobbling their creativity, data wants to be free :P

    Ang

  22. It would be nice to be able to click on a haratcetr, and instead of pressing “Enter World”, press a button called “Customize Ui”, and be taken to an area where you start with the default, but then can drag and drop various elements from one window to another, change chat colors by point & click, etc….to create the UI you want for THAT character, then save it.

  23. I use the SARS UI that Duesema maintains. What I love about it is the customization that he offers and the very practical information built into the UI. Things like hp/mana/end numbers, statistics and resists being displayed and the old spell icons. I am sure alot of work went into the new ones, but I really can’t stand them. They are too confusing for me. I also enjoy the buff windows using small icons and having the buff data written out next to the icon. This is crucial when trying to determine what buffs I am missing or what DoTs are currently on my character.

    As a side note, I really love this blog idea Jourdian. Kudos to whomever came up with it and implemented it.

    Clix

  24. I think that soe should give us a a variety of ui’s that they can support. Like one for specific classes or just 2 or 3 diff types … mostly all that have % on everything from exp to mana health and what not..

  25. Shillingsworth over at EQinterface has been working on creating a tool to allow users to create custom uis without having to know XML. Even if the current system were to stay in place for the near future, having the option to modify the UI would be extremely helpful.

    If the UI foundation cannot be completely overhauled, could some of the different things in the current UI be made EQTypes and not tie them to a particular window? This would allow the players to further customize the ui. For example, the item window and making /loc be an eqtype that would allow us to have it always showing our loc.

    Hotbuttons – as mentioned elsewhere, we have 4 banks of 10 hotbuttons. At one point, I did have them all filled up, but that was at the height of MM and had 7 different ones that I had done and had a bank of hot buttons for each. Now I have 7 unused banks, because the vast majority of what I need I have on 3 of them.

  26. I agree with everyone else. Better editing tools to make modifying easier and less items hardcoded into certain windows would add to a lot more welcomed flexibility! Also, anything that Sony can do to minimize the problem of UIs being broken with patch changes would be wonderful.

  27. How about a different set of options for each toon? It is very aggravating to have to change my hotkeys every time I change toons. For example, I have my forage ability tied to my left arrow key and my autoinventory tied to my right key. This allows me to forage and inventory the items foraged on my druid with no thought from me. The problem is that when I switch back to my warrior, I have to disable this otherwise my warrior tries to forage…and frankly he sucks at it..lol.

    Also how about being able to save the actual setup of an UI on our computers or on EQ servers. The point of this would be to allow me to set up a UI for one toon and import that same setup on another toon.

  28. the ui change of a few years back did not consider the most common form of color-blindness (red-green … close to 10 percent of guys) … the spell icons emphasize color whereas the old emphasized shape … the old were so much easier to use … option to allow old icons would be less discriminative.

  29. How about a HELP system worthy of the name?

    Not only the basic stuff, everything.

    I’ve had to search the web (allahkazam, eqtrader, thesteek warrior, saman ..etc) to get information on stuff that should be in the help.

    like What does ‘Combat effect’ do?

    Heck even the most basic info isnt there, like ‘STA’ ? what exactly geting an item with +5 sta do for me instead of a +5 agi ? …

    (I know what they does now, but its been a long a difficlut learning process , and browsing multiple web site to get detail..

    One thing that always puzzled me is the old answer ‘its everquest, explore and experiment to see what it does’ ..that fine for the simplest of thing…

    BUT when you have to run hours of combat and try different weapon combo , and parse it to understand what the actual % of proc … its no more a game..

    (kudo to the folk at the steelwarrior for that kind of work, but even after years of experiment they get thing approximated mainly, when you could put that information plainly in a help window.

    what does rampage do ? what flurry ? ..take a look at the stel warrior . ‘ah, ok i get it… but some of it is guess at the mechanics’..

    Everquest should be questing (trading, socialising etc) not about hacking (or Working hours and stat engine ) to get information

    my little 2sp (there many more thing, but i think this one is a major that never get addressed.. and we keep repeating the info to the newbie, what should be availlable right from you)

    p.s: oh, item windows, how about bringing back the unmodified view in (red) .. I have to click the button EVERYTIME i lookup an item rec a bit ove r my level to see what it would become, and that was just a glance before

  30. Another thing, has anyone ever rightclicked a buff or debuff and selected the ‘show spell info’ option ?
    There’s NOTHING THERE!!!
    Please, could some dev please go in and copy&paste the spell information into this area.
    It shouldn’t be that time consuming, and would actually make this option useful (I guess on the other hand removing this menu option would also solve the issue of it being totally pointless.)

    Ang.


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