Vista and UI

Rickb sent me this link, and it puts its finger on that intangible something that I couldn’t quite express about Vista: There’s too much of it.

I disagree with Joel’s choices for the reduction of shutdown menus, but I think that’s perhaps part of the problem. Log Off is definitely useful in a corporate environment where several individuals use the same PC, where Switch User is less desirable. And I’m torn between shutdown/restart: on today’s PC its far more desirable that a user hit the physical power button than the physical reset button; of course, again, in some environments its better to have a power off menu option – I can see a million secretaries reaching for their coats and leaving the office without sticking around the extra 90s while a well-used machine tries to reset.

Really makes me wish I’d tried harder to sell Ramp/Rick on making our game UI drag & drop based from the get go. The cool thing about that concept is that, because its inherently iconic, your system is its own legend. E.g. on the map, where the legend shows an attack icon doubles as the control for placing one – just drag it.

If you want to reserve a vehicle without spawning immediately, just drag it from the list to the box that shows your current vehicle… If you want to cancel it, drag it back or drag the vehicle you want instead to it. (Of course, spawning without reserving first would still work too). 

I can think of dozens of ‘what if’s but they’re all based on how the UI currently works rather than a rethink of the whole model, i.e. its a current obstacle rather than an obstacle in the drag-n-drop model.


the first thing that came to mind while reading the link was “if anyone tries to take away my restart button I’ll kill him/her”


At least they havn’t renamed “Log off” to “Access Standby Mode Ready”.


Stop teasing them, and me, with drag and drop UI!

How would a drag’n’drop GUI be self-documenting? Take the vehicle example for one – why is it obvious that dragging a vehicle from a list into an empty box that says “Current vehicle” make that vehicle your current vehicle? Also, where do you drag the vehicle from the “Current vehicle” box to cancel the reservation?

I frankly don’t see the logic behind this, but perhaps it’s just my internal control-freak geek with no sense of simplicity thinking.

I’d say most users when they log into WWIIOL are really trying to decide two things:

1) what unit do I want to play as?

2) where do I want to play?

Find a way to make it easy to choose these two things on ONE page and you’ll have a winner. You could add a zillion other bells and whistles if you want but this is as simple as it could potentially be.

There are of course other things you may wish to choose from like side, country and brigade. I’d say most people have decided on side and even country before even clicking the WWIIOL shortcut on their desktop, and a TINY % really give a pinch what brigade they are in except for needing to know under the present system to get to the what and the where.

Heres a one page solution:

basically what it shows is the last unit you spawned on the left half and a fully zoomed back map (so you can see all AOs) on the right. At the top middle it says your country and has the flag next to it. Where it says the country there are arrows to the left and right like , and clicking them cycles through the countries.

The left hand side has a picture of the unit selected (default to the last one used) and above it says the branch (Land, sea, and air) and again like with arrows for selecting it. Under the picture is the unit selection same as branch and country.

Ok now you use the map by clicking on an AO or on a town itself. Double clicking on either zooms the map in to the level where you can see all depots, etc and FBs. Clicking on an AO, town, objective etc. should also automatically grey out selections not available there. Double-clicking on the target replaces the map with the mission screen where you can see whos on it and whatever else.

Now the big problem with this is our not so awesome mission system. Make it only possible to have one mission per target objective (FB, AB, depot, etc NOT the town itself) and this UI I just described could get all the info that probably 90% of the players want and the choices they want on ONE SCREEN.

With this one page you could choose side, country, branch, unit, area, town, and mission with as few as two clicks before spawning. The only thing it doesn’t help you do is find a brigade :P

What’dya think?

That’s an example of applying current UI thinking to the concept of a totally drag-n-drop, Tazle.

I didn’t say self-documenting, I said that it was its own legend. So you decide a few simple conventions, and you explain those early on. Once you know that the UI is drag-n-drop based, and that, say, a red border means something you can drag and a green border means something you can drop to, and ideally, when you pick up a draggable, the targets you can’t drop it to grey out, then it becomes far more intuitive.

Mission creation: all the flags on the map are ‘draggable’ bordered and the mission origin and target boxes are ‘droppable’ bordered.

You know the UI is drag & drop based, you know the border convention. On the right hand side you have a map with draggables and on the left hand side slots to drop them to. When you “drag” Schilde ABs icon, the “origin” box greys out: you can’t spawn there.

The part about it being its own legend is that the item you can drag from the map – the town marker – renders itself as a discrete entity, so when you drag it over to the drop slot, what appears in the drop slot is the same entity you would see on the map, reducing the number of variations of information and the number of possible means of interaction.

Drkpatch: I’ve described a 2-page UI variation a couple of times before – I think it might be better to use a tree-view on the left side, that can be folded away, with a guided right-hand side where the guide can be turned off.

Funnily, I’m deliberately trying to adapt an existing design/approach.

and then allow the map to create a second “battle map” that includes only the space of spawn to attack. E.g. The FB to city AB is 3 klicks, so LxW=9 klicks displayed.

That’s 2 maps – the large theater map is *still* available. And air/naval missions are large enough that they don’t benefit from the battle mapping.

Then mission leaders are putting rally points, attack points on a “battle map” and marking targets – all based upon the drag and drop UI.

that’s easy and intuitive.

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