UI Redesign Ideas

Questions posed to our users about new features or possible UI updates.

UI Redesign Ideas

Postby noivad » Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:39 am

This one is a big one and it has been taking time to gel in my mind. Here is my idea for a WORFC UI overhaul. Since I understand consideration in designing interfaces, I wanted to crack this puzzle of how to make WORFC both look good AND allow players the complexity the current “barebones,” but replaces the current engineering “under the hood” view, which any engineer KNOWS is always uglier than what the user sees. So, I assigned it to a background creative process on my robot brain and I am starting to get some possible answers to the UI. Bare with me this is by no means complete, but one could extrapolate the rest from these core ideas:

Design language:
rows of similar items 4 across (4 seeds types in each level) bar only comes out 4 wide but scrolls vertically: consistent language, also another control can allow one to only it vertically 4 so one would have a 4X4 grid

Use scrolls for inventory/tools vertically: 2 benefits: scanning is vertical and logically arranged in order of creation: seed, material, devices, etc. Users will "seek" quicker and more naturally. Items are grouped logically: will be easy to remember where things are: a parent child (base is top[ of tree arrangement would be].
*side benefit of below: let’s people know which items that lack by the "hole" left in their inventory.
An additional benefit is that as the game “grows” and new items are added, you will know where to put them in the UI just be following the ideas of a reverse tree hierarchy. Tertiary potential benefit: by exposing kids to these concepts of categorization and hierarchy in this subtle way, they will unlock their spatial reasoning to make sense of the world innately. This fulfills an educational design goal more fundamental than circuit design, which is gravy IMO.

Inventory as an example: (alphabetically arranged or in order of creation)
Code: Select all
|————| 4 wood seeds
|#—#—| seeds: copper,iron,plastic, sand
|###—| gate seeds…
|—#——| materials: copper, iron, plastic, sand,
|————| more mats
|————| devices: 6 boxes (1.5 rows)
|——  | <—additional expansions later*
|————| funances: crucible, brick furance etc.

Circuit Design/Robot Access Levels
many times the only reason I have circuit view open is to change tools:
If I could close out of the circuit layout and only see the toolbar it would radically change the way people perceive the game. Since controls are robot specific: how about if you allow a translucent "tab" stuck to the left side (being an outline of each bot with basic color to be clicked on? One click would slide open the tools panel from the robot and/or a basic block diagram of the circuit (simplified) would be openable with a button like the inventory. The next click on the robot within a few seconds would open the current "full" interface. (a close tab could be at the end of the slide out quick access bar to quickly close the bot display. click and hold will still give name/info. The advantage is users could double click to quickly open circuit display. But an even BIGGER advantage is the TAB access to the robot would eliminate the NEED to find the robot(s) and tap them on the invisible (necessarily) small target—which often results in missed attempts to open bot with is frustrating.

Circuit Board Layout
If we think of the robot as Input process, output, then we put inputs on the left and outputos on the right to suggest the western idea of progression in reading. (Everyone reads RTL in the US/western world). also we think of top to bottom. the base “layer” or a robot is electrical power.
BUT bumpers and motivators**need to be allowed to move or at LEAST indicate what direction they go. So, IDEA:

This is it in simple L/R flow. But you could rotate this 90° or even 180° for RTL readers, and suddenly WORFC has universal flexibility. (Just allow players to set their pref. and users will take care of themselves.) Also follows my “one size does not fit all” axiom.)
Here is a crude diagram of the layout:
Code: Select all
|                                | {grabber}   |
|                                | {tools}     |
|{cluster of bumpers}            | {switches}  |   {cluster of motivators}
|                                | {inventory} |
|                                | {battery} |

⥙ = bottom bumper
↑ = up motivator
° = input or output
⤻ = trace

(Also the bumpers and the motivators would logically line up 180° from each other: i.e. bottom Bumper is at same height at Up motivator. “ ⥙ ° ⤻† °↑ ” )

(† the Central Processing column would separate these. )

(**Star Wars term for your term “thrusters” — I recommend adopting this slight term change because SW buff will instantly love it, and you will gain positive mindshare points. If you make a space game in the future with drive pods, using “Nacels” ala Star Trek by way of Nautical terms).
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Re: UI Redesign Ideas

Postby worfc » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:52 am

Thanks for the well considered post, Noivad -- good stuff!

Robot Interior Layout: I'm very fond of the "around the clock" layout (though the current positioning has some bugs). I get your layout and see why it's desirable, too. My current thought on how to fix is: allow the user to drag robot-bits around the interior and put them wherever they want. There's an existing case for this. While it would be a medium-simple change, it will almost certainly come after fixing the weird "robot-interior often draws goofily" bug, which is a current thorn in my side. Also, there will always be some default layout; maybe once you can drag however you like, we'll have a contest or something of user submitted robot-interiors.

Btw, one of the things I like about the "4-corners" layout is that it lends itself very nicely to this useful bit of wiring (insert logic as necessary):

Motivators: Yes, perfect. I will make the change immediately. (Originally, I thought the robots would have little jets/rockets, so thruster made sense. Motivator is nicely generic. Plus the SW tie-in is nice. :) )

Drawer access: I've written a case to capture your request. Note, though, that things that make it easier to manually-drive the robot are necessarily going to be lower priority than things that make the programming-your-robot experience better. "Just sayin'..." <G>

Inventory layout: Yeah, I think some sort of cell-grid, where the user can arrange items in whatever way they want seems in order. With "select/drop this item" pins where appropriate. I'll need to stew on that for a bit to get it "just so". Maybe I'll mock-up a couple of options & post here for y'all's comments.

Select-robot tab: Brilliant idea! Added to The List.
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Re: UI Redesign Ideas

Postby noivad » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:02 am

worfc wrote:Thanks for the well considered post, Noivad -- good stuff!

Robot Interior Layout:
Btw, one of the things I like about the "4-corners" layout is that it lends itself very nicely to this useful bit of wiring (insert logic as necessary):

I noticed this advantage immediately too. But as soon as I added logic gates and decided to try to more complex behaviors, the elegance broke down. The clutter resulting from the arrangement of the basic IO actually interferes with being able to see the overall state—or more specifically where there is room for improvement/where there are problems. It’s not so much about being able to drive the robot easier (which you mentioned below) as it is being able to understand its behavior at a glance (which is done much more often than reprogramming behavior streams).

Ideally, the motivators and sensors would all be movable, which was something on the list before I started testing, to my recollection. Maybe once sensors and motivators are mobile, allowing a user submitted sharing of layouts: “hey this is my layout. and it rocks because of X & Y” will let the best ones bubble to the top, and even make it into one a few “presets” included in the app at some point. Being able to save a layout as a preset, and maybe even allow sharing layouts within the app (via a new mechanism that floats alongside your “save farm” mechanism) in the far future would be a good way to harness collective intelligence. But since this is a game that encourages learning, it probably should be an achievement unlocked upon reaching a certain level and/or by receiving kudos for a layout (but then you’d have to watch for “gaming the system” if other users could collude and unlock thins for people without them actually earning it. Of course, I might be completely off base if my assumption that your game is as much about learning “Robot Logic” as it is playing with robot parts.
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