lOvOl Posted January 13, 2013 Report Share Posted January 13, 2013 Why don't we look at the design objectively with regard to MOBA layouts. First of all, before we discuss anything we have to look at the history of MOBA's which of course starts mainly with the Warcraft III custom map Defense of the Ancients. Back when I played Warcraft III, I will admit I played a lot of custom games, but not too much of DOTA because it simply did not appeal to me at the time. I also did quite a bit of modding with its editor interface which is in effect what the SC2 editor interface inherits from in many ways. Back then there was only so much you could do with the WC3 game engine relative to the SCII game engine so map makers were stuck with certain limitations, not to mention certain player preferences in terms of the UI layout. One of them was the minimap which was located in the bottom left corner which WCIII inherited from Starcraft I. The minimap was an important part of the screen, but not as important as selecting units (up to 12) which was naturally put in the center middle of the screen as both WCIII and Starcraft were RTS games. Earlier and very popular RTS games had their minimaps in the top left (Warcraft II) and in the top right (Command and Conquer) so there is plenty of precedent for having the minimap in pretty much every corner of the map except for the bottom right. Nevertheless, none of the games would align the minimap in the north, south, east, or west positions of the map because other important windows such as unit controls were located there. On top of that, monitors and screen resolutions were significantly worse than what gamers today are used to, the designers of those games chose to design their games based upon the hardware available to their users. On top of that, since screen resolution and mouse resolution were so much less back then, cursor proximity to game control panels was not as important. Nowadays even on laptops screen resolution is significantly better than the days of Starcraft where the screen resolution was a fixed 640x480 pixels, which both adds more screen space for the main game window, but also adds additional challenges to the user in that there is more on the screen at any given time for them to pay attention to, as well as the user having to move their mouse across a greater space to get around the various regions of the map. For this reason, if there is not a need for an excess number of panels as you may have in MMORPG games such as Everquest or WoW that have an amazing amount of complexity, good user interface design warrants that you do whatever you can to localize the mouse movement and eye gaze so that the user does not need to exert extra mental energy both in moving their mouse around unnecessarily as well as changing their eye focus when they don't need to. In a MOBA game where the minimap is arguably far more important than even in an RTS game such as SCII, having the minimap in a corner spot has the prime disadvantage of forcing the user to lose focus of 3/4 of the screen every time their eyes focus on a corner positioned minimap. The same goes as well every time they have to look at other information on a frequent basis that is in a corner position of the screen. Now remember that Starcraft II's user interface is designed for RTS games not a MOBA game like AoS that does not require a unit selection panel, and arguably does not require movement buttons which are a relic UI feature inherited from the original Starcraft. In this sense, less panels are required for AoS to function. So the next question is where is the best place for panels which are both very important and frequently viewed in a general user interface? Well the best place is close to where the the default focus of the user is going to be. For a word processor or a spread sheet, that is going to be the top left area of the screen as western languages read left to right and top to bottom. But for a MOBA game or almost all computer games the focus is going to be directly in the center of the screen. For this reason the mouse cursor will also likely be in the center of the screen as well. Simple geometry then dictates that the farthest distance for the user to move his or her mouse as well as their eye gaze from its most likely location is going to be the edges of the map and since human vision processes objects from the top down, this also means that the user has to do even extra mental work to view scan the screen from the center and up rather than the center and down. This means the best place for the most important panels that also need to be made the most accessible would be in the bottom center of the screen as the eyes at the very worst lose track of 50% of the screen when scanning down as opposed to 75% of the screen when scanning a corner. On top of that you don't have to be a math whiz to know that the pythagorean theorem states that the user will have to move their mouse less distance in a vertical fashion from the center of a rectangular screen with the horizontal sides longer than the vertal sides than if they were to move their mouse diagonally to a corner region. In other words, the minimap should be in the bottom center of the screen as it is arguably the most important screen space in a MOBA game aside from the main game window itself. Having to spend too much effort watching the minimap can get you killed in battle and spending too little time because of the effort required to view the minimap can cause you or your team to make strategically poor decisions such as allowing an enemy hero to backdoor a side lane as in the heat of battle the minimap will be 100% out of the field of vision of a MOBA game player. So in conclusion, the minimap should definitely be in the bottom center of the screen if legacy concerns (i.e. the fact SCII and all other custom games have the minimap in the bottom left) are not important when it comes to user interface best practices. Now as for other panels, if those panels are rarely viewed and require little attention, they should be in the top, side, or bottom corners. However, in MOBA games skill and item cooldown buttons require frequent attention, so they should be as close to the center as well, and for the point and click user, it is extremely important these buttons are also very accessible by the mouse for the same reason the minimap needs to be very accessible by the mouse, just that the minimap is more important both for attention as well as navigation in a MOBA game. So even though I am pretty certain the UI is in 1.70 is gonna stubbornly stick and probably be unplayable or at least unenjoyable by a great many of your users, I thought it was only fair to point out in great detail that if you are going to invoke "logic and reason" in this debate, rather than the democratic views of your users (which BTW should be more important than your individual opinion, or my individual opinion, or anybody's individual opinion if you don't want to continue enraging your user base over and over and over again) then perhaps I might throw some "logic" and "reason" at you with this thread. Now even though I don't plan on playing AoS anymore, I felt I have spent enough time with this game that I ought to at least give you my personal suggestion on what a UI from scratch for AoS should look like, rather than just tell you how terrible I think your current user interface is and why I think it is terrible in objective terms. I figure I owe you guys that much. This probably took me half an hour to an hour doing screen shot cut and pastes in GIMP so I have made no attempt at prettying up any separator art or edge art to use as buffers between each game panel. I would probably keep most of that to a minimum, but really it is pretty irrelevant anyways as the mass majority of screen space is taken by the panels themselves and how much remains has more to do with a user's monitor size than what art you use to decorate the UI. If I spent more time I could obviously do a much better job, but this should be sufficient in communicating the general idea in terms of what questions you guys should be asking yourselves in terms of a quality UI, rather than simply coming up with answers to the wrong questions over and over again. nightShadow and BestPlayer 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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