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Constructive Ideas for Improving the Built-In User Interface

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion > Suggestion Box
Constructive Ideas for Improving the Built-In User Interface

Zombull's Avatar


Zombull
01.13.2012 , 01:22 PM | #1
Constructive Ideas for Improving the Built-In User Interface

BioWare has stated that they're going to be making UI improvements, including making the UI much more customizable. I thought it might be nice if we, the players, were to compile a wish list of what we would like to see change in the UI. Constructive feedback to make the game's UI better. Below are some bullet points of things that have occurred to me as I played the game. These range from little quality of life items to major UI system changes. Even if we in the community have conflicting ideas about a particular element of the UI, we can still compile the best explanations of those ideas and present them together.

So by all means, help add to this list. Discuss the various UI elements and how they work and how they can improve.

Note: Support for 3rd party addons is a topic unto itself. This thread is not intended to discuss UI addons or mods or whatever you would call them. This thread is for constructive ideas about how BioWare can enhance the default, built-in UI.

Another Note: There may be references to World of Warcraft or other games. Live with it.

Yet another note: This isn't a place to list UI bugs. Report those in game!


UI Object: Action bars, minimap, unit frames, top menu, chat frames, etc. Generally everything that is on the screen all or most of the time.
UI Window: Inventory, crew pane, crew skills, vendors, etc.

General
  • Provide a global UI scaling option.
    Note: This should be true scaling of the UI Object, not just resizing its frame and causing its contents to shuffle.
  • Provide a global color-blindness setting.
    Note: Certain filters can be made available to adjust the whole game screen, or instead color blind settings can be applied only to on-screen text, which I believe is the primary concern for color blind people.
  • Provide global font settings, allowing us to choose a font as well as a global default font size.
  • Provide a global UI Object lock that will prevent any UI Object on the screen from being moved. This should override the object-level lock.
  • Allow overlapping, moveable UI Windows.
    Overlapping UI Windows should emulate those in most graphical operating systems. Clicking one that is partially covered by another should "bring it to the front", etc. World of Warcraft has a clever way of "stacking" windows when several are opened and it works well, but manual repositioning of the windows should be allowed as well. The repositioning does not need to be "saved". Open a UI Window, move it, close it. When it's opened again, it can fall back to the default positioning.
  • Keep the player in control of his/her UI. Do not open or close UI elements automatically based on events from the server. It should always be a result of an action by the player. (Moving out of range of the mailbox, for example, counts as an action by the player.)
    Note: A UI Object opening because of an event such as a crew member returning from mission should not force existing UI Objects to close. That has been the source of some extreme aggravation. For me at least.
  • Provide separate settings for each UI Object including position, scale, font settings, frame display and movement lock.
    • Position: When unlocked, a UI Object should be moveable with the mouse. Preferably by dragging any visible part of the UI Object's frame. If the frame is hidden, mousing over the UI Object should show an anchor element that can be dragged to reposition the UI Object.
    • Scale: Either via a keybind for Grow and Shrink commands for a UI Object or via a scale slider widget, each UI Object should be scalable.
      Note: This should be true scaling of the UI Object, not just resizing its frame and causing its contents to shuffle.
    • Font: Not all text on screen should have to be the same. Let each UI Object be configured for font and size.
    • Frame Display: This toggle would show or hide the "chrome" of a UI Object.
      Note: Sure the chrome looks pretty and has that "Star Wars feel", but many players would rather conserve the screen real estate and just show the contents of the UI Object instead.
    • Lock:
      Note: Some UI Objects need to be quickly and easily moveable on the screen even if you want others to remain locked down.
    • Alpha: Provide options to set the transparency of UI UI Objects as well as a separate mouse-over transparency value.
  • Ability to copy (in part or in full) UI settings from one character to another.

Action Bars
  • Allow action bars to be detached, reconfigured into rows and columns and positioned freely. This is the maximum customizability option. Unlocked bars should "snap" to one another when close to make alignment easy. A hotkey should be provided to suppress the "snap" feature.
  • Alternatively, designate fixed action bar positions around the edges of the screen and and allow action bars to be assigned to any position. Multiple bars in the same position should 'stack'. For example if we want all 4 bars stacked bottom-center, or two bars stacked on bottom and two stacked on the right, or two bottom left and two bottom right, etc.
  • Allow us to designate which bar handles "paging" and is used for special modes such as "cover" and "stealth".
    Note: I've played several games where an extra bar appeared above the main bar at the bottom. This is the first game I've ever seen where the extra bar appears under the main bar. It makes mapping the extra bar to the function keys very clumsy and hard to comprehend. I had to map the extra bar to the number keys and the default bar to the function keys. It sort of works, but paging makes it weird.
  • Add textual information options to action buttons. Pertinent data such as numerical cooldown time remaining, duration of current effect (for abilities that add buff or debuff effects), or a display of the resource requirements for the ability. The player should be able to choose which, if any, of these gets displayed as text on action buttons.
  • Auto-hide option for the extra action bars. They would appear a second or so after the mouse gets near them and then slide offscreen a couple of seconds after the mouse leaves the area.
  • Color-coded ability availability indicators
    • Available - normal, full color icon
    • Cooldown - dimmed, full color icon with the cooldown wipe.
      Note: The top-down wipe is hard to see when it's nearly gone and moving slowly. Replace it with a radial wipe. No one cares that it'd look like another game. We care that it works and is easy to see.
    • Out of range - red monochrome icon
    • No resources or conditions not met - blue monochrome icon
  • An optional icon pulse or flash that indicates an ability has become available
  • Allow hotkeys assigned to an action bar to work even when the action bar is not visible (either unchecked in Preferences or obscured by the expanded companion bar) (aternak)
  • allow all companion bar hotkeys to work even when the bar is not expanded. (aternak)
  • Option to use a separate companion bar instead of having it overlap one of the player's bars when expanded. (aternak)

Unit Frames
  • Allow health and resource bars to be moved as a unit and optionally rotated to be vertical. (Give them a special small bit of "chrome" to be shown when they aren't attached to the action bar and of course allow the chrome to be hidden.)
  • Option to hide or alpha-fade the health and resource bars when out of combat and when they are at their idle state (full or empty depending on resource)
  • Allow the unit portrait to be detached and moved freely.
  • Allow the unit auras (buffs and debuffs) to be moved and their container to be resized.
  • Target of Target frame. (eddiek)
  • Threat indicators, either numerical percentage or simple color indicator (resevillefl)
  • Buffs/Debuffs on ops frames (Elindalyne)
  • Option to show duration remaining on buffs/debuffs. (Elindalyne)

Minimap
  • A way to display current coordinates on screen instead of having to open the map.

Chat Frame
  • Each line of text should have its own fade timer. This makes it much easier to see when new information has appeared instead of having it blend in with the information that has been sitting in the chat frame for half an hour.
    I cannot stress enough how much of a difference the above will make. It is the biggest reason that people don't notice whispers or local "say". Chat bubbles are indeed needed, but the above will alleviate the problem to a great extent.
  • Faded text should not reappear on mouseover. It should ONLY reappear if the player clicks one of the scroll buttons.
  • There should be a brief "hover delay" before the chat frame reappears. As mentioned above, there should also be an option to hide the "chrome" of the chat frame entirely.
  • An option to move the chat edit box. It should be possible to attach it to the chat frame on the bottom (as it is now) or on the top or move it entirely independently from the chat frame.
  • An option to make a chat frame "click-through" so that it does not interfere with gameplay. This would allow multiple frames on various parts of the screen - something we really can't effectively do now. (Still allow scroll events to process if possible)
  • More granular control over system messages, whether and where they are displayed. (Wildbil)
  • Each chat tab should have its own separate scrollback buffer. If I have a tab just for whispers, its contents shouldn't get lost because another tab is flooded with jibber jabber on the general channel.
  • Context menu for player names any time the player's name appears in brackets.
  • Shift-click a player's name to print basic info (name, class, level, spec)
  • Control-shift-click a player's name to open the social window and search for them
  • Alt click a player's name to invite them to group (toggleable in preferences)

Inventory and Cargo Hold
  • Inventory style choices
    • Icon Grid - the current style, which lets players organize items on the grid as they please
    • List Style ala Dragon Age, which categorizes and alphabetizes items in the inventory.
  • Inventory filter tabs: Again, ala Dragon Age.

Galactic Trade Network (oh boy)
  • Filter items by equipment slot.
  • Filter items by primary stat.
  • Filter for usable items, which takes into account proficiencies, cost, level, etc. Everything that would prevent use of the item.
  • Give companion gifts a category and subcategory for gift type.
  • Text search without having to choose a category first.
  • Greatly increase the 50 listing limit.

Vendors
  • Display current balance of appropriate commendations on vendor windows when items are available to be purchased for commendations.
  • Filter for usable items, which takes into account proficiencies, cost, level, etc. Everything that would prevent use of the item.
  • Filter for item type (weapon type, armor type)
  • Filter for equipment slot
  • Filter for primary stat
  • Shift-click to bulk purchase
  • Option to auto-repair when opening vendor window.
  • Button to sell junk, (option to include white non-consumable items) (Deewe)
  • Option to auto-sell junk when opening vendor window.

Crafting
  • Hierarchical, tree view of schematics. The first level nodes of the tree view should be the base schematics. Expanding the node should reveal advanced schematics learned by reverse-engineering products of the parent schematic. This would make the crafting UI Window much easier to navigate.
  • Alternatively, sort by name should sort by the name of the base item followed by the full name of the advanced item. This would at least keep all versions of a schematic together when sorted.
  • Filter by statistic.
    No need to make it complicated. We don't need to be able to do things like "show me schematics with crit bonus between 15 and 20". But an option in the dropdown to only show schematics with a crit bonus (for example) would be super welcome.
  • Display current credit balance on crew missions window. (Wildbil)

Mission Log
  • Change the message displayed when the mission log is full. The current message is confusing. "Your mission log is full" would be much clearer. (josfe)
  • Increase the mission log limit (25 is too few!).

Mission Tracker
  • Add buttons for mission items to the mission tracker for easy access.
  • Option to auto-hide mission tracker when entering a Flashpoint or Operation and auto-display it again when you finish.

Miscellaneous
  • An option to use colored numbers instead of the current set of glyphs for target markers. The current glyphs are pretty, but it can be difficult to identify them with a word or two. Is that a shield? A coat of arms? And what's that squiggly thing? (Nautius)
  • Add keyboard navidgation of character select screen. It's a minor thing, perhaps, but using arrow keys to select and enter key to choose on the character screen is sort of what is intuitively expected.
  • The new mail indicator should show the sender names in the tooltip, at least for the most recent couple of senders.
  • Chat bubbles!
  • Make FlyText a UI feature instead of embedding it in the game world and of course make it customizable for font, colors, size, etc. This will ensure the text is visible on the screen instead of being hard to see as it is now on large enemies. (Maoxx)

Dressing Room (Gear Preview Window)
  • Ability to zoom in and pan around to get a better look at gear.
  • Add a "reset" button to remove previewed gear and show current gear again.
  • Add a "remove all" button to remove all gear on the preview window
  • Let the preview window respect the "Hide Head Slot" option by default, but if the player explicitly previews a head slot item then show it. Return to respecting the "Hide Head Slot" option if "reset" is clicked.

Full Map
  • Ability to track more than one thing at a time
  • Hot key to activate (not toggle) magnifying glass. This would have the feature disabled by default but be able to briefly use it by holding down the control key (for example).
  • Some way to browse the various world maps and view them without having to travel to the planet.
  • A way to view all levels of a given map.
  • Coordinates should always be global (could just be a bug).

Guild
  • Description field needs to be much, much bigger!
  • Message of the Day should only pop up if the MOTD has changed.

Tooltips
  • Show comparative tooltip for appropriate companion based on primary stat and usability. IE: If a Jedi Knight examines an item with Willpower, show the corresponding item that Kira Carsen has equipped even if she is not the current active companion.

Social Window
  • More space or resizeable columns or horizontal scrolling to make it easier to read the full LFG text. (Nary)
  • Slash commands to do quick searches. eg /who <Name>
  • Slash commands to toggle LFG and set message. eg /LFG <message>

Zombull's Avatar


Zombull
01.13.2012 , 01:37 PM | #2
Shameless bump. I wish there were a place for this other than the ridiculously fast scrolling General forum.

WildBil's Avatar


WildBil
01.13.2012 , 01:40 PM | #3
I'm with you on most things. One thing I'd add involve the chat windows.

All messages sent to the chat window (except maybe important server wide broadcasts) should be configurable.

There's a lot of system spam that pops up during PvP that makes communicating via text virtually impossible. If we could relegate that text to a different window (or turn it off completely) it would make communication much easier.

Anyway, great post with some great suggestions.

MAJ Wyndinn Maer
Antarian Ranger League
SWG Ranger | SWTOR Trooper

Zombull's Avatar


Zombull
01.13.2012 , 01:44 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by WildBil View Post
I'm with you on most things. One thing I'd add involve the chat windows.

All messages sent to the chat window (except maybe important server wide broadcasts) should be configurable.

There's a lot of system spam that pops up during PvP that makes communicating via text virtually impossible. If we could relegate that text to a different window (or turn it off completely) it would make communication much easier.

Anyway, great post with some great suggestions.
Good point about system info. Same thing happens with space battles. A flood of system messages. I'll add it to the list.

Frostvein's Avatar


Frostvein
01.13.2012 , 01:46 PM | #5
Nice list.

That said, from a cost/benefit ratio, couldn't they just allow add-ons and let the community develop fixes for nearly everything you just mentioned for free?

Zombull's Avatar


Zombull
01.13.2012 , 01:48 PM | #6
Also added that each separate chat tab should have its own scrollback buffer. Currently, it seems major scroll on one tab can "expire" content in another tab when the buffer gets full.

Not sure if I should mention that chat should be a separate thread and that no matter what the player is currently doing (space battles, loading screens, etc) chat activity that happens in the interim should be buffered and delivered when the chat frames are available again.

The current issue of chat messages not being delivered during space battles might be a bug.

Zombull's Avatar


Zombull
01.13.2012 , 01:50 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Frostvein View Post
Nice list.

That said, from a cost/benefit ratio, couldn't they just allow add-ons and let the community develop fixes for nearly everything you just mentioned for free?
Certainly they could, but they've stated they want to work on improving the default UI first and then think about adding support for mods. So it seems constructive feedback about the default UI could be helpful.

josfe's Avatar


josfe
01.13.2012 , 01:53 PM | #8
I'd add 1 to the general list.

Change the text that reads "You must complete a quest before you can do this" to read "Your quest log is full"

Nautius's Avatar


Nautius
01.13.2012 , 01:55 PM | #9
Nice post!

Could you please add numbering for target markers rather than symbols?

Not sure if most would agree, but logically it seems to make sense to number your targets rather then putting misinterpretive symbols over them or team mates.
"Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid." - John Wayne
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Zombull's Avatar


Zombull
01.13.2012 , 01:57 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by josfe View Post
I'd add 1 to the general list.

Change the text that reads "You must complete a quest before you can do this" to read "Your quest log is full"
Amen. Better yet, just lift the darn 25 quest limit. What purpose is served? With all the heroics we have to skip (for lack of available groups) my quest log stays pretty full.

I'll add a Mission Log section.