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When are we going to see more user interface improvements?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
When are we going to see more user interface improvements?

NJMorf's Avatar


NJMorf
01.25.2013 , 06:47 PM | #1
It's been nearly a year since the first set of additional UI features were patched into the game. Since then (and please correct me if I'm wrong) we haven't seen anything done with the UI other than bug fixes and minor tweaks like the additional bars that came with the F2P release. It's about time we had some more improvements, or at the very least an update on the future of the UI.

Being a long-time WoW player, I'm used to being able to change just about every element of my UI, from the action bars to cast bars to crafting windows to all those addons that make people accuse me of not being skilled enough to play the game properly. I'm resigned to the fact that as much as I would like to see it, this game will never have an open API allowing that degree of control, but I see the current configuration options as the bare minimum that this game should have had at launch and much less ambitious than this game deserves. The UI as it stands feels like something I would expect to see in a ten-year-old game, not a modern on; it doesn't seem to have benefitted from the last several years of trial and error that the other games have used to make themselves better.

Here are some things that I consider problems and would love to see addressed:

UI clutter:
I like to have a clean interface when not in combat. In WoW, my visible UI usually consists of just my player frame and the minimap. Elements automatically reappear when I want them to. Let's have bars capable of auto-hiding or -appearing on mouse-over, targetting or combat.

Poor notification of cooldown expiry or ability availability
Right now, the only indication we have that an ability has cooled down or become available is a fairly unobtrusive flash on the action bar. If, like me, you like the majority of your view to be clear of buttons, you put the bars at the edges of the screen, making it horribly easy to miss the flash. If you move the bars back into the line of sight, then at some point in the fight they're probably going to be sitting smack-bang over the top of something important that you want to click on. Floating notifications of CDs could appear in your line of sight with a degree of transparency but allow you to click through them if needed.

Very poor information about HoTs, DoTs and (de)buffs
When looking at a target's buffs and debuffs it's currently just about impossible to tell which ones were applied by you and therefore impossible to tell when you should refresh them. . There needs to be some way to differentiate your effects from the crowd. A first step would be to emphasise your effects when looking at the target frame. A better step, in my opinion, would be to divorce your own effect from the target and display all of them, on all of the targets, in a single manner (timer bars, numeric countdowns, etc.). As with CDs, these could be floating, semi-transparent and uninteractive.

Similarly, it's often hard to spot an important debuff that needs cleansing, particularly if you're looking at the raid frames where the buffs icons are about 8 pixels square by default. These need to stand out. Others need to have the option to be hidden if you're not interested in them, or to show up only when they're missing. I may not need to know that another player's DoTs are running on the boss, only that mine are.

Stacked abilities on toolbars
Currently, if I want to use qualifier keys to fold two abilities to one button, I have to put each ability into its own button, then assign a keybinding to each one. This leaves me with lots of buttons that I will never press and may never even look at but which are taking up valuable screen space (or worse, getting in the way of what I want to see or do). I'd like to be able to add a second ability to a button and link it to a qualifier key: once the bar was locked again, pressing the qualifier would swap both the function and the display of the button to the second ability. And, of course, I'd like the ability to add more than just the one additional function.

Lack of a proper combat log
The current combat log visible in game is pretty much restricted to telling you what killed you. The logs accessible outside of the game are almost worthless because they're so horribly restricted. We shouldn't need to have to get a log from every other player in the operation in order to give us a full record of a fight. There needs to be a real-time combat log for those people who find it an invaluable tool to improve their performance.


I know that lots of people, both developers and players, are dead-set against the kind of modifications that "play the game for you", but I think that the issues I've listed above are purely about making the information that is already available in the game more accessible. Let me put that information in the place I want it, in the manner I want it, and I can guarantee to you that I'll perform better because I can make faster, more accurate decisions. Nothing I've suggested above will offer any solutions to me that I can follow blindly.

It's worth saying that a lot of the additions and improvements made to WoW's stock UI were effectively inspired by the creations of the add-on community, which would not have existed had the game not had an open API. I firmly believe that giving players the ability to mould the UI to their own preferences was a huge benefit to the game and contributed to its longevity. Personally, I spent hours tweaking my interface, streamlining it or working around the roadblocks that the standard UI put in front of me. If I'd been restricted to fighting with the original UI that whole time, as basic and inflexible as it was, I would not have had as much fun as I did and I'm sure I would have ragequit the game long ago.

Beslley's Avatar


Beslley
01.25.2013 , 08:38 PM | #2
We really need an addon API for SWTOR
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KariTalRathe's Avatar


KariTalRathe
01.25.2013 , 08:55 PM | #3
I assume when you increase the size of the ops frames (in interface management) the buff icons increase also. I havent actually resized party members bars though so have no idea if my assumption is correct. The management is not exactly intuitive.

If I could only have two wishes for an interface upgrade they would be:
  • Allow me to have both an enemy and friendly target. Just because I am playing my healer, I want to know where we are with the boss fight and to be able to throw a few attacks in myself without switching target.
  • Tooltips on player icons so I can make better use of my toxic scan. Despite the skill being boosted via my talent tree, I rarely seem to be able to remove any apparent affect my target is undergoing.

Rezakh's Avatar


Rezakh
01.25.2013 , 10:04 PM | #4
Absolutely agree with you, along with almost every other logical minded MMO player that still plays TOR. But according to the Lead Systems Designer, players have no need for mods in SWTOR.

Basically, we'll most likely never get modding. The devs have already said it is too problematic, which is about as ridiculous as saying an engine in a car is problematic because you really do not need an engine in a car to move it down the road. And that is true, but that does not mean that pushing my car down the road because it has no engine is actually a reason to substantiate that it is an example of excellent automotive design.

TL;DR - We're probably not getting mods and until we do, the hardest boss in this game is the user interface.

AshlaBoga's Avatar


AshlaBoga
01.25.2013 , 10:31 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by KariTalRathe View Post
I assume when you increase the size of the ops frames (in interface management) the buff icons increase also. I havent actually resized party members bars though so have no idea if my assumption is correct.
Yeah it makes a BIG difference. As a healer I make my Ops frame max size so I can clearly see each debuff in a 8-12 man group. Now in a 16 man group it can get a bit tricky but 16 man Operation issues are so numerous that they could get their own thread.
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NJMorf's Avatar


NJMorf
01.26.2013 , 09:16 AM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Rezakh View Post
Absolutely agree with you, along with almost every other logical minded MMO player that still plays TOR. But according to the Lead Systems Designer, players have no need for mods in SWTOR.

Basically, we'll most likely never get modding. The devs have already said it is too problematic, which is about as ridiculous as saying an engine in a car is problematic because you really do not need an engine in a car to move it down the road. And that is true, but that does not mean that pushing my car down the road because it has no engine is actually a reason to substantiate that it is an example of excellent automotive design.

TL;DR - We're probably not getting mods and until we do, the hardest boss in this game is the user interface.
My understanding is that it's considered to be too much work to add an API into a game engine that wasn't designed with it in mind. Given the massive reduction in staff that the game had shortly after launch, I'd guess that there's no way that they can spare the time or people to crowbar and API in right now, even if they wanted to. Maybe, if we're really lucky, the game will start making enough money from Cartel Coins that they'll be able to get more staff and start improving things in the long run, but I wouldn't count on it.

As I said, I'd love to have the level of freedom that mods allow, but in its absence, I'd settle for more control over the standard UI. Right now I consider the amount of configuration in the UI to be vestigial at best. On a 1-10 scale, I'd give it about a three.

DarthBuckets's Avatar


DarthBuckets
01.26.2013 , 09:26 AM | #7
With the singular exception of the strong need of better buff/debuff tracking both on Ops frames and unit frames, I think the current UI + Interface Builder is more than sufficient.

uniz's Avatar


uniz
01.26.2013 , 11:07 AM | #8
you wont see any improvements as it is no longer a priority game play issue. you wont see addons either. this being said doesnt mean the ui could use some tweaking.

Merwanor's Avatar


Merwanor
01.26.2013 , 12:10 PM | #9
Never really seen the need for UI mods in any MMO, and I think many of the addons for WoW is more akin to cheating. So for me, the UI in SWTOR is more than good enough.
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Darth_Victus's Avatar


Darth_Victus
01.26.2013 , 02:02 PM | #10
I personally would love to be able to move vendor windows, shared quests window, and trade.

Mainly because alot of these over lap where I have put my chat window so it makes it difficult to accept a shared quest. Sure, I can move my chat window, but then it wouldn't be set up the way I personally prefer it.