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Author Topic: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX  (Read 1136 times)

Hammer

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Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« on: 10 August 2021, 11:34:53 »
Hi Everyone,

We are looking for some feedback. We have a contributor that is looking at working on two things around our UI/UX. We are going to collect feedback in this thread so it can be tracked.

The first one is Always show the map during the game. You'll need to read the link and have a look at all the comments. Please provide you're thoughts and suggestions here. This is work in progress code.

The second one is Main game interface streamlining. This one is more abstract and in the planning stage.

There are no guarantees the Dev team with accept these PR's or will with requested feedback. But its important to us for changes like this to have feedback from the player base.
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Lanceman

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #1 on: 10 August 2021, 11:56:00 »
I sometimes already find the amount of text and information a round of MegaMek spits at you a little hard to parse through well, and I think taking away that "breather" might make that worse. Plus, for folks that actually do play against other folks, I don't know if I want my chat mixed with my game info. On the other hand, I do like the idea of being able to see the effects a round had on a unit. That kind of visual feedback could really be useful.

All for streamlining and modernizing the UI though, as long as feature parity is maintained.
« Last Edit: 10 August 2021, 11:59:03 by Lanceman »
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UlyssesSockdrawer

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #2 on: 10 August 2021, 12:02:00 »
My feedback/opinions below:

Idea 1 - always show the map/transparent/auto-skipped round reports in the chat box

Pros I can see from the ticket:

- Reduced need for maintenance of the chat widget (from the post raised)
- May speed up play for groups of players who don't click done on a phase
- The proposed ability to click to a hex to see what happened where would be great for adding context


Cons

- Multiplayer user chat could be very easily lost in the feed of round information
- As presented currently in the ticket I find it super hard to read with the transparency, this will only get worse at the scale of game I tend to run where there might be up to 100 units per side.
- Information could be missed, particularly in phases like heat, unless it was displayed visually elsewhere
- May reduce MegaMek's utility as a learning/teaching tool for the Battletech rules as phases a skipped, potentially reducing a new player's ability to see and comprehend the detail before being asked to do something else (e.g. the next phase's actions)

Idea 2

Pros:

- May make the interface cleaner/put more of the play area on screen vs. action bars
- May result in less clicks to find the action needed, and be harder to skip past the desired action
- Links the actions a unit can take in a phase directly to its action panel
- May improve 'discoverability' of actions for players who have chosen to learn the game via MegaMek

Cons:

- Major usability change, likely to drive increased support request traffic in the short/medium term as userbase adapts
- Some units have many more actions than others, how would this be accommodated on the unit control panel?
- How will this interact with aerospace, one of the more complicated units in the game?

Alternative proposal:

I'm unsure by what is meant by 'click to select' in the context of ticket 2.

Could something along the lines of an MMO 'action bar'/hotbar be added to replace the current menu feature, perhaps with actions accessible via the number keys?

Jayof9s

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #3 on: 10 August 2021, 12:03:48 »
I think we definitely need UI streamlining where it makes sense. I'm curious about "reducing the amount of clicks it takes to do something" - simplicity is best but with the number of options, I get worried that it would require simplifying and taking control away to make it more streamlined.

And I'd also personally not want to get away from the round-summary tabs. This type of change seems like it'd be fine if you regularly play in smaller battles and only need to keep track of a handful of units but if you regularly play in Company vs Company or Battalion vs Battlaion sized battles, I can't imagine a good way to get that level of detail without the summary tabs. At least not without missing a ton of stuff.

See HBS Battletech for both points - just one example they streamlined movement a lot from closed beta to release, which reduced clicks but also removed some granularity (like being able to select 'back up' and it often felt like I didn't have the full movement available any more and have more than a few times wished there was a 'confirm movement' button because I ended up with something presenting its back accidentally.) Same for the way damage works there - you don't need a summary in HBS BT because you're only tracking 4 units at a time + any enemies. A glance is really all you need. But MM can handle massively larger fights and things can easily get lost in the weeds if you need to look at 12-36+ individual units to know if something happened to them during the firing phase.

For the Unit Display I've always liked it as a pop out. Works great with 2 monitors, rather than losing map space for the extras when I can shunt them to the 2nd screen. I understand if it's less great for people with only 1 monitor.

I understand the appeal of removing the buttons but doesn't that just drive all of that into context menus? There's so much there that I feel like will get lost but I'm not against the idea itself - I'm just not convinced it will reduce the number of clicks to do things in practice.

It's the kind of thing that's pretty hard to give good feedback on as a theory. In theory it sounds great, but I do see hurdles to it being great in practice.
« Last Edit: 10 August 2021, 12:37:39 by Jayof9s »

Lastone23

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #4 on: 10 August 2021, 12:43:30 »
I think the previous users put it more elegantly than I do, but my two cents as....

For our weekly group we tend to go through the round report line by line.  Especially the damage screen since a lot can happen with 16+ units on the board.  Heat and initiatives screen not so much.  There is value in by passing the done simulator that occurs sometimes.  This enhancement makes it sounds like the game might go by too fast.

BairdEC

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #5 on: 10 August 2021, 19:10:00 »
I play on a desktop with two monitors.  I normally keep the mini-map and unit display windows on the secondary monitor.  I like having the available actions in the buttons on the screen; I would not mind showing only the available actions as buttons in the unit display.  Perhaps the buttons could be moved to a sidebar on the left with icons (and mouse-over labels) instead.  The full list should still be elsewhere for the sake of completeness and display bugs.  Removing the graphic banner at the top of the screen and the buttons bar at the bottom would do much to improve the map display. 

Mouse-over tool tips are a quick way to look at a unit's status, check range from the currently selected unit/hex, and verify terrain.  Removing them would be a significant downgrade.

I often wish I could look at the units while reviewing the log.  If integrating the chat and the turn summaries will allow me to scroll around the map while I review the log, I think it will be an improvement. Since multiplayer chats might be overwhelmed by the turn summary, can they be separated into two separate chat windows?

AngelOfDeathIX

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #6 on: 11 August 2021, 01:25:20 »
I don't know if putting the results of the phases in the chat box would be a great idea.  Right now, you can go back to see what has happened in other phases, you have a chance to type, and can easily scroll up or down in a multiplayer conversation.  If we had phase results in there too, the entire thing would get rather cluttered.  My only complaint about the results screen was addressed in 0.49 (wanting to see summaries of TN's specifically during the shooting phase).
 
I do like the other suggestion however, and think the unit info being docked on the main screen would be a great change.  Even if its the same interface as currently, just stuck to the side of your screen, it would be nice to not have to position the window around your screen all the time.  I honestly don't mind the number of clicks it takes to do things at this point in time, and think the action bar at the bottom works fine.
 
Thanks for all of your great work!

johnboyjjb

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #7 on: 11 August 2021, 07:47:06 »
In regards to less clicks in the UI, I find that when I need to cover lots of terrain on a planet with non standard gravity, I tend to send my guys off in a direction, then it warns about a PSR, so then I cancel the planned movement and do it again with walking movement (since it has a visual indicator) or try to remember how far the unit can go without hitting that PSR (which is a lot easier with a lance than a battalion)

Also, still like the idea of being able to dock the unit display and the map to the side of the play area. It would be great if I could have two unit displays docked too - one for the shooter and one for the primary target.

dgorsman

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #8 on: 11 August 2021, 21:04:43 »
Not sure I'm getting the warm and fuzzies from these.  It seems to be eating a lot of display area between the two of them.  Even though the rectangular monitors today offer more room horizontally than vertically there isn't that much room left, which would mean continuously clicking between them.  And inevitable delays while waiting for parts to collapse, or clicking back and forth to collapse/expand.  While there is mention of potentials like hotlinking references in the chat to positions on the map, without more visible map area it would lack context.

I'll echo one of the comments on the PR, the transparency is a double-edged sword: letting the user have a better view of the playing area means less ability to read the text.  With that trade-off it's nearly better to have a separate window/dialog which would be over top of the main window on single monitor systems anyways.

I'm another dual-monitor user.  While I could stretch the main window across both monitors, I rarely do as I find the gap between monitors disruptive (I suspect worse when dealing with position-sensitive information like visually checking line of sight - does anyone have monitors that line up perfectly?).  Normal process is to keep the unit dialog and minimap on the second monitor.  Speaking of which, I don't see mention of the minimap - where does it fit in with these changes?

Echoing another comment about skipping phases where nothing happens, I am one of those who use an empty phase to handle stuff like turning items on/off, or changing sensor modes.  It's a separate issue, and possibly a complex one, but I'd really like to have a proper end phase.  Princess has access to it, as did TestBot.
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TheSilentK21

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #9 on: 12 August 2021, 15:26:13 »
I'd never thought to utilize my second monitor for the info pane and minimap, but now that it's been brought up I'll definitely try it! I will, for now, abstain from voicing an uninformed opinion on the matter of relocating the info pane and/or minimap.

As for changing the placement of the buttons, and making them context sensitive, I worry that the buttons won't be where I expect them to be, especially if their location is more fluid and less fixed, but that problem is mine personally, applies to users individually in different ways, and should only be a temporary issue until I relearn my muscle memory. Grognard gonna resist change, always  :) That said, I don't necessarily feel that reducing the number of clicks needed for most actions needs to be high priority. At most it feels I need 2 clicks to select a unit and 2 or 3 more to specify movement or targeting, which doesn't seem excessive. The only actions I ever take that feel like they require extra clicks only ever occur under special circumstances like when I need to eject or flee, turn on or off a searchlight, or use reckless movement.

The idea of having the map available at all times, and especially if you can add links to the report to zoom in on hexes or units is very appealing, but as others have said it should be handled with care to not interfere with having enough of the map visible at any given time, and without sacrificing readability. The more of the board is visible at any given time, the better I expect my situational awareness will be, but the reports are if anything even more critical to strategy.

Conclusion: I support any decision that leads to the game being more dev-friendly, and I think that if handled correctly it could also make it significantly more user-friendly. I'm excited to help test it out if and when it becomes a usable feature, and provide continued feedback!

dgorsman

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #10 on: 14 August 2021, 13:02:14 »
Something else that occurs - if the popup chatbox is going to be fixed on the left side of the screen, and panning is limited so the left side of the map is at the edge of the game window (you cannot pan so the edge of the map is in the center of the window), you'll never be able to have the chatbox up and work in the left edge of the map at the same time.  You'll have to hide the chatbox everytime you want to do something in the left-most hexes.

Same principle with putting the unit stats on the right side - if you want to do something on the right edge of the map, you can never have the unit box up at the same time.
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BATTLEMASTER

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #11 on: 14 August 2021, 14:44:28 »
I love the idea of letting the game board be always visible.  However, I'm not a fan of putting the turn and round reports in the chat.

What I'd rather see are dockable windows for unit displays and round reports.  When minimized, they could flash like Windows taskbar tiles when they're updated to let you know to check them out.
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PuppyLikesLaserPointers

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #12 on: 14 August 2021, 20:08:04 »
Both changes seems a must for me. Especially for the first one - the phase result always cut the gameplay and also prevent to access for the battlefield until we finish it.

NightSarge

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #13 on: 27 August 2021, 15:54:13 »
I am with Battlemaster here, having the map always visible is good, but putting all this information into the chat window is overloading it. At present you get a clear view via the screens.
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Battleclad

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #14 on: 29 August 2021, 01:44:55 »
I've always thought it should have the minimap anchored to the top bar as a click to expand UI element (or right-click to lock open), for secondary monitor users there can be a skin that detaches it. The same for the unit info menu, the top menu has the dead space to take click elements for them and the unit info window only needs to default to visible during firing and can otherwise be expanded as need.ed

Simon Landmine

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #15 on: 29 August 2021, 05:14:29 »
I've always thought it should have the minimap anchored to the top bar as a click to expand UI element (or right-click to lock open), for secondary monitor users there can be a skin that detaches it. The same for the unit info menu, the top menu has the dead space to take click elements for them and the unit info window only needs to default to visible during firing and can otherwise be expanded as need.ed

One possible difficulty there would be that, if the MiniMap cannot be moved around the screen, there would be a fixed area of the battle map that would not be visible when the MiniMap is open (depending on where the anchored minimap is anchored). Some users may find it useful to be able to move the MiniMap to one side or the other, as needed.
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yukamichi

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Re: Feedback Wanted: Proposed changes to MegaMeks UI/UX
« Reply #16 on: 29 August 2021, 08:14:29 »
I'm another two-monitor user who doesn't care what you do with the mini-map and unit info as long as you keep the ability to detach them and drop them off of the main game window.

As for the round summary, I think that it's practically indispensable once a game gets past a certain size. During an in-person game, it's easy to keep track of everything going on in a game because everybody announces what they're doing as they're doing it. In Megamek, you don't get that unless you're playing against other humans using voice chat, and the round summaries make up for that lack. It seems horrendously counterproductive to the idea of "streamlining" to force the player to hunt and peck around the map to find everything that went on each phase, rather than just telling them.

 

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