What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by DukeKingston » March 28th, 2017, 10:16 am

I love seeing the example images and Gifs. Really helps me know what exactly you're meaning. I've made it this far. Keep it coming.

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by ZiN » March 28th, 2017, 3:10 pm

Crosmando wrote:
March 24th, 2017, 3:08 am
It's probably also worth noting that BT2 and 3 had stonework for the interface.
Indeed; A greyish, somewhat dingy stonework would be the way to go, for that classic, old-school feel.

My favourite UI would probably be Wizardry 8 (yet again). Lots of info shown, neatly organized. Nothing too fancy, it has a clean design which fits the mood of the game well. Looking at this game first-hand (besides BT1-3 of course) would greatly benefit the development of BT4 in my opinion.

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Gizmo » March 28th, 2017, 5:14 pm

DukeKingston wrote:
March 28th, 2017, 10:16 am
I love seeing the example images and Gifs. Really helps me know what exactly you're meaning.
Notice on the Stone Prophet screenshot, that the troll's size purposely reduces his inventory slots, and that the sphynx (#2PC) can only wear half plate armor. Also, the first and last PCs are both carrying a bag in their left hand; the first PC's bag is open (and full of rocks).

The troll is feral, and doesn't really have any pockets; his hands are weapons. It was interesting that in a game where water was very important, the troll doesn't drink, and is a POWERFUL melee fighter that you can get early in the game... but he does not improve, and gains no experience points.

**Like BT4, Stone Prophet was free movement, but optionally grid based; using a modified engine from Menzoberranzan. Menzoberranzan had a problem, in that the maps were not well tested [enough], and some areas were not traversable in grid mode, due to decorative obstructions. I hope this cannot happen in BT4; or is checked for in all of the maps.
I've made it this far. Keep it coming.
Have you seen the Disciples series? Specifically D2 & D3. I would say that they have a UI that almost looks like an interactive oil painting; or wooden sculpture. I know that they say that artist make terrible menus :mrgreen: ; but their UI for that game is really cool [IMO]. Every creature in Disciples had a really good portrait; and Bard's Tale was [relatively] the same way; and I hope it still will be. The UI in the Disciples series is certainly example of what I meant by 'physical' appearance, and having character of the setting. [But admittedly, this is more style than function.]

Image

**What I would like to see most [for BT4] is a modern UI that honestly looks like it could have evolved from the original series; such that a past player need not really be taught how to use it, but knows almost instinctively what they are looking at.

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by thebruce » March 28th, 2017, 7:18 pm

Yup to gizmo, again. :)
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Drool » March 28th, 2017, 10:54 pm

Gizmo wrote:
March 28th, 2017, 1:25 am
In a dungeoncrawler?
Yes. Like in that one old game. I think it was called Bard's Tale. Perhaps you've heard of it?

SSI Gold Box (save EoB) were all turn based with separate inventory screens. Likewise early Might and Magic.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Gizmo » March 29th, 2017, 12:23 am

Drool wrote:
March 28th, 2017, 10:54 pm
Gizmo wrote:
March 28th, 2017, 1:25 am
In a dungeoncrawler?
Yes. Like in that one old game. I think it was called Bard's Tale. Perhaps you've heard of it?

SSI Gold Box (save EoB) were all turn based with separate inventory screens. Likewise early Might and Magic.
Not all of them; though the GoldBox titles were; [EoB was of the Legend series; and has a black box]. The GB games use a separate screen for ~everything. :lol:

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Zombra » March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am

Welcome to the forums DukeKingston and thank you for soliciting our input. To business.

* Readable text elements.
Resist the urge to use an elaborate "Ye Olde" font that is hard on the eyes.

* Responsiveness - as in instantaneous.
If I have to wait to watch a scroll unfurl every time my Hunter needs to change his socks, I swear I will hurt you.

If you absolutely must have animated UI elements, have them animate after the information is already showing or the functionality is already being performed. No, letting me click again to skip an animation is not acceptable - that's two clicks for something that should only take one.

* Economical real estate usage.
A 600 pixel wide gargoyle border may look gorgeous, but it's going to mean less information per screen, meaning my time is going to be wasted flipping between screens. After the first 100 times I see that gargoyle I'm not going to be wowed by it any more anyway.

At the same time, if you don't need to fit any more information onto a screen, fill out the space artistically. Just remember that we're going to be looking at that screen a thousand times, so make it something we won't get sick of seeing. Heck, you can even randomize between multiple pieces if the art team has more than one idea what to put there.

* Keyboard, keyboard, keyboard.
Making me click little buttons as the only way to manage my shit is sure to annoy me. Make a keyboard shortcut for every functionality if at all possible. Ideally I'd like to see a legend at the bottom of each screen detailing the active hotkeys: Character Sheet, Spells, Inventory, etc. Personally, I would rather have this and remove the colorful buttons altogether. I want to return to a time before World of Warcraft polluted UI design with its Candyland aesthetic.

* Art in theme with the world.
A font can be "fantastical" without being unreadable. 1 2 3 4 5
TTON screens are very functional but very bland. Borders should be thin (real estate!) but be evocative of the world: tree branches, carvings, what-have-you. If you wanted to get ambitious you could even have different UI styles in different environments: wood while in the forest, stone while underground, etc.

* "Paper dolls" are cool.
Not sure if you are handling UI functionality, but if so, the "paper doll" style of inventory management is really fun and makes upgrading character gear feel "physical": 1 2 3 It's fine if the character portraits on the main screen do not update with paper doll stuff ... though of course if they did it would be great.

* I prefer an "almost full screen" UI.
I know I talk about real estate and efficiency, but I also like to see a little bit of the game world underneath the management screens. Perhaps a bit like this, so you can still see there's a game waiting for you back there (though I don't like the "layered windows" idiom that example uses).

* Inventory Tetris? No thank you.
Probably a subject for a thread all its own, but deserves a brief mention here.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Gizmo » March 29th, 2017, 4:26 am

I like "Inventory Tetris". It better reflects carrying awkward items. It may indicate that it's more difficult (or impossible) to carry two halberds, a Kusarigama, three pairs of sandals, a cake, torches, a tinder-box, and seventeen glass bottles... even if the lot weighs less than the PC's maximum carrying capacity. But I've nothing against an auto-sort feature.

Some things one just cannot carry together at the same time, or stuff in a bag.

Arx Fatalis did a superb job with inventory [Tetris :mrgreen: ]. The inventory was a bag with finite space in it. Bags were scarce, but each bag acquired would multiply the PC's inventory space (by the number of bags).

Arx did a lot of things right; and it also allowed the player to get the bard's drunk; and they played off key when they were drunk. :lol:

About the text... I liked that 'Pillars of Eternity' had a text decoration check-box, and I do think that a Bard's Tale game might impart the setting with drop-caps and a bit of font finery, but a font toggle could be nice to have; one that would swap out a [full or partial] decorative font for Garamond or Helvetica.
Last edited by Gizmo on March 29th, 2017, 4:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Crosmando » March 29th, 2017, 4:48 am

ZiN wrote:
March 28th, 2017, 3:10 pm
Crosmando wrote:
March 24th, 2017, 3:08 am
It's probably also worth noting that BT2 and 3 had stonework for the interface.
Indeed; A greyish, somewhat dingy stonework would be the way to go, for that classic, old-school feel.

My favourite UI would probably be Wizardry 8 (yet again). Lots of info shown, neatly organized. Nothing too fancy, it has a clean design which fits the mood of the game well. Looking at this game first-hand (besides BT1-3 of course) would greatly benefit the development of BT4 in my opinion.
Wiz8 had a consistent and nice UI, but damn that font choice...
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by thebruce » March 29th, 2017, 6:37 am

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
Welcome to the forums DukeKingston and thank you for soliciting our input. To business.
* Hyperlinks more than one thin single digit to skillfully aim the mouse over before being able to click *
*ahem* zombra
:lol:

But seriously...

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* Readable text elements.
Resist the urge to use an elaborate "Ye Olde" font that is hard on the eyes.
Yes! A nice, but clear font. Gizmo's point about a graphic option for font styling could be useful, but in my book if the font is already clear then that shouldn't be necessary and could become Option clutter.

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* Responsiveness - as in instantaneous.
If I have to wait to watch a scroll unfurl every time my Hunter needs to change his socks, I swear I will hurt you.

If you absolutely must have animated UI elements, have them animate after the information is already showing or the functionality is already being performed. No, letting me click again to skip an animation is not acceptable - that's two clicks for something that should only take one.
A million times this!
And using animation/delays in order to 'extend' the gameplay is also lazy. A gameplay length should be in the actual gameplay, not dictated by sedentary periods of absorbing unavoidable content. (eg, cinematics don't count as gameplay! Force-reading typewriter animated dialogue (or drawn out audio) when you can skim-read 3x faster is doesn't count as gameplay! Scroll and page animations there for effect when you already know the end result but have to wait for it to finish anyway doesn't cou... you get the picture :)

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* Economical real estate usage.
A 600 pixel wide gargoyle border may look gorgeous, but it's going to mean less information per screen, meaning my time is going to be wasted flipping between screens. After the first 100 times I see that gargoyle I'm not going to be wowed by it any more anyway.

At the same time, if you don't need to fit any more information onto a screen, fill out the space artistically. Just remember that we're going to be looking at that screen a thousand times, so make it something we won't get sick of seeing. Heck, you can even randomize between multiple pieces if the art team has more than one idea what to put there.
Yes. There's a balance to be found between function and form. Appreciation of form is temporal; function alone has no ambiance. Be artistic and creative, knowing that over time the 'beauty' becomes novelty and can become a hindrance to functionality. Sometimes options cover it by providing for a streamlined UI for the 'advanced' user, sometimes design from the very beginning is sufficiently aesthetic and functional. Don't overdo the aesthetic at the expense of long-term functionality.

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* Keyboard, keyboard, keyboard.[/size]
Making me click little buttons as the only way to manage my shit is sure to annoy me. Make a keyboard shortcut for every functionality if at all possible. Ideally I'd like to see a legend at the bottom of each screen detailing the active hotkeys: Character Sheet, Spells, Inventory, etc. Personally, I would rather have this and remove the colorful buttons altogether. I want to return to a time before World of Warcraft polluted UI design with its Candyland aesthetic.
Another million times yes!

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* "Paper dolls" are cool.
Not sure if you are handling UI functionality, but if so, the "paper doll" style of inventory management is really fun and makes upgrading character gear feel "physical": here, here, here It's fine if the character portraits on the main screen do not update with paper doll stuff ... though of course if they did it would be great.
I'm torn on paperdoll inventory. I fell in love with the non-literal inventory of BT1-3. But if it is visual, then the 'tetris' style would be my choice. The only limitations of the original were number of slots. I'm not a huge fan of forcing a 'weight' limit, at least in BT, but making the space limitation one of 'fitting' items into the bag is I think close enough to a slot count that it would be fine. Part of the fun of BT was tossing items around trying to balance storage characters with items they need to keep equipped. The 'tetris' effect kind of played itself out between characters rather than for each character :lol:

If I found 8 halberds to sell I could give them all to the monk who could still kick butt in a fight ;) Ah, Bard's Tale.

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* I prefer an "almost full screen" UI.
I know I talk about real estate and efficiency, but I also like to see a little bit of the game world underneath the management screens. Perhaps a bit like this, so you can still see there's a game waiting for you back there (though I don't like the "layered windows" idiom that example uses).
In this case, the "popup" is modal, which is fine, imo. It's when there are too many mini-windows all actively in use over the main full-screen window. That's the style I really don't like, and isn't Bard's Tale style.

But what I liked about BT was that there were only the three components to the UI. Viewport, party, and scroll. Everything took place in those three - no popups, no mini windows, very keyboard friendly. It's not a multi-tasking game - everything you did was the thing you were doing at that time. You can get UI clutter, but you can also get task clutter.

I think that was why the formula worked - in BT you were only ever doing one thing at a time, which meant the UI had to be quick and snappy. If you have a multi-tasking game, then you can add clutter because you can jump to the thing you're interacting with while other things are happening simultaneously. In so many words. It's a frame of mind more than a graphical thing, in another sense. The linearity with the speed of the BT UI is why it worked, IMO.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Zombra » March 29th, 2017, 10:03 am

Oh, another thing to consider:

* Thematic UI indicators.
Remember the secret detection lizard from Might & Magic? No?

Check it out:
Image

In Might & Magic 3, if you had the ability to detect secret doors, the little lizard at the lower right of the main window would wave his arms when you were near one. The bat at the top of the screen would chomp his jaws if your Detect Monster ability activated. And the gargoyle at the left would flap his wing while the Levitate effect was active. Stuff like this is wonderful, much to be preferred over blinking icons or text notifications. This is a great way to integrate UI into gameplay. (I also suggest the use of audio cues for things like this.)
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » March 29th, 2017, 5:01 pm

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am

* Keyboard, keyboard, keyboard.
Making me click little buttons as the only way to manage my shit is sure to annoy me. Make a keyboard shortcut for every functionality if at all possible. Ideally I'd like to see a legend at the bottom of each screen detailing the active hotkeys: Character Sheet, Spells, Inventory, etc. Personally, I would rather have this and remove the colorful buttons altogether. I want to return to a time before World of Warcraft polluted UI design with its Candyland aesthetic.
Right on.
Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* "Paper dolls" are cool.
Not sure if you are handling UI functionality, but if so, the "paper doll" style of inventory management is really fun and makes upgrading character gear feel "physical": 1 2 3 It's fine if the character portraits on the main screen do not update with paper doll stuff ... though of course if they did it would be great.
Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 1:48 am
* Inventory Tetris? No thank you.
Probably a subject for a thread all its own, but deserves a brief mention here.
I've enjoyed paper dolls in other games, but don't feel a strong need for them, especially if they are going to be part of the inventory management mechanism. For inventory management, I want to be able to perform it entirely with the keyboard and this probably means presenting inventory, including equipped items, as lists. Also, just like other aspects of the original BT games worked with an abstract space, inventory did too and I would like to keep it that way. So, please, no weight restrictions and no inventory Tetris.

We actually had another thread on inventory management last year or the year before. One of the ideas explored was to keep unequipped items in a global pool for the party. A shortcoming of the original series was not being able to see more than one character inventory at the same time. Trying out new items was a bit of a pain because it involved transferring from one character to another, whose pack may or may not be full. Then, it involved leaving the first character's inventory screen, going into the second character's inventory screen, checking whether the second character could use the item. If not, then repeat. There is an opportunity here to streamline the original UI while preserving its simple, list-based nature.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Drool » March 29th, 2017, 9:29 pm

Zombra wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 10:03 am
* Thematic UI indicators.
It was more than that. The heads would shake and nod from Clairvoyance (even if it didn't work quite right) and the gems would change color depending on what elemental resistances you had.
Gizmo wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 4:26 am
I like "Inventory Tetris".
Inventory Tetris, like RTwP is a plague upon gamerkind and can't be relegated to the dustbin of history fast enough.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Gizmo » March 29th, 2017, 11:11 pm

Drool wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 9:29 pm
Inventory Tetris, like RTwP is a plague upon gamerkind and can't be relegated to the dustbin of history fast enough.
I don't particularly like RTwP, but I admit to resorting to it to beat Myth:The Fallen Lords
~despite that game not having it as an intended feature. :D

I did like Diablo's inventory system, and Eye of the Beholder's; and Stone Prophet's.

Myth curiously doesn't filter mouse clicks from the game world when the system menu is open; so you can actually issue orders to units while the game is paused; if they aren't occluded by the menu.

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Drool » March 31st, 2017, 9:57 pm

The original Diablo's was a mess. Gold could only be stacked so much and it took up inventory squares. I quickly resorted to leaving huge piles of gold in town square every time I went into the dungeons.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Gizmo » April 1st, 2017, 12:31 am

Drool wrote:
March 31st, 2017, 9:57 pm
The original Diablo's was a mess. Gold could only be stacked so much and it took up inventory squares. I quickly resorted to leaving huge piles of gold in town square every time I went into the dungeons.
I don't see that as a problem; I did see it as practically a cheat in Baldur's Gate, where money was an virtual/substance-less number ~like a credit account.

People shouldn't be able to haul that much gold around ~on top of all the other stuff they are hauling.
It reminds me of the Gold Box games, and how the early ones had various coin types; all of which had weight. There were Salamander caves in [(I think Curse) where the PCs can discover a veritable hoard ~of copper coins. They can be set for life... but they are reduced to the minimum combat movement for hauling all of that weight.

What I also liked about those games, was that there were shops that sold very expensive jewelry, and were a means of storing large amounts of platinum in a small trinket that weighed next to nothing. later games included actual banks that the PCs could deposit items and money in an account, and return for it later.

Fallout had Bottle Caps, and while it did have them in a sack in inventory, with weight. I was disappointed that the game did not account for them when making sneak skill-checks ~while carrying a potato sack full of bottle caps. :evil:

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 1st, 2017, 2:04 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 1st, 2017, 12:31 am

People shouldn't be able to haul that much gold around ~on top of all the other stuff they are hauling.
Sometimes it is nice to just not worry about whether a character or a party of characters can actually carry money or equipment due to weight or volume restrictions. Worrying about these kinds of things can turn a simple, enjoyable aspect of a game into a chore. At least with BT IV, I hope that money and inventory don't weigh anything and that they don't occupy variables amounts of spatial volume which must be accounted for. Let's just keep it simple: characters can keep an unlimited amount of money (let's call it "gold") on themselves without penalty and the size and weight of the items in their inventory or the party's collective inventory is irrelevant.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Zombra » April 1st, 2017, 2:19 pm

I knew inventory should have been its own thread.

Encumbrance can be a fun, meaningful decision ("Do I carry the idol but leave my assault rifle?") ... but in 99%+ of RPGs it's just busy work where you're never meant to make any real decisions, you just dump stuff you can't carry or haul it back and forth from the merchant. It doesn't add fun.
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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by Gizmo » April 1st, 2017, 5:24 pm

Zombra wrote:
April 1st, 2017, 2:19 pm
It doesn't add fun.
It does if you can get robbed on the way back with the money. :twisted:
(Do I carry all of this money, or do I save room for weapons enough to defend myself, and the money?)

*Generally it's always seemed odd (and incredulous) to me when when the party saunters through strange towns and outposts carrying thousands upon thousands in noisy currency.

**There is a slippery evolution to this that I really didn't like: In Throne of Darkness, the PCs had access to the merchant and the blacksmith ~in their inventory screen! This meant that they could convert found money into forged items while deep in a cave somewhere, surrounded by enemies.

What's wrong with offering valuable gems & jewelry to consolidate funds in a game like Baldur's Gate? (And of course the trade off is that hopefully they can get lost or stolen; possibly leaving the party destitute.)

I know that in Fallout 2, there were pick pockets, and the PC's items would show up in the shops the thieves traded it to. It was quite a pastime for some players to allow their PC to get robbed of a ticking bomb; and see the thief blow up on their way back to the shop; once they'd figured it out.

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Re: What's your favorite art style for RPG Menus?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 1st, 2017, 6:55 pm

Zombra wrote:
April 1st, 2017, 2:19 pm
Encumbrance can be a fun, meaningful decision ("Do I carry the idol but leave my assault rifle?") ... but in 99%+ of RPGs it's just busy work where you're never meant to make any real decisions, you just dump stuff you can't carry or haul it back and forth from the merchant. It doesn't add fun.
Exactly. Some of the old Infocom games, like Zork and Hitchhiker's Guide, successfully utilized this trade-off mechanic as an integral part of the gaming experience, but most of the time it is just a sheer annoyance.
Gizmo wrote:
Zombra wrote:
April 1st, 2017, 2:19 pm
It doesn't add fun.
It does if you can get robbed on the way back with the money. :twisted:
That gets old. If you can fight the robbers, it might be fun a few times and then loses its luster and becomes an annoyance, especially once your party greatly outclasses the would-be robbers. And, if you have no chance to prevent the theft, then it is just really irritating, because you are leaving something entirely to chance without being able to use skill to mitigate the circumstances.
Gizmo wrote: *Generally it's always seemed odd (and incredulous) to me when when the party saunters through strange towns and outposts carrying thousands upon thousands in noisy currency.
Just as odd and incredulous as fighting 396 Berserkers in a single tile?
Gizmo wrote: What's wrong with offering valuable gems & jewelry to consolidate funds in a game like Baldur's Gate? (And of course the trade off is that hopefully they can get lost or stolen; possibly leaving the party destitute.)
What's wrong with skipping the busy work of converting currency into gems? :P
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