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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 9:08 am 
And dorpond has been advocating for a way to select images already in use in the campaign. That will happen too at some point; perhaps in 1.4.


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 1:50 pm 
thecyberwolfe wrote:
One more thing to note in the argument about dumbing-down the program: the serious users are also the GMs, a profession that requires quite a bit of intelligence, research and problem-solving. They can handle a complex program.

The users that will have the most trouble with it are the ones Phergus was talking about - and they will also be non-GMs for the most part... but they will have a GM handy that can explain to them the few simple things they will need to know to use the program in a game session.

In the end, if it is decided that things must be simplified for new users, then let's do it in a way that leaves the advanced features intact - just behind another layer of menus or maybe as a "Basic vs. Advanced" menu switcher. (But not as a GM Client vs. Player client, one codebase is sufficient, thankyouverymuch.)

Even though MapTool is not for profit, it should be designed that way. That means making everything as simple and easy to use as possible. I've just recently got an invite into the DDI VT and it is leagues ahead of MapTool for getting players and DM's together on the fly. I logged in and not an hour later, was plugging around killing zombies and skeletons in a game someone had a spot open up for. And this was during a weekday morning.


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 1:59 pm 
We've talked about lurker mode before where where folks can pop in to observe. You effectively do this is your player password is set to null. Perhaps the start server needs to change a bit to ask questions about whether it is an open game along with the maximum allowed players. The server list would then display the open games so folks know they can join.

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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 2:11 pm 
JonathanTheBlack wrote:
Even though MapTool is not for profit, it should be designed that way. That means making everything as simple and easy to use as possible. I've just recently got an invite into the DDI VT and it is leagues ahead of MapTool for getting players and DM's together on the fly. I logged in and not an hour later, was plugging around killing zombies and skeletons in a game someone had a spot open up for. And this was during a weekday morning.

I suppose for an MMO type game that would be great, but most games I'm familiar with are less episodic and require some kind of commitment to play. I would think being completely open that someone could come in and sabotage or simply quit in the middle of things could ruin the experience for everyone else playing.

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Last edited by aliasmask on Mon May 23, 2011 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 4:00 pm 
I don't think simplifying things for the sake of simplification is good. MapTools is designed to play RPG's for just about any game out there. To strip away features or hide them behind special command line switches is not the answer. WotC's VTT is designed for one system only and can do away with many features MapTools has as 4E does not use them. Also, jumping into a game does not necessarily mean episodic. The character can remain the same, but the player can change every week. Provide the player with background and a idea of the characters persona, and the game can go on. I was thinking of doing something like this when one of my games concludes. Or, something like a war torn nation and the player of the week takes a role as a commander in the military or some such, influencing the war. So, in this game the DM gets to see the whole story and the players are just pawns in the grand scheme of things.


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 9:32 pm 
TLDR.

I vote for "make it look like the windows manager's current theme".

That is, make it look like it fits in with the other applications running on the machine. Be it the "Classic Win 95 theme" or one of the newer windows themse, or the Mac theme on a Mac, or whatever the XWindows theme manager has set. Don't go out on your own way, or if you do, have a theme/skin called "native" which reads the system settings and make it blend in.

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IMarv


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:59 am 
The StartServer dialog definitely needs to be reworked in order to better walk the user through the process... Multiple dialogs in a series, "wizard-style". You can bet that as we do that there will be various mockups created and forum users can chime in on what they like or don't like. Heck, if the users here want to start a thread and start the design work without us, that would be great! Otherwise it's just more work for me/us to do and that takes time.

I do think that interface simplification is a good thing for players. I think logging in as Player should provide a "basic" interface and logging in as GM should provide an "extended" interface. It's not that they're truly different, it's just a matter of which panels open by default, which menu options are visible/grayed out, and so on. And it might be reasonable to set those values (i.e. what constitutes "basic" or "extended") when the server is started. So if I start a server to play PF, the extended setup would include access to the VBL tools and only GMs would see those. Sets of these options could be saved so that the next time the server is started the options are pulled from the campaign file or some other storage location.

Anyway, lots of options. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 10:12 am 
Azhrei wrote:
And this is still the plan, although it won't be limited to "startup". I'm thinking that the different modes (for lack of a better term) will be listed in a dropdown box on the toolbar. Selecting a mode causes the UI to restructure itself with different options. Once a mode is selected changes to the screen layout (where pieces appear, for example) would be specific to the mode and would be saved so they'll reappear in the same spot next time that mode is selected.


This made me immediately think of Eclipses "Perspectives". There's a little icon in the top right that you can click and swap between a number of default configuration. In Eclipse there is quite a large number but the main ones you use appear as short cuts next to the "Open Perspective" icon. Currently mine list: "Java", "Debug", "Team Synchr..." and "SVN Reposito..." Any changes you make to the layout while in any one perspective are remembered. You can also "Reset" them. A very useful function! :D


On a different subject I'd also like to vote for left-click movement. It was a hurdle for some of my group when we started using the tool and given how often we swap between apps like GoogleEarth, in a session, it would be nice to adopt the "standard". Plus if we are going to make the system work for fondle-slabs maybe it needs to change to main-click-drag-move?

How do Mac users make it work? ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 10:32 am 
Jagged wrote:
This made me immediately think of Eclipses "Perspectives".

Yep, exactly. :)

Quote:
On a different subject I'd also like to vote for left-click movement.

I'm really hoping that the entire input subsystem gets a revamp. Right now there are Shift keys and Control keys added all over the place. I'd much rather see a single location that defines a certain functionality to be a certain input action. The X Window system provides for definition of accelerators using a "mini-language". So, for example, a MouseDown+Shift event for a particular component (or group of components) can be defined to invoke a particular function. I think that scheme is way overkill for us, but something similar (that externalizes the actions to take when a particular input sequence occurs) will be important if we want to support multi-touch devices.

Quote:
[...] it would be nice to adopt the "standard".

You mean a standard predicated on Windows? ;)

I don't mind that, but it needs to make sense. Some pieces of the Windows UI in terms of keystrokes or mouse clicks are legacy stuff and I don't mind breaking that mold. It just needs to make sense in a cross-platform manner.

Quote:
How do Mac users make it work? ;)

I don't know about others, but I use a three-button USB mouse. 8)

But some Ctrl actions are certainly difficult when paired with mouse clicks!


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 10:37 am 
Azhrei wrote:
Quote:
[...] it would be nice to adopt the "standard".

You mean a standard predicated on Windows? ;)


I did put it is quotes. Didn't you see me doing the finger-quote thing? ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 9:40 am 
aliasmask wrote:
JonathanTheBlack wrote:
Even though MapTool is not for profit, it should be designed that way. That means making everything as simple and easy to use as possible. I've just recently got an invite into the DDI VT and it is leagues ahead of MapTool for getting players and DM's together on the fly. I logged in and not an hour later, was plugging around killing zombies and skeletons in a game someone had a spot open up for. And this was during a weekday morning.

I suppose for an MMO type game that would be great, but most games I'm familiar with are less episodic and require some kind of commitment to play. I would think being completely open that someone could come in and sabotage or simply quit in the middle of things could ruin the experience for everyone else playing.

The games on VT aren't completely open either unless the DM leaves slots open. The VT is just very easy to log in, search open games, and join. It takes no setup at all. No monkeying with routers, port forwarding, et al.


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 9:48 am 
JonathanTheBlack is correct, IMO (I wrote a similar sentiment back in General Discussion when the WotC VT came out). I think that, despite the difference in focus and scope, MapTool could learn a lot from WotC's VT (and all the other VTs out there, of course).

Not about automation, scripting, or even multiplicity of options - MapTool and other VTTs trounce it hands-down on that front - but about making it obvious, intuitive, and attractively easy. I had completely figured out the WotC VT in about 10 minutes, for instance (now...some people would see that as proof it's too simple, and truly, I don't expect one as complex as MapTool to be mastered in 10 minutes, but I think a short time like that a good thing, not a bad one).

I personally think the WotC VT has a lot of holes in it, but ease of use is not one of them.

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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 10:26 am 
Rumble wrote:
I don't expect one as complex as MapTool to be mastered in 10 minutes, but I think a short time like that a good thing, not a bad one

But you'd like the player-basics to be masterable in 10 minutes, maybe less. Then you just have to agree what makes up the "player-basics" ;)


On the different subject of macros and the amount of real estate they take up I was thinking about how the one MMO I used to play (City of Heroes) organised such things. It would be great if I could choose to display macro buttons as round buttons rather than rectangles and give them icons as well. Groups could also have the option of be assigned a round button and icon. The alternative to the Select frame would be a floating button tray that you could optionally dock to any edge of the screen.

Perhaps the tray could have room for 8 or 10 buttons and if there more, left and right arrow at the ends. You could either leave all the macros at the top level and just page through then, or arrange then into groups and drill down, or both. Maybe each button visible button could match a short-cut key.


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 5:17 am 
JonathanTheBlack wrote:
It takes no setup at all. No monkeying with routers, port forwarding, et al.

This is because you are paying someone else to monkey around with their router/firewall etc (well you are paying them for more than that, but it is a part of it). I am not sure people would want to pay a subscription for MapTool so that we can run our own servers to save you from having to make a one off port mapping (if you have a good router often you wont even have to do this).


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 Post subject: Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 8:42 am 
Craig wrote:
[...] I am not sure people would want to pay a subscription for MapTool so that we can run our own servers to save you from having to make a one off port mapping (if you have a good router often you wont even have to do this).

Agreed. Unless you're in there mucking around with your router, the default settings are usually going to be correct -- just select "Use UPNP" on the Start Server dialog.

Of course, there are people who think they know what they're doing and go into their router config to play with settings for Windows-based online games and as such are usually causing more problems than their solving. But we all know that those people don't come here asking for help, right?? 8)

In any case, I agree that the Start Server dialog is outdated and should be more "wizard-like". MapTool doesn't allow the interface to be selected and relies on the user to make OS-specific networking binding decisions which is totally bogus (that's a technical term; it means it's a bad design choice). But that's already been acknowledged as a shortcoming and repeatedly been described as one of the prime changes coming in 1.4 so I know we're not discussing that... ;)


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