Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Craig »

n3phrit wrote:1. Clients should have completely separate UI, designed by GM. So if I need all players to see party players portraits on the bottom of their screen, map and NOTHING else, i as GM should have that possibility.

This may sound like a good idea, but its really not.
Its just as bad as if Maptool gave you a GUI and said here it is you can't change where any of your windows are, you have to view it this way. There is no way to make such a GUI that works optimally on both a large and small screen without forcing you to design it for several screen sizes, not to mention players that may want to play windowed so they can have an editor open to take notes or something. Then there is personal preference, some people always like to see initiative window while others are happy to have it hidden and reveal it to look. What you are asking for is essentially the same as saying when you come around to my house to do table top gaming, your character sheet must be in the middle, all dice to the left of the sheet, and all pencils lined up horizontally on the right of the sheet.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Malekith »

Fair point,
I don't like the GM having complete control over something that is personal taste but I think there are somethings that they should be able to customise/set parameters or permissions to for the players. However I suppose that with good Macro coding that could still be achieved.
Which I suppose means that permissions need to be thought about as well within a GUI to some extent.
And another thing I though of since my last post that would be good to see: more context/right-click menus around. Most noteably within the library and chat frames.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Azhrei »

n3phrit wrote:Exactly. It is time for change. What is most important aspect of RPG games? Atmosphere...

[...]

1. Clients should have completely separate UI, designed by GM. So if I need all players to see party players portraits on the bottom of their screen, map and NOTHING else, i as GM should have that possibility. I dont see any reason why would players have to see resource and macro palettes...

I wouldn't want the GM controlling my layout. My eyes are going as I get older and if I want a larger font I should be able to choose it. If I want a high-contrast color palette I should be able to choose that, too. If I want larger borders on windows to make resizing easier I should be able to choose that. Hopefully you can see where I'm headed with this. :)

4. Transparency. CSS one would be enough, but I hope for better implementation (OpenGL = graphic card acceleration). I would like to see transparent dialogs and cascading for complex operation handling (inventory to inventory item move etc.)

You seem stuck on OpenGL. Why is that?

(I expect you already know that OpenGL is not some panacea for creating an ultra fast GUI. In fact, on Windows machines it's counterproductive as it must be translated into DirectX.)

5. Widgets. Support for java plugin modules. E.g. minimap, game callendar...

This is a big thing for me, too. Although it might be possible to do this with ordinary JS and that would be preferred from my p.o.v.

6. This all controled by well documented scripting language (JS prefered!)

Um, the language may be well-documented, but the components of MapTool that are exposed to the JS engine are likely to not be well-documented except for a few core pieces. The core pieces are the ones that won't be changing much, while the bleeding-edge stuff is only going to have snippets of docs as provided by the developer and folks who try stuff out will need to keep a wiki up to date with what they find.

Well, this is it. In summary, if I decide (as GM) to create player UI that looks like Diablo, I want to be able to do it. I think that this should be the ultimate target of MT into the future - customizable game environment - but still VTT perspective.

I think having the GM control the screen layout is an interesting idea, but I fear that's doomed to failure. There are just too many variables to accommodate and while a GM might be a great storyteller I don't expect them to produce a UI that multiple people can agree is "good-looking". I'd be fine with the GM layout being "recommended" as part of the campaign, though.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by TheRooster »

Put the map list under a menu item instead of just under the "globe" button.

For the longest time I thought you could only have one map per campaign file.
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Azhrei »

Jector wrote:The problem is that I don't know how far "out there" I can take the look

To infinity and beyond! 8)

Seriously, this is for brainstorming purposes and no idea is too far out and no idea will be shot down early in the process as being "unfeasible". The goal is to get a bunch of wild designs and then cherry-pick those things that will work and would make for a good interface for the general gaming public.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by n3phrit »

example of future UI - player UI
Image
Here is my view of future MT UI prepared by GM for players. Note, that all images and icons should be customizable (borders, source images, colors, transparency...)
All button should have and action property that would be JS code (example on top) telling MT what to do after event on that button.

I see some containers that can be positioned on screen and can contain other elements: pictures, buttons whatever. Each of this elements can be coded as mentioned earlier.

Now to your issues:
wouldn't want the GM controlling my layout.

Simple solution. Default button and your UI is like now with horrible macro buttons all over the place. Anyway, if you are not ok with how GM prepared your player UI, just let him know! It is your game. SHould not be that complicated to put bigger font there and there!

You seem stuck on OpenGL. Why is that?

I am not. I am fan of performance, if it is not working, than drop it.

I am quite sure, that the screenshot above makes player feel much better than current view, but it is matter of taste OFC.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by dorpond »

n3phrit wrote:example of future UI .

This is exactly what I was driving for. Very creative and refreshing! Keep the ideas coming! Nice job.
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

Figured I'd throw in my two cents:

I'm all for skins, color schemes, and nice window borders and stuff - and I certainly mean no offense to the design abilities or ideas being put forth - but strange, minimalist, or unfamiliar designs (n3phrit's example above being an example of simply unfamiliar design) are the primary reasons I did not choose Battlegrounds or Fantasy Grounds. I prefer my application UI's to conform to the general look, feel, and behavior of the operating system they run in (granting that Java actually goes its own way in that regard, MapTool may not be pretty, but it looks, feels, and behaves mostly like I expect a multi-windowed application to behave).

Now, I would like better docking; slimmer and more customizable window borders/frames; maybe some interesting ways to lay out character information; and some efforts to increase screen real estate, but I want windows, frames, docking, window controls, resizing, etc. And I would be strongly opposed to GM determined player UI - I can't see a reason to dictate what my player's app layout looks like.

For me, the UI improvements should be in the things I can do with the map and the tokens, not the things I can do with title bars or window layout.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by n3phrit »

Rumble: I'm all for skins, color schemes, and nice window borders and stuff - and I certainly mean no offense to the design abilities or ideas being put forth - but strange, minimalist, or unfamiliar designs


I didnt want anybody dictate how to run the game. If you read my post I mentioned that default skin/default UI would be necessary anyhow - for new MT users. Resizing, borders, and default OS look belong to that scheme.
I am not such person, we run our games in quiet evnironment - alway face to face, with the light of candle - for me RPG session is all about atmosphere.
What you call "familiar" designs is simply disturbing design for me, there is a bunch of elements that are simply not necessary for players (drawing tools e.g.) and anyway they look odd. I cant remember any RPG game that has at least similar UI as MT has. Yes, MT is not game, but it is a tool for playing games! A good tool should support UI elements manipulation in a most unorthodox ways (still keeping possibility to stick with defaults) because people are different and systems are different.

One more thing. I quite dont understand why me as a player should have problem with GM proposed layout as long as it is intuitive and gives mi every function I need. I am sure that in flexible environment, there can be group of smart people in community, that can come with beautiful and functional layouts that we all love. I would't take that possiblity away.

Regarding trends in UI in software. There are still trends to move away from standard interfaces, as they are not context friendly enough. Just take Maya 3D package, that is industry standard. It is full of buttons, but if you dont know where is something hidden, you have to study guide. On the other hand Zbrush is next generation modelling software with completely unorthodox UI. Now everybody is using it and nobody complains as long as everything is in place and provides contextual menus (only things that are allowed are accessible). This way you make less confusion to users.

Again. Dictate is not good, but open possibilities are.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

n3phrit wrote:One more thing. I quite dont understand why me as a player should have problem with GM proposed layout as long as it is intuitive and gives mi every function I need. I am sure that in flexible environment, there can be group of smart people in community, that can come with beautiful and functional layouts that we all love. I would't take that possiblity away.


I would have a problem with it, as a player and a GM. On the player side, as mentioned above, there's no way to predict what I'm using to play the game in hardware terms, so the UI would need to be manipulable on my end in case my screen is small, large, has two screens, whatever. Furthermore, as a player, I should get to decide (let me rephrase: I feel that I should get to decide) what elements are important, and where they go on my screen. After discussions with my players (not related to this, just happens to be talking about it), none of us use even close to the same layout when we play over MapTool, so I'm not sure how generic an interface can get before you might as well be using the basic windowed thing.

As a GM...I don't want to spend my time designing an interface for the user. I will grant that framework writing is, in effect, designing an interface of sorts, but that part of it...I don't like. In any case, I didn't say you needed to have a problem with it, I said I had a problem with it. :)

Regarding trends in UI in software. There are still trends to move away from standard interfaces, as they are not context friendly enough. Just take Maya 3D package, that is industry standard. It is full of buttons, but if you dont know where is something hidden, you have to study guide. On the other hand Zbrush is next generation modelling software with completely unorthodox UI. Now everybody is using it and nobody complains as long as everything is in place and provides contextual menus (only things that are allowed are accessible). This way you make less confusion to users.

Again. Dictate is not good, but open possibilities are.



All of your points are sound. I'm not against options, I'm just not particularly in favor of nonstandard interfaces. If MT goes that way, I guess I'm just not going to like it as much.

Edit: or maybe I will; it's just that the experiences I've had with VTTs using "weird" interfaces were frustrating and ungood.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by dorpond »

Rumble wrote:If MT goes that way, I guess I'm just not going to like it as much.

Edit: or maybe I will; it's just that the experiences I've had with VTTs using "weird" interfaces were frustrating and ungood.


And that is a valid concern Rumble so feel free to voice them in this thread. The idea here is to get ideas, toss them around a bit, and figure out what is best for Maptool.
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by patoace »

n3phrit wrote:example of future UI - player UI


That's beautiful, N3phrit. If it's possible, it should be called "Maptool 2.0"

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

dorpond wrote:
Rumble wrote:If MT goes that way, I guess I'm just not going to like it as much.

Edit: or maybe I will; it's just that the experiences I've had with VTTs using "weird" interfaces were frustrating and ungood.


And that is a valid concern Rumble so feel free to voice them in this thread. The idea here is to get ideas, toss them around a bit, and figure out what is best for Maptool.


I'm not upset or feeling picked on, or anything. Just thought I'd throw in a comment in favor of more traditional GUI arrangements, if you can say that something that does what MapTool does could have "traditions."

I do think the lion's share of the effort should be in helping me able to do more things with the maps and images: gradient fog, light and shadow (as distinct from hard and soft fog), animated images (if I want them), user-configurable layers, layer heights/elevation stuff, and so forth. I also realize that the GUI is part of that. But that's not really on-topic for this thread.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by dorpond »

Rumble wrote:But that's not really on-topic for this thread.

Believe it or not but discussing ideas also helps us define and not-forget about things that need to be in the UI, menus, etc.
So with that said, go nuts with ideas, concerns, or whatever. :)
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by RPTroll »

A few Troll thoughts aka things I don't like about the current UI:

Image explorer, chat window, and macro windows is either way too small or way too big depending on whether I'm using it or not. They either take up too much map real estate or aren't large enough to hold all the content easily without scrolling a great deal. I also dislike the current docker. It works but sometimes it does unintuitive things.

I like the idea of of an overlay system with thumbnail views. I don't always need to see the map but I do need to always see if something is moving on the map so a thumbnail would be nice when I was working in other windows. Likewise I don't always want the image explorer up but I often dig through directory hierarchies looking for just the right image to plop down on the map so having something that was visible and quickly expandable/contractable would be a bonus. Same with chat, I often am completely focused on the chat window but in order to see the map well I keep it fairly small. Each of these items (as well as the html-frames) should be in an orderable, scrollable strip somewhere that could expanded a frame or frames over the map with mouse or hot-key.

I don't likethe buttons for pointer, drawer, fogger, etc. Not to say the images or functionality are bad but I don't like the way the new buttons appear off to the side. The buttons I would detach completely into their own pallet-style frame.

The menus should probably remain since most folks are used that style of screen.
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