Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Progress reports and musings from the developers on the current gaming tools.

Moderators: dorpond, trevor, Azhrei

dorpond
RPTools Team
Posts: 5530
Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2006 2:05 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY

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

Post by dorpond »

RPTroll wrote: 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.


Oooo.. I like that! I can imagine a borderless thumbnail of the map - sort of semi-transparent, and seeing red and green dots on the map representing the tokens. Nothing detailed but just enough to get an overall assessment of the action.

*wheels spinning*
How to use my bundled artwork (MT1.3B60+): http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=11759

User avatar
kristof65
Dragon
Posts: 287
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: Lakewood, CO

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

Post by kristof65 »

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.

Simple - people who play multiple games with multiple GMs. If I, as a player, find a layout in MT that works for me, I'm going to become comfortable with it. That's going to make me a better player regardless of whether I'm playing Traveller with Bob, D&D with Frank or GURPS with Mary via MT because I'm not going to have to change how I work with MT. If, however, I have to learn each GMs nuances of their changes to the interface for each game, well, in some cases, I'm sure I'd rather just pass on playing.

Keep in mind, I'm not currently using MT as a player. I'm strictly a GM at this point, however, one of my players may be starting up her own game soon where I will be a player. The thought of her being able to dictate how my MT layout looks seriously bugs me. Not because she's any sort of slacker in that department (she's a gifted artist), but primarily because I have a dual 20" widescreen monitor setup, and she has a single 24" monitor. I really don't see how she could successfully design something that would look good on both mine and hers and keep us both happy without a lot of work.

I do like the idea of skins - but they should be determined by the user. GMs providing and "recommending" skins is fine by me - as long as everything in the interface is where I set it, and I have the ability to choose another if I don't like theirs.

I like the idea of overlays & thumbnails as RPTroll suggested, too.
Last edited by kristof65 on Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Malekith
Giant
Posts: 245
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:36 pm
Location: Gloucester, England
Contact:

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

Post by Malekith »

kristof65 wrote:I do like the idea of skins - but they should be determined by the user. GMs providing and "recommending" skins is fine by me - as long as everything in the interface is where I set it, and I have the ability to choose another if I don't like theirs.

Ok this is about where my views stand on this now. And I think there should be a 'default skin' that looks like a native OS window for people like Rumble.
I really like RPTrolls ideas too. In fact he's right that while the frames,etc at the mo are a really nice idea they can be really clunky as i said in my other post. When I used the Adobe CS4 suite I saw just how slick these things can be (though we have to be careful about load and requirements on the system - I assume there are more befitting systems for doing so) and coupled with the new LoS code Trevor was looking at recently this could be really nice and dynamic.
I also forgot to mention my thoughts on the fog system and other actual map/token UI options and I think they could really use a new look at, but I can't really think how. I really like some of the other ideas in other threads about these things so I'll leave it to them to say I think. Like '3d' maps and vision, better light/shadow/vision code would be welcome, and as stated before JavaScript macro language I'm sure would be a good move however I am reluctant to have to learn a whole new language and for all the macro writers having to re-write their current work.

Mal
Mal

neofax
Great Wyrm
Posts: 1694
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 8:51 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Contact:

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

Post by neofax »

I can see both sides of the coin. As a player, I play 5 days a week with 5 different GMs, so having a UI shoved down my throat is reprehensible. However, as a DM, one of the many hats I wear is MapTools repairman. So, having a setup where I know where everything is, makes it easier. Thinking a little into this, it would be nice to have the ability to remote connect to a system to try and fix it. (Yes, I know this is not even one of the goals of MapTools and there are so many programs that can do it, but I can dream.)
I really do not want a 3d type environment as I think it would get old fast. A isometric view would be nice for elevation, distance and sight purposes, but not a requirement. Having sliding drawers, popping stacks, hovers (see AWNor docky) and more tooltips, would be great.

User avatar
Waneta
Giant
Posts: 125
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:20 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

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

Post by Waneta »

I think it's important for a framework to easily support separate GUIs for players and GMs. Players often don't need to worry about digging through libraries of images, controlling more than one creature, or drawing and manipulating objects on multiple layers. At the same time they often have a lot more specifics to worry about with their single character with a larger array of abilities, items, and options than most monsters, and so I think the interface needs for players and GMs should be different.

The ability to make fully transparent dockables would be very nice. The initiative windows can take up a ton of space to be able to see it effectively, but it would be much more bearable to have it up all the time if all you could see of it was the text and token images and not the dock itself. You could also then have things like a HUD.

Support for health/mana/etc bars on the interface and not just the tokens.

And say what you will about World of Warcraft, I think it has the best interface of any video game I've ever played when you take into account both how much information it has to get across (lots like any other RPG, and in a timely fashion like any other real time game) and how effectively it gets that information across. The icon/tooltip system it uses for abilities, items, buffs/debuffs and macros is very good at easily distinguishing between the different abilities at a glance (because the icons can be very different while at the same time conveying some idea of what the ability does), keeps the interface small by hiding text in immediately accessible tooltips, conveys information like cooldowns and being out of range through color overlays, and quick reconfiguration because you can simply click and drag the icons around. Maptools probably shouldn't make this the default interface configuration, but I think it would be great to let frameworks easily implement one like this.
How am I going to stop some big mean mother hubbard from tearing me a structurally superfluous new behind?

User avatar
Full Bleed
Demigod
Posts: 4553
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Location: MD
Contact:

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

Post by Full Bleed »

I'm not going to weigh into the whole GM designed interface issue too much, but I think this idea of players feeling like the interface was being "shoved down their throat" are overstating the idea significantly. Most programs do not have completely customizable or modularized interfaces, yet we all seem to muddle through them... and in the case of games, enjoy them despite the interfaces not being exactly what we'd do if we had total control. If 5 different GM's had five different interfaces it really shouldn't be the huge deterrent that people are making it out to be.

That said, MT (despite not be very pretty) does allow people to set things up as they wish right now and people are going to (right or wrong) feel like something was taken away from them if they lose some of that granular control with a new version.

But, to add to the list I put forth earlier, I'd like to see the next version be much smarter about hiding things players don't need to see. By just removing all the buttons and options that don't apply to them, the sense of clutter drops significantly.
Last edited by Full Bleed on Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

User avatar
Rumble
Deity
Posts: 6235
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:48 pm

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

Post by Rumble »

"Shoved down my throat" would be overstating the case; I don't recall saying that in my post, although it may have popped up elsewhere in the thread.

Nonetheless, I would be irritated as a player to (as you point out) no longer have the flexibility I had, and as a GM I don't care what my players do with their play environments, so it would be functionality I'd probably ignore for the most part.

Now, if my players have the capability to design their interface to look like WoW or a space fighter or LandWarrior2000 and they like that, awesome. I would prefer not to do that for them, though.

n3phrit
Cave Troll
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:30 am

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

Post by n3phrit »

I think you guys, talking about current MT layout as "good" for feature, are thinking quite "inside the box". MT layout is absolutely horrible to be completely honest when comes to small monitors (our party always play face to face everybody using notebook)
Reality in this setup is, that me as GM have 1/3 of the screen covered with chat window and 1/3 with macro toolbar; using only remaining 1/3 for map and tokens.
I was trying hard to setup things better but with no luck. Chat window demands vertical space, the same initiative panel. Macro panels requires horizontal space.
Maybe that is the reason why I like minimalist layouts. My opinion is, that it is always better to have dropdown menus that are mapped on further dialogs, than have it all on the screen (minimalized or expanded)

I also think that discussion is to much sticked to "what is good for me, what is not good for me", instead of general requirements on future UI. Guess that customizable interface based on containers and macroed images/buttons is a smart approach. For those who dont want to use it, leave them default template to play around with.

User avatar
Full Bleed
Demigod
Posts: 4553
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Location: MD
Contact:

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

Post by Full Bleed »

n3phrit wrote:Reality in this setup is, that me as GM have 1/3 of the screen covered with chat window and 1/3 with macro toolbar; using only remaining 1/3 for map and tokens.


This is so true (though I go with a small chat window and a fairly large Init Panel.) As I implement more macros, my map area seems to get smaller and smaller to minimize all the scrolling I do in my macro windows.

So, bottom line for me is that whatever the new UI comes up with I'd like to see the map get back the focus... which ultimately is probably going to require all the mouse-over/focus/non-focus transparency goodness of some of the best MMO's out there.

A hotbar type option for macros (like in MMO's) might be nice too. Being able to dynamically create floating hotbars in a 5x2 or 10x1 (horizontal or vertical) modes for macros with customized buttons to fire them off would be slick.
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

User avatar
RPTroll
TheBard
Posts: 3148
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:26 pm
Location: Austin, Tx
Contact:

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

Post by RPTroll »

I guess a hotbar is a sliding icon holder. I like the concept (as stated earlier). I would like all the windows and frames put into something like that, possibly sorted by level of usage. A mouse over brings up a larger version of the window thumbnail and a click creates that as a overlay on the map.
ImageImage ImageImageImageImage
Support RPTools by shopping
Image
Image

User avatar
Azhrei
Site Admin
Posts: 12058
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:20 pm
Location: Tampa, FL

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

Post by Azhrei »

I'm still a big fan of dynamic radial menus. If an object on the screens has 3 ways of manipulating it then there should only be three items on its context menu, possibly with one or more grayed out as being unavailable. Using radial menus and scaling the icons used to represent each item can allow for 8-10 items at each level of the menu.

I'm not an artist by any stretch so you don't want me trying to give you a mockup :) but I see a 70% transparent circle popping up around a screen object and selecting an item that is a submenu creates another one of these circles populated with whatever the subitems are.

When I play BZflag there are 4 chat panels that overlay each other using tabs, where the first chat panel is All Chat, while the others are categorized. The entire panel is about 80% transparent so that the map shows through underneath and there is a hotkey to toggle the entire panel on/off. This works well for BZflag and may work well for MapTool except that I find I'm watching the chat window in MT much more than I do in BZflag. It might be nice to have a separate tab for each logged in client to allow for easy and quick whispers, though. Maybe a hotkey that cycles through the tabs? I'll try to get a BZflag screen capture later today and attach it to a post.

User avatar
Rumble
Deity
Posts: 6235
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:48 pm

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

Post by Rumble »

I'm not saying that MT's current setup is good for layout (or at least, I didn't intend that) - I have problems getting everything on screen too (usually, I just don't put it there - I autohide it). But, I have to say this - as I have been thinking more about this, and how to address the need for clean/open/usable interfaces, and I keep coming back to a couple applications I use all the time: Artrage and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

And I think I'm coming around.

Here are screenshots:

[spoiler=Sketchbook]
skbook.png
skbook.png (109.36 KiB) Viewed 2883 times
[/spoiler]

[spoiler=Artrage]
artrage.png
artrage.png (630.57 KiB) Viewed 2883 times
[/spoiler]


So they incorporate a lot of what is being discussed - open interfaces, customizable interfaces, movable/dockable windows (all of the windows and the menu are movable and hideable), radial menus, etc. I admit that despite my protestation I'd completely forgotten about these (and they do resemble the ideas already being proposed).

So, first, upon reflection I agree that something less "traditional" is perfectly acceptable (I use stuff like that all the time); and two, as models for a maptool interface, I think both apps (but especially Sketchbook) are worth adding to the mix of ideas.

User avatar
RPTroll
TheBard
Posts: 3148
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:26 pm
Location: Austin, Tx
Contact:

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

Post by RPTroll »

I really like the second one. The two quarter circles full of stuff has a nice look.
ImageImage ImageImageImageImage
Support RPTools by shopping
Image
Image

neofax
Great Wyrm
Posts: 1694
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 8:51 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Contact:

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

Post by neofax »

How about a "Price is Right" type wheel for the init where you only see the previous, current and next in init with the capability to see and scroll thru all. Also, how about the capability to have macros post the rolls and such in balloon type popups over the tokens, ala NWN? You could still have the capability to scroll thru each tokens chat. Use right and middle click capabilities to map macros/status/properties of the character. Smooth sliding character sheets that slide in on a hotkey and slide out.

dorpond
RPTools Team
Posts: 5530
Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2006 2:05 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY

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

Post by dorpond »

I love the mockups! It really gets the wheels turning!
How to use my bundled artwork (MT1.3B60+): http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=11759

Post Reply

Return to “Developer Notes”