[MUD-Dev] UI Design in MMOs

Derek Licciardi kressilac at insightbb.com
Sun Dec 19 01:35:16 CET 2004

rjw wrote:
> Derek Licciardi wrote:

>> In WoW, it seems like they went after their Diablo II crowd with
>> an interface derived straight from that game.  Nothing is
>> movable, resizable or customizable.

> This statement is actually not true. The UI is fully customizable,
> just not within the game itself. There already exist UI mods and
> have since beta that allow all sorts of
> customization. http://www.cosmosui.com/ is one of these.

Out of the box and to 99% of the players of the game, the statement
is entirely true.  See my comment below.

> Well, only if you feel like you can't go out and get more
> information and change the UI to suit you:

>   "The interface of World of Warcraft is built from XML files
>   which describe the look and layout, and lua files which contain
>   scripting functionality. This document is a short introduction
>   into modifying these files to customize your
>   interface. Customizing the interface is a very technical
>   endeavor, and you should not attempt it unless you have a good
>   working knowledge of XML and Lua."

>   http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.aspx?fn=wow-interface-customization&t=2619&p=1&tmp=1#post2619

> For instance, I've seen mods that allow you to rename bags with
> something other than 'Red Woolen Bag' to arbitrary text.

As I stated above, 99% of the people that play will never know that
the UI can be so much more.  I was in EB Games this afternoon and I
picked up a copy of WoW for the hell of it.  I noticed on this box
the following statement:

  "A user interface that is so intuitive that you may not even need
  the user manual."

Sure you won't need the user manual.  You'll need a Lua scripting
reference and an XML specification document to get the UI to do
something that you would like it to do.  Again, my point is that the
UI should come ALREADY capable of doing half the stuff the players
are supposed to program it to do.  For the vast majority of the
people, including myself, the UI will never be touched or
re-scripted to do something other than what is stock and allowed
through the in-game dialogs.  Sure you can program the hell out of
the UI, but in the 10 hours it took for the UI to turn me off to the
game, I would have never seen or had the chance to evolve the UI.
It's not my job as a customer to develop their UI anyway.  This
whole thing intrigues me because the game has been touted as
extremely newbie friendly and the UI is anything but.  I wonder if
the positive views on this thread are skewed from many years of game
playing and designing experience because the responses were
surprising to me.

>> The biggest issue in WoW reminds me of the first EQ interface,
>> lack of consistency.  Let's see, right click is the primary
>> activity on an object.  Uh NO.  Everyone from Mac to Linux to
>> Windows has been trained that left click or left double click is
>> the primary action and right click brings up a context sensitive
>> menu. (EQ2 and SWG seem to have figured this out for the most
>> part) Why abandon that idea?  It makes zero sense at this point
>> in the software industry.

> Come at it from the Warcraft angle and it makes more sense, I
> think. Not only is WoW trying to be a great MMO, it's trying to
> remain consistent with the Warcraft series, both in terms of story
> and interface. Gameplay almost feels like you're in a cinematic
> Warcraft III, and I love that.

I'll give you this but an MMO and Warcraft III are entirely
different software beasts.  The former is orders of magnitude more
complex and this design decision is akin to putting MS Paint's
interface on Photoshop 7.

>> Scrollbars for windows are placed on the left hand side of the
>> window.  Wrong again.  Every scrollbar you see in the big three
>> OSes are right side scroll bars.  Again why abandon this
>> familiarity.  There's more.  The skill information dialog has
>> icon based tabs on the top right hand corner of the window while
>> the character information dialog has worded tabs along the bottom
>> edge of the window.  The item information dialog comes up in a
>> fixed location on the right hand bottom corner of the screen and
>> your inventory is on the left hand bottom corner but for some
>> strange reason they figured out hovering stat windows for various
>> other dialogs in the game.  I simply do not get it and one would
>> think that major development houses would have a clue about this
>> sort of stuff.

> I agree with some of your rant above...but the fact remains that
> myself and the people I play with, and the people I've spoken with
> who play WoW think it is the most intuitive and easy-to-pickup MMO
> yet. Not a scientific, true, but telling.

Is it the most intuitive UI to date or the most intuitive gameplay?
Could the gameplay be making up for what otherwise is a sub-par UI?
I'm assuming you're an MMO veteran.  Are any of your playing buddies
MMO newbies?  Remember, this is supposed to be the single most
newbie friendly MMO on the market, or at least that's how it is

> Why spend dev cycles developing interfaces and/or UI components
> that you don't know are going to get used? Build a community that
> can fill in the wholes after release.

> My $.02, rjw

They lost a couple customers that I know before we ever had a chance
to know the game could be made better with work on our part; work
I'd likely not feel I was required to do since I paid for the game.>

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