Thursday, November 2, 2017

Howdy, folks!

Jack here, and today we're going to be talking about user interface, or UI. UI elements can drastically shift a game experience from tedious to intuitive. There's a fine balance to be had between simplicity and ease of use, while relaying all necessary information. Today we'll preview some updates to the character sheet, inventory grid, and equipment screen that will be making their way into an update in the near future. Most of you are experienced with how the current layout exists, with separate windows for inventory, character information, and equipment. The new design combines (and condenses) these elements with a built-in tab system that allows you to view multiple pieces of information at one time… in less screen space! Check it out:

Crowfall CharSheet Mock 1
Crowfall CharSheet Mock 2

These mockups – from UX Design Lead Billy Garretsen and UX Designer Lars Olson – show the layout of the new character sheet. As you can see, the windows were consolidated into a more logical flow, with three entirely separate windows combined into one with a limited number of tabs for information that is referenced less often.

The character sheet is, per Creative Director J Todd Coleman, “probably the most important user interface in the game.” This is the central page that shows you, at a glance, everything you need to know about your character. One of the things you’ve undoubtedly noticed about Crowfall is that our game systems are extremely complex, and the numbers that drive these systems are largely hidden from the player. This isn’t – and wasn’t – intended. Our goal with these updates to the character sheet is to expose these numbers, and present the information in a way that allows the player to understand how the system works and thus be able to make informed decisions about their equipment, skills, and powers.

The idea with this design is to separate out “vital information” (hit points, resource, stamina, and stats) visible at all times, so that you can immediately and easily view increases and decreases to your stats when you equipping gear and picking up new disciplines. Gone are the days of dragging around separate windows to be able to visualize how your gear affects your stats and mitigations. And gone are the days when many (hopefully most) of the statistics you care about are hidden from you.

Additionally, (but not shown) there are tabs for armor mitigation and the full stat listing. These exist for a more in-depth view than is given by the general stats on the left-hand side of the window so that the “min-maxers” (i.e. you guys, the backers who read every one of our bi-weekly updates) can dig into the system and twist and torture every number ‘til it submits and does your bidding.

Since all of your high-level character management and information is now in one convenient window, this frees up your viewing screen for your Spirit Bank, containers, or spell book (power load-out screen)… or for just keeping one eye on the horizon for looters. This change is less about aesthetics (though we think it does look very sleek), and more about providing a smoother, more intuitive experience. For the record, the inventory size has not changed (it’s just arranged horizontally instead of vertically) and now we have room for one or more “bags” that give you expansion space. (Before you ask: bags will the subject of a future bi-weekly update.)
This work is a continuation of our effort to go through each of our major interfaces and move it from “prototype” to “final” as systems solidify and come online. The first of these was Skills & Time Bank, this one covers Inventory, Character Sheet & Equipment, and next we’ll move on to Character Creation, World Map, and Crafting. Stay tuned for more information on those systems as we progress ever-closer to launch.

Let us know what you think about these changes in the discussion thread!

Jack Kirby
Utility Infielder
ArtCraft Entertainment

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