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How much does the UI really matter?


How much does a UI really matter to you?  I’m asking myself this more and more lately.  Today I saw WildStar revealed a new UI.  It’s sooooo much better now.  The previous pyramid look was hideous and blocked half the screen; while an exaggeration, that’s how it felt which is all that matters.

I’m not as picky as some.  I like being able to move things and customize things.  When a UI works against me I start to get frustrated.  I think something every player will stare at 100% of the time they play should at least look nice and function in a way that improves the user-experience.

Burying or hiding information is one of my pet peeves.  Opening multiple windows to find something is a no-no in my book.  Over-complicating is another annoying but very common UI mistake.  I don’t need 5 things that could all be combined into one easy-to-understand element.  The HUD should be intuitive.  I should never have to ‘figure it out.’

UIs in general should never, ever, impact performance.  The WoW UI has always been notorious for hindering performance, especially when you introduce mods.  I won’t go into mods here.  You know how I feel about those.  I will say that I strongly believe a stock UI should provide every possible functionality, and a mod should only alter appearance.

Long story short, the UI matters a ton for me and I can absolutely be turned off of a game by the UI.  I don’t want more than I need, and I don’t want the UI to be designed with an awesome user-experience in mind.

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  1. It matters A LOT. This new WildStar UI looks exactly like how I used to customize my own WoW interface back when I still played.

    I love its minimalism. I hate when a UI covers up most of the screen. Even worse, I hate when it covers the screen up in art. I mean, look, I played Everquest before it had its much needed UI facelift. I obviously have somewhat of a tolerance for wasted space. However, those little dragons on the hotbar never added a single thing to World of Warcraft for me or anyone else. I hate THAT sort of nonsense.

    I also really value how central everything is. I always disliked those UIs that put targets and your own health outside of where I’d normally be looking. Your mileage may vary, but I stopped dying once I knew exactly how much HP I had at all times (rather than be forced to look away from the action toward the top of the screen).

    While I do still hope for customization and a UI that is fully functionable without the addition of mods, this basic look seems like a really, really good start.

  2. TheRedComet says:

    Yeah the new WildStar UI is just amazing. The old one, while I knew it was only a stand-in for the final product, was just really clunky and took up too much screen space. The new one though is so slick that I really can’t see anything I’d want to change about it with mods. They’ve even said they’ve got a built-in clock now, instead of needing a mod.

    I like how WildStar has been incorporating a lot of improvements modders have been making in closed beta. It’s nice to see them paying attention to the player’s feedback over even the smallest things.

  3. wufiavelli says:

    For a game that I am on the ropes about the UI will kill it for me. If it is a game I love then I will tolerate a crud UI. I will also do so for indy games or games with unique qualities despite their other bad issues like UI.

  4. lostforever says:

    It still look very crowded and ugly. They can still get rid of lot of stuff from it. I am not big fan of ESO but I like their UI lot more than this.

  5. As long as the ui is functional and partly adjustable I’m typically fine with it. I rarely pay attention to it, I’m watching cooldowns not the UI!

    Side note, bad chat bubbles drive me nuts *looks at wildstar*

  6. It depends of the gameplay and combat mechanics. In a wow-style game (almost all themeparks after wow) where you have to track buffs, debuffs, procs, cooldowns, etc, having a good UI or the ability to modify it to your needs via mods is “vital” for competitive play.

    But in a game where rotations and mechanics are not so complex (FFXIV for example) UI does not matter so much. (And this does not mean by any way that FFXIV is easier game. It just put the difficulty on boss mechanics instead on class rotation and that is better imo since you spend more time playing the game and less time playing the UI). Also in games with action combat, UI is does not matter a lot also (Tera, GW2).

    That said, UI always need to be polished(clear, high quality icons at least) and beautiful in every game and is a good to give player a good first impression of the game (during betas and trials).

  7. I want a game where you can have 2 monitors, and have the game centered on your character on 1, and your HUD elements on the other. You can do this in lots of games with 3 monitors, and a few with 2 monitors with mods. The only game I’ve seen able to do this natively on 2 monitors is EVE.

    Just FYI, my dragoon’s rotation in FFXIV is far more complex than any of the 3 DPS classes I played in WoW this xpac.

  8. @Jenks:

    Love that idea.