RPG User Interfaces: Oh, how I hate thee

Pretty much everything you’ve mentioned can be attributed to the fact that it was developed for the 360 as well as PC, not laziness. While I guess it’s true that they could have optimized the PC version for the PC, I certainly didn’t expect them to.

Besides, the current build is great for the 360, and on the PC very soon there will be mods available to fix whatever you don’t like, if there aren’t already. Win-win.

Peterb, windowed mode makes it more reliable for alt-tabbing.

In my opinion if something involves no meaningful choice, or the choice is so blindingly obvious, it should be handled automatically (with some feedback to the player). To take one of your examples: the constitution debuff should be automatically removed by the player with the capability to remove it as soon as they have the mana to do so. There isn’t a conceivable reason why you’d want that debuff, or consider it low priority (and choose to conserve mana). Same with things like DoTs.

If something has a meaningful choice (even if it is just do or don’t do something) then the option should be brought straight to the forefront. Let’s say you’ve finished combat and are low on health. Clicking or right-clicking on the health bar should heal you up automatically if only one character can do that, else if there is an option (maybe multiple characters that can heal, or maybe the injured character can self-bandage) then display a mini-popup menu. Two total clicks.

As for loot, if it is a drop that is not an upgrade for anyone give me a quick way of dealing with it and not having to haul it back to town. Something like Dungeon Seige’s spell that transmuted loot to gold piles. Or don’t even drop it at all and just convert it to coin on the corpse. Or something. In more realistic games where encumberance matters (so that part of the design is if you really want to sell all the crappy loot you have to make room / weight for it) then put all the crappy loot in a SEPARATE inventory list but that still counts against my room / weight allotment. That way I can ditch the crappy loot to make room for a great new item if needed. And, when I get to town, give me a “Sell All This Crap” button for that separate inventory list. But at least my main inventory is still functional and not cluttered by crap. Basically the separate inventory list is no different than a spam folder with a delete all button, but it still fills up my disk quota until I deal with it.

It’s, uh, it’s DnD. So yeah. I’ve never played DnD outside of NWN, but if you’ve got complaints about gameplay you should be bitching at the appropriate platform.

NWN2 has all sorts of interface issues. But whining about it not having an interface that tells you every item you’ve ever seen in the game is just fucking bizarre, no offense.

Here’s a much better solution: every time you feel the need to open Excel while playing a game, stop playing. Normal, sane human beings don’t do that. I managed to somehow get through all of NWN2 without once feeling the need to create my own encyclopedia. Amazing!

Eh, Jason was talking about D&D, no mana there. There are good reasons in D&D to conserve spells for when they’re most useful, though the problem is that too many computer implementations of the system allow you to rest just about anywhere and anytime, making mages and cleric infinite spell factories.

I like the idea of simpler and easier interfaces in theory, but I also like my RPGs with loads of options and, by extension, complexity. Obviously, the more complexity in the game the greater the challenge for developers in creating a UI to manage it. Personally, I never found NWN2 to be that great an offender when it comes to bad UI. I definitely prefer its approach to what most console RPGs offer. Click and Drag is a great feature.

My thinking was they were actually much worse with all those non-standard archaic key commands. Most of your complaints are ones I’d expect to see only from someone who has never played a D&D RPG before.

Buffing before combat, Healing after combat, Leveling, really?

The Stupidest Thing Ever section is just totally random. Does anyone besides Jason actually expect a “inventory at shops I’ve seen” tracker?

And what’s the deal with prestiege classes. Say I’m playing as a fighter intending to be a generic longsword weapon master, when choosing that path early in the game WHY DOESN’T IT SUGGEST THE NECESSARY SKILLS WHEN CLICKING THE AUTO BUTTON. They really are awesome at pissing off non d&d dorks.

On Xmas, I said fuck you, NWN2, and removed it from my hard drive. I came very close to snapping the dvd in two, and tossing the whole thing away.


First, the unholy difficulty spike during the city watch portion of the game was so frustrating that it caused me to drop the difficulty level to easy, and even then the game kicked my ass (respawning thieves, anyone). After much running past the mobs and restarting dozens of times, I made it past that spike, only to find that Qara’s AI had stopped working, never to start again. She just fucking stood there as my party was wiped out by respawing thieves from hell.

Yeah, the interface kind of sucks, and the camera works against you, and the story is subpar and the voice acting is bad and the spell effects are overdone, obscurring your party as the respawing baddies appear out of the thin air, but after fifty patches, you’d think the party AI would at least work ok.

So, I’ve gone back to BG2. No camera, no 3d, no missing AI. Lots of fun.

Now if only it were turn-based…

Just because you’re used to tedious bullshit in games doesn’t mean everyone should be happy about dealing with it. That’s pretty much the gist of Jason’s post. When you’re putting as much (or more) effort into screwing around with the interface as you are actually playing the game, I don’t think it’s too outrageous to complain about it and hope someone gets it right one day.

Try Mask of the Betrayer. Its great!

PFfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft amateur.

I"ve heard it’s story-lite and loaded with combat. No thanks. And to sit through the hour it took to install and update, then drop 20 more dollars on a product that I wanted to like, but never happened is just throwing money away.

I’m waiting for my copy of TOEE to arrive.

Fuck new games.

Been playing Ultima V again, and that UI is creamy smooth.

This is why Synergy and Multiplicity exist - so you can easily edit and reference spreadsheets while playing.

I’m going to dig out my ATITD wine testing tables one day. I would write down the times I pruned (3 times a day, 8 hrs apart if possible), watered (every 24 hours as consistently as possible). The location for each vine was marked down. When I had wine testing parties, I’d write down every single taste combination that resulted from each wine. And I had exactly the amount of times I’d pruned, watered, and the brewing process.

One day an old D&D friend asked me what I was doing. After I showed him, he remarks “dude, that sounds like work.” Then I realized it really was work. Staring at one window or piece of paper and figuring out what goes on the other window. I stopped playing after that.

But why should the player have to execute the same buff sequence over and over? At the very least make it macroable.

And while I hadn’t thought of it, why not a “inventory at shops I’ve seen” tracker? It’s a reasonable request, and would make large city RPGs more manageable.

Sorry, yeah, I kinda slipped into thinking about mana-based games. The point still stands, though… Make it so that when you see a status icon on your character, or your health is low, that you can click and get a quick menu giving you the choices on how to deal with it – restoration, a healing potion, bandaging, whatever – or choose not to deal with it. Shouldn’t have to dig through a spellbook, or inventory, to find the item, click on it, then on the target, etc.

Just a quick reply, some body mentioned fallout3, continuing that trend I really really hate the interface, humongous pipboy with so much wasted space, tons of scrolling up/down, no easy graphical representation of the item to quickly find it, having to go through the animation of you moving your hand up to your face to get it, no easy way to see how you look when changing clothes, information scattered all over different tabs, etc.

The main reason I couldn’t get into fallout3 is because its a fps, fine thats a personal taste. the secondary? The interface. I wonder if some day I’ll ever finish this game. blah

At the risk of turning this into a discussion of NWN2, that’s really not a fair representation of Mask of the Betrayer. It’s actually very story heavy. Indeed the story is the very strength of this expansion (best story driven RPG I’ve played since Planescape: Torment).

There is less combat overall than in the original campaign, but it is harder, substantially so in places.

The OC is mostly hack and slash choke full of encounters with a multitude of weak enemies, each individually a pushover. MotB is on the other end of the scale, with individually strong and challenging enemies that you don’t get to fight as often or in nearly the same numbers.

The thing about Fallout 3’s Pipboy is that you can’t get rid of it. Not without losing a part of the “character” of a Fallout game. Its interface is really just as annoying and awkward as Oblivion’s, but somehow I didn’t mind it in Fallout 3 because it fit the setting and the game better, somehow.