After publishing the Beasts Within update, we’re already hard at work on the next thing. Here are some UI-related greetings from our lead designer Chad Husk:
As proud of Barotrauma as we are, there are a couple of things that miss the mark in terms of the quality we aspire to, and one of these issues since day 1 has been our user interface. Its problems are its lack of compactness – demanding a lot of your eye as a user – and lack of observance of game UI conventions people are already familiar with, interaction inconsistencies, lack of flexibility regarding future needs, and to be honest, it’s generally just kind of ugly.
With this in mind, we set out this month to rebuild the UI in total, starting with the main game interface/inventory, and the command interface.
New main interface and inventory
The first step here was to move the elements around the screen to be more representative of conventional game UI design. We streamlined things quite a bit so as to allow the player to focus on the game itself and not the interface, and we rethought how the inventory works: what was once the entire inventory has now become a quickslot bar, representing items in the new dedicated inventory interface that the player may want to have access to in a hurry, or regularly.
The new inventory interface has 15 item slots, which is the maximum number of items the player may carry outside of a container, and these slots are disabled or enabled depending on the specific clothing the player is wearing at the time. The inventory window is also draggable, which is a behavior we expect to see with a lot of the other interfaces in the future. The two red tinted slots to the right of the quickbar will allow the player to quickly access the oxygen and batteries on their diving suit, and to review their status at a glance.
All in all the user interface becomes cleaner and easier to read, vital information is available at a glance and is where the player might expect it to be, and the way the player interacts with it becomes far more consistent.
New command interface
The old command interface is being replaced with our new rubber bandy, node based command system. With the previous system, even though it worked reasonably well, it was neither very stylish, nor was it flexible enough to serve the expanding needs of our AI, particularly as we move towards (optional) context specific commands that will allow the AI to accompany the player out on ruin exploration missions, amongst other things.
The design works by dividing commands up into 5 groups and then layering sub-groups above this, then allowing the player to quickly navigate these layers as desired, with a main goal being to have a system that requires at least no more clicks than the previous one.
As a little sneak peek of the other UI improvements that are inbound, here’s a collage of some of the other interfaces being worked on right now:
We’re really excited about improving this really conspicuous and vital part of the game, finally, hopefully making it easier for you to just enjoy the game and not have to “get used to” a quirky, messy UI. Can’t wait to get these changes to you in a future update!
To wrap things up, here are a few competing UI styles. What do you think?