As we were examining the previous Tactical UI, we also felt that some elements were not doing much and only added to the screen clutter. If you look at the above screenshots, what we called the Action Center (the panel at the bottom center), contained icons that were not used often by the players and were there mostly for redundancy – we had buttons to Attack, Move, Shift, Use Item, Interact. Fathur (our programmer) brought a great point that the center area of the screen should be used for very important actions and information, and with the previous implementation, the most important aspects, such as Abilities and attack Hit Chance, were located to the side.
Although we liked how the Action Points were conveyed (the bar and node designs above the icons), it was not easily expandable and that’s became a problem. Due to iterations in the game design, units are now able to have up to two digits of Action Points, and with the old UI, it’s almost impossible to expand the number of points displayed.
What’s interesting to see in our iterative design process is how our design philosophies shift with feedback and experience. Going into our first UI pass, the philosophy was to present the player as much information as possible to allow for a deliberate action. This led to the cluttered mass of information that our players experienced, and through feedback, we quickly shifted our design direction to one that tiers the information presented. Before we tackle the UI changes, we first had to revisit all the relevant tactical information and properly categorize them in order of importance. Which naturally led us to revisit the user experience as a whole.
Rethinking Our UX
Our conversation started by discussing the feedback we have gotten from our players. Coming into the UX challenge, we first had to redefine the goals for the Tactical Combat. We listed the information and actions that the players needed to be take to achieve those goals. After establishing an order of importance for each action and presented information with the game designers, we also had to look at the primary, secondary, and tertiary placement of information and how it is all ultimately accessed by the player. Several of the team members, namely Pandu, Fathur, and myself went on to do some research about how tactical information was laid out in other games.