12 March 2019

UI Prototype

I made a small prototype to try out some ideas I had for a redesigned nethack ui and how they feel like in-game. It’s doesn’t have anywhere close to all the stuff listed, but there’s enough here to try it out and see how it feels to use.

Try demo

Travelling and interacting with the current tile

Interacting with door + magic

Combat UI


I like the discoverability of the UI. If I inspect a tile I can see items and their actions or contextually relevant commands (go down stairs, close door). The most immediate flaw is that the GUI is inefficient in a key-count per action kind of way. Say we want to fire a bow at something. First we summon the UI. Press confirm. Multiple key presses to select ‘fire’. Press confirm. Navigate to target. Press confirm.

I don’t think this is noticable for stuff like travelling up/down stairs or closing doors because they aren’t used that frequently. It’d be a killer for the offense/magic actions. One thing we can do is make repeated actions faster by preserving the ui state. After the initial attack, the enemy gets their turn, then the target UI can automatically reraise on the last UI. Like a targetting cross hair on the last turn’s enemy/square. I’m thinking of separating magic and offense into their own actions. I’ll also readd the standard move into an enemy to attack, though I might make it raise the targeting crosshair and confirm the attack.

Other stuff I noticed:

  • directional attacks need to have sensible first targets. If we’re kicking and there’s a door or monster nearby, then target that first.
    • the whole rotate CW/CCW just doesn’t really work. Need to map to the directional keys
  • directional/targeted attacks should use the characters existing direction to set the first target. Unless there’s a door or other entity that makes sense
  • The offense/magic menu is a little cluttered. Maybe I should just flattern the offense/magic sub lists and remove quick actions stuff like ‘close door’
  • attacking/magic is slow. Most noticable because you have to renavigate after each action. This is fixable by tracking information about the fight.
    • if the target doesn’t die, reraise the previous menu. raise the targeting UI
    • if the target dies, reraise the last submenu. If you were throwing stuff, then reraise the item menu to choose other objects. We could close the menu if there are no more targets, but this could conflict with invisible enemies.
  • directional input is clunky. Could solve some of this by automatically targeting interesting targets. The arrow keys work unintuitively. Switch CW and CCW?
  • the interact menu doesn’t make a lot of sense. I was trying to separate actions that are performed on a square and actions performed adjacent into two different menus, but I don’t it’s clear. The organization of commands feels pretty haphazard. maybe with more on screen contextual markers?