[UI] Battlefield & Card Template

All suggestion to improve/change the Gui used by Wagic.
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Ilya B
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:32 pm

[UI] Battlefield & Card Template

Post by Ilya B » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:30 pm

1-Layout
This is my desired layout for batllefield:
Image
Description:
Player avatar is on bottom-left - it takes some space, but not much, and it's easy to see your life and amount of cards. AI library and grave is visible too. When grave is not empty you can see the last card gone.

AI mana is near the AI avatar and player mana is near the player avatar (this only when when mana in "simple" display mode), and it's enough space for even six mana symbols (see transparent green symbols under AI avatar). In this case mana symbols do not overlap the big detailed card on right.

Cards in AI hand are of the same size as other cards (it's just looks visually better and more realistic)
The battlefield is centered vertically.
On the bottom is an additional "wooden bar" (i can make additional images for all current themes) and player's hand is on the bottom (they are on the bottom only for "horizontal hand" mode). When you switch to your hand these cards are rising over other cards.
The big detailed card is moved slightly up, so that we can see the full card from top to bottom.

Also would be good if titles over thumbails use bigger font and shortened to about 5 letters (see the title over glorious anthem).

2-"Image with Text" card display mode
Currently Wagic has 2 card display modes: "image" and "text" and it could a 3rd mode - "image with text".
This is almost like in Magic Workstation and other "magic" programs. The picture is inserted into "frame" - under png image with transparency like this:
Image
and the result:
Image
The picture size could be 184x134px, or maybe the same size as in MWstation.

If card has no image wagic can use "generic" image:
Image Image

What it gives:
You dont have to search for images with your own language, you can downlad just the translated card.dat.
Image archives can be smaller.
All cards will be in the same style, and wagic visual style is kept regardless of the set.
If you are creating new sets/mods (like warcraft or starwars), you don't need to create full image for every card - just write code and put an illustration.

Problems: some cards contain a lot of text and it may go off the card, but it happens rarely, and you can always switch to "text" mode to see description.

All images needed for this feature (if it will be implemented):http://files.myopera.com/Ilya_B/wagic/p ... transp.zip

Also different generic images could be used for various card types, just like sounds are used (artifact, sorcery, creature etc.)

3-Image primitives
Would be great if it was possible to place images in primitives folder with original names, not numbers (the name mentioned in mtg.txt). For example, if you don't have image fo llanowar elves in 2nd edition folder, but you have "Llanowar Elves.jpg" in primitives folder, you will see an image from primitives. This also would decrease the amount of downloads and make it simpler to manage images.

That's almost all i wanted to say :)

[EDIT ABRA - Renamed - might change or move this topic - trying to re-organize the suggestion forum]

Saint
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:57 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Layout and card display mode

Post by Saint » Sat May 01, 2010 12:04 am

Looks good, just like the rest of the stuff you make ^_^

[bit offtopic] Can you figure out a spot for the planeswalkers aswell?
There pretty much codeable it's just the psp res. is limited and it's hard to keep order between your cards if you add another type to the battlefield.

(The way combat goes against a planeswalker is pretty much covered but if you have any suggestions it's more then welcome ofcourse) [/bit offtopic]

Anyways thanks for the effort :D
"The bird of the Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame." - Ripley Scrowle, Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum - 1652

kaioshin
Posts: 267
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:49 pm

Re: Layout and card display mode

Post by kaioshin » Sat May 01, 2010 8:50 am

This looks awesome! Now we only need someone who can recode the battlefield^^.

wololo
Site Admin
Posts: 3727
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:42 am
Location: Japan

Re: Layout and card display mode

Post by wololo » Sun May 02, 2010 1:29 pm

We should have some kind of dynamic battlefield layout definition, maybe with a simple XML file, to allow more flexibility than the current system...

Regarding card pictures: this is a nice idea. This would reduce the memory used in Ram a lot and allow to have more cards in Cache... I'd like to be able to handle both full cards and this "image only" mode... I'll think about it. I think we could do something based on the ratio of the image probably.

Jean
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:12 am

Re: Layout and card display mode

Post by Jean » Tue May 04, 2010 3:44 am

There are a lot of interesting stuff in this post. But I think the most important point is : the need is arising to have an update to make the UI better. So let's speak about it !

Artistically speaking, I do not argue that the layout you're suggesting is better than the current one. I think it is better.
I do have some concerns about usability, however, and I'm speaking from experience. Wololo designed the original interface of the game, and when we decided to renew it, I designed the current one from his previous work.

One thing that should absolutely never be forgotten about the Wagic interface is : space is of the essence. Any change that takes space, as little as it may, should be carefully considered before implementing it. I do not say it should be discarded without a second thought, but it should be thought of with *extreme* care. A lot of effort has been invested in making the UI space-efficient and it still feels cramped and contrived. Any 10 square pixels going away hurt usability a lot.


> Player avatar is on bottom-left - it takes some space, but not much, and it's easy to see your life and amount of cards.

It does make it easier to see your life amount and cards count. I think it does take quite some space though. The avatars are always displayed regardless of what you do, so it's a very concrete, expensive space investment - so we want to invest in "cheap" space as much as possible, and the screen left side is certainly not cheap. Currently, the player being on right and the enemy being shrunk lets us stack enchantments at the left and this is a big win. They do not get in the way or use valuable screen space even when the game is full. So it's a trade-off between making cards/life more readable (which is vitally important to see at all times) and eating space.
The phase bar being on the left, putting avatars there do have the advantage of making that part of the UI more stable, which helps with balance. But maybe we want to move the phase bar on the right ?
Ideally, I would like to hide avatars most of the time ; I can't imagine yet a way of both hiding them in a satisfactory manner while still keeping life total and card counts always in good sight, but if anyone has any idea... Shrinking them when they are not selected is pretty much as good as it gets, maybe.


> AI mana is near the AI avatar and player mana is near the player avatar (this only when when mana in "simple" display mode)

This makes a lot of sense I think. It's much more readable than the top right where it is at the moment, which was meant for dynamic display only.


> Cards in AI hand are of the same size as other cards (it's just looks visually better and more realistic)

Yes, and no.
Yes, it looks better. No, it is much much too expensive to display them at the same size for very very little information.
All that matters about opponent's cards is their number, as long as you are not looking in their hand. When you are, making them big makes sense, but at normal times, all that matters is their count, so we do not want them taking any game space.
On the picture you posted though, they are half off-screen. This makes it good to some extent as they don't eat up game space. However, they do take horizontal space, and we intended to use this space at some time to display system messages and such. Also, there is a matter of balance. If you are going to put your cards on the bottom of the screen, you want to see them, and see them big (whole I mean) so will that still feel right if your cards are whole onscreen while the opponents are half off-screen ? Maybe it's okay, I don't know.
On the realistic point of view, having your cards bigger and the opponent cards smaller does make for good realism I think. When you are playing with actual cards, the opponent is across the table so you actually see his cards smaller than the game, which you see smaller than your cards.
So overall, I'm against this, though not very strongly.


> On the bottom is an additional "wooden bar" (i can make additional images for all current themes) and player's hand is on the bottom (they are on the bottom only for "horizontal hand" mode). When you switch to your hand these cards are rising over other cards.

I oppose this very, very strongly. Here are the reasons.
Good points about this are balance and natural feeling. A bar at the bottom, like there is one at the top, may make for a nicer balance of the game screen. And the cards at the bottom left do feel natural : the game generally stacks on left, you have your cards close to you and close to your game, it makes sense. It is artistically good.
So what is bad ?
A wooden bar at the bottom is a huge space sink. It is Big, and it is dead space. It serves no purpose other than graphical balance, and it impedes usability a lot, because it's gobbling up so much space. This could be made better if we had something important to display inside it ; if we could use the right part of the bar to do something useful, it may not be so bad (and unless someone finds something strikingly appropriate, I'd probably still think it's not worth the space). We do not have one at the moment, and vertical space is already too much cramped. Cards start overlapping vertically very quickly ; any game based on enchantments or equipment makes for a hard-to-see battlefield already. And I do not think we should make the cards any smaller than they are now : they are very small already.

The hand at the bottom left is, by experience, a usability no-no. It used to be there. And it made the game heavy and slow. It makes for a very definite "I can't see the game" feeling. Let me elaborate on that.
Considering how natural it is to put the hand there, in the original interface, it used to be. The result was : impossible to see both the game and your hand at the same time. You would spend a lot of time opening and closing your hand to have a better view of the game. On the other hand, the right part of the screen feels very empty. This is the same on your design draft : don't you think the game feels very cramped on the left and very empty on the right ?
Not having to open and close your hand each time is, in my opinion, a requirement for smooth game flow. It is important to have a key to go to your hand right away. But it is as much important to be able to go there without opening it. The alternative is : take strictly zero space when the hand is closed. This is the choice the "closed hand visible/invisible" option gives you. But the "vertical/horizontal" hand option is legacy. It's there solely because it was a big interface change that people used to the old interface would likely resist, but honestly, it should go away now. Horizontal hand, though more natural design-wise, is just very inferior, usability-wise. You spend way too much time opening/closing your hand and swearing at how you can't have a global view of the game. Stacking them horizontally on the right helps with the global view and makes it better, but doesn't solve the open/close jig.

So if I have anything to say about it, I'm very strongly opposed to this change.

That being said, I'm not closed to discussion. If you can show me how it can be good usability-wise, I'll be happy too (for example, looking at your design, since there is the bottom wooden bar, you'd think if you stack the hand on the bottom when open it would only overlap lands, which may leave the game visible - I'd have to be convinced of that first, but... I don't know, maybe. Now, it depends on the wooden bar being there which has big problems, and it doesn't satisfy the need of accessing your cards without opening your hand. Lots of problems to be solved, but if they all can be solved, then the more-natural horizontal hand would be way to go. But for the moment, looking at the experience we have, it has historically been a big usability mistake).


> Also would be good if titles over thumbails use bigger font and shortened to about 5 letters (see the title over glorious anthem).

This sounds very good. We have been looking for a way of making them more readable for a while, as they are not at the moment, and it looks really good on your draft. My only concern is, we'd have to write a shortened name by hand for every card out there in every language out there, which sounds like a lot of work... If such data already exists, then great ! If not, let's start writing them maybe ? Because it's one of the bigger problems in the current interface and I think your idea solves it nicely, so we really want that.


> Currently Wagic has 2 card display modes: "image" and "text" and it could a 3rd mode - "image with text".

About this, I'd like a lot of input from the community.
If we throw away the card frame in every image, it has deep (good) technical impacts. It just happens that at the moment, the size of the card images are a technical problem. It has technical solutions, but they are annoying to deal with, and we have not implemented them in a very good way, so we waste a lot of memory. Reducing card images to the picture in the middle would bring the game a lot of air memory-wise, which has really good impacts on speed and smoothness of the game on PSP.
The downside is, we lose the original frame for all cards. Are MTG fans ready to sacrifice this ? It gives graphical consistency to Wagic, but MTG does not have graphical consistency to begin with. Which is better ?
We can retain the current mode of displaying the whole picture, and just add the mode you suggest, where we'd programatically cut away the frame in the image to display it in the middle of the generic frame. This would give the choice to every one, but it does not have the technical advantages of just throwing away picture borders.

Any MTG fan enlightened insight on this ?


> Would be great if it was possible to place images in primitives folder with original names, not numbers

Hmmm. More human-readable, but less machine-readable. This asks for more complicated code, so more bugs, more maintenance, less release. Also remember there is a performance penalty associated with this each and every time the game accesses an image file. What happens when we have support for non-english primitive names ? Can't there be non-alphabetic characters in card names that need special treatment in a file name (a quick check told me that there aren't at the moment, but maybe in the future) ?
That being said, human readability is a worthy goal. I think we may want to do it, but I do have concerns.



Anyway, UI style/design/usability is a very important issue to us, so please do not hesitate to discuss ! We really want to make things better. Let's examine carefully how we want things to be, and implement it.

wololo
Site Admin
Posts: 3727
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Location: Japan

Re: Layout and card display mode

Post by wololo » Tue May 04, 2010 4:23 am

Jean wrote: The hand at the bottom left is, by experience, a usability no-no. It used to be there
Err, no, it has always been bottom right. The issue wasn't really the hand itself, but the big card which covered the left part of the screen.
We didn't move the hand from left to right. We kept it on the right AND added a new "vertical display" mode which is currently the default.
> Currently Wagic has 2 card display modes: "image" and "text" and it could a 3rd mode - "image with text".

About this, I'd like a lot of input from the community.
If we throw away the card frame in every image, it has deep (good) technical impacts. It just happens that at the moment, the size of the card images are a technical problem. It has technical solutions, but they are annoying to deal with, and we have not implemented them in a very good way, so we waste a lot of memory. Reducing card images to the picture in the middle would bring the game a lot of air memory-wise, which has really good impacts on speed and smoothness of the game on PSP.
The downside is, we lose the original frame for all cards. Are MTG fans ready to sacrifice this ? It gives graphical consistency to Wagic, but MTG does not have graphical consistency to begin with. Which is better ?
We can retain the current mode of displaying the whole picture, and just add the mode you suggest, where we'd programatically cut away the frame in the image to display it in the middle of the generic frame. This would give the choice to every one, but it does not have the technical advantages of just throwing away picture borders.

Any MTG fan enlightened insight on this ?
I see only good points with this suggestion and here is how I suggest to deal with this:
We add a new rendering mode, that does this mixed image + text version (most card simulators do that). But we don't remove the old rendering mode.

Here's the clever bit: Based on the ratio of the image we retrieve for a given card, we activate one render mode or the other.
if height is larger than width -> render the full frame
if width is larger than height -> render mixed
This allows players to choose the way they want to display cards by just putting either the cropped version or the full version of the image.
These thumbnails thing would allow lots of free Ram so I definitely support this change.
> Would be great if it was possible to place images in primitives folder with original names, not numbers

Hmmm. More human-readable, but less machine-readable. This asks for more complicated code, so more bugs, more maintenance, less release. Also remember there is a performance penalty associated with this each and every time the game accesses an image file. What happens when we have support for non-english primitive names ? Can't there be non-alphabetic characters in card names that need special treatment in a file name (a quick check told me that there aren't at the moment, but maybe in the future) ?
That being said, human readability is a worthy goal. I think we may want to do it, but I do have concerns.
Non english primitive names: If you mean translation, we don't support that. Card names are a part of the code because some abilities depend on the english names of the primitives. To translate a card name we have the translation mechanism with languages files outside of the "data" files. If you mean special characters, then we would have to filter them out for filenames.
non alphabetic characters: in theory, some primitives have them. (space, apostrophe, ...).

Ilyla's suggestion here is based on what other MTG simulators do. We are actually the only engine that uses numbers instead of actual card names, which makes it difficult for people to retrieve card pictures. There's a pretty famous bittorrent package for MWS (Magic Workstation, the most popular software for MTG online) that gets updated on a regular basis, but it is not compatible with Wagic without some massive renaming.
That package also contains the "picture only" versions by the way (those are called crops and/or tiny crops. For the PSP tiny crops would probably be the good choice although I haven't seen them yet...).

Basically if we switch to primitive name instead of id for card pictures, we make it much easier for people to get access to pictures. This is some work but it would make Wagic more "standard" with other Card game software. This also basically makes it easier for people who installed other MTG software to migrate to Wagic.
See: http://www.slightlymagic.net/forum/view ... f=15&t=445 for the pictures collection

The rules for filenames are pretty easy to figure out.

salmelo
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:11 pm

Re: Layout and card display mode

Post by salmelo » Tue May 04, 2010 2:38 pm

wololo wrote:
Jean wrote: > Currently Wagic has 2 card display modes: "image" and "text" and it could a 3rd mode - "image with text".

About this, I'd like a lot of input from the community.
If we throw away the card frame in every image, it has deep (good) technical impacts. It just happens that at the moment, the size of the card images are a technical problem. It has technical solutions, but they are annoying to deal with, and we have not implemented them in a very good way, so we waste a lot of memory. Reducing card images to the picture in the middle would bring the game a lot of air memory-wise, which has really good impacts on speed and smoothness of the game on PSP.
The downside is, we lose the original frame for all cards. Are MTG fans ready to sacrifice this ? It gives graphical consistency to Wagic, but MTG does not have graphical consistency to begin with. Which is better ?
We can retain the current mode of displaying the whole picture, and just add the mode you suggest, where we'd programatically cut away the frame in the image to display it in the middle of the generic frame. This would give the choice to every one, but it does not have the technical advantages of just throwing away picture borders.

Any MTG fan enlightened insight on this ?
I see only good points with this suggestion and here is how I suggest to deal with this:
We add a new rendering mode, that does this mixed image + text version (most card simulators do that). But we don't remove the old rendering mode.

Here's the clever bit: Based on the ratio of the image we retrieve for a given card, we activate one render mode or the other.
if height is larger than width -> render the full frame
if width is larger than height -> render mixed
This allows players to choose the way they want to display cards by just putting either the cropped version or the full version of the image.
These thumbnails thing would allow lots of free Ram so I definitely support this change.
I'd just like to say that I support this idea wholeheartedly. I'd also like to point another advantage it would have, which would be the updated card text on older cards. Often when playing AI decks that use particularly old cards, i'll read the card text on the image and go "What?" then i have to switch to the alt-render mode so that I can see the more up to date text=whatever value of the card, which I think tend to be pulled off of oracle. By rendering just the artwork inside the default frame we can have both the pretty art and the updated text at the same time.
> Would be great if it was possible to place images in primitives folder with original names, not numbers

Hmmm. More human-readable, but less machine-readable. This asks for more complicated code, so more bugs, more maintenance, less release. Also remember there is a performance penalty associated with this each and every time the game accesses an image file. What happens when we have support for non-english primitive names ? Can't there be non-alphabetic characters in card names that need special treatment in a file name (a quick check told me that there aren't at the moment, but maybe in the future) ?
That being said, human readability is a worthy goal. I think we may want to do it, but I do have concerns.
Non english primitive names: If you mean translation, we don't support that. Card names are a part of the code because some abilities depend on the english names of the primitives. To translate a card name we have the translation mechanism with languages files outside of the "data" files. If you mean special characters, then we would have to filter them out for filenames.
non alphabetic characters: in theory, some primitives have them. (space, apostrophe, ...).

Ilyla's suggestion here is based on what other MTG simulators do. We are actually the only engine that uses numbers instead of actual card names, which makes it difficult for people to retrieve card pictures. There's a pretty famous bittorrent package for MWS (Magic Workstation, the most popular software for MTG online) that gets updated on a regular basis, but it is not compatible with Wagic without some massive renaming.
That package also contains the "picture only" versions by the way (those are called crops and/or tiny crops. For the PSP tiny crops would probably be the good choice although I haven't seen them yet...).

Basically if we switch to primitive name instead of id for card pictures, we make it much easier for people to get access to pictures. This is some work but it would make Wagic more "standard" with other Card game software. This also basically makes it easier for people who installed other MTG software to migrate to Wagic.
See: http://www.slightlymagic.net/forum/view ... f=15&t=445 for the pictures collection

The rules for filenames are pretty easy to figure out.
This is another idea I fully support. Although i would like to point out that not all mtg programs use the same naming rules. I remember when I went from using MWS to using GCCG i had to redownload all my image files because gccg used a slightly different naming scheme than mws, it wasn't a bid difference, but it was a difference. Of course, it also came with a nice batch-script to go download all of the files and put them in the right folders, so it wasn't so horrible.

All the other layout ideas I would need to look at the mock-ups to form an opinion and where I'm at now is blocking whatever server they are coming from. I'll have to look later when I get home.

wololo
Site Admin
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Re: [UI] Battlefield & Card Template

Post by wololo » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:02 am

Tiny crops are now implemented in the SVN. It's a bit rough for now, but as most features in Wagic, it will improve with time:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2197

I also put in place a system that accepts card names for the images (finally!)

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