Sunday, December 25, 2011

Questions regarding 21st century roguelike UIs

As a reaction to yesterdays post concerning JADE: The Ultimate Edition Darren Grey posted something very interesting (to me at least - and I have learned to at listen to Darren in the past couple of months ;-) ):

I'm not suggesting graphics (though third party tiles support would be handy), but instead things like mouse interface, tooltips and context sensitive commands. Cast a cursory glance at Brogue or ToME4 to see how roguelikes look in the 21st century.
Now I don't want to discuss the correctness of this assumption as the successes of Brogue and ToME4 speak for themselves. But what is truly great about their UIs? What do people enjoy especially? I will have a look at them but being an old horse chances are that I might miss the truly great features of these interfaces just because "I'm accustomed to the old ways". So please enlighten me and I will examine these features with particular focus :-)

Yes, I want to make JADE a lot more accessible to people but currently I find it hard to believe that tooltips and mouse support could be right way. For JADE I have noticed that JADE probably could get by with a lot less commands than ADOM (e.g. one 'm'anipulate command that could handle anything from doors to traps to levers to statues to... whatever could be manipulated). Any hints are welcome!


  1. As for me, I wold ask only for tiles, and nothing more.

    Keyboard is just fine, if you want something more - I heard that there are some utils for joystick or gamepad keyboard emulation. Mouse isn't needed.

  2. Tile support, Sound support, and generally anything that lends to accessibility without being buried in a sea of mouse clicks or key clacks is the way to go---essentially what Darren said.

    I see no reason why JADE can't challenge other games in the commercial space and otherwise on their own grounds in these regards---the possibilities for the project should extend in nigh EVERY direction, not just a narrow spectrum, beyond the limitations of the times and the tech of the times that yoke ADoM.

    I would definitely suggest an aggressive, purposeful sampling of the Top 10/20/30 whatever of the ultimately top polled from the ASCII Dreams 2011 Poll, especially those commercial projects, as a good idea is a good idea. Besides, you stand to have some fun along the way with your note jotting, and a varied sense of recreation can only be a good thing.

    I mean, ostensibly, an Ultimate Edition of an Ultimate Game costing some money pretty much necessitates this sort of behavior by the weight of sheer logic at the least does it not?

  3. Mouse isn't necessary, yes, but if you're definitely leaving out tooltips, then PLEASE implement a copy of ADOM's 'l'ook command! There needs to be *some* way to tell what the heck things are...

    Now as for 21st century and Text vs. Tiles, it's worth looking at Dwarf Fortress. At first glance, DF seems to use text, but actually, it doesn't. It uses pictures of text! And if you think about it, that's actually a really good idea. It does away with font portability issues and it allows things which ASCII/curses simply doesn't. For example, it opens the entire SVGA+ range of colors, instead of the usual 32, and you could even make rainbow colors or anything at all. You could make huge dragons which take up 2x2 characters but are represented by a single giant "D". There's no end to the possibilities.

  4. For better or for worse, I am a 20th century roguelike player. ADOM is all I've really played, and as far as I'm concerned, its UI is Perfection.

    What might be nice is a sort of JADE tutorial mode that displays commands in a prominent position during the early game whenever they fit in context, such as displaying "Press > to enter a location" if the PC is on top of their first town or dungeon, "Press m to manipulate objects such as doors", paced to only show one tutorial hint at a time, perhaps every ten seconds, and get progressively more advanced (like, "Press Ctrl-t to trigger a trap"). Display stuff like "Press R to read a scroll, careful of unknown effects!" when the PC picks up a scroll or looks at their equipment containing one and so on.

    I do not think that the mouse should be heavily used. At the very least, it should not be mandatory; one advantage of roguelikes is that they can be fully enjoyed on the road without a mouse. The "l"ook command, with its "M"ore component, is awesome and needs to stay in.

    In general, actually... JADE definitely can benefit from going with the times and incorporating innovations as well as making them, but... JADE also has a history; a 20th century history, if you will. It's the successor to ADOM. So, when it comes to controls, I believe that everything that was in ADOM when it comes to controls - within reason - should be in JADE. New control schemes should be introduced alongside them, not attempt to replace them and risk being less intuitive.

  5. I also posted my thoughts in the forums earlier on why a post millennium RL needs graphics, sounds etc - not necessarily by TB - but integrated so it is out of the box for new users. If one wants to reach beyond the RL audience to get even bigger numbers of followers... which has many flow on benefits for everyone.

  6. Going of off some of the suggestions raised already, to make the game more accesible I could see the implementation of a (B)eginner's Quest that would walk people through the various key prompts etc, but could be avoided once people are familiar with the keys.

  7. I personally wish JADE wasn't a sequel to ADOM and had more freedom to break away from some of the restrictive ideas from ADOM's gameplay. A foodclock for instance seems like purely a negative thing when you have open world exploration. Still, it *is* nice to be in Ancardia again :)

    If you play ToME4 and Brogue you can see very quickly how they have some great UI polish. ToME4 can be played fluidly with mouse or keyboard or a combination - try playing it with mouse alone to get a feel for how powerfully this works, especially with a ranged character (though I prefer to play with a mix myself). Both games are notable for how quickly you can start playing without any prior reading. I still remember my glee when first reading the ADOM manual and basking in the level of detail, but there's no way many players will aproach a game like that these days. People expect tooltips and tutorials to help them through the first steps without having to read a manual outside of the game. For the free JADE this isn't as important (though I still want it), but in a paid version many will expect much more accessibility.

    Some things I'd like to see in JADE:
    - mouse-click to auto-move towards a location (interrupted by enemies/items/etc of course)
    - Unified hotkey set-up for common skills/spells/items. There shouldn't be separate hotkey menus for each - all common commands should be in one easily accessible place.
    - right-click on target to choose from hotkeys
    - mouse-scrolling in inventory menu
    - expand/hide buttons for different item types in menu to quickly, say, hide all one-handed weapons when selecting a weapon to wield without having to scroll far (a bit like hiding/expanding folders in Windows Explorer)
    - multi-purpose "use item" function that applies a default context sensitive action (such as drinking when using a potion, reading when using a scroll etc)
    - ability to use items from within the inventory, instead of having to come out and press the use command
    - repeat last command function (one of the greatest additions from the ADOM Sage frontend for ADOM)
    - Tooltips when hovering a mouse over a tile. The bottom of the status bar should list the tile type, any features or items, and enemy details. A closer look command (available through right-click or 'l') should also be available.
    - Preferably no need for shift-, alt- or ctrl- commands. 99% of commands should be from the lower case regular letters/symbols, and even then the keyset should be as minimised as possible (the biggest complaint of those who don't play roguelikes is that they can't come close to learning all the commands).
    - Preferably full functionality through mouse if possible. This would make the game more accessible in general, and also easier to play on laptops.
    - Top bar menu with all commands available in sensible groupings. The menus would list the keyboard shortcuts for each command as well so that one can learn the shortcuts more easily. (Like common Windows programs. The version of Hack I first cut my teeth on had this, and it was a big help in getting into roguelikes.)
    - Flyout text to show damage and status effects against targets (works really well in ToME4, vastly reducing the time you spend reading through boring combat log info)
    - screen turns slightly red when on less than 25% health, getting redder towards death

    I'm really not bothered by tiles myself. I think ADOM has always been the best example of how ASCII can look really pretty with the right thematic colour choices. Still, I'm guessing adding tile support isn't a huge chore, and there are a lot of freely available tilesets out there. Having a "tiled ASCII" option as someone suggested is also not a bad idea for better compatibility across machines.

  8. First paragraph was in response to Silfir's comment, by the way.

    Another thing that's come to me is removing redundant commands. Someone on Facebook mentioned the multiple ways to pick up items in ADOM, when the extended pickup is clearly the best default. Other things like multiple drop commands should be removed. The drop command should bring up your inventory items to drop, with commands listed on top/bottom to access more involved menus. The wait key should search on the spot instead of just waiting, since searching is always preferable to just waiting.

  9. If you want to look how a modern roguelike should handle, look at Dungeon Crawl stone soup. Not sure where you dropped that stack of healing potions? Control F and search for potions. Afraid you missed an artefact? Search for artefacts and see what you missed. Autofight, Autoexplore, fully supported mouse capabilities for tiles.. the convenience of DCSS has made it much harder to play clunkier and obtuse roguelikes.

  10. I'd say it's way too early to worry about that. Yes, optional tiles/sounds/mouse commands could encourage more casual players, but first the more hardcore crowd needs to be encouraged ;). Not to sounds negative or derail the discussion, but while you're thinking about improving the ui, the current version of JADE still has quite severe bugs, like the disappearing equipment issue.

    As a fellow programmer I completely understand that creating exciting new features is way more fun than chasing pesky bugs, but in my opinion getting rid of those is the most important. No amount of tooltips and fancy features will keep the player who just had his hard-earned equipment eaten by a nasty bug ;).

    Also, when it comes to improving user experience, Crawl has cool and helpful features that don't need any non-standard input. I particularly like multi-level auto-travel. You're on D:20 and want to go to level 3 of the ToEF? - a few keypresses and you go straight there. Also, item search. You enter name of an item (or part of it, or item type), it shows all matches that you've ever seen. Including those in shops, with prices. One keypress, you go to it. Such features really enhance the experience by removing tedium.


  11. A modern UX in Java would have a command menu, with shortcuts listed on all commands, thus old school RL players will continue to use shortcuts (and could probably use the menus as a memory aid as opposed to scrolling through the key binding help page), and new users will learn them as they play.

  12. "Another thing that's come to me is removing redundant commands."

    This came up a couple years ago (and I'm sure continues to come up) on r.g.r.d. For inventory at least, it boils down to being a trade-off, with neither method being better than the other.

    Consider wear/wield ('w'). If you have a lot of items, this means pressing 'w' and scrolling through a few pages to find what you want. Maybe, to simplify things, you could have a filter once you're in the inventory menu. Suppose you want to wear an amulet. You'd type 'w' to get to the inventory screen, then 'a' to filter by amulets. One more keypress and you've put on an amulet.

    The other way of doing this is Nethack-style. Now you type 'P' and the amulets are already filtered for you. Just select the one you want and you're good to go. It may be a bit harder to remember, but it's more efficient overall.

    It's clear that 'w', 'W', and 'P' AREN'T redundant commands. They serve a purpose, and that purpose is efficiency at the cost of simplicity. With that in mind, be careful of what you consider "redundant." Simplicity is nice, but it's not always the best route.

  13. Gamer_2k4, have you played ADOM? It's equipment system is very different from Nethack's, and most ADOM players find Nethack's system abhorrent. The 'w' to wield is exactly the sort of thing that should be ignored.

    There is of course a correct balance to be had, but there should be a core base of commands that mke it easy for players new and old alike. For instance the clean ears and wipe face commands in ADOM are often things I have to look up anyway when I need them. You can go through the entire game without using either.

  14. One huge win for Crawl tiles is that your full inventory is displayed at all times. No needing to remember what you picked up. No need to remember what you have and have not identified yet. Wearing/wielding is a matter of one click. Stacks of items on the ground also get a full display when you step on them. It's a breeze just eyeballing the stuff to see if there's anything good.

  15. Fonts! Use modern fonts please. And font smoothing will be great.

    Good rogulike game is like good book - it must have good typographics.

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  17. Also, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup can be great example of many useful interface features.

    Auto exploring, searching for items, mouse interface, inventory and minimap on main screen, e.t.c.

  18. Sorry for another "get off my lawn" post, but I have to agree with Silfir. There are lots of whiz-bang, graphical, mousey roguelikes for the masses, but they tend to be much simpler than ADOM, and one gets bored after ten hours or so of doing always the same because, you know, since everything had to be accessible with two mouse clicks, there are not enough strategic choices. And that's assuming that the game has no sound and animations, because in that case one is likely to keep killing copies of the same 4-5 monsters per dungeon level, because of course the artist wouldn't do animations and sounds for hundreds of monsters...

    I'm all for UI improvements as long as they're optional to use and they don't affect the classical ADOM experience of playing with keyboard only. For example, ranged weapon targeting with the mouse -> fine; having to do ranged weapon targeting with the mouse and not having the traditional 't' command -> bad.

    In this sense, I think the only game I know that combines quite successfully the good old ways with the new decaffeinated ways is Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It successfully incorporates a lot of features that new players love and I don't even have to *know* their existence to complete the game :)

  19. What I like most about Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup's interface is that I can see at a glance what I would have to manually 'l'ook for in ADOM. Mind, I play DCSS in text mode.

    First off, when I meet a new enemy, I can immediately tell what it is called, if it has noticed me, what it is wearing and wielding. This is huge because if a tough enemy did not notice me, I can immediately back off and look for easier prey. Having to manually 'l'ook at every enemy encountered is too bothersome.

    Secondly, it is easy to keep track of my allies because they have a green background colour. There is no confusion over whether a particular orc is hostile or friendly. In ADOM this is mostly a problem for necromancers who fight other necromancers. But however marginal, it is still a problem. In tough fights where tactical movement relies on positional knowledge of my undead slaves, having to 'l'ook every few turns is bad. Also, neutral creatures as in 'it does not care about you' should also be indicated somehow.

    Another nice thing is automatic identification when there is no doubt as to what the item is. This particularly helps people who do not use spoilers. For an ADOM veteran there is no doubt whether or not watery potions are potions of water. So why cannot it be labeled as such right off? There could also be better hints in game for common use of such items, such as holy water being used to consecrate objects dipped into it. It could be modelled as character knowledge, because having grown up in Ancardia, the character should be aware of some things, even if merely rumours, that the player is ignorant about.

  20. ADOM already treats potions of water the way they should - they are automatically identified as a potion of holy water, uncursed potion of water or potion of unholy water if you know their status.

    Actually, as an ADOM veteran, I kind of wish I knew less about my items sometimes. Check "Material-based identify" on, if you will. That stuff should be much more randomized than it is in ADOM, to the point even a veritable veteran has little chance of knowing what a particular amulet or ring does. On the other hand, how much harder would it make the game? Now too hard?

    I do agree about the use of holy water. At least for me, I read about it someplace online.

  21. An improved UX would not "unimprove" keyboard shortcuts, by definition.

    There are not many GOOD whiz-bang, graphical, mousey roguelikes for the masses out there - these things should default to on, with options to turn OFF for advanced/RL players who can easily figure that out. Java would be a great opportunity to take this premium-brand-RL and improve all the things that make RLs inaccessible to a broad audience while keeping all the things that make it great and addictive. A minority view selfishly/insularly/fiercely held in RL circles is that a text symbol can somehow be superior to graphics - to the general gaming/non-gaming public that is simply never going to be true - and this is the only area in which the audience for this game will significantly grow. If existing players and RL fans want to rehash age old arguments from rgrd and just want to keep the ADoM experience to themselves and not have it grow and spread to its potential, fine, but, then, in my view, some opportunities of the massive effort in rewriting ADoM in Java are gone. It is 2012 shortly, after all...

  22. I don't really play a lot of other rougelikes - but the way games in general are going, they always tell you which buttons to press, all the time. It always says on the screen 'press A to continue', 'press B to finish him off'. It's not like the old days where you absolutely had to read the manual to have any idea what's going on. In every single game nowadays, there's a tutorial built into it.

    This is what I think can help JADE - a part of the UI screen that tells you what you can do from where you're standing - it's position-sensitive. So if you're standing next to a townsperson, it tells you "press [C] to chat". If you're standing on a switch, it tells you "press [h] to activate switch". If you're in the world map on top a dungeon, it tells you "press [>] to enter dungeon". You could go one step further and have it say "press [e] to eat" when you get hungry.

    This won't help any of us who read your blog at all - because we all know every hotkey from memory - but it will definitely help new players, who haven't memorised 50+ hotkeys yet. That's the one thing that stops me from getting into Dwarf Fortress - I really want to play it, but I just don't know how to, despite reading many wikis and tutorials...

    Another thing that user interface could do is actually show what's on the ground if you stand on an item. For example, if there's 10 items on the ground, it would say
    [1] pickup potion of water
    [2] pickup longsword
    [3] pickup chainmail
    [4] pickup quarterstaff
    Press [x] to pick up everything or [;] to see full listing.

    I think that would be handy... you can see what you're standing on at a glance without going to an extra screen.

    Y'know for JADE ultimate edition, you could have an official tileset. A tileset would really help to get new players into the game, and if you're selling JADE ultimate, you could outsource the tile design to someone else.

  23. I think a mouse-over look would be the most important addition. The ability to quickly hover over anything and see details would make everything much more streamlined. And perhaps make a right-click activate a "detailed look" that lets you see more information about everything at that location (think of it as something similar to viewing your inventory, but with "Structure", "Floor", etc as slots, showing what is occupying that space).

    After that, I think what I'd like to see is integrated note-taking and mapping - that is, effectively an explorer's journal. Now, the note-taking wouldn't exactly be a 21st century thing... but with mapping, you could easily have various mouse-based interactions, allowing you to "mark" locations on levels, which would then show up both when on the level and when reviewing in the explorer's journal, with details listed via the aforementioned mouse-over look method.

    Regarding what Silfir said... I only partially agree. I like the idea that there are certain ways that you can get some sense of what you've got... but it should have enough randomness to make it difficult to narrow it enough to make it easy. For instance, how about if certain potions are guaranteed to be of a certain colour class (say, a potion of troll blood is guaranteed to be some sort of red-coloured potion, whether it's a red potion, a blood red potion, a burgandy potion, a magenta potion, etc), and then all the potions without a predefined set of possible colours are distributed randomly amongst the remainder. Then, in a similar manner, a few potions might be a guaranteed weight, but most would be randomly chosen.

    To use amulets as another example... I see three categories to assign to each amulet - weight, material, and appearance. An amulet of the cold heart might be guaranteed to be a metal of some sort, to be a heavier weight, and to have a gem-based appearance, while an amulet of light might always be low in weight, appear to be one of three appearances (glass amulet, diamond amulet, or pearl amulet), and might be guaranteed not to be adamantium or eternium. Beyond these restrictions, they would be selected at random, perhaps even having more colours/appearances than possible items (so some potion colours, for instance, may never appear because they're unallotted).

    On a related note, I'd like to see the ability to show an object to an appropriate shopkeeper, for identification (at some cost). Of course, some shopkeepers might lie about the identity of the object (having said this, nothing would prevent you from showing an identified object to them, as though pretending it isn't, to "test" them), while others may charge less, but only provide general ideas ("it's a high-quality dagger with some magical capability").

  24. console interface does have a certain charm to it. But that's just my preference. If the new UIs were to come, i would like the ones still available

  25. "A minority view selfishly/insularly/fiercely held in RL circles is that a text symbol can somehow be superior to graphics"

    And it can. ADOM was typically played on a screen of 80x25 ASCII tiles. If you want to fit 80 graphical tiles horizontally on a screen with 1600-pixel horizontal resolution, each tile is going to be 20 pixels wide. That's too small to be distinguishable. ASCII symbols are very distinguishable because that's precisely what letters are for.

    That's why for example, I play Dwarf Fortress in ASCII mode: because I can see more squares that way, plain and simple.

    Does that mean I am opposed graphical tiles? Not as long as they are optional. I have posted here in the past saying that it would be great to have the option to use them to attract new players, but I wouldn't like to be forced to use them in ADOM. I would see much less of the dungeon that way.

  26. I usually don't like graphical tiles in a roguelike (Desktop Dungeons being THE exception). Most of the times they look ugly as hell and take away from the clarity that pure ASCII provides. If I want to play something graphical, I can easily get my RPG fix with a "real" graphical game and be done with it. But that's my 0.02€.

    Regarding JADE: I would like to see a "tutorial dungeon", not unlike what The Elder Scrolls series does. But thanks to the flexibility of ASCII, why not give every class get their own that highlights their specialties? There's no art to cook up, just floorplans and dialogue/quest text.

    As far as UI options go: As long as I can dial all of those back down to "ADoM standard", one window, two lines top, three lines bottom text and my beloved 'l'ook mode, go wild. I don't need "always on"-inventory. And if I need to see more of the dungeon around me, we already have zoom levels for that. But autotravel/-explore and item/dungeon feature search (damn that si!!!) would be very welcome.

    I second the notion of being able to use items right out of the inventory and would add that I would absolutely love item manipulation in inventory - as long as you have the neccessary ressources (ID scrolls, PP for casting IDfy etc.) you should be able to uncurse, identify or dip items directly there.

  27. Whatever you do, don't put in an obligatory tutorial dungeon. Nothing kills replayability harder.

  28. Yeah, pure random content all the way! ToME4, Dungeons of Dredmor and Powder all do really nice external tutorials. You can even die in them for added fun.

  29. hey Thomas, I think You are wrong in trying to satisfy everyone and earn serious money out of it. If You look at commercially succesful roguelikes You will notice, that apparently You either need to have a serious UI with polished graphics, etc (DoD), or go all the way ignoring friendly UI and spend all of Your time on the cool features that will distinguish Your game, from other games(DF). I think that there are tons of games "in the middle", which, while popular, have their donations/revenues far from reaching Your current salary level.

  30. Mouse-over look function has me VERY excited.
    The rest I can take or leave, frankly - mouse targeting of spells like improved fireball and for archery might make sense, as would auto 'w' move on click, but I'm not sure how often I'd use it - compass directions are how the game works, and the numpad works brilliantly for that. Mouse selection in menus might be useful, though, particularly if you're going with automatically extended commands in future.

    With regards to the issue of combining commands, I'd hope to see old commands still in place wherever possible - it doesn't detract from play for people who don't know about it, just takes up space in the keybindings list. And it'd be fairly easy to make a separate legacy keybindings list as supplement to the "main" or "recommended" list, or perhaps just grey out all the legacy commands in the main list.

  31. Keep this great discussion going. IMHO there already have been a couple of great suggestions I will add over time. Things I currently don't see happening are
    - a detailed tutorial dungeon (IMHO just too much work for too little fun as far as I am concerned)
    - a graphical tile set done by me (just won't happen... we had that discussion with JADE and none of the support offers resulted in anything tangible... times have changed and for folks interested it will be possible to add a tile mode to JADE... and I am willing to help whomever is going to try that but it's not my can of beer as a feature)

    I like the tooltip idea as an enhanced look mode, I think that the "context sensitive command support idea" has some merit (maybe as a good replacement of a tutorial dungeon; damn, I really have to think about that tutorial thing... it has some merit but I don't see any easy and trivial way to implement it - need to keep thinking). The quick pickup suggested by Lyle also is neat. And I need to look at other roguelikes in order to see how the inventory can be visible all the time... it barely fits on one screen in JADE so it would be difficult enough to show all the equipped stuff of a monster at a glance using 'l'ook. I will have to toy around with these concepts.

    But keep the discussion coming... simplification of the UI does not mean simplification of the game ;-) I will definitely spend my time on adding features instead of adding crappy sounds and images (which is all I could do in that area ;-) ).

  32. I really should look at some of these new-fangled 21th century roguelikes to see just how that mouse thing actually works.

    That might be not entirely true. I've played Dwarf Fortress and used the mouse, but only for mapping out floor plans with mine designations in fortress mode. Mouses are great for clicking on things.

    Years of spending hours upon hours playing ADOM have glued both of my hands firmly to the keyboard; one to the numpad to move, the other to the rest. Switching my numpad hand to the mouse so I can look at monsters with it would only make sense to me if I could also move with it, so I don't have to switch back and forth all the time in case I want to move, look at something, move, look at something in quick succession, as in a heated battle. Meaning that if you add mouse tooltips, you have to add mouse movement as well for it to be fully comfortable. In general, mouse support should be implemented in a way that anything game-relevant that ordinarily requires a numpad (movement, direction prompts, anything else?) should also allow mouse input.

    (I'm right-handed and I don't know just how much of my thinking is influenced by the fact I use the numpad with the same hand I would use for the mouse, and how much of a difference it would make if I didn't. Please do not stab me with that knife you're holding in your left hand right now muttering curses)

    In a sense, this provides an alternate solution to the conundrum of numpad-less laptop users: Just plug in a mouse and use that instead.

  33. There must be an easy way to learn the commands. Best way is to have intelligent tips for mundane acts and some main menu which contains all exotic options like pray, mine, craft, apply (skill) ...

    Mouse is great for navigation, archery, spells. No need for auto explore, just to be able to move via point and click in the other end of the level.

    Adding graphics and sound is bad because small teams rarely have the artists to create something that will impress the masses. Go for game play.

  34. Appealing to the great unwashed masses is a red herring, unless you're willing to sink "Diablo 3"-scale effort into it (with all the engineers and artists and marketing experts that entails). If the core audience loves it enough, new blood will gradually be attracted, even if there is no graphics or sound; see Dwarf Fortress for a proof of this.

  35. Some minor, but potentially helpful things:
    -A quest log. I'd imagine a table with questgiver, goal, their locations, current quest status, and additional info (for more complex quests).

    Something like: Jimmy the Gloomy Sage (Terinyo), kill Lumpy the Happy Skeleton (mischievious maw of ducks). Active. Some info some info some info ;).

    And option to find giver and target (if location is known) on the worldmap, and to autotravel there.

    Another thing would be a list of known dungeons, deepest level that the player reached, was it fully explored, does it contain any active quests, and maybe a place to add a note (OMG ogre! come back later! ;)).

  36. Glowing Face Man: Dwarf Fortress is a one off that has yet to be repeated. No developer should ever be so arrogant as to presume they will be automatically successful, not even the mighty Biskup. Even hardcore roguelike players expect some UI polish these days, especially when there are so many new games coming out (there's been a record number of new roguelikes made this year).

    As an ADOM player I'd like to see JADE surpass it in every element. How many of us already go to the trouble to run ADOM Sage to improve ADOM's UI? JADE has the potential to go much further than that, and to be a better game for it.

  37. A great part of the Dwarf Fortress fanbase (including one of my friends, an avid gamer of indie titles) swears by tilesets. Unfathomable to me, but then I've played ADOM since I was twelve. Some people just want that stuff. So JADE should offer tileset support at some point.

    To surpass ADOM in every element, you do have to use it as a starting point. Adopting the control scheme of ADOM as a base (while ironing out some of its issues, in the way ADOM Sage had done) does not preclude innovation. Tileset support, some of way of utilizing the mouse - these are safe changes, since ADOM didn't have either to begin with, and they can be made without affecting the original control scheme.

    A bad change, for instance, would be to get rid of the "zap wand", "drink", "read" buttons. It's possible, in theory, to scrap them and just have "use item", but it would also mean that if you want to use a specific item - which is pretty much always - you have to scour the entire inventory for the item. ADOM did have the filter, but that's one keypress more. Also, now I "u"se potions, but say I "u"se an oil of rust removal or a potion of water - will the game just have me gleefully drink them, or post a warning instead? If use for potion always means drink, half of new players who found their first oils of rust removal will lose a character to poison. If it doesn't, now you have to add a "do you really want to drink" message, or additional routines for individual items.

    I don't think "use item" is an adequate substitute to allow the simple removal of "read", "drink", "zap wand" and the like. The old ADOM texts "try reading it" or somesuch could be improved by color-highlighting the r in read, though. If this is applied for all possible uses of items, "use item" becomes a good tool for new players anyway; they can simply "use" items and be told the appropriate command. I would go for that over having "use item" work as an alternative command to encourage players to use drink, read, zap and so on directly, simply because those are faster, and breaking habits is hard.

  38. I think it's easier to have a functional use command as alternative. With an inventory that has some additional mouse features it can be quick enough to get the item you want. And this is a nicer way to operate for many players than having to learn 10 separate commands (though they of course would still be supported). It's just outright bizarre in ADOM that using a scroll doesn't read it. 99.9% of the time that is the way to use the scroll! A good interface is about making the common actions obvious and easy to use.

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  40. "How many of us already go to the trouble to run ADOM Sage to improve ADOM's UI?"
    Never even heard of it... Just to provide some balance ;)
    Also, I agree with Silfir on pretty much everything he's said so far.

  41. Proportional, ClearType fonts (please!!!!!!) I know that opinions vary, but for me, the antiquated pixelated 12 point Courier is one reason (not the ONLY reason, but A reason) I haven't bothered much with JADE so far.

  42. Mouse support in general would be good, most importantly when selecting targets. Single click could replace moving the cursor all over the screen.

    Favorite lists for wands, potions, tools ,etc. Maybe universal hotbar where you can place your most used skills, spells and items.

    After selecting items from inventory, remember the position/subset used when selecting items again. For example, in ADOM if you wanted to smelt ores you might have had to scroll through several pages of inventory to get to the ores, again and again.

  43. Agreeing with:

    "a mouse-over look would be the most important addition."
    "Switching my numpad hand to the mouse so I can look at monsters with it would only make sense to me if I could also move with it, so I don't have to switch back and forth all the time in case I want to move, look at something, move, look at something in quick succession, as in a heated battle."
    "Mouse support in general would be good, most importantly when selecting targets. Single click could replace moving the cursor all over the screen."

    others have made similar points.

    Also like the sound of some sort of map-marking or note-taking in-game (could also be used as a quest log).

  44. A good quest log is a must-have, especially if JADE will eventually encompass a fully exploreable planet with dynamically generated content. And that would be one time where a mouse-driven interface would really come in handy. Make the names of quest locations and/or -givers click-able and the game will try to take you there. Just make sure enemy encounters, starvation warnings and corruptions interrupt the auto travel :)

    For the text-only crowd a built-in search engine accessible from both the main playing area and the quest log would be nice. 'F'ind quest giver/location . Works only for stuff you've already encountered, of course.

    On a slightly different note: Will monster memories be back? I would like the idea of quests that reward you for having a certain monster (type) fully researched, e.g. like "I'll give you this artifact if you can bring me all there is to know about Greater Black Unicorns"... :)

  45. The only way to know whether the PC just brought you records of all there is to know about greater black unicorns would be to know all there is to know about greater black unicorns. Which kind of defeats the purpose of the endeavour.

    In all seriousness: Please please put the monster memory in. It's among my favorite features of ADOM and I think really helps immersion. But then, I just like wordy. I read the quest descriptions in MMOs, if you can believe such a thing. (Might be one part of why I'm unable to stick with one MMO for long.)

  46. @Silfir Awww, don't be too logical about it! That's like saying how does the old barbarian in the glade know when you've killed 20 of the first monster you killed when entering the chain...

    Would definitely like to see the monster memory and those long descriptions brought back in, and I think 'researching' a monster is a great, specific type of quest. You would also need a way to know when a monster has been fully identified.

    "Aye, thanks for yer notes. Here are some fighting moves I've researched that would work well against that foe"
    *The PC has gained a permanent +1 to hit and +1 to damage Black Unicorns*

  47. The prospect of a proper roguelike brought into a commercial spotlight is exciting. RL's are some of the finest games I've ever played; their languishing in relative obscurity is undeserved. I've got a lot of thoughts on what you could do here...

    1. DCSS is the game you want to take cues from. What that devteam has done with a simple terminal UI is brilliant. Add on top of that their brilliant control features: autoexplore, autofight, ctrl+f, mapping, etc.. Tiles gives mouse control, displayed inventory+minimap. I could ramble on for a while about how great DCSS is, heh.

    2. Have JADE Knowledge Bots built right into the game. (like this: Look up info on any item, npc, monster, spell right from the command line.

    3. Step away from Telnet/SSH in favor of modern, more open and practical online capability. I can envision Steamworks support, with global leaderboards. Dumplogs and replays of every character ever made, stored online and ready to be looked up at any time. See your Steam friends playing? With one click you're watching them, giving them advice and talking about the game.

    4. Fully configurable controls, with the ability to create macros.

    5. Third party tiles support, though I doubt I'd use them.

  48. Oh, and for the love of all that is good, PLEASE expand the message window to show more than one line of text at a time.

  49. As for me, the greatest advantage of GUI other the traditional ASCII layout is the shortening of the 'learning time'.
    Swapping i.e. from ADOM to Crawl takes a lot more time to adjust in mind that little blue 'g' is no more a goblin, than accepting new key commands. Since almost every fantasy game uses common foes like Ogres, Hobgoblins and Orcs, the single look is almost enough to identify an enemy (especially the one in the robe with the wand as a caster and another in the chain mail and helmet as a fighter) And near everybody remember that Ogres are far more tough and powerful than orcs and goblins. While to distinguish all this small ASCII letters costs few dozens of the YASDs.