Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Regular reports on Factorio development.
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Slayn25
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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Slayn25 » Fri May 19, 2017 6:27 pm

Overall great ideas. I was going to make a post on how we should be able to place ghosts after we run out of items. Very much approve of that change.

Tabs sound good. As for the weapon GUI, I'd say add an option in the menu whether or not you want that displayed at all times.

When it comes to UX & UI there are two areas where I would suggest some love:

1. Blueprint Book - Two things that would drastically increased the UX of the Blueprint book would be 1) folders for better organization 2) Change so blueprints aren't taken out of the book and placed in your inventory. This is unintuitive and cumbersome.
2. Personal Logistics - Add checkboxes/shortcuts to enable/disable personal roboports/logistics slots/trash slots . First case for this change is when you are trying to transfer items out of your inventory but they are locked inside your auto-trash slots. Second case is when you are going by some ghosts but don't want your personal construction bots leaving your inventory. 3rd case is when you want to handcraft something that requires an item you normally auto-trash. Having to disable auto trash then re-enable afterwards is a bit clunky and also messes with the order which negatively impacts organization.

Also I'd like to suggest adding a way to save toolbar filter presets so we don't have to set them every game.
Finally it has been mentioned to change hotkeys for your 6th-10th items from shift-1-5 to 6-0. I agree with this change.
Last edited by Slayn25 on Fri May 19, 2017 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by purdueme91 » Fri May 19, 2017 6:30 pm

I like the proposed changes overall but could there more features given on how to sort inventory? Especially playing with Bob's mods, I have to hunt everywhere for some things that I just crafted or need and it takes forever because the sorting method now doesn't make sense to me. Would be nice to have to sort by crafting category and maybe be sorted a to z within that. Otherwise I think the shortcut to inventory will work much better and adding ghosts from shortcuts when building will be awesome. Another minor thing (and maybe its already there) can there be a next weapon and previous weapon key? Was using early nanobot mod and with 2 nano guns I could tell which one I was on. With just one icon visible, might not be able to tell as quick

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Lyzak » Fri May 19, 2017 6:31 pm

As a developer and designer myself, I really respect and appreciate the thoughtful way you presented your ideas about the UI changes, and especially the way you were transparent about the player-psychology problem. I think you're getting a lot of support on this thread for that reason specifically (Well, and perhaps because you present a lot of really good ideas, too!)

Not that any idea is perfect; I see a lot of things in this thread that are good suggestions or valid concerns. I don't have time right now to type out all of my own thoughts but I figured I'd at least add in a "Yeah, generally I think this is all 10/10" for posterity sake. Keep up the good work!

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Xterminator » Fri May 19, 2017 6:37 pm

I quite like the proposed changes for the most part! :D
Not to mention it was a really interesting read in general. Hearing the thought process that goes into the design is very intriguing.

The thing that I'm not totally convinced on is the different tabs for Logistics, Crafting, and Character slots. I certainly see the reasoning behind it and like it in a general sense, but on the other hand I do really like the fact that currently you can see all that info at a glance on one screen rather than having to swap between screens to see it. If it was changed to the proposed method I wouldn't really be upset, but I do think it is losing some ease of use by getting rid of the ability to quickly take a glance and see all the info rather than having to swap back and forth between screens.
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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by jeriktelorian » Fri May 19, 2017 6:39 pm

Killerhuehnchen wrote:I didn't know i wanted these changes before. I like them.
But please change the hotbar hotkeys from [shift]+1..5 to 6..0 and while you're at it: twenty quick slots are not enough even with blueprint books. So please add more levels to the toolbelt upgrade research.
Would be nice to add 6-0 for those who want them, but shift is great because you can keep your hands over WASD while selecting. Very convenient.

Overall these changes look stellar and I am pumped.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by blackbat » Fri May 19, 2017 6:40 pm

10/10 Twinsen. while you're at it, comb through every GUI. Recipes in inventory and machines should name components and products. With some mods it's hard to tell.

And maybe make the recipe search output two sections: components and products

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by ibeatbabybiters » Fri May 19, 2017 6:41 pm

I've experienced everything described in the article when I started to play Factorio a few weeks ago, plus many, many more issues. I almost gave up on this game after a few days because I simply could not get used to the UI and the way how it worked. The hardest thing for me, and I guess this could be just me, was E and Q. It totally messed with my muscle memory because I'm used to hit a single key in other games to deselect something or close a panel/dialog, and so I kept hitting E while I meant Q and vice versa for the first couple of days. But a bit later I understood why it's useful to have both keys. So in the end I'm glad I persisted and got used to all the quirks, because Factorio really is an awesome game with an endless depth.

I saw some really sophisticated and useful UIs in some mods, like the Advanced Logistic Networks mod, and I kept wondering why the game itself had such a sparse UI (but of course the game got a better logistic network UI in 0.15 two weeks after I bought it :D). And to be honest, I think almost everything presented in the article could be implemented today through the modding API (I know you can't mod the in-game panels directly, but you could probably re-implement them almost 1:1 in Lua). So my far fetched guess is that the devs implement their UI in native C++ instead of Lua, which I know first hand is not a simple task (I work with developers who have to code native Winodws UIs in C++ & WTL)

So as a (spoiled) web developer myself I got curious and wanted to see how the UI is exposed through the Lua API and so I started to look through the source code of some mods. First positive surprise was Lua itself, which is very similar to JavaScript. But then I got immediately thrown back into the `90s web development era, with it's imperative and procedural DOM manipulation style, even long before libraries like jQuery were born :)

And so I was thinking if it would not be possible to create a better UI abstraction layer in Lua, think of something like a much simpler version of React or Vue.js. I think this could be possible, especially thanks to Lua's first class functions, closures and tables, but I can't say for sure yet because I haven't dug deep enough.
This could greatly simplify UI coding, and allow for rapid prototyping and testing of new ideas.

But I can totally understand why the GUI didn't have had much priority so far. There is so much more stuff going on under the hood, which is way more important at first than a nice and user friendly GUI.
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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by dj4am » Fri May 19, 2017 6:43 pm

Inwoods wrote:These are all really fantastic.

As for F1 etc on laptops, people can rebind if desired.
Defaults shouldn't exclude anyone. If you want to use the F-Keys, you can rebind. Trying to make a UI intuitive shouldn't require X% of users to go edit keybindings or not have a given functionality, especially since this is such an easy problem to avoid.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by topforce » Fri May 19, 2017 6:43 pm

I don't think that random stuff in toolbar is an issue since it is otherwise simply empty and does nothing useful, and there is a chance that the item is just what I need.
Putting your entire inventory in a chest while keeping your toolbar inventory is no longer possible
Filtered items should be excluded or there should be an option to exclude them, same with requested items.
Not entirely convinced about separate crafting and logistics tabs,there is enough space to display everything as is(at leas at 1080 resolution), and splitting thing up might slow down the player on the other hand tabs could be expanded upon.
Character tab should display equipped armor grid, and extra weapons slots since they don't take up space in ui out of menu (maybe researchable).
Logistics tab might display contents of logistic network you are in.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Alanore » Fri May 19, 2017 6:46 pm

After reading this FFF, you have no choice but to make those changes happen. I've never understand why existing quickbar system works like this. I played 550h+ factorio and i want those changes since 1st hour of my gameplay. You devs never let me down before with your decisions about the change, i trust you with this one too. Don't be scared, make it happen. We're ready ;)

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by NeilN » Fri May 19, 2017 6:47 pm

"...while everything else is just random junk put there by the game." Not always. I usually keep one or two slots free so that they're filled with whatever I've picked up to move.

If you're reworking the quickbar how about adding functionality where a click on the middle grey part will open the inventory window?

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Demongornot » Fri May 19, 2017 6:49 pm

I like those idea !
"The granularity of 2 inventories is lost. Putting your entire inventory in a chest while keeping your toolbar inventory is no longer possible"
Why not having another command or a button (probably next to the "filters") that transfer everything except filtered objects to a chest or only filtered object to player inventory ?

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Nemoricus » Fri May 19, 2017 6:49 pm

I like most of these changes. However, requiring the player to open up the inventory and go to the character tab to see their armor and ammo is a bad idea. You may not often need this information, but when you do, you need it immediately. Running out of ammo in the middle of a fight is a very bad thing.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by srhuston » Fri May 19, 2017 6:50 pm

I like it - especially since I play on a Mac laptop and without an external device I don't believe I can properly click to filter things in the quickbar.

And think of it this way, you're making change on the experimental branch of the game, so now is the time to make changes that might upset or confuse. Those of us who went to the trouble to get that version I think should be OK with the idea that big changes could happen.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by torham » Fri May 19, 2017 6:50 pm

I support all of the proposed changes.I especially like the idea of reserving slots in inventory to make them safe from autosort.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by theRustyKnife » Fri May 19, 2017 6:51 pm

I can't believe no one has expressed delightment about the sorting options?
I mean, that's one of the things that has bothered me about the inventory by far the most since I started playing. The idea has been here forever, suggested multiple times by different people.
Hell, I even made a mod for it, which makes me think - will there be a shortcut for sorting? I feel like without it, it's a bit too clunky to always have to mouse to the tiny button... If not, at least allow mods to trigger and toggle the sorting, so we could have that if desired.

I would also like to +1 the tab pinning idea. I think that would solve all the arguments against tabs brought up here.

Aside from that, I love the changes and this FFF was just a really good read in general.
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Last edited by theRustyKnife on Fri May 19, 2017 6:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by Sigma1 » Fri May 19, 2017 6:52 pm

I quite like the new quickbar concept. another thing that would be nice to see related to the UI is some upgrades to the weapon slots (for example some research for increasing the count of them)
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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by andywankenobi » Fri May 19, 2017 6:53 pm

Mango wrote:This is nice but I'm raiding biter nests I usually use more weapons, so it would be nice to see how much ammo do I have for all my weapons and what weapon is currently selected.
If you want to see the available amount of non-equipped ammunition, you could add it to the toolbar. You can also add weapons to the toolbar for quick switching between them. Although it seems like it could be tricky to switch both weapon and ammo. Presumably the game would need to remember the last ammo equipped for the weapon, but then you may need a fast way to switch to another. I think this requires some more thought for fast and predictable weapon changes

Note, dedicating a toolbar to weapons and ammo would probably require multiple bars. Have one dedicated to combat along side bars for other scenarios.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by houkime » Fri May 19, 2017 6:56 pm

For easy making ghosts without things at hand I propose some form of Ghost Pipette.
A pipette which returns ghost. Probably shift-Q.

I don't like the tabs system. All at once is good for me. Less clicks and less frustration.

Also there needs to be a way to fill ghosts quicker. Pipette allows it, but it is too slow this way. I propose holding Shift-LMB or sth like that to fill the ghost under the cursor. Dream is to be able to do it while running.

... and being able to draw belts like pipes without need to rotate manually... just to draw them in the needed direction. With some toggle for cases when you want to fix orientation.

There are a lot of small improvements that could just skyrocket playing speed and reduce fatigue leaving more player's powers for careful design and planning.
Last edited by houkime on Fri May 19, 2017 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #191 - Gui improvements

Post by ledow » Fri May 19, 2017 6:56 pm

To be honest, most of what annoys me about the way the inventory UI works was quite obvious. The filter vs. actual item thing was always frustrating.

The other "human interface" bits that remain annoying for me are:

- Building circuit networks. It's never easy to see what's going to tie into what and how. Could be fixed by more of a "glow" of whatever I'm joining (building coloured red/green as I hover?). Also, why do I lose the green/red wires on destruction? It just means I can't afford to make mistakes if I'm trying to build them and aren't carrying a ton of copper.
- Key for vehicle deployment. There should be a vehicle setup to just press, say, V and out pops your tank and plonks whatever it last had inside back into it (fuel, ammo, cargo). Then when you are outside but near a vehicle and press V again, it just picks it all back up.
- Upgrading belts - there's no way to get the drones to just go out and upgrade, or even selectively upgrade everything within a blueprint. A horrible, manual process ensues, including hoping you don't make a mistake with the direction on complicated junctions and then not notice everything grind to a halt or mix product you don't want mixed.
- Drones - I can pick them up if they are trying to deliver to me when I'm trying to build. I end up with tons of bots in my inventory that were bringing me things, and all my alerts go off for "you don't have enough bots".
- Pylons still don't drag properly, especially on diagonals.
- Underground pipes also don't drag properly, it only works if you start from a brand new pipe and drag, otherwise you end up with a pipe right near you and then another 12-spaces away.
- No sulphuric icon should show on uranium miners that don't have it. It's not obvious to a new person why they aren't pumping.
- There should be a silence alert keyboard button, especially if you have alerts that are long term (e.g. build bots until a minimum is reached - get a big fight and you can have the alert going off for ages).
- Un-matched underground belts/pipes should have an error icon overlay on them. There's NO use for half-a-tunnel, but they can be hard to spot in messy setups.
- Nuclear rockets don't fire when you would expect. You have to be facing the target, have it lit up green and then press Space/C. Sometimes you can think you're doing all those but the player's character is facing off and nothing fires - not good in a panic.
- Your carried ammo should appear in the tank slots if there's space - nothing more annoying that running back to tank shooting, jump in tank and drive off and it's too difficult to put some ammo back in the tank while moving.
- Trains should have a Nnnnerrr-Nerr sound if the player is near. Too easy to not notice them but you would freeze if they could play a sound as they approach a player.
- How do you tell a ghost building that it should have a module in it, e.g. when building ghosts via the map? I couldn't see a way. But you can ghost-plan buildings with modules easily enough using existing blueprints.

I'm sure they are tons of others, but none of them really relate to "the game" as such, just to the way the player interacts with things. And I found them all counter-intuitive. The more complex things (train schedules, deconstruction blueprint filters, etc.) can be done in tutorials because there is no easy way to show them, I don't think, but the above are all first-time-player frustrations that still haunt me hundreds of hours and dozens of games in.
Last edited by ledow on Fri May 19, 2017 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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