Author Topic: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen  (Read 1898 times)

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Online IchoTolot

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I was thinking about an issue that Strato mentioned about the new formats.

I agree with the current system that the empty space between the pre level screen information lines was too much in the old format and it made extracting that info more difficult.

Now I think we've got the other extrem though. The text is too dense and it affects the information extraction process as well. Also it looks a bit worse.

My suggestion: Try the middle ground! Maybe using only half or a third of the old formats empty space.

In my opinion both new and old format versions of the info text have their flaws and the middle ground could be the optimal solution for easily readable information here + it also could help improving the visual attractiveness. :)

Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2018, 05:40:20 pm »
Changes like this would be a lot easier, if I had any knowledge about how the text positioning works. Up to now all such changes were made by namida. Although I suspect that it is possible to have half-line gaps, I am not even totally sure the current text-writing method actually supports this.

Online namida

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2018, 07:41:04 pm »
Changes like this would be a lot easier, if I had any knowledge about how the text positioning works. Up to now all such changes were made by namida. Although I suspect that it is possible to have half-line gaps, I am not even totally sure the current text-writing method actually supports this.

It does. #13 in the internal text string represents a full new line. This is expected behaviour. (Note that the code does NOT recognize #10. This is how Lemmix was written and I just never changed it. Supporting #10 as well would be easy to implement - TGameBaseScreen.DrawPurpleText, in the "case" statement, change "#13" to "#10, #13". With that being said, this does not affect files - the text-format file parser can handle any common line ending. The supporting-#13-only is ONLY relevant to the input strings for drawing menu screen text.)

However, during development of the talisman screen, I needed - and thus implemented - a "half new line", which uses #12. This works the same as a regular new line, except the text position is only moved down half a line for the next line. If you do something like "This is#12a test", there'll be a bit of overlap between the two lines. But if we have a case that's currently "This is#13#13a test", that would currently produce "This is", followed by a blank line, followed by "a test". If we change this to "This is#13#12a test" (or #12#13, doesn't matter), the result will be the same but with only a half-line gap between them.

So basically - support for half-lines is there, the preview screen's text just needs to be modified to make use of it.

In the case of the preview screen, TGamePreviewScreen.GetScreenText is where you want to look. The code that generates the talisman graphic / text is conveniently seperated into a sub-function, so you don't need to worry about breaking that. :) Do note though - this function or rendering functions do NOT automatically add padding lines; they are achieved by adding extra blank lines when constructing the text.
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Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2018, 10:05:13 pm »
Thanks for bringing this up, IchoTolot! ;)

I actually find it easier to extract information if the lines are further apart. Especially as someone who likes to write walls of text ^^, I know how breaking up different types of information into different paragraphs makes things more easily legible. And since the numbers of lemmings, the save requirement, release rate, time limit, author, and rank are all different types of information, I'd prefer them as different "paragraphs", i.e. with some space in between. And especially not the rank name plastered randomly right beneath the level title! :devil:

Yes, how much space there should be between the lines is certainly debatable, though I'd think we already have less space than original Lemmings due to the optional author line? Though it could be that original Lemmings just left the bottom line blank, so that there was some space between the last line and the "press mouse button to continue" command.

My main reason for empathy towards the design in New Formats would be the need of space for displaying talisman information. But given the recent survey and how few people seem to actually care about talismans, combined with the fact that the majority of levels does not have talismans anyway, I think the old approach of having the talismans in a separate menu for those interest to view is more appropriate. There's no need to sacrifice visual clarity and aesthetics for everyone on every level for the minority that cares about talismans on a minority of levels ;) .
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Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2018, 04:07:47 pm »
Ok, with namida's help here, I am now able to add half-line spaces. However I personally don't care one bit about the visual appearance of the title screen and personally see no problem with the current layout, which makes me a terrible person to implement these changes. If I am left alone, I will almost certainly manage to mess this up again (at least in your eyes ;)) and I really don't want to change the preview screen time and again.
So before I start implementing any changes, I would like one of you (especially IchoTolot or Stato Incendus) to post mock images how you would envision the preview screen. It would be perfect if you could give me images both for a level without talismans and for a level with a talisman. When making these mock images, please take the following points into account as well:
1) In what order would you like to have the information about the level?
2) How should the respective information be displayed, e.g. "10 To be saved" or "To be saved: 10" or "Lemmings to be saved: 10" or...
3) How should these information alingn? Should all of them be centered? Should all of them be left-aligned? Should the numbers align? Something else?

Once we all agreed on one perfect design for the preview screen, I will try to implement it (or at least get as close as possible to that).

Online IchoTolot

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2018, 07:37:27 pm »
Ok, as my goal is simply some space in between lines I just did that to a standard titlescreen in my image.

I measured a line as ~ 48 pixels and added 24 pixels of space in between the lines. Then I filled out the white space with copy pasted background (looks a bit weird :P).

I have no idea how talismans affect this, as I don't really have ever seen talisman text there + I can't find a level with it. I would simply just add the space there as well though.



Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2018, 07:49:09 pm »
We can certainly use this if there is no talisman for that level. But with a talisman, there is no longer enough space for it. I attached a preview screen with a talisman description, just as it is displayed right now.

PS: Note that this type of talisman description gets shortened when repacked with a newer pack toolkit, but it nicely shows how much text there can be for the talisman.

Online IchoTolot

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2018, 07:56:52 pm »
Then I simply suggest the standard screen without extra space for talismans.

This way we get more visual differences when a talisman is there, highlighting it even more.

So my idea:

No talisman --> Half a line of extra space in between lines. Like my mock image.

Talisman --> Dense text and up to 3 extra text lines for the talisman. Just as the standard now. Maybe just add an extra half a line of space between level title and rank as this seemed Strato's main point of critic and we seem to have half a line of space still left over ;)

But let's see possible suggestions from other people now. ;)

Online namida

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2018, 08:03:57 pm »
I measured a line as ~ 48 pixels and added 24 pixels of space in between the lines. Then I filled out the white space with copy pasted background (looks a bit weird :P).

Each character, before being upscaled to fit your screen size, is exactly 16x16, and there's no extra padding between lines / characters (instead, the characters just have some blank space in that 16x16 graphic). I believe the internal resolution of menu screens is 640x480, but I'm really not 100% sure on this. (It's 640x350 in DOS or Lemmix, but I'm almost certian I changed this to a more-normal size in NeoLemmix at some point, and 640x480 seems like the most likely candidate there.)
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Offline Proxima

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2018, 10:57:38 pm »
I agree with Icho. Possibly there could be an option to never show the talisman info, if there are players who don't care about talismans at all.

Another thought I had: is it necessary to show the release rate on the preview screen? That feels like it's mostly there because of tradition. Then again, removing it wouldn't be enough to solve the current problem on its own.

Online namida

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2018, 11:13:30 pm »
Quote
Another thought I had: is it necessary to show the release rate on the preview screen? That feels like it's mostly there because of tradition. Then again, removing it wouldn't be enough to solve the current problem on its own.

This is actually an excellent point. Time limits are the exception rather than the rule, and displaying them on the preview screen feels important when they exist. Every level has a release rate, though, and even if you don't look at the value, you notice it very quickly. It's not really any different to that the skillset isn't displayed on the preview screen either.

I would wait and see what others say here, but personally I would not object to it being removed from the preview screen (unless the skillset were also to be displayed, in which case I would argue the release rate should definitely be displayed along with it).
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Offline Nessy

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2018, 11:35:36 pm »
In my experience I don't really pay attention to the Release Rate on the title screen except if it's something like 99. Even then I really don't know how the release rate is going to affect what will happen on the level itself until I actually start playing it and getting a feel for it. For example, if a level says the release rate is 85 and I see on the preview screen that the lemmings are going to head into danger, I really don't know if the 85 release rate is going to be an actual problem until I actually start the level. When I start the level I might see something I couldn't on the preview screen or I might see the skillset and the skillset might actually help me out a little more to handle the release rate than I thought at first.

Much like a lot of these discussions I don't really have a strong opinion for or against, so I do not object to it being removed :)

Offline nin10doadict

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2018, 03:10:45 am »
Perhaps there need only be one line dedicated to talismans; just display a line like "This level has a talisman" or something like that. Then again, that might cause irritation in not knowing what it is upon seeing that line and having to go check the talisman list to figure it out.

As for release rate, it could probably be left out. RR is something the player tends to notice quickly upon starting the level and they don't really get a feel for how it will affect things until they dive in, as Nessy mentioned.

Online IchoTolot

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2018, 08:03:55 am »
I have an issue with removing the RR line, not because of personal preference though: It drags attention to it and I would deem this a big advantage in the case of new players.

New players will notice the preview text line and see the term "Release Rate" and a dedicated number to it. This greatly increases the chance the player will use and understand the numbers in the bottom left corner. Also the term "locked" apprears there as well.
+ I think it was always criticised that newer players sometimes miss this function and this line helps getting that number down.

So I would leave this line of information in there to help newer players understand the term and function of the RR (SI) and also I would call it nice to know in advance anyway. ;P

Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2018, 10:12:02 am »
Possibly there could be an option to never show the talisman info, if there are players who don't care about talismans at all.
No, this is far too unimportant to waste global options on it.

Perhaps there need only be one line dedicated to talismans; just display a line like "This level has a talisman" or something like that. Then again, that might cause irritation in not knowing what it is upon seeing that line and having to go check the talisman list to figure it out.
Warning: Some general game theory follows!
There is one big rule, namely to actively lead players towards actual game-play once they started your game. So for the same reason we write at the bottom of the preview screen
  Click mouse to start the level
(or something similar) instead of
  Click mouse to start the level or F2 to select another level or F3 to change your options
we should either completely remove the talisman info again, or keep the talisman description. Everything else would be to say
  Hey, check out that talisman menu instead of playing the level!
which we certainly don't want to do.

Another thought I had: is it necessary to show the release rate on the preview screen? That feels like it's mostly there because of tradition. Then again, removing it wouldn't be enough to solve the current problem on its own.
Yes, together with the author name, this is probably the least relevant piece of information. Regarding IchoTolot's point: Is "Release Rate 40" or "Spawn Interval 20" really so informative to new users, who encounter this for the first time? In my opinion the biggest UX problem with the RR is, that changing it does not give an immediate feedback to the player. And displaying it on the preview screen doesn't help much in that regard.
So I tend to prefer removing the RR info from the preview screen.

Online IchoTolot

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2018, 10:22:12 am »
Quote
In my opinion the biggest UX problem with the RR is, that changing it does not give an immediate feedback to the player. And displaying it on the preview screen doesn't help much in that regard.

Different idea then: We've got hatch markers. Maybe display the current RR there (with a lock icon for locked rates) could help players make the connection.

As far as for the "Author" field goes. There I am strictly against touching that. Credit to those who deserve the credit on a level! Even if it's no gameplay relevant information, I would like to see which person(s) created the level.

Offline Dullstar

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2018, 05:15:56 pm »
One suggestion to handle the talisman display issue might be to implement a way to enforce talisman conditions. This would be useful in solving them as well, as the new requirements (e.g. harsher save requirements, complete level without using any builders) would be shown in level.

Of course, the talisman should still be awarded if the conditions are met without being enforced.

You could also go with the "This level has a talisman" option suggested earlier, and then display the talisman text in place of the other information when this text is hovered over.

Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2018, 06:53:08 pm »
One suggestion to handle the talisman display issue might be to implement a way to enforce talisman conditions. This would be useful in solving them as well, as the new requirements (e.g. harsher save requirements, complete level without using any builders) would be shown in level.
There are a few problems with this: Apart from the coding and possibly UI/UX issues, the main one are talisman conditions like "Use at most X skills in total". How would you display this info?

You could also go with the "This level has a talisman" option suggested earlier, and then display the talisman text in place of the other information when this text is hovered over.
In theory this would be certainly worth some considerations, but the current menu display just isn't flexible by far to accomodate such things.

Online namida

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2018, 07:46:43 pm »
Quote
There are a few problems with this: Apart from the coding and possibly UI/UX issues, the main one are talisman conditions like "Use at most X skills in total". How would you display this info?

As far as a way that's easy to implement goes, my suggestion:

- On preview screen, display "Total Skill Limit: X"
- In-game, when checking a skill's count (including for rendering the skill panel), instead of just using "GetSkillCount(spbSkill)" directly, use the lesser of that or the remaining number of skill uses before hitting the limit.
- Perhaps, when a skill is limited by the total skill uses rather than its own uses (for example, if you have 5 builders remaining, but you have 5 or less total skill uses remaining), display the skill count in red.

Secondary suggestion: As much as I don't like the idea of it being a core game mechanic, restricting such a feature to a "talisman mode" seems like an artificial restriction. If this were to be implemented, a total-skill-limit may as well become a core gameplay feature.

I believe the total skill limit, is the only remaining talisman condition that would pose a problem for enforcing. Aside from that, we have save requirements, time limits and single-skill limits, all of which are just tighter versions of the level's standard rules.
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Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2018, 09:36:24 am »
Regarding the original issue: I implemented IchoTolot's suggestion and removed the release rate info. See the attached image for the new look.

Secondary suggestion: As much as I don't like the idea of it being a core game mechanic, restricting such a feature to a "talisman mode" seems like an artificial restriction. If this were to be implemented, a total-skill-limit may as well become a core gameplay feature.
I, too, don't think "max total number of skills" adds much towards regular gameplay. And it has the additional problem of how to display this. I really don't want to force people to count their skills in the regular gameplay (for talismans, I feel it's ok). So we kind of need a total skill counter just for this purpose, which takes up space in the game play area, and I am very hesitant about using such space for stuff with very questionable value.

Different idea then: We've got hatch markers. Maybe display the current RR there (with a lock icon for locked rates) could help players make the connection.
Simon tried this in Lix, and it wasn't really a success there. But on the other hand, NeoLemmix already has other hatch markers, so people may already be used to them.
There is a bigger issue though: When there is a number at a hatch, I would expect it to display the number of lemmings (still) coming out of this hatch, not the release rate. So in addition to the number itself (which might take up to three characters if using spawn intervals) we need a neat icon representing the release rate. All of that would result in a lot of markers floating around, and even now it feels to me like we are displaying too many icons around hatches.

Offline Proxima

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2018, 10:57:03 am »
Also, NeoLemmix still has changeable release rate, so it makes a lot of sense for indicators of the current RR to be grouped with the buttons that modify it.

Offline Strato Incendus

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2018, 10:50:26 pm »
I'm seeing this for the first time now, thanks to Proxima for linking it to me! ;)

This does look much better - but only because the talisman info takes up so much of the space. Without it, now that the release rate info is removed, it would look even more empty than before. Less squashed perhaps, but still empty.
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Offline Proxima

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2018, 01:17:51 pm »
I think it could still do with further improvement.

There's a small space between the level title and position, since these are closely related, then a larger space before the number of lemmings. Similarly, there's a larger space separating the talisman info from the rest. But these two larger spaces aren't the same size. Together with the compressed spacing within the talisman info, that's four different spacing sizes in a single display. And the biggest problem is still that the top line is too close to the level image.

Do we really need the "Press mouse button to continue" line? I would drop that to give the rest more space to spread out. (Either that, or allow talismans to have only one restriction, with "at most N of each skill" still allowed. I like that idea anyway for simplicity, but I don't know to what extent that would affect existing packs.)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 01:50:48 pm by Proxima »

Offline Nepster

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Re: [Sug][Player] Adding a bit more space between lines in pre level screen
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2018, 06:08:45 pm »
While I really value your input and your points do make sense, I have to say one thing:
This situation is exactly why I wanted people to post mock-ups of their preferred preview screen up-front, so that we can discuss the best layout before I do any changes. Personally I don't really care about the layout and I don't really want to adapt it every version until we find a layout everyone is happy with.

Upshot is: Don't expect any further changes soon, unless a lot of people chime in and ask for the same things.