Style vs Information

Style vs Information


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Uzuki

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So I'm in a bit of a predicament here on a design decision I have to make involving on whether I make pleasingly stylish battle menu that just gives the player the basic information or the basic RM menu but with access to a lot more on-hand information. I'm using the amazing Olivia's State Tooltip plugin that lets you hover over the state and pops up information about the state like you would find in a Western RPG. But sadly this plugin isn't compatible with a lot of other hud plugins so if I used one then the player would lose access to that information. Luckily you can still view this information in the battlescreen status menu thanks to a Yanfly plugin, but it'll only show the state information inflicted on the player character.

Now the only reason this is a conflicting issue for me because (A) There are a fairly large amount of states in the game with varying effects and (B) I want to keep players from having to constantly reference manuals, inside and outside of the game, to know what is what and try to keep their attention on the main focus of the game. Which would be fine if I weren't trying to sell this game and get none RPG Maker users to buy and play it too. We all know and deal with the stigma if any of our games use the RTP assets and how that turns off some people no matter how good or different the actual game is. And yes I'm aware of the reality that come with making and selling games, actual sale numbers, etc etc, but seeing as players can spend a fair bit of time in battles a little eye candy wouldn't be a bad thing.

So what are your thoughts on this? Would it be better to have a nice looking UI, but with limited information or the regular battle menu but constant access to information? As a player, what do you prefer?
 

TheoAllen

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Plugin aside (because it really needs to get moved to the appropriate channel if you want to get it to work), why not both? While I do prefer the data first, but the poll implies "as long as it looks cool, data ain't important".

So what are your thoughts on this? Would it be better to have a nice looking UI, but with limited information or the regular battle menu but constant access to information? As a player, what do you prefer?
My thought is that how you present data is to determine which data is important to the player and which ones aren't. Then design the UI based on that decision. You can present all kinds of information to the player, as convoluted as showing the damage formula, however, many games do not do this because it is not relevant to the players. What they need to know is that the bigger the number, the better, usually that information is enough.

So, in my opinion, the question asked in this topic has no correlation. If it is the technical limitation you're facing, then you should design a game based on the limitation. Determine a kind of design that does not need the player to know extra information. If you need extra information shown, then design the appropriate UI.

Then again, if you force me to choose the choice, I'd pick data. But I don't want an ugly convoluted menu either.
 

Kuro DCupu

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It depends on your overall game focus. If it's more heavy and inclined toward storytelling, then the visual should be lighter and appealing. If the strong point is on the mechanic and data interconnection, yeah, I'm gonna need as much information I needed to know. The rest should calculated toward your market target.
Attaining balance between them is only when you are confident in every aspect of your game.
 

Silva

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I'm probably a strange case. I love finding out about what's happening in a game (formulas, new states etc), far more than I do about how the game looks. What would really kill it for me though is if the menus weren't navigable.

If it were up to me, I'd probably have a relatively simple menu with the option to hold a button or toggle a switch in some way that could open an additional window that showed me extra information on the skill or state I'm hovering over or selecting in a menu. This way when I'm encountering things I'm already familiar with my screen is laid out in a simple way and I can easily find/do what I need to do, but if I need to get more information I can get it quickly without having to wait until after the battle is over to refer to the in-game manual, or open an external document.

The need for the extra information will boil down to what mechanics you have and how your game actually plays. I'm very unlikely to need that extra information if your game uses the same basic states and skills that other rpg games do, especially if the game isn't balanced/difficult/complicated/gimmicky enough to merit me knowing the finer details.

Bottom line, give me the info I need when I need it and let me get rid of it when I don't.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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I agree with others have said. So I'll just add that, if you plan on selling the game, maybe go the extra mile to get your plugins working together by hiring a coder so you don't have to choose between style and function; have both!
 

Uzuki

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I agree with others have said. So I'll just add that, if you plan on selling the game, maybe go the extra mile to get your plugins working together by hiring a coder so you don't have to choose between style and function; have both!
Yeah I'm planning on that if I come across anything more serious comes up. Right now it's better to focus on getting the framework done and making the game then wasting time and money on every bug that pops up.
 

Wavelength

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Given the choice between possibly insufficient/confusing information and nice aesthetics, versus complete information and barebones aesthetics, give me complete information every time!
A stylish look can go a long way, but it can't overcome the frustration of not understanding what something is supposed to do, or being given a very rude (and unfair) awakening when you find out it does something different than you inferred. Players appreciate having the information they need right at their fingertips. Yeah, the barebones menu doesn't look great in your marketing screenshots - so just don't include those menus in your marketing screenshots!

Working with a coder to implement fully-custom menus that look the way you want, do what you want, and show the information you want to show is an option that you can look into if you are planning to go commercial with you game. Just be careful about going this route. What I found was that once I re-did several of the game's menus and screens, the "default" ones felt really dinky by comparison - and so I felt I had to re-do those as well. The end product was a near-complete overhaul of the game's GUI and menus (about 90% of the game's windows and screens were changed!), which took about two years and cost a few thousand dollars between the programming help and the GUI art. It looks awesome, it feels great to play, and it provides the information that I want my player to have, but you have to decide whether that time and money is worth it.

Also, since this is more of a game development issue than a game mechanic, let's move it over to Game Dev General Discussion.

 

Uzuki

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Given the choice between possibly insufficient/confusing information and nice aesthetics, versus complete information and barebones aesthetics, give me complete information every time!
A stylish look can go a long way, but it can't overcome the frustration of not understanding what something is supposed to do, or being given a very rude (and unfair) awakening when you find out it does something different than you inferred. Players appreciate having the information they need right at their fingertips. Yeah, the barebones menu doesn't look great in your marketing screenshots - so just don't include those menus in your marketing screenshots!

Working with a coder to implement fully-custom menus that look the way you want, do what you want, and show the information you want to show is an option that you can look into if you are planning to go commercial with you game. Just be careful about going this route. What I found was that once I re-did several of the game's menus and screens, the "default" ones felt really dinky by comparison - and so I felt I had to re-do those as well. The end product was a near-complete overhaul of the game's GUI and menus (about 90% of the game's windows and screens were changed!), which took about two years and cost a few thousand dollars between the programming help and the GUI art. It looks awesome, it feels great to play, and it provides the information that I want my player to have, but you have to decide whether that time and money is worth it.
This is where I'm at right now. I'm personally fine with the default menu, especially now that there's actually important information that can be relayed there, but for a commercial product I have to have something that visually differentiates from other RM games at a glance if I want to catch eyes and have people feel ok about supporting my game. For the marketing I prefer to not leave out screenshots like that because they can be a selling point if it's showing things that would be important to the game and give a feel for what the game is like. Also I don't need or want to be accused of making bullshots and tricking people.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Ideally, I'd say info > graphics for a RPG. I also like having fun with item and skill descriptions, which can spruce up menus in a natural way. For turn-based JRPGs, an entertaining pun or a bit of lore in a description goes a long way. In action-RPGs where you need a basic description, that's fine.

However, as long as the menu's flashiness doesn't get in the way of displaying vital game information, a menu with a little more pizzazz can be nice too. But a bog-standard RM menu and non-obtrustive window skin is serviceable.
 

Wavelength

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For the marketing I prefer to not leave out screenshots like that because they can be a selling point if it's showing things that would be important to the game and give a feel for what the game is like. Also I don't need or want to be accused of making bullshots and tricking people.
Not too many people will complain if some menus (especially ones for your custom mechanics) look beautiful and others look basic, or even janky. Ideally, artistically, you'll have all of them at the same high quality, but I don't think people will feel tricked or cheated if most of your game looks good, some menus (that were used in screeenshots) look great, and others (that were left out) look basic - so long as your game delivers the goods on fun and engrossing. :)
 

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