No announcement yet.

FIRAXIS asks for your help on Interface Design...

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • FIRAXIS asks for your help on Interface Design...

    [Well, I just got this e-mail from Blair at Firaxis. This is actually quite exciting because it represents something solid for us to focus on. I can't wait to see all the ideas...(Yin)]

    Hello Everyone,

    I’m Blair Wolf of "FIRAXIS" and I will be doing Interface Design for "Civilization III". This note I’m posting is a call for suggestions of Screens/Features/Icons/Etc specifically for the Report Screens (not the City screens, Main game screen, Opening Interface, Etc). Anything "you" the player would like to see in regards to information displayed unto you in regards to "Report Screens".

    What would enhance your enjoyment of playing the game?

    I suspect I will be receiving quite a bit of email on the subject. So here’s how I would "like" submissions to be formatted.

    1) Please be Brief and to the point…But if illustrating (in words) what you mean helps get your point across, by all means elaborate.

    2) References to other games…Be specific in reference.

    3) Use Constructive Criticism…If you don’t like something, tell me why. If you do like something also tell me why.

    I suppose that this should be enough to start with. I look forward to your suggestions/comments.

    To everyone out there, Be Well and Take care.

    Blair Wolf


    I've been on these boards for a long time and I still don't know what to think when it comes to you -- FrantzX, December 21, 2001

    "Yin": Your friendly, neighborhood negative cosmic force.

  • #2
    I'm a graphic designer for webdesign and advertisement also other graphical departments.

    I suggest making the icons "soft". You can get a soft look if you add a "inner shadow" with the depth of 2, opacity at 50% and blur set at either 2 or 3, for a soft look - as an example of what I mean by soft (in photoshop of course). Use different colours to give identification. Try not to make it too complicated looking.
    Turn the text into links. So say in the City Report view somewhere it says "Tax" Then that word "Tax" would be highlighted yellow and maybe underlined. so when you click on it you go straight to the tax window.

    When you say screens I am guessing you mean the background screens of information on your civilization, Intelligence, city, foriegn advisor. I think instead of having just a background and written words on top of it, you should have a constructed image especially made for each subject.
    So lets say in the stone ages, the information could be carved into stone, or something like that? something to represent the age. In the future you see it on computer. etc.
    Another idea is to have the advisor stand there showing you his/hers report.

    Just try not to make it all look too complicated. use soft colours and make the images look soft.
    Make it all professional looking, top notch, fit for a king type stuff.
    <font size=1 face=Arial color=444444>[This message has been edited by Icedan (edited October 17, 1999).]</font>


    • #3
      Maybe a good approach is to look at interfaces that don't work.

      One major Civ example is Civilization CtP. Harsh bright colours, illogical controls etc.
      (I haven't finished a game yet! yuck!). Improve on that and your halfway towards a winner

      I'm involved in webpage interface design. Especially concepts, look at


      • #4
        Civ2, city status (F1):
        show not only the number of shields a city generates per turn, but also the number of shields which are used effectively for the production box (after subtraction of shields for support)


        • #5
          I have a general comment about the Civ3 'look'. I find Civ2 very 'graphically pleasing'. This means that the colours complement one another. The units are the right size, shape, and colour. The terrain is easily distinguishable from one another yet flow together to create a uniform world. The units do not clash with one another nor the terrain. I hate to say it but I believe that SMAC hurts in all these categories.

          Next, city screens in both SMAC and Civ2 are very nice to work with. All three people who have replyed to this point have excellent points. Basically jof is saying build on Civ3 as SMAC built on Civ2 with respect to info in the city screen (shield, food, energy/gold usage). Yet caution is needed so that this additional info can be presented in an easy and understandable way so that it doesn't become cluttered.

          Lastly, I like Icedan's ideas of making links going to a more in-depth breakdown of the information in question. This is adding upon SMAC's usage of links within the help. Maybe even have the game integrate more as a web game for those people who are connected 24 hours a day. Icedan also has a great idea of creating the complete look and feel of the civ's city screens, menus, displays, etc. more based on its science, religion, economy, etc.

          Basically my ideas are to make sure the game is graphically pleasing (like Civ2 not SMAC), more info with links to detailed info yet not cluttered, and displays based upon social status.



          • #6
            I'd like to have reports on the previous turn's developments available in a ticker window a la SC3K. Things like which prophet began to preach and where, who currently leads the world in trade, what were the results of the Mongolian civil war during the last turn, etc., would all scroll across the bottom of the screen. Each new turn the ticker would refresh its content.

            Also like SC3K, certain words in each bulletin should be linked to the appropriate window/adviser as they scroll by.

            This inteface combines the old Civ I feel of the newspaper with a more contemporary gaming interface -- one that's suitable for the greater complexity Of Civ III.


            • #7
              I like that Ticker idea, and Ingrspin's "looks meet the age" thing. It'd be great to see a stone interface at 4000 BC, with a stone-like ticker going across, and then see a computerized interface in 2000 with a NYSE type ticker for that. Kind of like Age of Kings did, when you advanced to a new age, the interface would change. A new age to be designated by a certain tech.
              “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
              - John 13:34-35 (NRSV)


              • #8
                Did someone say the the interface in CTP was ugly??????

                Come on, its the most beautiful interface of them all! Nice soft graphics with a golden touch.

                The problem with that interface was really that everyone was so into the civ2 interface that they didn't get the ctp interface.
                I had problems with it the first time i played but the 2nd it was alot smoother and later on it was even faster than civ 2.
                But then you had to really try the game to get it, which not alot did. I will not go into details why

                Just dont make the right click menus like those in smac, with alot of useless stuff and all the stuff you used alot was 3 menues away. I don't wanna learn 48 key combos to play a game smoothly.


                • #9
                  For me, I like the interface to completely go away when I don't need it--like when you switch to 'full screen' in a browser. Mini-icons appear and/or things slide off the window until you put the mouse over that edge. Starcraft, for example, uses 1/3 of the screen for its interface. That's waaay too much.

                  And, just like a browser, I would like to be able not only to hide/shrink the interface but be able to customize the menu order or-- like Word 2000--the menus should shift thier hierarchy according to frequency of use, that way the things we do the most are always at the top.

                  Those things would really make the game much nicer and easier to use.
                  I've been on these boards for a long time and I still don't know what to think when it comes to you -- FrantzX, December 21, 2001

                  "Yin": Your friendly, neighborhood negative cosmic force.


                  • #10
                    In column 69 I discussed game design, I think the same approach can be used in interface design. Think of it in terms of creating forms and reports in MS Access.
                    Make a list of all the information you could possibly manipulate in the game. Make an Interface Editor which allows the user to design the interface of his choice, including colors, backgrounds, fonts, sizes, etc. Create a default interface for shipping (or a few to choose from). NOw, if we want to be able to control everything from one giant mega-controlling screen, we can, or if we would rather have a browser type linked screen, we can. Or perhaps we want to make it look like Civ2, etc.
                    I like how Civ2 used standard Windows for it's screens (at least on the main map). That way, you have a lot more freedom. Those of us that use multiple monitors can have lots of information up on the screens at one time.


                    • #11
                      I would like to see little icons above the city on the main map to warn about a problem, like is done for drone riots. I would like to see the same kind of thing for a food deficit, minerals deficit and energy deficit. This would really help manage a large empire as the player would see right away if a city were in a famine or something else.

                      No permanent enemies, no permanent friends.
                      'There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.'"
                      G'Kar - from Babylon 5 episode "Z'ha'dum"


                      • #12
                        I think that each advisor should control the report that deals with his particular area. He/she should be costumed appropriately to the era. It should be optional to turn them off in a scenario. A new advisor should be included for special events (which will undoubtedly be included) or maybe use The King. Colours should be bright. Text shouldn't be dense, but I don't want to see a Spartan display littered with tiny, incomprehensible icons. Think: "like Civ 2, but better." "Nothing like CTP" and "some elements of Civ 1 (far more elaborate reports on history and events)"
                        Interesting Examples: -in SSG's "Warlords 2: Deluxe, there was a report on signifigant events that turn and over history, I liked the little bits of "flavour text" in the "Triumphs" in warlords, ie enemies are never just "killed" they're "slaughtered like sheep".
                        -in the old game "Castles 2: Siege and Conquest" some events and reports would trigger an .avi to play in a window...if u made this accessible to scenario designers it would be doubleplusgood.
                        "Wait a minute..this isn''t FAUX dive, it's just a DIVE!"
                        "...Mangy dog staggering about, looking vainly for a place to die."
                        "sauna stories? There are no 'sauna stories'.. I mean.. sauna is sauna. You do by the laws of sauna." -P.


                        • #13
                          About the CTP interface

                          That 'nice golden, soft interface' is all glare. And calling it soft is correct if you consider a pillow made out of the most expensive feathers, as hard.

                          I have nothing against the game, I unfortunately don't have hours and hours to get 'used' to the interface. And unfortunately that spoilt the game.

                          About the SMAC interface

                          I don't believe SMAC's interface is that complicated. There are no items that are more than two clicks away. It's just the case that there are a lot of them. Does it have a simple menus function? (I can't remember off-hand)

                          This is getting off topic, Ill stop now!


                          • #14
                            what the???????
                            <font size=1 face=Arial color=444444>[This message has been edited by Navarro (edited October 18, 1999).]</font>


                            • #15

                              Slow website, didn't mean to double post
                              <font size=1 face=Arial color=444444>[This message has been edited by Navarro (edited October 18, 1999).]</font>