Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, May 19, 2014

In Which Comfortable UI Trumps Interesting Progression

So Scooter and I had the talk last night. You know, the one where gamer couples decide whether to play a game or not. Those of you without the blessing of having your significant other playing with you simply decide whether you will or will not play a game. When another person is involved in the decision, it becomes a negotiation. Since so much of your game time is spent with the other person, you are likely to play games which you feel "meh" about but that your partner loves. Or you may end up foregoing a game you like because your partner can't stand playing it.
For me, the worst part of The Elder Scrolls Online was the reticle-aiming UI. After writing my review, I had one more opportunity to return to TESO, and was even more frustrated by the UI, deciding then and there that I would not be playing. Scooter was of a similar mind, and we let it pass us by—even though everyone else seems to be playing, and I heard from someone on Twitter whom I cannot now remember that there is an addon that enables MMO style mouse targeting and navigation. (A choice TSW has as part of the default client.) But I loved the concept behind TESO's progression system and how every class can use any type of weapon or armor, leading to interesting combinations like archer tanks and healing rogues. (I've heard that it's not as completely wide open as Skyrim, but pretty close.) And the lore/world looked interesting enough.

But that darn UI. Just nope. On Belghast's Aggrochat, a frequent theme can be paraphrased as "playing the game, not the UI," and I agree, though maybe not quite the way they think. When the moment-to-moment functionality of moving through and interacting with the environment is frustrating, not much else matters.

Wildstar, on the other hand, has very pedestrian progression. Each class has access to a single weapon type, for instance. However, the UI is something I am far more comfortable with. It's easy to move, and easy to interact with the environment. I hope to avoid needing the many action bars that the UI provides, but we'll see. Others have commented that the garish colors and frenetic environment of Wildstar are a distraction; and while I don't disagree, exactly, I do think it fits the humorous, irreverent style of the game. The story and world are intriguing, though I have issues with some of the design decisions made by the devs. I'll cover the cons in more detail later, but the pros are definitely there.

We've gone back and forth over Wildstar several times over the course of the open beta. I'll have a fullish review up soon, but wanted to post this now, since it's a slightly different topic. Then there's the subscription. Both Scooter and I are reluctant to sub again after almost two years of not needing a sub in any game we were playing. I'm still not sure we'll play past the first month. In the end, Wildstar has won us over, grudgingly. She likes the game, and the game works on the laptop I am currently using, with the video turned all the way down. So we've decided to "buy the box" at least and see how it goes from there.
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  1. Oh that's really interesting, the thing about a mod for TESO that lets you play it like a real MMO. I agree with you that having a significant other who also plays MMOs does make for a very different dynamic when it comes to choosing what games to play.

    Mrs Bhagpuss and I don't always play the same MMOs and when we do play the same ones we by no means always play together. Mrs B tends to stick to one at a time while I play anything up to half a dozen concurrently but we do usually play the same main MMO at any given time. The UI is probably the number one deciding factor on what MMOs we can play together. While I prefer a mouse&hot key set-up, I can adapt to just about any UI but she really can't be doing with anything that veers far from the MMO gold standard.

    The worst experience we ever had was probably FFXI, which has a nightmarish interface on PC, designed for a game controller. I painstakingly taught myself how to use it and became fairly comfortable, then tried to persuade Mrs B to try it. She spent an entire weekend struggling with it and it was not a fun time for anyone! In the end we abandoned any idea of playing it together and within a couple of weeks I stopped playing and have never gone back.

    I think we'd probably both enjoy TESO if it wasn't for the reticule UI. If I knew for certain that there was a mod that would fix that problem then I'm pretty sure we'd give it the game a try, although possibly not before the inevitable transition to F2P.

    As for WildStar, it has a massively customizeable UI. You can turn almost everything off, including all the telegraphs if you want. How playable it would be then I wouldn't like to say. I was going to try it in beta but I never got around to it.

    1. Yes, it's almost too easy to customize the WS UI. I can't tell you how many times I moved my character portrait accidentally.

      I will see if I can find the conversation about the TESO UI mod. My research access is limited right now.