ChoiceScript UI: What should we look like?


#1

Choice of Games is considering updating the user interface (UI) of ChoiceScript to make it more beautiful and fun to play.

Today, our UI is intended to look like a e-reader, like the Kindle or iBooks app. These apps aren't shockingly beautiful to look at; they mostly don't present any UI at all except the words themselves.

But, for example, maybe we should stop doing that, and adopt a "skeuomorphic" design. For example, we could make the background look more like wood-pulp paper, or, if it's a science-fiction game, make the screen look like a computer terminal.

Have you seen especially good-looking gamebooks, e-readers, or online magazines? What made them look so good, in your opinion? Even better if you can post links to games, apps, and/or just screenshots.

(Or should we just leave it alone, and stay simple?)

Here are a few of the items I'm looking at.


Most hated thing in choice games
New ChoiceScript features for programmers
#2

I'll see about searching up and getting what I found for other such games, but in the main time, the glowing choice button in front of the options in the tin man games would be an amazing addition.

The whole idea of an upgrade is simply perfect. Out of verything I gotta say Undum is the most simplest yet useful aspect on things.IMO. From the layout to the "Inventory" Being at the sides at all times, really save a whole lot on the clicking and such and breaking immersions. And you can't beat that rpg touch on things when stat goes up or down.


#3

Would these changes be optional? Would the player be able to switch between fancy version and the current one?

I remember that Dragon was all fancy, but the games since then have been a lot simpler to look at. The font Dragon uses currently really leaps out at me as strange compared to all of the other games.

I like playing the games with dark text on a light background. (I know some people find it easier on the eyes to read the opposite though.) Admittedly I don't play many of the published games on my tablet so I'm not the best person to be discussing this.

Starship Traveller, for instance, looks annoying to me. Light text, dark background, with a picture on it.

Incidentally this: https://forum.choiceofgames.com/t/help-on-changing-font-size-on-android/6755 seems relevant. (I know it's an old thread). Because I think it's more important that the game's readable, than the game looks pretty. So an easy way to increase (or decrease) the font size while playing on the android.

Also a solution to accidental clicks would be nice, as asked for in this topic https://forum.choiceofgames.com/t/back-button-is-this-possible/6472 I'm not suggesting implementing a back button, just something to safe-guard against it. I find my fingers feel really clumsy if I'm using my tablet and I accidentally skip sections. (That's using the web versions though, I've not used any app versions.)

Also, if you plan to introduce skeumorphic designs, is this something Hosted Games authors are going to have to acquire for themselves?


#4

As an end-user I like how games made with Twine with Sugarcube look and function, authors also have an ability to change the CSS as desired. The ability to hit the browser back button and go backwards a scene is nice smile

I don't have any non-adult examples to link to however. You can mostly find examples over at tfgamesite if you search for html engine however.

Also chyoa .com has some nice design (again also adult content)


#5

@LordofLA Choice of Games have always been anti-back-button. Once you make a choice you're stuck with it forever! Despite the name of that thread I just linked it because of the other issue it presented, accidentally making a wrong choice, whether that be from a mouse accidentally doubleclicking when it shouldn't, or huge fingers and poor hand-eye coordination mashing awkwardly at a screen. And it was more just a thought, that if they're looking into UI things maybe it was slightly relevant.

I do fear games ending up unreadable. Some of the WIP games, where I've seen people fiddle around with the CSS, have looked awful to me. And if Choice of Games are opening up the doors to let the Hosted Games authors do stuff like that, as a player I'd like a choice to switch it to something more neutral.


#6

Yes it has been the development of a double-clicking mouse that made me really appreciate having a back-button option. Playing hero of kendrikstone lead me to discover that a double clicking mouse breaks choicescript games and I end up with a blank page. Still working with vendor support on the mouse issue.


#7

Personally, I'm fine with the current background and would prefer it stay that way. However, if I had to choose a background it'd probably be starship traveler, minus the picture, since, contrary to @FairyGodfeather, I have no problem with light text and a dark background.


#8

I really like the Undum and Inkle ones, but more Undum.


#9

The background would really look good if it looked like an actual paper(if we're talking about in-game),something like Forest Of Doom maybe,but I also think it would be best if it was optional.


#10

I'm all for any kind of visual customization. There's many times I feel as though adding color would help emphasize things. Myself, I would prefer being able to customize the look myself (within reason of course), but having a nice set of templates for the less savvy user would be nice too.


#11

Undum or Frankenstein look like winners to me smiley


#12

This is more of a suggestion for functionality, but an option to go back and be able to revise your choices should be helpful for people who don't want to grind through pages just to see what changes would take place if they'd simply changed one of their decisions. (Or at least a checkpoint system?)

Also, another option to read pages from before without changing the choices should be a thing. If someone wants to re-read the last page because they missed an important part, they shouldn't have to restart the whole thing.


#13

My two big UI wishes:

I would love to be able to use a small selection of different fonts in titles.
I would like a way to go "back" and see what happened before, not "back" and change things. So if I had put down the game for a day or two and returned to it and then was like "Wait, who was this NPC?" I could scroll back through and find out.

I like the skeuomorphic backgrounds, but would put fonts as a higher priority. I really like the faux-paper in Undum, but Forest of Doom is also nice.

One thing I noticed about all of these is that the images are very well placed. It would be great to see some guidelines on the Advanced Choicescript page discussing how image size relates to text size and screen size on different platforms. What image size should I upload if I want it to take up 1/3 of the screen width when aligned left, for example.


#14

Re: Back Button: I'd like that feature too, but I think more important is writers summing things up on the stats screen. Skimming a bunch of text for the last mention of character X is (usually) less useful than having a two sentence blurb noting the important details. There are cases where a blurb is less useful that actually reading the text straight back though.

Re: Images: That's difficult. There's a lot of different platforms and it's difficult to know how everything is going to react on everything, especially without actually having the platforms to test. Images are still relatively untested, right?


#15

For what it is I quite like how it mostly appears already with maybe a few expectations. I mostly play on my phone which obviously has a screen size a lot smaller then a computer, so a feature to increase or decrease text size which i saw @Vendetta implemented in his closed beta, I took full advantage of.
Secondly I'm some what old school when it comes to reading, preferring a book over an eBook any day, unsure if its the look, or feeling the paper or even the actual turning of the paper. now choice of can never change this, but I do quite like the idea of the back ground looking somewhat paper like.


#16

This 'really' appeals to me. Regardless of of what functionality you add, the ability to change the basic presentation would be a huge draw for me. I can imagine using a steno pad look for a school set theme, or a computer interface for a sci-fi game. In adition the ability to hot swap the themes mid game though commands would be amazing. Steno pad for general stuff, but then they access a computer and Boom, it swaps to the computer gui. At the same time you could neatly allow users to override it to their personal favorite, or leave it on 'auto pilot' as set by the game creator.

That's just my two cents. The games are all about the story, but being able to read/play it in your own preferred visual style would be epic. Please do this!

Also i'm on board with Undum for always visual stat/inventory information.


#17

I think instead of a "back button" per se, we have X many chances to undo a choice in case we clicked on the wrong thing. And then once you use up all those chances, you can't undo any more choices. That way you can't just undo a choice whenever you want, and you have to face the consequences of your actual choices.


#18

Personally, I'd like to see the original UI kept, but with the ability to slot in our own custom backgrounds, button graphics and what-have-you.

That way, people who like the current minimalist setup can keep it as a default, while those of us who would really like the ability to set the visual tone of their works, and don't want to get elbow-deep in the source-code (and potentially mess something up) could put together a set of backgrounds and UI elements (images which are required to be a certain size).

How feasible would that be?


#19

I think they are all gorgeous. I particularly loved Frankenstein.

If some alternate UIs, perhaps with simple drop-down choices for the author to pick theme, font, type color, background color, and image placement/size, would be made available I would definitely use them.


#21

I missed this thread earlier, but it also gave me a chance to read the other ideas. Here's my opinion:

  • No Back Button: Players only think they want a back button. It really will wreck their immersion and destroy replayability. It's funny, because people will think they want it at the time, but it is not good to have.

  • History of Game: I like the idea of seeing previous choices and text. Kind of like looking back and seeing the story as a book, once the choices are made. Great, if you set the story down for a length of time and then pick it up again.

  • Selectable Background/Styles: My fear is that a background may look undesirable or difficult to read. Perhaps the author could select the default for the book, but the reader could then change it. Personally, I like the e-reader look. Others that could be nice would be: Old Tome (good for fairy tales and fantasy), sci-fi (good for futuristic), simple e-reader (for clean reading), fancy e-reader (for highly functional reading).

  • Font selection: For poor eyesight. Selecting easy to read fonts, higher text sizes, perhaps the space between lines.

  • Maintain current features: Reading of text, pictures, music...

  • Retrocompatibilty: Allowing these things to work on the old games.