Although most of what we’ve been hearing from Rothgar over the last year has been closely tied to sorting out Battlegrounds, addressing Server Lag and Performance, and directing Server Upgrades, one of his big passions has been to upgrade the default EQ2 User Interface.
So far, the coolest news about Game Update 57 has been that it will include a pretty substantial polishing up of the default UI. Today, Rothgar has posted some tantalizing details of just what we can expect. And if you will be attending the SOE Block Party (if you will be at Comic-Con, there will be shuttle buses available), then you’ll be the first to see it in action.
As some of you may know, EQ2 is built on top of LUA. Thus far, we have not had access to any of the scripting and customization possible if LUA were exposed to the user. We’ve been pretty limited to XML. Well, it sounds like the door is starting to crack open on more customization, and more powerful user interfaces as have been seen in WoW and other games.
Rothgar has been very attentive to the player and modder communities by posting on EQ2Interface, getting feedback in the Developer Roundtable forum, etc. to make sure that UI changes make sense. He has not only streamlined and improved the UI, but also tried to keep it customizable by players, enthusiasts, and developers.
So without further ado, Rothgar‘s extended teaser of what we can expect in the Game Update 57 User Interface revamp:
We haven’t had time to tackle that project [implementing LUA] yet and it will take a lot of time to do especially if we try to expose lots of client data to it. So Lua will hopefully be something in the future.
I’ll give a few more hints on what is coming though, and yes, we’ll show you some things at Block Party if you can make it out.
First, there’s a complete reskin of our textures to freshen up the default interface. If your custom UI is already using its own textures, you’ll be fine. We’ve added some elements to existing textures though, so for some of the new UI elements to work, you’ll have to remove your custom texture and rely on the default, or you’ll have to update your texture to include our new elements.
We’ve also moved a few elements to other textures in an attempt to start phasing out old UI textures that aren’t needed anymore and reduce the memory footprint. However, we’ve also recooked a lot of our textures to not be compressed. This will eliminate a lot of compression artifacts from the UI.
All icon sheets and icon frames have gotten rounded edges which really softens up the UI and looks nice.
The inventory window is gone and has been merged with the Persona window. We’re now referring to this as the “Character” window because we think its more in line with other games and will make the most sense to incoming players.
The XP window has been overhauled and now acts as a navigation bar in addition to displaying XP. It can be snapped to the top or bottom of your screen or can remain floating.
We’ve merged the clock into the mini-map and removed the separate clock window. The map also displays compass directions and the compass window will no longer be visible by default for new users.
The hotbar windows have been cleaned up so they now default to the original icon size which makes them look sharper. We’ve removed 2pixels of padding from around the icons that didn’t really have any purpose. The customizable padding value is still there. We’ve also added a right-hand grab handle which balances with the spinner control on the left and makes it easy to move the hotbar. If you turn off the spinner, the grab handle will hide as well.
When you hit F10 to show window frames on all windows, you can now freely move the windows around even if they are locked and click-through. When you hit F10 two more times to return to normal UI mode, they will be locked again.
The effects and detriments windows have had their icons shrunk to be the same size as the new maintained window. The maintained window has had text added similar to Profit’s maintained window. However, you can right-click the window to disable text if you don’t want it. This change is already on test.
We dropped the LFG and Friends buttons from the group window and made quite a few small changes like this to clean things up. The bag windows no longer have a dedicated titlebar for the close buttons. Those were moved down to the space where the bag name exists.
The tutorial triggers (purple question marks) now display the tooltip next to the icon so you can see what its about. All of the text in these have been shortened and revamped.
There’s a new tutorial system that shows for new users. It works like the purple question marks by popping when you need to know something, but these new windows are 800×600 and give you more information about what you need to learn. These can be disabled but should be pretty helpful to new players coming in, especially if they are new to MMO’s. They explain things like movement, combat, grouping, inventory, broker, etc.
There are almost too many little things to mention, but this gives you a good idea of the things we’ve changed.
Hopefully we haven’t caused too much headache for you guys, but the overall goal was to freshen the Default UI and make the game more accessible to new players. We’ve been preaching this strategy for awhile but haven’t had the time to get around to the UI yet. There are other bits of functionality that will happen automatically like displaying quest POI’s and regions in the mini-map.
I hope you guys like this stuff! I’m really excited about it. I still want to implement Lua on the client side for scripting, we just have to see if we can fit that into the schedule soon.
Performance is still a big drive for us. We’ve been doing things here and there in the software to increase performance and we also have some new hardware coming in soon.
The equipment slots and character stats are on the same page in the new Character Window. This will allow you to swap gear around and see how it affects your stats without having to jump around between tabs. However, we did change the window so that you only get 1 column of stats instead of two otherwise the window would have just been too wide. However, I think we made good use of that space.
We also did away with the “Details” tab and moved that data to either the Options tab or the Stats tab.
We hope that the mini-map will be useful enough that players will start wanting to have it up all the time. Now that it will display quest POI’s and regions, you may want to make this a permanent part of your UI unless you don’t do much raiding.
The POI and Region information will happen automatically. If the quest is in your Active Quest list, the data will appear on the map.
I forgot to mention that the Welcome screen and Marketplace have also seen an overhaul.
Here’s a little sneak peak of the character window.
So does this mean EQ2Maps is being replaced? Rothgar again:
I hope it doesn’t seem like our intent was to keep it internal or edge out eq2maps because that’s certainly not the case. Our designers just needed to be able to specify the location or region for a quest to be completed. Most of this data we were able to pull from our own designer data. It was really important that we create a solution that would be available for new players from the time they start even if they don’t install any custom ui’s. We will always be interested in finding ways for third-party ui’s to bring value.
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