TC:E HUD Warts (Ingame HUD)
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Author:  hoak [ Sun Aug 21, 2005 2:24 am ]
Post subject:  TC:E HUD Warts (Ingame HUD)

HUDs are one of if not the most visible static art assets in FPS realism games, they are for the most part constantly on, and can be intuitively and realistically informative of what's going on in a game or awkward and even detrimental to that end. True Combat inaugurated one of the best HUDs in FPS Realism; unfortunately TC:E has taken a few steps backward...

There are a few design approaches that could go a long way to making the TC:E HUD less intrusive like the Original 0.45 design, more attractive, and more functional...

Equally or even more important is that excessive or heavy HUD overlay treatments, regular outlines (straight lines, boxes, and circles) will 'break' a lot of depth cues and take away from the illusion of 3D depth (see this thread for what remains of a recitation on eye brain fusion and 3D depth cues...

Here's a screen shot pointing out some art asset warts in the current TC:E HUD; click on the small image for a larger one that enumerates the various issues discussed below:


(1) Idiot Messages: These are various help messages that tell you things like, you're spectating, following someone, are at bomb position B etc.... These should be either completely disabled, or optional via a setup menu option like the "Show Tool Tips" option, and should only be displayed momentarily...

(2) Vote Console: Take a lesson from DICE and the Battlefield games, offer an option to not display votes at all, and make the damn vote console disappear after you've voted if you want this option available. This is widely regarded as an annoying feature as currently implemented as well...

(3) Alpha Mask On Text: a big "no no", not only is it aesthetically ugly; it breaks all the rules of good HUD design for emphasizing depth cues in-game... Do not use alpha transparency masking, translucent effects, or even shadow font effects on free floating 'console' text.

(4) Alpha Transparency: Use it On ALL HUD elements! That means everything, Icons, text, radar, mini-maps, text... Ideally it's nice to give the client alpha control due to game contrast differences due to display devices...

(5) Non Interactive Elements: An option for the Magic Radar and "A or B" message to be popped-up only in context sensitive contexts -- ie. have the radar display only when a bomb has been planted or dropped.

Similarly adding an element of realism to the weapon aspects of the HUD where the magazine volume indicators are only displayed when you actually make a magazine change (as this is the only time you'd actually be able to ascertain this information accurately in real life).

The stamina 'bar' could disappear if you aren't using up your stamina, the posture icon only needs to appear if you're actually changing your posture.

Consolidated & Integrated Text/Message/Status Console: The dis-integrated separate text, message, and status text consoles in ET are widely regarded as ugly, awkward, ugly, obtrusive, distracting, ugly, obscuring, ugly, difficult to use, and did I mention ugly.

An single, integrated display and entry console approach like the one found in most Unreal Warfare, Source, and many older Q3A games and mods is much neater, better looking, easier to use, less distracting, and puts all messages in real-time order. Different status, player communication, and game progress information can be clearly communicated with underline, parenthesis, italics, and exclusive colors...

Smaller/Scaled Fonts & HUD Elements Option: Largish, detailed HUD elements are great for helping initiate the new player to a game or mod, add nothing for the experienced/skilled player and are the bane of immersiveness and the illusion of depth in a game. Smaller HUDs are some of the most popular mods for Medal Of Honor, Call of Duty, and were the most requested changes for games like Red Orchestra, SWAT 4, Battlefield 2 in beta testing...

A "Small" or "Expert" HUD option could include features, options and/or changes like:

· smaller or momentary 'Magic Radar & Compass'
· smaller damage icon
· small stamina line underlining the damage icon rather then a heavy bar
· no posture icon (most experienced players KNOW they're crouching or prone)
· context sensitive momentary ammunition status icons
· no idiot/help messages or icons

Many/most of these features would be fairly easy to implement, or to add as HUD options... Summarily less can be more; the less junk on the screen at any given time, the fewer 'artsy frills' used to convey information, and the less often it's on the screen the more immersive and "3D" a game will look and feel.


Author:  kozak6 [ Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:16 am ]
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I absolutely agree with you about voting.

The worst part is when people votespam to kick AFK players.

Author:  wirebox [ Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

I played ETF1.0 a while. and TCE was just 0.46 or 0.47 then.
The most different feeling between two was aesthetical finishing.
Will TCE1.0 be able to show perfection of interface comparable with commercial game...

Author:  kozak6 [ Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:14 pm ]
Post subject: 

I played ETF for a little while too (too bad the vets ruined it, eh?), and one of the interesting features the mod had was a completely customizeable HUD. I don't know how much work that would be to implement, but it might be worth a thought.

Author:  Melmoth [ Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

The problem is not to design a HUD that has a stylish look and/or layout. Traumahawk made different HUD and Limbo designs that looked great, but the rest of the team decided NOT to use them and instead implemented the current design. They did this by purpose because they did not want to raise aesthetics over realism. In "true combat" (=real life) you don´t have a HUD. I was quite disappointed in the beginning and even complained once, because I liked TH´s work. But after a while I felt that the minimalistic HUD raises immersion.








coroner wrote:
There might be different opinions about professional look and the design direction to take. As for the compass, TCE follows a very simple, plain 2-d HUD layout.
It will also have adjustable alpha values.

4days wrote:
aye, the minimalist UI is really good. needs a bit of tweaking to get all the elements spread out properly , but it's nicely uncluttered.

RupturedSpleen wrote:
I like it. Clean, less interference.

The only thing I would like to see changed is the ammo "bar" slightly enlarged. The bar is cool vs. a counter, I just have a hard time seeing it out of the corner of my eye. But maybe that's realistic since I wouldn't be able to tell IRL either, other than counting. :P

Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Tue Aug 23, 2005 12:39 am ]
Post subject:  good

good thought. i agree. and the new hud limbo design good, but it would be better to make it look more like modern military and not a lasertag booth in the carnival look. maybe something like a application form for the army or a pda, some thing more real in most ways

Author:  hoak [ Tue Aug 23, 2005 5:45 am ]
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It's very important to differentiate the HUD from the game UI; the HUD is always visible during game-play, is a critical component of game design that has a strong effect on actual game-play, and is vastly more important in that regard then the game's UI.

The UI is generally used to describe the User Interface of game menus that are rarely or almost never visible during actual game-play, typically used a small fraction of 1% of the time you're actually playing the game in total. While not trivial, the UI is much less important then the HUD, was not intended as part of my thread discussion, and is not as design critical in effecting actual game-play. It's perfectly reasonable and possible to have a game that functionally has no UI and employsonly console commands that plays identically to the same game with a UI, True Combat: Elite in fact -- this is not the case with a game's HUD.

Mark/Traumahawk's UI and HUD art assets are to a very high standard, original, and very aesthetically pleaseing, but, I agree with XenoKiLLer's sentiments if he means by keeping things 'modern and military looking' to keep the space craft, arcade, splastastic design approach toned down to something that more closely resembles actual military tactical displays, MFDs, logistics and combat systmes -- i.e. real form that follows function, rather then heavily art draped work.

I personally really loved the art of the first TrueCombat UI and HUD; blue and orange are colors used almost universally in Military MFDs for their high contrast, the simplicity and clarity of TrueCombat 0.45's HUD and UI assets still set standards that can only be marginally improved on IMHO...

The most thought and attention (not to be confused with the most art and spalsh) should go into those assets most used, seen, and most strongly affecting game-play. By way of example the ammunition display is one HUD element that strongly effects game-play depending on how it's implemented, by contrast you can have an idiot message tell you your spectating, an icon telling your prone or have a ladder in front of you and totally remove these assets from the game and it will have no net effect what so ever on game-play except to make the game more immersive.... So removing crap is often productive, adding it counterproductive or destrucitve in creating an immersive and more interactive game.


Author:  Traumahawk [ Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:24 am ]
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I forgot I even made those. :P That was right when I had started and was still in my web design phase.

Author:  flyhead(cn) [ Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:42 am ]
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Unreal Tournament had the simple but effective solution to annoying huds by allowing you to remove each section of the hud one bit(health, health, obj stats, etc) at a time(ingame, and very quickly and easily) with the + and - buttons.

Author:  hoak [ Tue Aug 23, 2005 9:56 am ]
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Well Mark I still stand certain True Combat: Elite could be a better Counter Strike then Counter Strike Source, and a better Urban CT/AT Tactical Realism game then Raven Shield... Clearly it has the assets, talent, (though not accross the board maturity and accountability in it's Dev Team) and the breadth of audience that vindicates my assertion that there are two kinds of realism Fans, and a lot of each that TC:E could potentially attract.

It would be sad if your high standard work were squandered and lost to TC:E, and am sure that if there will be proper support as promised for Mod/On/Mod projects there will be plenty of talent that will want to create CTF, and more action based Mod/On/Mod game modes and your HUD work would be a perfect fit there (though it would be nice if you gave the rest of the HUD a simiar treatment)...

That said a lot of the current assets and game-design disclosure are still rather slicing things down the middle, spreading the game too thinly in trying to be all things to all people... I hope TC:E will get the focused and seperate action and tactical realism design attention it needs via different game modes and metrics for each; or something like my G_Realism proposal to attract and sustain lots of fans from both audiences...

I know at least one Dev Team member was so opposed even to the existence of the suggestion that hysterics, screaming tantrums, and my being banned from "The Official TC:E Fourms" was the result... But perhaps cooler, brighter minds are prevailing...


Author:  Melmoth [ Tue Aug 23, 2005 5:00 pm ]
Post subject: 

hoak wrote:
I know at least one Dev Team member was so opposed even to the existence of the suggestion that hysterics, screaming tantrums, and my being banned from "The Official TC:E Fourms" was the result... But perhaps cooler, brighter minds are prevailing...


That´s offensive at least. Defamation of the devs (you depict them as if they were fascists) and the community of the official site should not be part of this very interesting and so far constructive discussion. Remember that TH is a member of TT. What do you expect? A mutiny?

Anyway, back on topic: I agree with hoak that the UI should not require too much devlopment. I just tried to remember if I know a game in which I spent less of my overall gaming time in the UI or the options menue than ET/TC:E. I can´t remember any. However, we should not forget that the UI is the first thing a new player gets in contact with. If it´s too gross (which it is not atm, I think), his attitude towards the whole game may be influenced.

Author:  hoak [ Wed Aug 24, 2005 5:09 am ]
Post subject: 

Well Melmoth, that's about as off the charts as it gets, and to prevent the topic from digressing regarding a certain individuals conduct, and mine from taking this thread off topic, take the responsible iniative and discuss that here if you feel the need to continue to pursue it...

I'll wrap it up here by saying what I intended: that I am pleased that I am allowed to start and engage in design topic discussions on this forum without being censored or banned for discussing game design ideas that are counter to to what was allowed or preferred by a certain individual on the "Thee Official TC:E Forums"....

I agree with you that the current TC:E UI (and ET for that matter) is unnecessarily cumbersome, unintuitive, is awkward to use, and could be much better. But I know the interface script fairly well, and it's tedious work ie. high effort/time commitment for a small perceived return.

I disagree that the UI is where players will get their first and strongest impression of a game or mod; in fact it is neither -- they get their first impression from the Web Site, and their strongest impression from actually playing the game. All beta and market focus studies corroborate this... I'm not trivializing the UI, just putting it in perspective...


Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Thu Aug 25, 2005 1:28 am ]
Post subject:  re

just make all the UI parts smaller and pack them around a corner. if this game is all about realism, there shouldnt even be a hud or UI. all you really need is the limbo menu

Author:  hoak [ Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: re

XenoKiLLer wrote:
if this game is all about realism, there shouldn't even be a hud or UI.

I completely agree, and fortunately there will be several games (and mods) that will take exactly this approach -- even more surprising they aren't even realism games. One has already achieved this with excellent results; the Swedish Starbreeze Studios developed Escape From Butcher Bay has no HUD to speak of...

Again, though even though a UI can be trivial, you do need one of some manner to:

· select weapons
· see the game score
· select teams
· call and patriarchate in votes
· adjust game settings
· etc

I think the really important question is: 'What kind of game will the next version of True Combat: Elite be?' -- I know I and a lot of Clancy TR Fans have been very disappointed in the Ubisoft games are hoping TC:E will be a serious effort at Tactical Realism, and offer a real alternative.

Just as a Game Developer I'd hope TC:E will take a more serious approach to tactical realism on the grounds of technical merit... It's very easy to create action/casino/arcade game-modes and mods on a serious tactical realism game, but it's virtually impossible to go the other way and have a convincing, capable, scale tactical realism game via a game-mode if the foundations of scale game metrics and realism features are not a part of the game to begin with...


Author:  XenoKiLLer [ Thu Aug 25, 2005 3:16 pm ]
Post subject:  re


then its settled. speaking of score viewing, you could always use the original ET scoreboard and stats (using alt and tab keys to view scores and stats)


one question off topic, when TC:E reaches v1.0, will you guys release it as a standalone like ETF or will it still be integrated into ET?

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