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UI Critique, A Response To "Why Do We UI How We UI"


(PSN)Maunstre
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This post is feedback on the UI of Warframe, specifically where it sits right now, what it accomplishes and what it doesn't, and where it could improve. This post was inspired by [DE]Pablo's forum thread on the UI workshop here:

I already left some feedback on this thread, which can be seen here (somewhat spicy, pardon me):

This thread is an expansion on some of the feedback made there, boosted with screen caps, mock ups, and comparisons. Critique will be focused on various UI screens currently implemented. In particular, the Market, Codex, inventory, Lich and Requiem Mods, and Railjack Avionics UI will be critiqued. It is a long thread, but it will not be hidden under cuts, because I want it to be seen in full. This thread is an approximate 35 minute read.

This thread is broken into sections, which are as follows for CTRL + F use:

Preface - Who is Making This Critique and Why

General Critique - A "Clean" UI Does Not Mean an "Informative" UI

Market Critique - A Market Should Inform The Buyer

Codex Critique - Unnecessary Nesting and Hiding of Information

Inventory Critique - "90% of What is Available" Does Not Equal "90% of What is Used"

Lich and Requiem Critique - Unnecessary Segregation Defeats Accessibility & Enforces Content Islands

Railjack Avionics Critique - "Overwhelming" Does Not Necessarily Mean "Too Much Information"

Conclusion - A Sincere Ask For Reconsideration

 

Preface - Who is Making This Critique and Why

Hi, DE, I am an artist, lover of video games, and 2+ year player of Warframe. I have made this thread because as a player my experience has been greatly impacted by the recent changes to the game’s User Interface - primarily to the negative. Vital information that was previously easy to access has become hidden and difficult to find. I understand and recognise Warframe’s identity as an information and numbers-driven game, but have noticed that recent changes to the UI have tried to mask or outright deny this fact for reasons unknown or simply alien or inappropriate when held in contrast the game’s base nature of complexity and reliance on statistics and comparisons. As a person trained and invested in the visual arts, I understand the draw of aesthetically pleasing design as a potential driver for these changes. However, form and function are attributes that need to be balanced according to purpose, and I distinctly feel that Warframe’s current UI and the further direction it seems to be heading is in direct opposition to what its purpose should be - sacrificing function for form in an unnecessary way when function should be its paramount focus. In this thread I will be explaining why I feel this way and how I believe it can be rectified without sacrificing either the assumed form desired by the UI designer, or the information and functionality needed by the player. Examples given here are not exhaustive, but I hope will prove both useful and a concrete argument for a change in direction.

 

General Critique - A "Clean" UI Does Not Mean an "Informative" UI

Warframe’s current UI is evidently gunning for a minimalist approach - similar to that of mobile games and larger titles like Breath of the Wild. The desire for this direction is understandable - Warframe has a lot of content, each piece of which is part of a larger whole which in turn feeds into an even larger system. Streamlining the sorting and fetching of these small parts is integral to its survival as the number of these pieces grows. However, "Minimalism" does not mean "stripped". The spirit of minimalism is the removal of excess - to the make vital information easily accessible and organised. The current UI misses the point of this in a roundabout way - removing the vital (information) while emphasising unneeded excess (roll-overs, oversized buttons, gradients, and uninformative detailing).

For example, a dressed-down Minimalistic approach works for Breath of the Wild because Breath of the Wild is fundamentally and functionally not as complex as Warframe - there are fewer moving parts, stats, or screens, and any information it needs to communicate to the player is kept concise by design, its systems visually streamlined to needing little more than a quick description or a very pointed infograph. For example, this screen of Link about cook a meal:

botw+-+acorn+health.jpg?format=1500w

The item highlighted is an acorn. From the get-go, we know what an acorn does all by itself - this is a consumable that gives back health. We know it gives back health because it has a tiny heart in the corner of its icon and Link’s health is represented above by a series of hearts. We don’t need to select or hover over the item for that information unless we want the finer specifics. In a similar vein, we also have an immediate connection between the icon of the acorn - in item in this specific circumstance that is found in the fantasy world of Hyrule - and the real world. We have acorns in real life, and an understanding of what an acorn is as an object is practically innate because we are taught to associate an acorn with food, and food is associated with keeping a person active and healthy. Hence, it makes sense that an acorn is a healing item that bestows its healing attribute by “eating” it.

In comparison, this is Warframe’s Gear inventory page, minus labels:

RECentral+2020-01-26+16-25-11-71.png?for

This is presented exactly like the UI of Breath of the Wild, but gives the player none of the same information; it’s clean but sterile. I know how much of a thing I have, but if I were a new player or had left the game for quite some time, I wouldn’t know what any of one thing was or what it did at a glance with exception to the Health Restore. The Health Restore item communicates itself readily and easily, primarily because it utilises a universal symbol for medical aid, the red cross. The other Restore items share the shape and design of the Health Restore, but their identifying icons don’t immediately mean anything. We can assume by shape-association that they act the same way as the Health Restore, but outside of that what they actually “restore” is not intuitive. The Shield Restore uses a “shield” icon for its identification, but in terms of symbolic association, we associate the universal “shield” for “armour” like what is used by a knight - protection. There is word association in-game - a shield symbol for Warframe or ally shields, but to the uninitiated this may not be clear, instead potentially suggesting that the Shield Restore instead affects or “restores” armour, a static value that cannot be changed during gameplay except in special circumstances. The remaining items in this screen have no root in any universal or real-world symbolism, making them a mystery.

As a second comparison, this is Breath of the Wild’s weapon inventory screen:

botw+-+weapons.jpg?format=1500w

Very clean and very informative even without labels. Much like the food inventory screen before it, the icons are descriptive and have immediate real-world association. Most people recognise what a sword, a club, or an axe is. In this screen, Link is wielding a two-handed sword-like weapon called “Boulder Breaker” (hover stats for the Royal Guard’s Claymore are being shown in the screen cap instead of those of the sword actually equipped). The name of this weapon wouldn’t mean much to the average person, but its design is reminiscent of a sword - it has a double bladed edge and looks like a sword overall. Even though the average person probably doesn’t know the difference between a one-handed and two-handed sword and how that affects one ability to attack and enemy, the game tells us this information readily by showing us Link’s physical stance while holding the sword. “Boulder Breaker” is specifically a heavy-type weapon, a distinction shown to the player immediately upon selection by Link’s stance changing from unencumbered to weighed down - telling us that this weapon is “heavy”, that it will be powerful but will swing slowly! Also immediately available to us as a user is weapon strength, told to us by way of tiny numbers in the bottom right corner of the icon. We don’t need to select the weapon or hover over it to see how powerful it is, it’s right there and the player can do an immediate visual comparison between what they have equipped, shown pointedly in blue, and what else they have in their inventory - all at a glance.

Contrast this with, Warframe’s weapon inventory screen without labels:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

Again, presented like the weapons inventory screen of Breath of the Wild. This comparison could be considered unfair since the Arsenal exists, but the Arsenal is not the go-to way for a player to check their inventory for an item, the inventory menu is.

Because I am a two year+ player of Warframe who specifically pursued every weapon I could reasonably obtain, I recognise what each of these weapons are and what type. However, I have experience on my side. The average person or new player who looks at this screen wouldn’t be able to tell any of these apart. In this screen alone there are polearm, staff, shotgun, tonfa, pistol, rifle, sword, pocket-shotgun, sniper rifle, mace, throwing, scythe, dagger, glaive, and bow weapons, several of which that on even a close look could be considered interchangeable in class or type by visual design alone. We have no way of discerning the difference between these weapons without names or labels, and with the fantastical naming conventions of Warframe taken into account, the base names of several of these weapons would mean little to nothing to the average person. Also, the in-game utility of these weapons is utterly unknown at a glance. Which one is stronger of this set of 24? Faster? Bigger? Smaller? Trigger? Auto? We don’t know. In terms of Warframe’s specific needs and terminology, which of these weapons would count as a Primary versus Secondary? Melee versus a very sword-like gun? Some of these pistols look like they could be rifles. What about weapon Rank, a considerable defining factor in whether a weapon is kept or sold, depending on the type of player? Completely absent.

To compound all of this, if any of these items are selected in this screen, we don’t get a preview or list of stats, we merely add it to a list to be sold. If we want to actually see the information regarding any of these items, we must specifically hover over the icon and tab, if applicable, to see its full information. Further, with this system we cannot compare stats on the fly, to compare weapons we must be in the Arsenal with at least one weapon already equipped to see a one-to-one stat change.

Warframe’s UI is clean, but sterile of information, especially with labels disabled. This makes an information-dense game all the more impenetrable. This could be forgiven in very specific instances, but where this practice is especially egregious is where information should be front-and-centre, the Market and the Codex.

Market Critique - A Market Should Inform The Buyer

Counter to their purpose to dispense information, the Market and Codex UIs are surprisingly uninformative. In the Market, while the featured Warframe or weapon is given ample space to look attractive, the information for that Warframe or weapon - its stats, features and associated perks, the reason to buy that item - is missing. Example: Market pages for the Frost Warframe and the Latron weapon:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

No actual information is being shown here at a glance. The first thing we see is “BUY”, “BUY”, and “also gift I guess”. To a certain degree the prominence of a “BUY” button could be considered “fair” since Warframe is a free-to-play game that survives on in-game purchases. However, it doesn’t excuse the complete absence of basic information that is supposed to entice the player to buy the items presented. A diorama is nice, but gives no information outside of what the product looks like. This hiding of basic information, especially for weapons, gives no reason for a player to buy the item - why buy it when you can’t tell what the item does or whether it’s any better than what you currently have? Shockingly, we don’t even have the “ABOUT” button to give us information here, the one location it could be considered appropriate.

Suggested changes:

00+-+market+-+frost.png?format=1500w

00+-+market+-+latron2.png?format=1500w

The Market’s biggest issue is the absurd size of its “BUY” buttons, of which there are three - one for flat personal purchase with platinum, the blueprint for us craft-happy hard-casuals, and a gift option. “PURCHASE” and “GIFT” by themselves take up considerable screen real-estate that could be dialled back considerably by placing the two directly together to free up half of their allotted space. Further nudging the full suite of buttons to sit lower on the screen provides space enough to fit a small stats window - the information a discerning buyer would likely want to see before making a purchase - without suffocating the screen.

As Warframe is a numbers-dependant game, and even the greenest of player will gravitate to numbers and glean some knowledge from them regardless of familiarity, the fact that such basic item information is missing or hidden from view in the very place it would be most influential to encourage a purchase is confusing. Where is this information if not in the Market? It’s viewable elsewhere, where the Market isn’t - the Arsenal and the Codex.

 

Codex Critique - Unnecessary Nesting and Hiding of Information

Much like the Market, the Codex suffers from a curious lack of information when information is the purpose of the Codex. While the Market could defend its design with an argument for the importance of an assortment of “BUY” buttons to drive purchases, the Codex has no such excuse. However, regardless of this the Codex hides its information by way of nesting via this community-reviled rollover button:

00+-+worst+button+ever.png?format=750w

That this space-occupying, functionally bankrupt button has become a community meme speaks to its character. Much like the Market’s oversized “BUY” buttons, the Codex’s “ABOUT” buttons chews up prime screen real-estate for, in all honesty, no good reason. What does it do? It hides information that should be front-and-centre - statistics, what players go to the Codex to see - by unneeded nesting.

Unnecessary nesting creates an eyesore of dead space and a vacuum of needed information. When looking at the Codex, the player should expect to find all relevant information of an item. For example, when looking up a weapon the player should be able to see at a glance the name, blurb, stats, and where to obtain. As it currently stands, the Codex only gives two of these specific pieces of information readily, the name and the blurb.

As an example, this is the Codex entry for the Latron:

RECentral+2020-01-26+11-02-37-26-a.png?f

Only the name, number owned, and blurb is readily available at a glance. The real information a player would want is nested under the “ABOUT” button.

This is a pointless hiding of vital information. What’s more, from a design perspective this approach is visually unbalanced and unattractive. The dead space haunting the screen under the “ABOUT” button makes what text and information already present feel like it is cutting in on or oppressing the diorama. This is not helped by the uncontrolled shifting and zooming in and out of the diorama camera. Further, the information pop-up bites directly into the diorama itself, obscuring it when so much effort is made to make it the focus of the screen. All of this could be easily fixed by simply moving the stat information to under the name and blurb, where it will fit with little trouble. To further aid with visual balance, the diorama itself could be scooted over slightly to shift from the dead-centre of the screen to enforce a layout closer to the golden rule of thirds - giving greater visual appeal.

image-asset.png?format=1500w

Here, all potentially desired information is present - the weapon name, blurb, number owned, rank and Mastery, where to obtain, item price in platinum and credits, and stats. In the event of a larger stat spread, such as with a weapon like the Zenistar, which as an added detail cannot be bought from the Market, a minor change to the acquisition description and the addition of a scroll bar accommodates all relevant information.

image-asset.png?format=1500w

Elsewhere in the Codex, Warframes are treated similar with vast portions of the screen left as dead space - prime real-estate for information left unused.

image-asset.png?format=1500w

The same issues with diorama centring, lack of visual balance, and tooltips biting directly into the diorama itself occur here as with the weapons.

 

As an added note, the Rhino Prime Codex entry in particular has exposed is how poorly the UI "themes" are balanced due to the UI's design and overreliance on "being pretty" through unnecessary gradients and transparency fields. The Stalker theme suffers quite a bit due to this, and to a degree makes me regret paying for it since, despite it being my favourite theme, the current UI design makes the basic experience of navigation and reading of information difficult unless the background the text is sitting on is overwhelmingly dark.

image-asset.png?format=1500w

It is clear that the UI was designed specifically around a single colour theme, the Vitruvian Theme, with other themes simply swapped in without consideration for how the new colours would interact with the UI backgrounds and backdrops. Hue is not equitable to brightness. Red may be considered a “strong” colour, but it is not a “bright” colour. Red, blue, purple, and green are not “bright” colours - they are saturated - chromatic, “strong” colours. Desaturated, they become grey - a midtone. Midtones over midtones are difficult to tell apart regardless of their chromatic strength. The best way to see this difference in action is through a saturation comparison:

00+-+critiques+-+colour+grid.png?format=

00+-+readability-a.png?format=1500w

This is colour theory. The proper balancing of colours should be at the forefront of the mind of a UI designer if the ability to swap colours for aesthetics is an option, especially if that option is locked behind a paywall. Ultimately, what is given is irresponsible design, especially when players are asked to pay Premium - real money - for these themes. This makes me incredibly reluctant to purchase any of the remaining UI themes as a player.

Each of these aforementioned issues could be rectified similar as before, with an added reach of gradient to give the heavy text of Rhino Prime’s lore entry a properly contrasting background to allow the text to pop for darker colours.

00+-+codex+-+rhino+prime.png?format=1500

As an alternative, the abilities of a Warframe in the Codex could be aligned vertically on the right side of the screen, like they currently are in the Arsenal overview.

 

Inventory Critique - "90% of What is Available" Does Not Equal "90% of What is Used"

In the UI update thread made by Pablo, the reasoning of "90% of our items have recognisable icons" was given to justify the decision to have item labels turned off by default. This reasoning sounds good on paper, but in practice is woefully inadequate considering the kind of information a player is likely after when browsing their inventory. Icons are for identification, but that is only half of the equation - the other half is relevant information. The icons in Warframe do not give relevant information, at times they don't even do the basic task of identification, because the vast portion of items that the user base interacts with the most in the most impactful way - trading - is hamstringed by the use of universal icons. Players trade Prime Parts, Relics, Mods, and Arcanes.

This is the Prime Parts tab of my inventory:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

This is the Prime Parts tab of my inventory without labels:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

This is the Relics tab of my inventory without labels:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

This is the Arcanes tab of my inventory without labels:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

There is a very noticeable lack of information in each of these screens. Players who trade regularly get the brunt of the UI’s lack of user-friendliness. Without labels, these all-important trading items become opaque guessing games. Relics and Prime Parts, items that span into the 100+ range of individual items and which take up the majority of trading, boast only a handful of unique icons. Labels are absolutely required to quickly and efficiently navigate these items.

A unique issue here is Arcanes - Arcanes have unique icons, but these icons give no information. Unless you have the game’s many Arcanes memorised, an Arcane's icon tells you nothing about the Arcane itself. The icon describes nothing of the Arcane's ability - using vague symbols and shapes to describe a very specific effect, and even if you might be able to infer an ability relation, you likely won't infer the actual ability by icon alone.

A special mention needs to be given to the resources and weapons inventory:

RECentral+2020-01-26+12-02-12-81-a.png?f

Again, having a unique icon does not equate to readability and clear information. Without labels these items are opaque in meaning and use. Further, players do not search their inventory by icon, they search by name - something all but required due to the game possessing over 250 unique resources, over 300 weapons, and over 70 Warframes both plebeian and Prime. A player is more likely to recognise a weapon, resource, or Warframe by its name rather than its icon, in part because an icon of a weapon or Warframe can be affected by cosmetics - skins specifically. Resources are a jumble of shapes with no pattern or immediate meaning and often no relation to an identifiable real world equivalent. Plus, when a player hears or learns of a resource the first time or just in general, they will learn of it by name first, either as a required component in a crafting recipe, a requirement for rank up with a Syndicate, or, most likely, as a line of text at the bottom of the screen in the midst of a mission as a pickup, or as a part of a list at mission end.

A player will remember a name easier than a shape when faced with such a vast number of items. Labels are a key form of accessibility in an information-dense game. Having this feature disabled by default is a barrier to understanding that greatly affects players new and experienced. In relation to the New Player Experience specifically, a new player is not going to know that the option to turn on labels for their many image-dense screens is present in the Options menu - a menu that itself is choked with information in the form of sliders and toggles. This specific option is itself all but hidden behind multiple tab-overs, largely invisible for the questing initiate for whom Warframe might be their first experience in the looter-shooter genre. Lack of information is poisonous to the New Player Experience, it can convince a player that they are simply not “smart” enough for the game, when the issue at play is the game making itself impenetrable and inaccessible by hiding vital information from the player.

Further, inaccessibility as an issue is also prevalent in perpetuating Warframe’s many “content islands”.

 

Lich and Requiem Critique - Unnecessary Segregation Defeats Accessibility & Enforces Content Islands

The Kuva Lich system is one in need of overhauling in more ways than one. One part in particular relation to this thread is the accessibility of the Requiem system. Currently, the Parazon modding screen - required to gear up to take out your personal Kuva Lich, is utterly divorced from the Lich screen - where the Requiems required to properly gear yourself to face your Lich are displayed. This in itself is a pain. Being forced to take three steps when only one should be required is bad enough, but before a player can even start piecing together their Lich puzzle, they’ll be greeted with this:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

Before finally seeing this:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

Warframe’s load times are not especially quick, at least not on console, so this extra holdup to get needed information is more than a little annoying. After the creation of a Lich, a player by and large only needs to check this screen once, to see what their Lich’s stats are, their weapon, and if they have an Ephemera.

Outside of this screen a player’s Lich by and large doesn’t exist. The Lich makes a quip upon player login and steals 5 Rubedo per 100 if the player decides to play a mission in a Lich-controlled territory. Aside from this, a Lich of any Rank can be safely ignored until they steal Void Trace. The tragedy at play here is that this setup as it currently exists, both in gameplay and UI, is utterly isolated from the rest of the game’s systems, but it doesn’t have to be. The Lich system is meant to be opt-in; however, there is a difference between opt-in and being dismissed or forgotten. The easiest way to enforce a system as a part of the game is to “be present”. The Lich system attempts this with quips, quotes, and an NPC being an especially petty thief. However, this fails due to the Lich overall being easy to simply dismiss and ignore, the Lich doesn’t involve itself with the rest of the player experience. This is made worse with the Requiem system, because it makes itself inaccessible through unnecessary screen-hopping and an already-mentioned readability issue - indecipherable icons.

00+-+requiem+mods-a.png?format=1500w

The icons of the Requiem Mods are unique and recognisable - players will quickly identify them as “a part of the Lich system” once discovered and their link to the player’s inevitable first Lich realised.

However, these icons come with two issues mentioned towards the beginning of this thread: no innate real-world relation, and being incomprehensible without labels. The art direction of the icons is a clear homage to Mayan hieroglyphs, but said hieroglyphs are a language - a full language with deep history is not as accessible as a basic symbol like the icon art of the acorn in Breath of the Wild. Requiem icons are “otherworldly”, the player has no basis with which to compare them either in-game or out-of-game. This is fair to consider intentional, as the Requiem system is roughly described as a “triad of commands that sever a Lich’s link to their Continuity, rendering them mortal.” All of this sounds quite mysterious! Mysteriousness can be fun, but balance is still important.

Despite their recognisability as a set, Requiem icons are difficult to place a name to individually, because whenever they are shown to the player their name is not shown alongside with them unless sought out through cursor hover. On the Lich screen, we are shown the icons, but not their names. The player can learn the name if they hover over the symbol, but that isn’t immediately apparent. After this, the player is tasked with remembering this strange, very complex icon and either head to their relic module to see if they have a Requiem Relic with a matching reward, or to their Arsenal to search for the mod for their Parazon.

Currently, the Parazon screen looks like this:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

The Parazon screen is integral to the Lich system, but is kept divorced from it in a major way. I can switch from the Kuva Lich screen to the Parazon screen, but I cannot access my Lich screen from my Parazon screen. On top of this, the information I want from my Lich’s screen that is related to my Parazon screen should be readily accessible there, but isn’t.

The Parazon art present in the left-side panel is nice to look at, but serves no functional purpose. Similar to the “BUY” and “ABOUT” buttons, this drawing takes up valuable screen real estate that would be better utilised in another, more informative way. While a player has an active Lich, that empty space would be better used as a form of connective tissue between the island of content that is the Lich system and the rest of the game.

For example, Requiem progress and attempts, along with Lich name and a button to switch to the Lich screen, could be implemented on the Parazon screen neatly:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

Transplanting or copying the Lich Requiem information from the Lich screen to the Parazon screen would not only aid in accessibility, it would also greatly aid in making the Lich more “present” by being a more earnest reminder that the Lich exists. Every time a player opens their Parazon screen they will be reminded that their Lich is still alive and what their progress to the Lich’s defeat is. This could act as a great potential motivator while helping to remove the unneeded burden of trying to hold and remember complex icon designs between screens. While this change would help make the process of getting the player engaged in the Requiem system more readily, it also makes the revisiting of the Lich screen itself more of an event, something comparatively “special”. A player can ask themselves “I have my Parazon Requiem set, but how is my Lich actually evolving?” and can act on this by engaging with the Lich status screen by way of an easily accessible button.

The combining of disparate parts in this way may seem counter-intuitive to streamlining or minimisation, but overall helps with accessibility, connection, and system-relation.

 

Railjack Avionics Critique - "Overwhelming" Does Not Necessarily Mean "Too Much Information"

A reason given by Pablo to justify the current direction of UI changes was that players were feeling "overwhelmed". No context was given on what "overwhelmed" meant, so I will present an argument here that I believe that "overwhelmed" is being interpreted in a potentially incorrect and detrimental way in context of a user base that needs and desires information to be presented in a concise and accessible way, which Warframe's updated UI has been failing to do. As an example, I bring up the Railjack Avionics UI:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

This UI, while nice to look at, is overwhelming, but not for reasons you think. This UI by itself presents no information - no up-front clue as to what its purpose is or what part of this UI plays what role or means what thing. Sure, we have ship stats visible here, but that's it. The information that tells us what this UI and set of grids is actually for is hidden behind a tooltip that can only be seen with a button press:

image-asset.png?format=1500w

This piece of information should not be hidden, it should be in the open, readily available for the user to see to tell them exactly what this UI is all about.

Much like the Market, Codex, and the Parazon screens examined earlier, this UI cripples itself through liberal retention of needless dead space and assigning of prime information real estate to buttons or diagrams that serve no functional purpose equal to the space they occupy. The Diagram of the ship smack in the middle of this screen serves no purpose, and neither does its "SHIELDS" field, which does absolutely nothing.

The complete lack of concise communication is a part of what makes this screen “overwhelming”. The amount of things to see is overwhelming because nothing makes immediate sense. We have a stats screen and also a diagram showing “SHIELDS”. Why is “shields” listed twice? Why are the values of the “shields” different in the stats window versus this drawing? How does the grid affect my avionics? Where are my avionics? How come I can’t see them right away like in the mods screen? Why does everything need to be clicked to be seen or made sense of?

Dirac is integral to the Avionics system, but is kept hidden behind the stats screen, accessible only by pressing a button instead of being front-and-centre for accessibility and immediate recognition as a part of the system the same way Endo is for mods. Avionics can’t be seen unless an individual grid is clicked on, and even then you don’t get to see your full collection, because what grid space you click on dictates which avionics the player gets to see, which by itself is a small nightmare in terms of functionality and accessibility on its own, never mind that this is compounded even worse by the Battle Avionics section alone, which requires each grid to be clicked on for a battle Avionic of the appropriate “power” cost of 25, 50, and 100 Flux respectively to be seen. Despite this very important detail, nowhere on this screen is this vital information shared.

All of this contributes to a player being “overwhelmed”, because the UI itself makes absolutely no effort to explain itself. The player is left to essentially flounder and hope they do not “make a mistake”. The purpose of a UI is to inform the player, not to frustrate and confuse them.

A proposed set of changes:

00+-+railjack+-+avioinics-a.png?format=1

00+-+railjack+-+avioinics-b.png?format=1

While crowded, the grand majority of information needed is front-and-centre. This crowded design can be considered justified, as by this stage of the game a player would be fully acquainted with Warframe’s other screens and systems and would be able to parse this screen with relative ease. For a player new to Railjack, this screen would be “empty”, but still readable with valuable information to help them come to grips with what is an entirely new system primed for the experienced player. Additionally, if they have not played any Railjack missions, they will be given an immediate goal to seek out “Avionics” and “Dirac”, named explicitly right where the text block and the unfamiliar, new icon of Dirac is located, drawing in the player’s eye.

00+-+railjack+-+avioinics-c.png?format=1

Complex screens can be made readable through guiding the eye and placing vital information where it cannot be missed. Because a player’s access to the Avionics screen is gated behind the building of the Railjack itself, which is itself further gated by quest advancement and time investment ideally leading to deeper familiarisation with Warframe’s systems overall, it can be safely assumed that players that have advanced to a point through time and investment to reach such a screen would be prepared to regard it for what it is, a complex tool for a complex system.

 

Conclusion - A Sincere Ask For Reconsideration

The current form of Warframe's UI changes are heavily undermined by their lack of functionality. The aesthetic streamlining hides a clunky and obfuscating nature that is a detriment to the player experience old and new. The parcelling of information into nested tooltips and detached "ABOUT" buttons makes that information difficult to access and compare on the fly, making the game's wealth of needed information "overwhelming" to parse due to an inability to just see it all and understand from a glance what is actually available to the player. A lot of information at once can be intimidating, but players need to be given the chance to see that information and the nature of the game for what it is.

The UI as it currently stands speaks to an attempt at a rejection of Warframe's identity as a deeply numbers-driven looter-shooter. To hide its complexity under a veneer of "minimalism" is an action that actively gets in the way of player familiarity and utility. This veneer will not fool an experienced player, and it will not fool a new player who either already knows or has yet to discover if they want a numbers-driven experience or not. If anything, this attempt at hiding vital information will frustrate and drive players away - how trustworthy or useful is a system that hides information from you, the veteran or new player?

DE, please reconsider the direction you are taking with Warframe's UI. Warframe is an information-dense game. Your target audience wants and needs this information, and is smarter and more capable of accepting and taking in this information than they are being given credit.

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2 minutes ago, Hawk_of_the_Reborn said:

For the love of god get rid of that red UI. I literally can't see anything your screenshots had, it hurts my eyes

All the more reason I said this:

 

13 hours ago, (PS4)Maunstre said:

The proper balancing of colours should be at the forefront of the mind of a UI designer if the ability to swap colours for aesthetics is an option, especially if that option is locked behind a paywall. Ultimately, what is given is irresponsible design, especially when players are asked to pay Premium - real money - for these themes. This makes me incredibly reluctant to purchase any of the remaining UI themes as a player.

 

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I hope everyone at DE working on UI stops what they're doing, reads all of this, and seriously considers what they are trying to accomplish. Please DO NOT just wait to finish your current UI plan AND THEN discuss making changes. MAKE THOSE CHANGES NOW. Please. Your community knows what they're talking about. It's true, whether you've accepted that fact or not. Collectively (and in some cases individually), we have played your game much longer than you have. You're making this game for us, right? Not just because it's something you want to make and profit from, right? Then trust us, please. Trust players like @(PS4)Maunstre Find other special players like that and keep track of them and more importantly keep track of what they have to say. And please listen to them.

Thank you @[DE]Rebecca for giving this the spotlight this deserves. The forums are FULL of ideas as valuable as this that have never been read by DE. As a community we are your most valuable resource. If you are truly making this game for us, then USE US, and not just to fund your free-to-play game. 

Edited by (PS4)slova77
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My only complaint is that you can't actually show flux cost above the Battle Avionics section, as not all of the avionics have the flux cost as the others in their tier. For example, Fiery Phoenix costs 50 to cast, but has a drain as well.

Other than that, amazing work.

Edited by -AoN-CanoLathra-
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I absolutely love @(PS4)Maunstre 's post.

The stuff on hue relating to value is also huge (especially true for red in particular). One of the most important parts of UI design, in regard to accessibility, is how it interacts with color blindness. Warframe has had a history of missing the mark with color-blind friendly designs (doors, lockers initially) but the Stalker theme really highlights another blind spot that they really need to address (especially since red-color deficiency is the most common form). The test that OP did by turning everything to gray scale is one of the first tricks you learn in a graphics class in regards to color layouts, and it's because of needing to accommodate color blind users.

Personally, I would love it if DE could clarify who's telling them that the UI is "overwhelming." Like I said in the main feedback thread, and like OP mentioned here at the end, I suspect that it isn't their core audience . As far as I've seen regarding this issue, other designers who are familiar with UI and UX (and have been commenting) have also been urging DE to design the UI for the primary demographic and not with just potential new users at the forefront. Obviously they need to try to grow the player base, but the current direction of the UI isn't going to help with that objective.

But again, wonderful post, @(PS4)Maunstre. If I could hit upvote for each paragraph of your critique, I would!

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Warframe's UI is considered "overwhelming" to players, new and old, not because there is too much information, but because there is so much information that the players want and heavily rely on and it's frustrating in the current form how many steps we have to take to find what we want. The information we want is too often nested or excluded because DE's idea of "overwhelming" is based on HOW MUCH information is on the screen when instead it should be based on HOW information is presented on the screen. 

(in general, this is what I found most important to think about after reading this post and DEpablo's)

Edited by (PS4)slova77
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5 minutes ago, (PS4)slova77 said:

I hope everyone at DE working on UI stops what they're doing, reads all of this, and seriously considers what they are trying to accomplish. Please DO NOT just wait to finish your current UI plan AND THEN discuss making changes. MAKE THOSE CHANGES NOW. Please. Your community knows what they're talking about. It's true, whether you've accepted that fact or not. Collectively (and in some cases individually), we have played your game much longer than you have. You're making this game for us, right? Not just because it's something you want to make and profit from, right? Then trust us, please. Trust players like @(PS4)Maunstre Find other special players like that and keep track of them and more importantly keep track of what they have to say. And please listen to them.

Thank you @[DE]Rebecca for giving this the spotlight this deserves. The forums are FULL of ideas as valuable as this that have never been read by DE. As a community we are your most valuable resource. If you are truly making this game for us, then USE US, and not just to fund your free-to-play game. 

Just want to iterate how much this whole comment is true and should be taken with as much seriouness as possible by anyone and everyone at DE. Specially the part about making those changes now, instead of doing what they want regardless of the community's feedback during the Work-in-Progress process, and then asking for - both palms in my face - the community's feedback on the changes after they are done and released.

Which by that point is both too late and in most cases, the vast majority of feedback is largely ignored and just some tweaks are made, with the essential core problems still at the heart of the system(s). So if anyone from DE reads this, please heed (PS4)slova77's comment! We as players only want the game to be as best as it can be. Which I'm sure you all at DE want it the same too. But we play this game every day and love it so much. If it's made for us to enjoy it as much as possible, then listening to what we enjoy and what we don't is absolutely essential.

I understand that's very difficulty with so many voices in the community, but some issues were and/or are almost universally hated by everyone in the community and they were never fixed. Hema's extremely costy research is one of them. I bought Hema when it came out because of it, though I had the spare Platinum to do it, and I have finished the research 2 years ago. But for new players with new clans, that's a problem that was never fixed inspite of the extremely overwhelming community feedback. I just mentioned Hema research as an example.

We love Warframe and we want it to be the best game it possible can. It's just very hard and frustrating when we see problems and sometimes very easy solutions - I understand that not all solutions which seem easy are easy to implement, but many are - and those are ignored time and time again after thousands and thousands of comments in hundreds and hundreds of threads on the official forums, Reddit, the Wiki, YouTube, etc.

It's also very demoralizing and discouraging when there's so much excellent feedback as the ones in this thread in many tens of threads for years that are completely ignored, but then when a high-profile YouTuber creates a video on the issue, it suddenly gets into DE's radar. This really shouldn't ever happen, at least not in this manner. Because the way it has happened in the past, it's putting an individual's opinion above the opinions of thousands and thousands of other people. All opinions should be taken into consideration, specially when there's so many people criticizing certain problems and/or suggesting solutions to said problems. That's the essence of community feedback.

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24 minutes ago, Sdarts said:

We love Warframe and we want it to be the best game it possible can. It's just very hard and frustrating when we see problems and sometimes very easy solutions - I understand that not all solutions which seem easy are easy to implement, but many are - and those are ignored time and time again after thousands and thousands of comments in hundreds and hundreds of threads on the official forums, Reddit, the Wiki, YouTube, etc.

It's also very demoralizing and discouraging when there's so much excellent feedback as the ones in this thread in many tens of threads for years that are completely ignored, but then when a high-profile YouTuber creates a video on the issue, it suddenly gets into DE's radar. This really shouldn't ever happen, at least not in this manner. Because the way it has happened in the past, it's putting an individual's opinion above the opinions of thousands and thousands of other people. All opinions should be taken into consideration, specially when there's so many people criticizing certain problems and/or suggesting solutions to said problems. That's the essence of community feedback.

^This aspect hurts the most.

I rarely log in to the forums anymore, because I feel that it doesn't matter. Also the recaptcha with uBlock makes it really annoying to access sometimes compared to very easily accessible reddit, which often gets way more attention from DE than their own forums concerning feedback.

 

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1 hour ago, (PS4)slova77 said:

I hope everyone at DE working on UI stops what they're doing, reads all of this, and seriously considers what they are trying to accomplish. Please DO NOT just wait to finish your current UI plan AND THEN discuss making changes. MAKE THOSE CHANGES NOW. Please. Your community knows what they're talking about. It's true, whether you've accepted that fact or not. Collectively (and in some cases individually), we have played your game much longer than you have. You're making this game for us, right? Not just because it's something you want to make and profit from, right? Then trust us, please. Trust players like @(PS4)Maunstre Find other special players like that and keep track of them and more importantly keep track of what they have to say. And please listen to them.

Thank you @[DE]Rebecca for giving this the spotlight this deserves. The forums are FULL of ideas as valuable as this that have never been read by DE. As a community we are your most valuable resource. If you are truly making this game for us, then USE US, and not just to fund your free-to-play game. 

Bravo, my friend. Please, @[DE]Pablo, listen to this man. This is EXACTlY what is wrong with DE's current approach to UI design.

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@(PS4)Maunstreappreciate the work you have put into this, this probably took a few hours to write..

While you focus on the Ui which is not directly connected to In-Mission-Gameplay, the feedback i posted was focussed on that part.

Ill just leave it in the Spoiler below since the Ingame Part is just as important imo:

Spoiler

 

  

Hey @[DE]Pablo, im glad you are adressing this issue with this post. I am gonna write a few things and they might sound harsh at some point, but it simply is how i feel about the UI changes the Dev-Team has made over the past year or so. I talked about the UI in a few topics recently, and i might just quote some things.

 

Unlike many other replies, i will focus on Railjack with my reply to explain some points.

 

Am 24.1.2020 um 22:33 schrieb [DE]Pablo:

   1. Need more information
   2. This is overwhelming

There should be a third point aswell you have to think about when designing the UI:

3. What is the information players need the most and most frequently?

 

Example: The weapon-selection on your Railjack:

I get that you dont want to put too much information on the screen because it might be overwhelming. Hence why we have to hover + TAB to get certain information.

But what is the information we want the most and most frequently about the weapons?

The stats

Still, i have to press TAB each time to get there, which is simply annoying.

I need the text-description of the weapon only a few times (depending on how good my memory works 😄),

but i always want to see the stats when i am selecting weapons. So you should simply switch these two tabs to make it more streamlined.

 

Then there is the Ingame UI in Railjack, which is lacking the most important information for coordinated Teamplay:

Lets take the pilot as an example and we can ask the same question as above: What is the information the pilot wants most frequently?

  • is someone in the Slingshot? (needed to know when to aim at a Crewship) - the Voice-over is not enough and sometimes doesnt play at all
  • is someone in the big-cannon? (same as above)
  • for coordinated Squadplay where friends also communicate via TS/Discord, it would be also helpful to know who is using these things

 

If we take the Gunner, there is another important thing to make it able to communicate with your Squad in a viable way.

Again you can ask: what information does the Gunner need the most to give commands/request to the pilot?

  • most players will have the 360° degree view unlocked, but you cannot make commands or requests because you cannot really tell where you are looking at.
  • we need a compass on the screen so you can tell the pilot: "turn x° left so i can hit y" - the pilot needs the same compass aswell as the Slingshot

 

Lastly, there is other information which might be less important for actual play, but still interesting for the players, especially in Public Groups.

In general i would say your fear of adding lables is unreasonable and doesnt really help the experience (sure nobody wants walls of texts, but there is nothing wrong with 1 line)

  • Example: Your are a gunner on a ship you do not own.
  • the weapon you are using performs really well and is fun to use
  • but what weapon is it? all we have is a symbol in the bottom left, and actually i dont even know if it tells anything about the weapon.
  • the only chance of learning which weapon you are using is asking the owner in the Chat - i tried it and never got a reply
  • just add 1 line with the name and the house of the weapon and the gunner gets crucial information he might want instantly

 

Regarding Ingame UI, you adressed many points players asked for in the Feedback-Megathread already (like marking Drops), but this is crucial information missing imo.

 

 

 

 

 

The following point is more of a general problem.

I think you could avoid the need for certain information if the game was more streamlined.

Let me use Railjack as an example again:

 

  • when modding your railjack, many of the systems are basically the same as in the rest of the game (modding Warframes or Weapons)
  • Avionics=Mods ; Dirac=Endo ; Battle/Tactical Avionics=Warframe Powers/Weapon Augments and so on
  • still, for some reason ( i guess its flavour) everything needs to have a completly new name and look
  • each player has to learn everything from the scratch again although in theory, he already could know everything before he even played it once
  • why does it have to be like this?

 

In recent discussions on the forum i refered to an interesting Video of a Head Designer from WOTC (Magic the Gathering) in which he talked about lessons they learned over the past 20 years. A very important lesson he talked about was this: "Use pre-existing knowledge to frontload information"

 

This means that longtime players learned a lot about how a game works, and if you introduce something new, you can use this fact by simply using names or images or whatever which the players connected with a certain mechanic in the game so they already know what something will do before even using it or having to read about it.

 

Learning Railjack could be so much more easy for the players if there would be references to already existing mechanics. But it seems like your approach is more like:

We wont "use pre-existing knowledge to frontload information" but instead "erase everything players have learned over the past years and replace it with new stuff they have to learn again". And to repeat myself, i have the feeling you are only doing this to add flavour to the game, but in reality you add unnecessary confusion.

 

 

 

 

This post has been long enough, but i wanna give 3 more example i have read about in the forum which falls into the UI/art category.

The first is about Liches and this is the post of the player in the feedback section:

Zitat

Rant incoming. 

So. I finally managed to gather everything I needed to kill my first ever Kuva Lich. I farmed for all the murmur, I did countless missions to get the damn mods and figured out the order, and I was finally going to kill her. So imagine my surprise when I down her, and I have a choice sprung on me with a very short time limit. No explanation what so ever to what the different outcomes will be. So I, being the paragon player I am, panic and press convert instead of vanquish at the last second. 

Now i'm sitting here, after googling what happens next, with a very empty feeling. I feel so disappointed after doing all that, and nothing to show for it. I really wanted the weapon, so I immediately regretted converting her once I found out what it meant (after googling when the mission ended). 

Now to the important part. I shouldn't have to know beforehand what to do, in order to "make the right choice". You can't just spring a choice on people, with a time limit, without telling them what their choice will mean. I'm incredibly disappointed. You might think I'm overreacting but honestly, this sucks. 

TLDR; PLEASE DON'T SPRING A TIMED CHOICE ON PEOPLE WITHOUT TELLING THEM WHAT THE CHOICE ENTAILS. IT'S HEINOUS.

my reply to someone who said its the players fault for not looking up the information before getting to this point:

Zitat

Some things simply have to be explained Ingame.

Sometimes it feels like DE makes the game confusing on purpose, imo the whole UI team is mislead and doesnt understand what matters.

All they focus on is making the game look good and "orokin'ish", while trying to use the least amount of text possible.

Basic information is missing everywhere in this game.

 

Regarding this issue: Whats the big problem with simply adding ONE MORE LINE below the vanquish/convert that explains it(get weapon/get an ally)?

 

I admit my reply is a bit harsh in regards to the UI team, but this example should show really well how your approach of using as little text as possible can create player frustation.

To get back to the start of my post, this again is an example of "what information does the player really need?"

 

The following example is about how a bad UI can destroy the gameplay:

In the Ropalolyst fight, the Lotus Transmission still takes up about 50% of the screen!

No matter how important the the Lore is, how is one supposed to play when half of the screen is covered with a transmission you probably want to hear only once?

 

And with my last example i come back to Railjack:

While obviously you want the game to look stunning, some effects are simply too much and destroy the gameplay aswell.

Abilities like the Particle Ram do look stunning, but i dont use them because they are so annoying to play with.

In the Slingshot you cant see anything when Particle Ram is active, even as the pilot its annoying.

 

Although i work in a completly different industry, i got confronted with the following guideline:

"form follows function"

As a player i wish you would ask yourself a lot more often if what you are creating follows this rule and if its good for the general gameplay,

or if you are only creating something because it looks better and more stunning. Is it really good when you are playing the game or just when you are looking at the game?

 

 

vor 2 Stunden schrieb [DE]Rebecca:

Awesome thread, thank you for putting this much feedback together!

Nice to see this gets noticed at least, but come on, its not like this feedback is anything new.

The whole Thread Pablo created is full of great feedback and suggestions, and people gave valuable feedback even before Pablo made that thread.

Still Pablo makes statements like "i never had a problem with Item Labels turned off" and "90% of our icons are very recognizeable"

 

I am really trying not be salty about this, but you got this feedback since the first introduction of the new UI.

This didnt change anything about the way you approached the Rework, and the way Pablo's post was written it felt like you guys didnt even expect that sort of backlash from the community because it was simply a thread to showcase and explain why you do the things the way you do instead of asking for feedback.

 

As if that would make anyone go "ah thats why its the way it is, now i feel a lot better about the UI which is a pain to navigate through".

 

Anyway, i just hope that your Team really takes a look at all the Feedback given there and readjust your philosophy according to that.

On major part of the topic was the end of mission screen, and i want to highlight one awesome suggestion a user made here aswell:

 

  

Am 26.1.2020 um 19:30 schrieb LeaserResael:

Instead of writing a lot, I decided to take the time to create a mockup of my own. I think at this point is clear that most players don't like the current mentality of hiding everything.
I think that you should separate rewards/exp gained, mission stats and squad showcase.

KfBArBJ.png

Edit: There is an updated version aswell:

Spoiler

  

Am 26.1.2020 um 23:16 schrieb LeaserResael:

I modified the equipment and syndicates sections to make the items in there bigger vertically. I think it looks a bit cleaner.
aGTnTQh.png

 

 

 

 

Edited by DreisterDino
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2 hours ago, (PS4)slova77 said:

Thank you @[DE]Rebecca for giving this the spotlight this deserves. The forums are FULL of ideas as valuable as this that have never been read by DE. As a community we are your most valuable resource. If you are truly making this game for us, then USE US, and not just to fund your free-to-play game. 

I agree with listening to the community. 
 

You know what DE should do? Instead of constantly listening to their content creators, as important as they are, they should implement some kind of council made of active forumers to help DE with designing their UI, gameplay, and other stuff. 
 

A council of design... imagine that.

Edited by (PS4)LeBlingKing
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