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Analysis The influence of our modern society (and the UI) on Wasteland 3

nowhat

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Sep 18, 2017
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It keeps happening over and over. From out of the blue comes some book/movie/tv-series/game, what have you, that has got people all frenzied about it. It doesn't matter if they like it, hate it or just are quite baffled why anyone would care so much. It doesn't even matter if there are so many people, just as long as they're vocal enough about it. The damage has already been done, like a forest fire slowly but surely growing from a carelessly disposed cigarette the fever starts to spread. The first signs appear with a few random tweets making observations painfully obvious to anyone even remotely familiar with the work, later followed by blog posts ever growing in length. But this is only the beginning. Suddenly YouTube is overwhelmed by the epidemic, as thousands of channels fighting over at least some name recognition compete with each other, in a pointless effort trying to come up with the most absurd interpretation and the stock footage to accompany it for at least two hours. The feeling of despair is inevitable - will this insanity never end?

But eventually it always does. It may not seem like it, with some of the most ludicrous theories still being parroted around on afternoon TV, but the end may come sooner than you realize. It's one thing to know better what an artist meant with his/her work. Anyone can do that. Blowing up an individual scene from a movie to an hour of video to assert that the author probably saw Godfather 3 at some point, and actually liked it better than 2, kids play. Below the surface though, the old masters are once again rising from their slumber, to briefly settle the matter once and for all. For it is one thing to make unfounded parallels to contemporary politics - a whole another to know how the debated work really should have been made. The age of the fanfic has arrived once again. Those still in the frenzy try to cling on for some while, but deep down they know they've already lost. The fanfic continues until the old masters can safely say that they were vindicated, because no one is willing to debate the work with them anymore. Thus, after the official canon has been established and generally agreed upon (there may be some infighting over minute details between fringe factions, and whether the butt or breasts of the female lead should be larger, but these seldom result in large public confrontations), they return to rest in their underground lairs, ready to wake up next time the cycle continues.

What that has got to do with anything? Well - I've been playing a fuckton of Wasteland 3, and I've been absolutely loving most of the game. I've also been playing a fuckton of Wasteland 3, and had some to very much question my life choices and goals as I hated playing it so much. I can't get the thing out of my head, I just can't comprehend how such a great game has so great failings. And there's a society in the game! Well, at least, there was! I think you can see where this is going...

...why yes, I'm going to write a series of posts about the gameplay of Wasteland 3 on PS4, what did you think? But I don't mean about what you do in the game, mechanics or anything like that, and nothing to do with the story, there are far more qualified people who have and continue to write those articles. Rather, what is required from the player, in terms of user interaction, to achieve certain tasks in the game.

As I can already feel the unparalleled excitement for this seminal series of forum posts rising, I've prepared a mini-FAQ to answer some questions all of you must be having right now:
  • ...but why?
    • It's still a free count -err, forum! I have my thread posting rights! At least for the time being!
  • No but seriously, why?
    • I've worked as a frontend developer/UI designer (in either or both capacities depending on the project) for over a decade now. It pays the bills, which is nice of course, but it was never about the money, then I would have picked up one of the many more lucrative programming paths. What interests me is that it's really is a combination of several fields, like information technology, visual design and human behaviour. It's not an exact science, but it's far from a pseudoscience either. There's no universal golden UI standard for everything, it depends on the application (not necessarily a software application - UI is really about creating a process for achieving a certain task, or multiple tasks). It's hard to get right. It's easy to get wrong, happens all the time so nothing new there. Many great games suffer from poor UIs. Just that this time the game is so incredible - and so is the UI, in different but equally amazing ways.
  • So like, you're going to take a bunch of screenshots and claim that this corner should be red or that font is too large?
    • While UI is commonly understood to mean a graphical user interface, it's probably the least significant part of it. There doesn't even need one, the interaction with the user can be done with other means than visual or tactile. Sure, a pretty appearance will please user, elements placed in a both aesthetically pleasing way and in logical order makes people fill out forms at least a bit more carefully - it's all been studied and confirmed multiple times. But you never start out with what it will look like, but rather, what the user is trying to do and how that can be achieved in the best way for all parties involved. In the case of this game, I think several meetings were spent debating "How can we best aggravate our users trying to make sense of their specs/loot in a spec/loot based game?"
  • Hahaha check out this clown, it's UX FFS
    • No, just no. While me using the term UI is partially just hating trendy terms ending in X (and also just being old-fashioned, I guess), UX is and always has been a completely redundant term to define a thing that already existed. A user interface doesn't exist in isolation, it is tied to user interaction. Combine user interface with user interaction, you get user experience.
  • So you just sit at home playing games and making notes of something no one cares about while smelling your own farts?
    • Hey, that's only partially true - I also watch TV! Seriously though, while I take some professional pride in my work, I don't go around looking for user interfaces that could be done better. They can be found all over. And besides, something like a secretary taking a copy of last years budgeting Excel, renaming it to increase the year and deleting most of the content, then starting to fill it all over again, that may be seen as horribly inefficient and user-unfriendly. But she may be used to doing it that way, and be most proficient doing so. There are no absolute criteria what constitutes a successful UI, but I'd argue "gets shit done" is high on the list. Even if it would look ugly or something. What caught my attention wasn't any visual feature, but rather that shit didn't get done, or got done in horribly convoluted ways. "Shit eventually got done" more like.
  • You know the game is still buggy right?
    • Oh I'm aware, I started typing this as the game crashed yet again. And that's what I thought initially, parts of it just don't work (the game really shouldn't have been released in this state) because they've yet to patch everything. But then I started to get curious about what the UI is actually trying to do, and I've come to the conclusion that while yes, buggy, it's not the bugs that are the problem, and removing them (while desirable and to be done before release) won't fix the issue.
  • Ooh look, another fake insider! We haven't had any in ages! Are the gallows available or should we just go with a regular stoning?
    • I claim no insider information in general or related to inXile in particular, all that is just my own personal speculation. Just that I can see what the game shipped with, and it never should have made it past Q&A (was there any?). But the problem is, it should have never left the design stage. There are some truly bizarre decisions that were made.
  • I dunno, it kinda sounds like you skipped the frenzy and jumped right into fanfiction
    • I mean, yeah.... no.... kinda? I'm not going to tell how to fix the thing, because a) it's not my job and it would be a hell of a lot of work, and b) it's far easier to point out the mistakes of others than come up with own creative solutions, duh. But the purpose isn't to list: "this thing does that wrong, this thing that" - no, that wouldn't be meaningful in any way. But rather, what are the challenges when creating an UI for such a game, what are the goals and what could be the possible solutions. No "this would be an easy way to fix this", because there is no easy fix for basically doing the whole menu system and functionality again from scratch. Most of it anyway.
  • Just get a PC and shut up already!
    • No, I like my little black plastic box to fuel my frenzy when problems of the world seem so insignificant.
That's it, I officially said I'd write it so I guess I better, lest I lose all my Internet credibility. Expect part one within a few days.

All content to be released under the IMHO-YMMV license.
 
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-Arcadia-

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Jigsaah

Gold Member
Jan 31, 2018
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I'm being absolutely serious, the posts will come whether you like it or not.

Also quite stoned right now, admittedly, but the actual content will be more serious. And admit it, the clickbait title worked didn't it.
didn't even fuckin acknowledge my request...puff...puff...pass...please.
 

Jigsaah

Gold Member
Jan 31, 2018
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Put it out earlier, sorry, but I'll give you a holler for the next one.
Fair enough. So I've never played a Wasteland. But the passion you convey here makes me want to download, though I don't quite understand most of what you're saying here, Bob.
 

nowhat

Member
Sep 18, 2017
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Fair enough. So I've never played a Wasteland. But the passion you convey here makes me want to download, though I don't quite understand most of what you're saying here, Bob.
I'm saying the interface can make it a so much more of a painful and tedious experience than it needs to be, at least on PS4. The game is really great but is hampered by how you need to manage it.

But sure, there are sooo many worse UIs out there, no question. Just that this particular one has some spectacularly poor choices. Probably it's much better on PC, although if they've kept that menu structure it will still blow even with a mouse.
 

Jigsaah

Gold Member
Jan 31, 2018
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I'm saying the interface can make it a so much more of a painful and tedious experience than it needs to be, at least on PS4. The game is really great but is hampered by how you need to manage it.

But sure, there are sooo many worse UIs out there, no question. Just that this particular one has some spectacularly poor choices. Probably it's much better on PC, although if they've kept that menu structure it will still blow even with a mouse.
Downloading on PC Gamepass right now. If the UI is clunky I will report back
 
Mar 26, 2010
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Hey I live in a society! I feel very compelled to try Wasteland 3. I'm all over this game on PS4 after 3 or 4 patches from now. I can just lurk while you guys talk UI, don't mind me
 

onesvenus

Member
Aug 26, 2004
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Never played Wastelands but I'd like to read your take on UI, not only on that game but in others as well. It's something I've been thinking about a lot also.

Looking forward to read your posts!
 

nowhat

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Sep 18, 2017
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OK, I had a long discussion with myself this weekend. Am I really going to do this? I totally could, but the more I thought about it, the less appealing the thought felt. It would be the most feeble attempt at pissing upwind ever, no one would eventually care and I'd just end up smelling bad for no particularly good reason.

Then it dawned on me. It was actually the first image in this post, I was going through my screenshots and misread the label in the middle, I thought it said "Not Enough OP" ("AP" really, but close enough). It was too much, but it also was not nearly enough. Surely, instead of doing a most verbal tirade about some obscure thing online, I could somehow compress my message into just a couple of words.

And it's basically "check out this shit", both for Wasteland 3 as a game and Wasteland 3's UI - the words are the same, but there's a wild difference in intonation. But no matter what I'd rant about, it would always come down to that particular message. It's something people can get behind, even though they don't know yet what "this shit" is, and whether it's better than whatever their current shit is. People like to check their shit out in byte-sized bites these days, as is the norm, so don't go overboard with how much shit you put out there. It's more important that shit is getting checked out on a regular basis.

On that note, I'll take a brief artistic break (from this thread, you're not going to get rid of me completely that easily) for rewriting, but the path is so obvious why didn't I think about it in the first place. Not memes, like just adding some caption to a photo everyone has seen a million times, that's too much of a low-hanging fruit. I'm playing so much of the game, there's bound to be some good material there, and going through the screenshots, there's a ton, I just didn't quite realize the potential.

So, I will return, with my power lever higher than ever, but as a preview, this is the level of intelligence we will be probably talking about. And on any given post, I would only address a single (actual) issue. But this is only purely humour. Enjoy, or not.
--



This is a public service announcement: while it may be easy to forget, what with the nuclear apocalypse and subsequent collapse of human society, death cults both old and new, tribalism, cannibalism, slavery and whatnot, and the general acceptance of the fact that none of us really give a shit anymore, The Patriarch would like to remind his citizens, non-citizens and non-human citizens that we are still a nation of at least some laws. And among them, Tile Law.

If you find yourself unable to continue in some direction, as if some invisible force is there to stop your movement,



remember to look carefully at your feet before proceeding. A rabbit may look all cute and innocent, when in reality they are cheeky bastards who most of all are completely versed in Tile Law and will occupy their spots for as long as they fucking please. One thing per one tile, we don't make the rules - it's the law. Not two, not zero, one. Well, there can be zero. But not two.

In related news, the rabbit in question was caught on camera at a local restaurant later the same evening, where he was seen randomly attacking innocent bystanders in a drug-fueled stupor. Despite the caption, this story didn't take a friendly turn.

 
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