Poll

What name/descriptor should go on the button that links to the "Techroom" in the Main Hall?

"Tech Data" (current one)
1 (14.3%)
"Tech Room" (old school)
2 (28.6%)
"Database"
1 (14.3%)
"Encyclopaedia"
0 (0%)
"Gallery"
1 (14.3%)
"Lexikon"
0 (0%)
"Library"
0 (0%)
Other (please specify)
2 (28.6%)

Total Members Voted: 7

Voting closed: April 30, 2020, 07:19:10 am

Author Topic: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall  (Read 1487 times)

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Offline 0rph3u5

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Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
I've come to bargain!
(can't go wrong with a classic)

This one is a bit hard - where my efforts directed at the Mission Loading Screen are in part motivated by the fierce anger I have for the default loading bar, taking on the Main Hall comes with a deep tinge of sadness - the render of rotating Babylon 5 for the background of the Main Hall was an item of great pride back in the day, down to the point that consensus was "f*it if the Main Hall frame rate drops to single digits on most machines". Sadly it has aged horribily due to the compression issues with the .ani-file format: Even without the "Strech Interface to fill the Screen"-flag enabled it just looks dated, as the entire main hall scales up from 1024x768 ...

So what I am proposing and want to take point on is an effort to build a new widescreen Main Hall, with native resolution of 1920x1080. It's not going to be easy as there is some arcane rules to follow, but thanks to the SCP FSO has made some strides in that area as well.
Aside from the updated resolution, a big advantage of doing this would be to get rid of the .ani-files and replace them with .png/.eff-combination - that will do nothing for the size for the download but would make it easier to build a custom Main Hall for any future mod - it way easier to do with .pngs than having to converting graphics into .pcx and then into .ani.

Another thing, really side show of it, would be to bring the language on the Main Hall into allignment with modern games and making the language clearer overall.

Here come the mock-ups - a thing thank you to emi_100 who gracicously provided some of their art:

A - a basic configuration


B - with a button highlighted


Again, there are mock-ups slapped together by myself - I aim to produce a higher quality result than this.

As the for language, I been thinking along the lines of modern games:

- Continue Campaign, currently "Continue", as an equivalent for "Continue Game" aka Load Most Recent Save File but to highlight its connection to the Campaign Select.
- Select Campaign, currently "Campaign", to highlight it function as selection menu
- Gallery, currently "Techdata". Every function that is currently provided in by the Tech Room Screen (a ship's gallery, a fluff codex, the mission simulator, cutscene replay, and the credits) are in modern games menus files under one of two labels, Extras or Gallery. This think "Gallery" is more approriate, even if that leaves the Single Missions somewhat hanging.
- Manage Pilot, currently "Pilot", to highlight its function as a Manage Profile Screen (that the mock-up says "Manage Profile" is a mistake, only after I finished the mock-up I realized that term "Pilot" is used a bunch more across the interface)
- Options, unchanged
- Exit, unchanged

The added chevorns are to add clear a Point of Interaction for each menu item, although I want to keep it that text is also functional.
The blue colour sceme was chosen in referrence to the show's opening credits - although I've yet to nail the exact hues.

So, this is thoughts and comments time now....


ps. While I too dream of using the the CGI version of the Babylon 5 docking bay as seen in The Lost Tales (see B5Scrolls), I am going to kill that suggestion now. I am not going to do that; its too big an ask form any graphics designer without putting up a budget - asking for a background graphic they can also file as portofolio work is about the limit of my comfort zone here.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2020, 02:16:08 pm by 0rph3u5 »
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline Iain Baker

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
 :yes: :yes: :yes:
Wanna check out my video games, technology and media website? If so, visit; https://www.nomadsreviews.co.uk/

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Offline emi_100

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
maybe I can do an animation loop, of the station rotating in High Def  :D

I think, maybe,  the arrows could be more subtle, not that big.
DEDICATED TO ALL THE
PEOPLE WHO PREDICTED
THAT THE BABYLON
PROJEECT WOULD FAIL IN
ITS MISSION.

-------FAITH MANAGES------
  • Normal Maps for -The Babylon Project-
  • "Battle at ..." (Campaign) You can't choose when, but you will choose where... and you will fight! GO NOW!
  • "One Mistake" (Third Space Campaign)
  • "Each Night I Dream of Home" (Crusade Single Mision)

 
Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Gallery should be Gallery & Simulator or something.

 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Gallery should be Gallery & Simulator or something.

I think "Techroom" would be completely fine and much better than gallery! There are a lot of cool single missions, especially MAG's missions simulating TV episodes and under gallery nobody would ever think to find them! Also I still think that "Continue Campaign" should be "Play Campaign" as there is no hint on where to actually start a new campaign to continue. Last not least the new blue design clashes with everything else so basically the whole UI would need to be redone. And I don't know if this would mean straying too far from the original! It would basically mean to destroy all the former work of the original team for a modern but boring minimalistic design...
« Last Edit: March 17, 2020, 04:20:12 pm by wesp5 »

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Gallery should be Gallery & Simulator or something.

Ideally I would make a "Stand-Alone Missions"-button happen. Not sure yet if it is possible.

There is the option to programm "doors" into the mainhall that execute LUA scripts, but if that can be utilized to skip straight to the Mission Simulator I cannot tell yet. You have to give me a bit of time to figure that out.

I think "Techroom" would be completely fine and much better than gallery! There are a lot of cool single missions, especially MAG's missions simulating TV episodes and under gallery nobody would ever think to find them!

I don't understand how sticking with "Tech Data" will solve the issue you are raising.

Quote
the new blue design clashes with everything else so basically the whole UI would need to be redone.

The current mainhall is also very distinct from the rest of the UI. Due to its more subdued colour palette it doesn't register as all that different, but it terms of design it still a departure.

I deliberatly chose brighter shades of blue than the ones used in show's credits (although I am aiming to approximate those in the end) because it is much easier to alter this way  - e.g. to make red version of this mainhall for a Narn campaign or one with a stark black and white contrast for a campaign involving the Psi Corps. ("...would make it easier to build a custom Main Hall for any future mod")

Another reason for the bright shades is that like with all things subtraction is easier than addtion - with colours it is easier to make them more subdued from one interation to the next.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
I don't understand how sticking with "Tech Data" will solve the issue you are raising.

Tech Data or Techroom would make new players curious what this is all about, so they will discover the single missions and campaign replayability. Gallery implies only screenshots or concept art as in many other games which both are not included in TBP.

Quote
The current mainhall is also very distinct from the rest of the UI. Due to its more subdued colour palette it doesn't register as all that different, but it terms of design it still a departure.

Still it's much closer with it's gray to the green-gray brown-gray of the rest. Your bright blue is like a slap in the face in compatison ;)!

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
I don't understand how sticking with "Tech Data" will solve the issue you are raising.

Tech Data or Techroom would make new players curious what this is all about, so they will discover the single missions and campaign replayability.

While I understand the goal of trying to tease the player's curiosity, I don't think it is an appropriate objective here. TBP, in its current form, is a platform for different stories rather than telling one itself.

If the Techroom would be delivery vehicle for paratext in a story, see Blue Planet for reference, luring the player there would be appropriate. As current route for TBP 3.7.0+ is to include as much content as possible - including community created content absent of a creator's prohibition - the Techroom cannot service that function.

Gallery implies only screenshots or concept art as in many other games which both are not included in TBP.

Uhm ... I don't know what you get when you click on "Tech Data", but I am landing on this screen:


Which can be described as a model gallery. Cutscenes and Credits are common features of a game's gallery too.

The screen splits off into in a Lexicon (Weapons and Intelligence - as here nothing represented by ingame assets) and the Mission Simulator.

I am very aware of the problem of "hiding" Mission Simulator this way - but it is more of collateral damage than a deliberate erasure. I mean a patch would be to just make campaign files for the stand-alone missions - you would just have to figure out a way to order the campaigns in the Campaign Room (game_settings.tbl does not provide one).

Quote
The current mainhall is also very distinct from the rest of the UI. Due to its more subdued colour palette it doesn't register as all that different, but it terms of design it still a departure.

Still it's much closer with it's gray to the green-gray brown-gray of the rest. Your bright blue is like a slap in the face in compatison ;)!

I also don't see a reason why the rest of the interface has to be as drap as is - for Freespace 2 that is clear; the colour sceme reflects the atmosphere of the game and its thematic trajectory. TBP doesn't have that, and needn't be beholden to that.
It is esspecially jarring as Babylon 5 is not married to a "everything is used and bruised"-aethetic as say Star Wars or Firefly; Babylon 5's future may have its dark and grimey corners (Brown Sector), its deceptive beauty (Centauri Prime), its rugged edges (Narn), but also is very defined by clean functionality (Blue Sector and every common area of the station).

The only reasons I did not propose a whole overhaul is the work involved - while I like to keep the legacy backgrounds (even if some of them are a bit to busy IMO), the current interface is fixed onto them in the .pcx files. So absent the master files which would have the backgrounds and the interface elements as different layers, this is going to be a project that requires much more time and skill then I can muster.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
I am very aware of the problem of "hiding" Mission Simulator this way - but it is more of collateral damage than a deliberate erasure.

Sorry, but this is inacceptable! The whole TBO 3.X update was started by myself here because I think that MAGs single missions are better than 90% of all campaign missions exactly because they mirror the best show episodes. And now you come along and want to have them sink away in obscurity just for some standard nomenclature. NO WAY!

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Listen, what is your agenda here? - Because I cannot tell anymore.

I am actually interested in what TBP can be going forward, even if there is no more grand next chapter being written, because let's face it we are talking about Babylon 5 fandom which is in late 20s; with JMS saying that he would not do anything short of "something big".
I have a championed the inclusion of post_processing.tbl, hud_gauges.tbl and the related scripts for exactly that reason - and I am really glad OverDHill did the work on those. The interface reform is fruit of the very same tree.

I may have a mixed relationship with my contributions to TBP - I have issued a prohibition on the re-release of The Black Hand - Episode 1 and the Awakening of the Beast-demo campaign for a reason - and likewise I am trying to fix the mistakes I made when I was put in charge of updating the Earth-Minbari War mini-campaign back for the release of 3.4.
But I am not here to erase someone else's contributions.

I also offered up a solution for the problem my interface reform would be causing: making campaign files for each of stand-alone mission is a trivial addition, but it then you would have to solve the issue of how to organize the campaign screen, which by default just goes alphabetically.

Finally as evidence of my intentions, here we are having this discussion. Out in the open, with the intention to find solutions for the problems that would exist if I were to move forward.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
But I am not here to erase someone else's contributions.

It just looks like this to me though. You are willing to sacrifice the single missions only because you think that "Gallery" should replace "Tech Data"! Why is that so important in the first place? OverDhill and myself already gave you alternative suggestions which you ignored or tried to play down. I played hundreds of games and there is no need to have a "Gallery" option in the main menu! Just allow us to rename it to something else and everybody could be happy. Like "Simulator Room" or something, because all the 3d models floating around already look more like a 3d model simulator than a picture gallery to me.

Quote
I also offered up a solution for the problem my interface reform would be causing: making campaign files for each of stand-alone mission is a trivial addition, but it then you would have to solve the issue of how to organize the campaign screen, which by default just goes alphabetically.

You are forgetting that the mission simulator allows to replay single missions of the active campaign too, a feature that again would be well hidden behind a dubious "Gallery" name. And which would also not work with your "Standalone-mission-button" suggestion.

Quote
Finally as evidence of my intentions, here we are having this discussion.

That at least is true, but for now I don't see you acknowledge anything beside your agenda. And don't get me started on changing the whole main menu page! I wasn't involded in TBP before the revival, but I know that the Zathras patches were created because some of the original developers didn't want their work to be changed or erased. Which you are basically suggesting right now in favor of your own favorite interface. IPAndrews would turn in his grave ;)!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 01:37:43 pm by wesp5 »

 
Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Gallery? I'm just hopping here without closely reading up the posts but it seems like "behind" that button you've got the mission simulator, ship, weapon and intelligence data. Maybe actually go with Lexicon, or something along the lines of Database.

Edit: I think that technically Simulator (Room) would give good results, too. After all, simulators exist in order for pilots to be able to hone their skills without experiencing the threat of a real battle, and in my humble opinion it's also the role, even if only secondary, of a simulator to allow to study known ships both from parameter and actual shape perspectives, along with known weapons and intel data (which might be anything from cultural behaviours to typical fleet compositions, tactics and used technology). Like, look at it from the perspective of a pilot who would want to load up the turret layout, sightlines and composition of a warship to study for opportunities and weaknesses only to jump into the simulated scenario itself to test his/her feelings and findings.

It would be nice to have the custom "Simulator only" button in the menu, but while I'm not really sure how that might work in FSO if at all, I think @mjn.mixael would be a good person to ask as his BtA mod has got two custom menu positions (the news room and system map).
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 01:51:32 pm by MitoPL »
Mito [PL] - Today at 8:52 PM
I was supposed to make a short presentation about basics of optical fibers and here I am, listening to Eurobeat while reading about quantum cryptography.

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Since I talked big game that it would be trivial to add the stand alone mission to the campaign screen ... a little snag:

"I meet you again, FSO's character limit on strings."

Quote
OverDhill and myself already gave you alternative suggestions which you ignored or tried to play down

I responded, and while I did not agree I took them under advisement. However if you do not make convincing case yet, you cannot except me to be convinced. This is still a feedback phase.

And you have to excuse that when I take the initative on something, I make and defend my case.
That I also don't drop anything for every suggestion and rather have the feedback phase last a while, is also my decision.
If you feel belittled by that I cannot help you.

It would be nice to have the custom "Simulator only" button in the menu, but while I'm not really sure how that might work in FSO if at all, I think @mjn.mixael would be a good person to ask as his BtA mod has got two custom menu positions (the news room and system map).

Actually, I was thinking about asking Axem the next the opportunity I get. He is the author behind the scripts mjn.mixael is utilizing.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 
Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Like I have said, personally I have no issues as it stands now.  I have seen newbies to FS and TBP have no problem finding the single missions.  However if I take a step back to see what is the most important role of that room I see it is for the database of ships,ect as well as sort of what X-Wing calls "Historical Combats".

Soraris calls it Database 
FSO, FotG and Blue Planet calls it Tech Room

So for me TECH ROOM would be fine as it follows most of MODs

Lets not quibble about such a little thing.  People playing this game will not have any problems finding the Single missions no matter what the button is called. 

I would much prefer the energy be spent on coming up with new content for TBP



 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
So for me TECH ROOM would be fine as it follows most of MODs

That would be fine with me too, so maybe 0rph3u5 should explain why in his opinion "Gallery" is so important?

 
Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
I did not make my comments to be confrontational so please don't make it sound that way.  Like I said I do not care what it is called.  Trivial to say the least.


 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
I did not make my comments to be confrontational so please don't make it sound that way.

That was not my intention. I'm just curious why "Gallery" is so important that he even goes so far as to rearrange the campaign/single mission system.

P.S.: If this is about the campaign/mission visibility I agree with him and if we are going to change the main hall anyway, how about this:

Campaign
 -> Start Campaign
 -> Continue Campaign
Missions
 -> Single Missions
 -> Campaign Missions
Extras
 -> Gallery
 -> Credits
Pilot
Options
Exit
« Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 02:30:26 am by wesp5 »

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
So, I had a chat with Axem and he was kind enough to show me a way how to make the desired "Simulator"-button work - I've to re-check the list he gave me, if I can make seperate buttons for stand alone missions and campaign replay. I will get back to you on that. EDIT: No, can't make seperate button as the function is specifc.


I've also added a poll, which will run through April on the name for the old "Tech Data"-button - once that is done, I will make another mock-up.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 07:23:02 am by 0rph3u5 »
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline wesp5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
So, I had a chat with Axem and he was kind enough to show me a way how to make the desired "Simulator"-button work - I've to re-check the list he gave me, if I can make seperate buttons for stand alone missions and campaign replay. I will get back to you on that. EDIT: No, can't make seperate button as the function is specifc.

I don't understand that. So you could do a main hall "Simulator Button" which I called "Missions" above, but no sub-buttons although they already exist in the game? If so I still think this would be a better solution that we have now :), we would only have to make sure the campaign naming is consistent so these missions are recognizable as coming from a campaign. It would also be cool to be able to replay any campaign mission and not only those from the active one...

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Taking on TBP's UI: The Main Hall
Its because the function he told me about can only lead to a limited number of "adresses" - like the Mission Simulator or the Credits. But the functions that "live under that adress" cant be accessed that way.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."