UI in Warhammer – Good and Bad

The user interface in WAR has much potential, but has some severely problematic aspects

BAD NEWS

  1. Buff and Debuff visibility
    The buff icons in WAR are tiny. Until you play the game a LOT, you are going to have no clue who is hitting you with what, and whether an item is a buff or a debuff (I don’t find color-coding borders to be sufficient when the buffs and debuffs are intertwined). Similarly, for debuffs, there is no easy way to tell which ones are curable via spells or not.

  2. Visual and Audio feedback of abilities used by and on you
    (This paragraph is a different color for a reason – I personally think this is the biggest combat related problem in the game currently.)

    You often are guessing as to what you need to do in a hectic RvR environment because you don’t know which abilities you have already used (and were actually processed by the server!). One thing that would help immensely, if Mythic cannot fix the other problems, is to change the animations and sounds when abilities are used.

    In WoW, when you’re a rogue, you know when you used eviscerate, because the screen has a fairly bright explosive affect surrounding your character (depending on race). Similarly gouge has a very distinct animation and sound, both of which are very easy to notice. WAR’s animations (on the four character classes I’ve played most heavily – Witch Elf, Witch Hunter, and Disciple of Khaine, Warrior Priest) fall far short of the standard set by WoW. Amazingly short.

    Melee characters are by far the most vocal complainers regarding the state of the combat sluggishness in WAR (yes, even in this patch, it doesn’t seem nearly as responsive as in WoW), and I believe that this is because casters at least know when their abilities have fired for non-instant spells. The cast bar lets them know that the server got their request.

    Related to this, some spell animations are positively huge. Those from Bright Wizards are particularly infamous. By contrast, some are teeny. Shadow Warrior arrows are like this, as are many spells from NPCs. The result is that you can be getting shot by a few PvE mobs and not know where the pain is coming from. In RvR, it’s much easier to figure out what’s happening in combat when you’re up against a magic using class as opposed to a SW.

  3. Character clickable on screen
    Your character, on screen, is a selectable object. I often wondered why your character was not selectable this way in WoW, but now I understand the reasoning. Most of the time that you want to loot a mob, or click on an enemy (mob or player) that is in front of you, a large portion of their hit box will be blocked by your own hit box. This is doubly problematic for healers and tanks, as this sets your defensive target to themselves. If you don’t realize you’ve accidentally clicked yourself, and your tank or other ally is being wounded, any heals you cast will hit yourself instead.

  4. Targeting
    Targeting is a tricky issue. I never fully understood how important it was and how hard it is to get right until playing this beta. WoW did targeting right. WAR did not. Both click targeting and tab targeting rarely seem to do what they “should”, at least, in terms of what I expect from the system coming from 3 years of WoW. It is difficult to describe the problem without experiencing it for one’s self, but it is a very strong negative in the game.

  5. Scrolling combat text
    Scrolling combat text cannot seem to anchor itself correctly above your target on roughly 50% of the targets you heal or fight. Sometimes it will appear somewhere else on the screen, sometimes it’s perfectly located, and sometimes it’s not visible onscreen at all. It’s also really small compared to the SCT in WoW, which again makes it hard to see what abilities you’ve used (according to the server).

  6. Tooltip anchoring
    There is no way to set the game, via its default configuration, to anchor the tooltip to the cursor. This is inexcusable considering how easy this is to program, and how many people would use this as their preferred option. If you believe this is not easy to program, get back to me after release and tell me how long it took for a mod to be created which does this.

  7. Keybinding
    This is a mess right now. Some keys can’t be bound (mousebuttons are problematic), some bindings mysteriously unbind themselves. Some things auto-bind between play sessions even though there’s not a command listed in the game that’s supposed to be able to be bound to the key. It’s really annoying.

  8. Timers on Ability Icons
    Icon timers cannot currently show fractional seconds, so the global cooldown looks like it’s 2 seconds even though it’s actually 1.5 seconds. Also, you can have either the stack count on stackable buffs/debuffs, or the time left. The stack count overrides the timer, so as soon as you stack a buff/debuff more than once, you no longer have a timer built into the UI.
  9. Miscellaneous
    Tell all the Witch Elves and Witch Hunters that ask that the number of blood-lusts/accusations (combo points for them) can be found by the spikey things in the bottom middle of the screen, coming up from their Action Bars. Trust me, you’ll hear the question.

GOOD NEWS

On the flip side of all these problems is the fact that as a default UI, it’s actually really good! The problems arise from the fact that WAR is competing with WoW, whether Mythic says so or not. WoW’s default UI at its release was terrible. Over the years, mods have provided some exceptional functionality to WoW’s interface, and Blizzard has adopted some of the modders’ conepts into its default UI. The WAR UI at release is miles ahead of the WoW UI at its release, but WAR is competing with a game that is 4 years old, not 0.

Also, the much vaunted “everything’s moveable” aspect to the WAR interface really is a great addition to the game.

CONCLUSION

WAR‘s interface is adequate, but barely so. The single biggest positive they have going for them is that so many people are now familiar with lua/xml coding that mod makers should have very little trouble fixing the WAR UI for Mythic.

19 Responses to “UI in Warhammer – Good and Bad”

  1. Hmmm Says:

    Failhammer Online

  2. Zeln Says:

    I went to a Warhammer event and got to play some of the RvR, and what you wrote in number two was completely what I took away from playing it.

  3. Fivyrn Says:

    Well even though I haven’t played at all yet (preview weekend in 3 days), I guess you could call me a semi-fanboi after how much all the reading and vid watching I have done of Warhammer in the last week has made me excited. However it is really nice to see some less talked about (or even if it is talked about, less elaborated) negative aspects of the game. But to be honest the more negatives I hear, the more of a fanboi I become because they really don’t seem that bad (and for the UI a fair amount seem fixable).

    So thanks for the critical review! I wish there had been more of them for AoC.

  4. Zero Says:

    After reading up on this, I’m fairly worried about combat. Coming from CoH, I felt the reuse of character animations (model animations moreso than graphical or sound effects) in WoW was atrocious. As a more melee-centric player, I’m hoping they take suggestions like these to heart in WAR eventually, though I guess first and foremost I’m hoping there’s some Addon work done soon after release.

  5. disquette Says:

    Yes Zero, CoH did indeed have very easy-to-see/hear animations. Animations and sounds are things I’ve sort of taken for granted when playing games these past few years. This is the first time that I’ve really understood how important they are in terms of making good-feeling combat.

  6. Mystic Theurge Says:

    Number 2 is going to be the make or break point for Warhammer. Everything else is solid or easily fixed. However honestly any MMO that releases today better have crisp and responsive controls or folks will go back to games that do have it. WoW had far better control at release than this beta does. Even games that didn’t do as well, Tabula Rasa, City of Heroes, etc had quick response controls and when the cooldowns are up, we know 100% that we can press the button and it would work. The fact that such is not so in Warhammer is a game breaker for many.

  7. Mystic Theurge Says:

    Just to add on. In WoW after some time folks started noticing that the GCD in our UI was lasting about .2 seconds longer than it should have been. Thats right folks were complaining about a fifth of a second. WoW eventually tweaked things since that .2 seconds turned out to be the time lost to latency between client and server.

    In WAR folks are complaining about a half of a second or more and are losing casts due to it extending the lost time to over a second. That is an extremely serious problem and I hope Mythic is giving it the proper attention.

  8. disquette Says:

    Yeah, the place that really shows that it’s still a problem that’s testable by anyone is using “flee” to traverse great distances. If you hit it when it first becomes available again (according to the icon showing that the ability is ready), you’ll get a error message saying that it’s not ready yet for another 1/2 or 1 seconds.

  9. deathdonut Says:

    Good commentary disquette. I couldn’t agree more with the lack of tactile feedback on instant abilities. Of similar note is the way cast times and channelled spells give “false starts” if used too quickly. Combined with the targetting issues (which I’ve read they are working on), combat seems a bit off.

    The binding options and issues are odd, but seem way too common in recent games. I’ve had issues in the last 3 released games I’ve played. No idea why such a simple concept seems to give them trouble. I suspect it is frequently hacked in as a temporary feature and then “fixed” rather than rewritten as the release date nears.

    The issues with alt-tabbing is another pet peave. A well written game shouldn’t have trouble, but the correlation between game bugginess and alt-tab capabilities are pretty surprising.

    As a closing note, I want to say that it’s refreshing to find someone who can critique a game they enjoy. I think Blizzard and Mythic have done amazing things with their respective games and should both be commended and critiqued to all hell. Too many people take it as a personal affront when people want to give constructive criticism.

  10. WallOfTextCrittsYou! Says:

    Read some of DEV’s post about new patch before judging animations/sounds and other stuff.

  11. Tom H Says:

    While I believe the WAR UI needs polishing its a mistake to use WoW as your measuring stick. The core audience of this game is unlikely to be 3 year vets of WoW, but even if it was if the game is just like WoW then its already failed.

    Don’t get me wrong your complaints may be entirely justified (in fact the ones that are clear bugs obviously are) but when you get into the area of it not “feeling right: because its not WoW that seems a lot more shaky.

    After playing a game and becoming very familiar with its UI over a course of 3 years, playing a same genre game that isn’tt the same is going to feel awkward and annoying at first, but its likely that once you’ve played the new game some fraction of three years it will become just as natural.

    The thing is though, I don’t think your all wrong either. I’m sure there ARE elements of the UI that are not good enough and need to be better. whether or not becoming a WoW interface is the answer depends on each individual case.

    One thing is certain. UI itterations happen at the end of the project all the time. Often a simple one or two line code change can have a large effect on the players game-play experience. Good job bring up these issues as it can only result in a better game.

  12. Tom H Says:

    Crap posted on the wrong Blog. sorry.

  13. cedil Says:

    all of that is definatly true and like you said comparing WARs UI to WoWs current UI isnt really fair theyeve had about 3+ years to polish their system but you already said that lol. also the devs are aware of these problems and from what little the elders can say without violating NDA all of this and the pathing issues have been fixed (or at least made much better) anyway thanks for the in depth guides both this one and the melee dmg guide. just need to find someone doing the ranged (bow) damage guide although its probally close to the same formula since they are both physical damage.

  14. gilaliz Says:

    As you pointed out, what WAR needs more than anything for playability, is:

    Audio and Visual feedback for powers and abilities.

    Especially as a melee-oriented player, this game cries out for these things. They don’t need to be big and bold and fancy. In fact, the simpler and more clear, the better. The boost to the game would be huge.

    One other gripe is the font and coloring they use for ingame names, titles, etc above character heads is hard to see unless up close. It’s very difficult to read these things from a distance, and I have good vision. The lettering is simply not crisp and clear, as it should be.

  15. Vorber Says:

    Just so you know – you can toggle the ability to select yourself via User Options (was extremely happy when i found that myself and finally turned that off)

  16. Lyall Says:

    Vorber, where? I can not find it :(

  17. Krytos Says:

    Yes, its in the user options now, it wasnt at the time of this writing. its a fairly new feature.
    The animations do seem to have gotten better. Although, they still need work.
    Stacking the debuffs/buffs would be useful, and ordering them by color code would be nice too.

    Also, sticky targetting would be sweet too.

  18. Snus Says:

    Character clickable on screen

    ^^ I believe, you can switch on “Allow clicks through your character” in the default UI

    What you forgot to mention, is that your ping is not displayed on screen. Sometimes I wonder, what that a lag or just a bug in animation (especially when mobs are jumping on you from 20 feet away).

  19. Fuz Says:

    I just wish I could Disable to 48pt massive yellow letters that fill my screen and make it hard to see crap.
    Yes, I know its out of range, yes I know hes dead. Yes i know I’m at the scenario objective, please stop filling my screen with opaque text telling me these things.

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