Originally written 11/2019, some information may be out of date or have changed.
What's up! Jynnie (@jynniit) here, I come up with the user interface tools here at Multiverse.
A fundamental part of roleplaying experience is the person running the game. They have a bunch of different names depending on what you're playing, and for sake of ease (and copyright) in Multiverse we call them the Storyteller.
We've been busy working on the look, shape, and feel of the Multiverse storyteller toolkit, I'm here to sneak you a quick peek into what's been rumbling behind the scenes.
While we want a set of visually consistent components, these are principles we always want to keep in mind:
- Effortless! We want our UI to be intuitive, easy to use and learn regardless of previous tabletop or gaming experience.
- Customizability! Have the tools you want the way you want them, and when you want them. Adapt the tools to your play style, not the other way around.
- Seamless! Tools should seamlessly aid fun, without being the focus. It should just work~ like magic.
- Accessibility! There are two definitions we're thinking about:
- Literally, as in easy access. With so many tools and data that we could display, we want accessing, finding, and creating tools to be easy for everyone.
- Accessible to everyone, and meaning it. For those who are colorblind, hearing and/or vision impaired, etc. We strive for contrast and color standards that won't require a "colorblind" or other mode to be needed. For those of you who want larger text or a specifically more readable font — we will work to be there for you.
What we started with
This was our first iteration, a simple sidebar on the left hand for the Storyteller. We found that it wasn't customizable, took up a lot of screen space and was difficult to make visually appealing.
What's out there
The first thing we did was cast our net wide and see how other folks have done this. We really liked the idea of minimal, see-it-when-you-want-it user interface. We were inspired by UI's like of Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios)'s adjustable action menus.
Ashen (A44) really piqued my interest of displaying overlaid UI in a way that you could still generally see what's happening/your player in game.
This is super important to us because our tools are not the game. They're there to support and build the fun. but they should never feel "in the way". We looked at programs that were made with creators in mind, outside of games. Airtable and Photoshop did this quite well. Airtable's customization controls "come to you", appearing on items when you hover over them -- marrying customizability while remaining minimal and effortless. Photoshop's rearrangeable, resizable panes, and menus are something we want to strive for. Both offer users to customize keyboard shortcuts. and we were impressed by Airtable's search system which lends itself well to accessibility.
Inspired by all of the above, we landed on something called "pods".
Tools are captured in pods which can be resized, rearranged over game space, popped out into actual separate browser windows, and attached to each other to form sidebars. It's ambitious, but we think it is one of the most intuitive patterns that offers the most customizability and flexibility!
This much freedom can be a bit intimidating, so we also want to be able to provide some presets. Maybe you run a game as "the minimalist" with just the critical pods, or you're in for a long campaign and want to be "the micro-manager" with all of the data. We're also excited that this opens up the prospect of you folks making your own modules and creating your own presets for pod combos.
In addition, we want to have a robust search system. This way, you can just have your frequently used pods pulled up, but still get to "toggle fog" that one time the green moon peers over the sea.
What type of storyteller are you? What tools or pods would you like to see? Let us know by tweeting us @play_multiverse.
While a lot of this has been thoughts for Storyteller UI, we can't forget about players! A lot of pieces are moving now, with customizability for player interfaces as well (ooh la la). We'll get more into that and battle UI in another post. In addition, we are working on setting contrast standards and color palettes to develop our visual language and accessibility standards.
Until the next UI post, signing off!