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 Post subject: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:02 am 
Just so you know, you brought this upon yourself. Dancefight.
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Note: For those not interested in backstory, scroll down to the bolded phrase, "The Bottom Line"

As you have probably read, we are planing to do an interface recode. I'd like to discuss a few things about it.

First and foremost, doing an interface recode means a general recode. The odds are that we're going to end up restructuring everything with it, from the world classes onward.

I've done something I don't usually do with any project, and that is to involve family. Interface design is something I have actually tried a number of times, but with every person I've tried it with, they've gotten cold feet and conspicuously disappeared for months at a time, rather than saying they can't make themselves do that much work.

And what work it is. The first draft of elements alone, without mockups or individual designs, is already eight pages long. This draft is the first draft and only consists of elements that are already present, not one that we will be adding.

This is the main reason I have drafted my own mother for this task. Not only can she not escape me (heh heh heh), but she's actually done this sort of massive overhaul before; back in Mac OS 9.x, there was a theming engine called Kaleidoscope which allowed total system modification in the GUI. She also made an award winning mod to this effect, so I hope to harness this ability from here.

This is going to be months of work between me and her alone. However, we are going to need to convene for an initial design specification. Unfortunately, she's dreadfully fearful of flying, so we need to bring Tycho to the two of us.

As luck would have it, Tycho is going to be on a family trip the first week of August and just happens to be coming around where we live. The timing is rather impeccable, and I plan to use this to our advantage.

The Bottom Line

Tycho will be here within a few weeks to discuss the new interface with us. In this meeting, we will discuss the basic layout (how windows will look, with the basic HUD design, widgets, etc).

Community members, you have until 5 August 2009 to chip in something you want to be in the new interface if we are going to consider it. If you have an idea for the basic HUD, for the windows system, or anything miscellaneous (minimization of windows etc), now is the time to say it.

Ideally, we would like to have comprehensive mockups (a graphical display of your idea), but I am willing to accept descriptions, so long as they are thorough.

This is the best and probably only opportunity that members will have before 0.3.0 to voice their wants in the interface.

Let's hear your ideas and desires.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:39 am 
 

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Oh how I wish I had a creative brain. Sadly I'm just a programmer, not a creative bone in my body. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:09 am 
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Well, if you're going through a whole interface recode of Onlink, with fancy stuff such as windows and all that, being able to initiate and maintain multiple connections would be sort of cool. I understand that this could be rather difficult to implement due to technical limitations, though. From what I saw, Uplink just wasn't designed for that.

Oh, and if you're redesigning the thing? Make sure that there's a text cursor. That can be moved. That won't magically change locations when you mouse over another text field. That won't just disappear when you move your mouse away from said field. And most importantly, that can be used like a normal text cursor, for selection and deleting a whole field of text at once and moved with both mouse and keyboard and other nifty stuff that us Windows users take for granted most of the time. Hehe.

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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:23 am 
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Well if you are going to recode the interface then I have a few basic things I think you should change but that is just me. The changes you chose to implement are completely at your discretion since you are the coders. Excuse me if my idea is not codeable or irrelevant to the recode. If you need clarification or more detail feel free to inquire from me.

Suggested Changes:

-->Removal of notepad and IRC client
Reason: Features are taking up space and are useless. IRC is not connected to a channel that actually has people in it and nobody that I know of needs any notes other than the mission data or other announcements.

-->Hardware Drivers programs moved to Security
Reason: The space taken for such few programs does not warrant the folder.

-->PC tools and LAN tools switch places
Reason: Expectation of LAN tools being second from bottom has me many times ending up in PC tools.

-->Update file server system hardware with ability for a second NIC card as designed originally.
Reason: A second NIC was in the design for the file server and maybe was functioning in Uplink. I can't remember. You can have the bandwidth of the NIC's added together to get the total bandwidth.

-->Removal of reduce CPU usage buttons
Reason: We are trying to be hackers not rookies so we should not need to slow down our usage of the CPU.

-->Moving close program button to where CPU reduce usage was
Reason: Much better access to full CPU usage button and relocation of a button that can be accidentally pressed.

-->Add a filter option on the map
Reason: Hard to find computers when lots of them are registered.

-->Rename Locks to Firewall and Controller to Firewall Controller in LAN's
Reason: I can believe that I temporarily can be blocked by a firewall but not by a lock.

-->Lowering Voice Analyzer initial location to the area just to the right of the menu at the bottom left.
Reason: It constantly gets in the way of the main interface when launched.

-->Implementation of switches in LAN's
Reason: Switches are in real network why not in the game.
Implementation Idea Details: Hackers will only be able to access one line at a time other than the one they are connecting to the switch with. To access other lines he would have to access the switch, break its password and select which line he can access.

-->Use of wireless more often
Reason: It is much more fun to hack them then wired networks.

I will try to think of more stuff but for now I'll let you have fun with these ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:11 am 
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Quote:
-->Removal of notepad and IRC client
Reason: Features are taking up space and are useless. IRC is not connected to a channel that actually has people in it and nobody that I know of needs any notes other than the mission data or other announcements.
Connect to a populated IRC client, then. Or better yet: Don't purchase the software if you don't use it. Notepad could be more useful though, but I guess that's only because of limitations into how I can use it. For instance, if it could be used while the game was paused, I'd definitely use it more often.
Quote:
-->Removal of reduce CPU usage buttons
Reason: We are trying to be hackers not rookies so we should not need to slow down our usage of the CPU.
Hey! I actually use those! Don't remove them!

You see, their utility lies in giving you the option of reducing the CPU usage of one program in particular, re-spreading those CPU cycles to all your other currently-running programs. This is particularly useful when you have a bunch of programs already running, and then you start something lightweight such as a trace tracker that doesn't require much CPU in the first place. This new program will immediately try to hog a large portion of CPU, which it doesn't need. If the reduce CPU buttons were missing, I'd have to try to manually juggle with all the other programs running, unbalancing them in the process. No, I'd much rather click one left arrow and get back to my hacking.
Quote:
-->Moving close program button to where CPU reduce usage was
Reason: Much better access to full CPU usage button and relocation of a button that can be accidentally pressed.
While I wouldn't say moving it there (since I opt to keep the buttons), having a little space (thereby moving the rest of the CPU panel a tad to the left) between the CPU buttons and the cancel button would be nifty.
Quote:
-->Add a filter option on the map
Reason: Hard to find computers when lots of them are registered.
That would be totally awesome. While you're at it, bring back the link-highlight feature (right-clicking on a "Show Link" button in the main view makes the node show up a different color in the map, such as orange or red. Ideally, throw in multiple colors with the ability to rotate between them, and Hiding/Re-Displaying the button - with a double-click - returns the node to default color).

EDIT: I was still pondering how the notepad could be made more useful, and I came up with something I think would be pretty cool - Drag'n'Drop Stuff!

The main idea started with being able to simply select an IP link, either from the main view, from InterNIC (or other DNSes), from logs, or a few other places, and drag and drop it to a notepad window or even a mail window (which is also inspiring me for a "find a machine" type of mission, where you have to find a certain machine with certain properties or containing a certain file/type of file - and while we're in there, some "Create a user account on a corporate system" mission where you have to hack admin to create a user account for the client, and then drag'n'drop the code pair for that account to the reply message), and that once dragged there can be clicked, dragged to the main window, or whatever else you can think of. If possible/viable, this could even be extended to bank accounts, log entries (but then you'd have to add an additional mouse-catcher that would detect whether the mouse is dragging a specific part of the log, such as an IP or other number, or the whole log by clicking and dragging outside of any such selectable parts), codes, programs & files (dragging and dropping a file would automatically start the file copier v1.0 and tell it to copy the selected file to the dragged location) and other misc. fields (for instance, information fields in the GCD, IAD, ISSD, DNS Records Display, etc.).

Also: While we're still at it, if you're going for a recode, you might as well start externalizing more stuff, such as mission-types and software and hardware upgrades. I don't know how much can already be modified externally (I only know that you can add/mod gateways and LANs with overrides), but having more stuff out there more easily accessible can only be a good thing IMO - unless that would cause too much of a strain on a player's machine, but AFAIK just loading more content in memory at start would only slightly increase the RAM requirement (aside from the initial parsing), which is fairly low for Onlink at the moment...

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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:51 am 
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^ *agrees with DaFranker's post above*

As for different views, I'd like to see a mission ticker so that if you select an emailed mission, the vital information (IP to attack, job to do(# of file to delete, # of file to copy, copy database, DNS IP to change, field, new data ect.) will scroll along a bar at the top of the screen as an aid memoir, meaning you don't need to keep looking at the mission email. Not sure if that's interface or something else, but hey.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:55 am 
 

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What we need is a proper Text Input method that doesn't require the mouse to be hovering over the box and the ability to use the mouse wheel.

Anything beyond that is gravy.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:33 am 
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Quote:
Quote:
-->Removal of notepad and IRC client
Reason: Features are taking up space and are useless. IRC is not connected to a channel that actually has people in it and nobody that I know of needs any notes other than the mission data or other announcements.
Connect to a populated IRC client, then. Or better yet: Don't purchase the software if you don't use it. Notepad could be more useful though, but I guess that's only because of limitations into how I can use it. For instance, if it could be used while the game was paused, I'd definitely use it more often.
I don't know of any Uplink IRC channels. Unless somebody posts one on the homepage of Onlink or changes the default one in the game then I am still going to vote that the feature be removed.
Quote:
Quote:
Removal of reduce CPU usage buttons
Reason: We are trying to be hackers not rookies so we should not need to slow down our usage of the CPU.
Hey! I actually use those! Don't remove them!

You see, their utility lies in giving you the option of reducing the CPU usage of one program in particular, re-spreading those CPU cycles to all your other currently-running programs. This is particularly useful when you have a bunch of programs already running, and then you start something lightweight such as a trace tracker that doesn't require much CPU in the first place. This new program will immediately try to hog a large portion of CPU, which it doesn't need. If the reduce CPU buttons were missing, I'd have to try to manually juggle with all the other programs running, unbalancing them in the process. No, I'd much rather click one left arrow and get back to my hacking.
Sorry man I did not know it worked like that since I always only needed one program to run full and the rest I did not care about. If you manage your credits properly you could easily buy the trace in HUD software at the very beginning of the game before doing any missions. I propose then instead that the single arrow reduce be removed and the double stays.
Quote:
Quote:
-->Moving close program button to where CPU reduce usage was
Reason: Much better access to full CPU usage button and relocation of a button that can be accidentally pressed.
While I wouldn't say moving it there (since I opt to keep the buttons), having a little space (thereby moving the rest of the CPU panel a tad to the left) between the CPU buttons and the cancel button would be nifty.
If the new proposal is accepted then we can have the close program button replacing the single reduce button. Also moving the panel to the left should be done anyway.
Quote:
Quote:
-->Add a filter option on the map
Reason: Hard to find computers when lots of them are registered.
That would be totally awesome. While you're at it, bring back the link-highlight feature (right-clicking on a "Show Link" button in the main view makes the node show up a different color in the map, such as orange or red. Ideally, throw in multiple colors with the ability to rotate between them, and Hiding/Re-Displaying the button - with a double-click - returns the node to default color).
That would be a nice idea but I think that the colors should return to normal upon connection to a system.
Quote:
Also: While we're still at it, if you're going for a recode, you might as well start externalizing more stuff, such as mission-types and software and hardware upgrades. I don't know how much can already be modified externally (I only know that you can add/mod gateways and LANs with overrides), but having more stuff out there more easily accessible can only be a good thing IMO - unless that would cause too much of a strain on a player's machine, but AFAIK just loading more content in memory at start would only slightly increase the RAM requirement (aside from the initial parsing), which is fairly low for Onlink at the moment...
If you modularize Onlink then there will be just more file requests and interlinks. Sometimes this is a good thing and actually helps when doing minor updates but because Onlink must have Uplink at it's core to be called an addon that does not work. If the developers want to change Onlink into a game of its own it is their choice but there might be copyright infringement because of it.

I remembered a possible improvement.
-->When using the hub for trace add percent and seconds remaining under the map. The disconnect button should be under the this addon. With a bit of creativity in layering it should be possible to simulate floating of the button when the addon is not installed.
Reason: I like to know how long I have left before I am jailed if possible.
Quote:
As for different views, I'd like to see a mission ticker so that if you select an emailed mission, the vital information (IP to attack, job to do(# of file to delete, # of file to copy, copy database, DNS IP to change, field, new data ect.) will scroll along a bar at the top of the screen as an aid memoir, meaning you don't need to keep looking at the mission email. Not sure if that's interface or something else, but hey.
I believe the ticker is is a waste of valuable space which we don't really have much of. And if you don't believe me then try playing Onlink at 1024x768. You can always have the email open on the side when doing the mission.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:22 pm 
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Moar ideas:
  • Drag-selection of multiple stuffs for drag'n'dropping/other
  • ***SELECTING MULTIPLE FILES/LOG ENTRIES AT ONCE AND BATCH-RUNNING THEM THROUGH A PROGRAM*** (emphasized enough? I can't count the number of times I was stuck with a huuuuuuge logfile that I didn't want to purge because some logs needed to stay, but that took a few eternities of constant clicking with the log deleter to clean up, even with a 20Thz-CPU gateway - copying, deleting, decrypting or otherwise processing files has the same problem, though not anywhere near as annoying) - This isn't a hugely critical priority, it's just something that would have me buying you flowers and thank-you postcards if implemented ;)
  • Concerning Gateways, the eternal "choose the slot in which to apply upgrade" feature would be pretty nice to finally have :P
Quote:
Sorry man I did not know it worked like that since I always only needed one program to run full and the rest I did not care about. If you manage your credits properly you could easily buy the trace in HUD software at the very beginning of the game before doing any missions. I propose then instead that the single arrow reduce be removed and the double stays.
Errmh, yeah, I actually don't use the double-left-arrow button as much as the other one, because that means setting that program to zero CPU which effectively "stalls" it (it doesn't work until you give it back a few CPU cycles). For instance, try running any bypass, disabling or killing software, then double-lefting its CPU usage. Bang, it's as if you'd never launched it. Disablers and killers pause their progress, and bypassers stop bypassing until they have at least 0.1% CPU or something. Same goes for pretty much every software out there. The single left arrow much more useful. However, the double-left is still sometimes useful for launching programs you know you'll want to be able to use in a pinch, but don't want consuming any CPU until then. Launch 'em, zero 'em, then start them ("activate them", i.e. pressing "GO" on a disabler or something like that).

And yes, I tend to go for one program running full too, but y'know, sometimes you just happen to need to transfer files from your aux databank to your main while the VDPIN cracker is running so that in twenty seconds when it's done and you have ten seconds left to your trace you'll have enough memory space to copy everything to your aux, thereby saving you the few seconds to switch databanks afterwards, seconds which could be all they need to trace you. In that situation, I would reduce the CPU usage of the file copier a bit, without maxing the VDPIN cracker, to get optimal time-efficient CPU usage. This was a pretty shoddy example, but you get the idea. Multitasking isn't that uncommon in Uplink/Onlink.
Quote:
I believe the ticker is is a waste of valuable space which we don't really have much of. And if you don't believe me then try playing Onlink at 1024x768. You can always have the email open on the side when doing the mission.
Eh. Never had that problem. Maybe make the ticker optional? I mean, hey, I run the game in 1680x1050. I have more than ample space for a few additional widgets lying around. Especially if said widgets will save me time otherwise spent clicking around to open and close windows.

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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:46 pm 
 

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I don't know if I accidentally skimmed over it in the previous posts but I'd like to see movable windows, much like a desktop. It can be frustrating that the Mission, Email, Notepad, etc, all occupy the same area on my screen and I must click between them.

If anyone tells me I could have been doing that, I will hug you and then crawl into my closet out of embarrassment. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:08 pm 
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Zero, you do know there is an Onlink IRC, right? Just change the text for Server to read "irc.2600.net" and hit connect.

As for the ticker, Miah is asking for interface changes. It's highly possible he'll change the scaling to give some space for the ticker if he thinks it's worthwhile. And besides, I don't actually like the e-mails screen, I could have more valuable stuff there like, say my databank.

Oh, and keep the notepad. It's very useful to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:21 pm 
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Quote:
Sorry man I did not know it worked like that since I always only needed one program to run full and the rest I did not care about. If you manage your credits properly you could easily buy the trace in HUD software at the very beginning of the game before doing any missions. I propose then instead that the single arrow reduce be removed and the double stays.
Errmh, yeah, I actually don't use the double-left-arrow button as much as the other one, because that means setting that program to zero CPU which effectively "stalls" it (it doesn't work until you give it back a few CPU cycles). For instance, try running any bypass, disabling or killing software, then double-lefting its CPU usage. Bang, it's as if you'd never launched it. Disablers and killers pause their progress, and bypassers stop bypassing until they have at least 0.1% CPU or something. Same goes for pretty much every software out there. The single left arrow much more useful. However, the double-left is still sometimes useful for launching programs you know you'll want to be able to use in a pinch, but don't want consuming any CPU until then. Launch 'em, zero 'em, then start them ("activate them", i.e. pressing "GO" on a disabler or something like that).

And yes, I tend to go for one program running full too, but y'know, sometimes you just happen to need to transfer files from your aux databank to your main while the VDPIN cracker is running so that in twenty seconds when it's done and you have ten seconds left to your trace you'll have enough memory space to copy everything to your aux, thereby saving you the few seconds to switch databanks afterwards, seconds which could be all they need to trace you. In that situation, I would reduce the CPU usage of the file copier a bit, without maxing the VDPIN cracker, to get optimal time-efficient CPU usage. This was a pretty shoddy example, but you get the idea. Multitasking isn't that uncommon in Uplink/Onlink.
[/quote]
Do you want double or single? I personally don't care but my plan only calls for one being removed. Also Miah or Tycho might decide to edit my proposal before implementing it.

Oh and that IRC server is empty like the interior of a car owned by a dealer.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:46 pm 
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I actually use the Notepad extensively, to store names of people that I intend on freeing from jail and account numbers/passwords for accounts I intend to hack.

No suggestions beyond what DaFranker has suggested, for now.

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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:54 pm 
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Quote:
Oh and that IRC server is empty like the interior of a car owned by a dealer.
Like I said, are you using:
Quote:
We're bringing Onlink IRC back to life, and moving to a different IRC network. We'd been hosting our own IRCd, but we decided it was too much micromanagement to deal with the IRCd, web server, forums, etc, etc, etc.

So now, appropriately, our IRC access information:
Server: irc.2600.net:6667
Channel: #onlink
Hyperlink for cool IRC clients to use: [url=irc://irc.2600.net/onlink]Click Me[/url]
That address? Because there's a load of us on there.


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 Post subject: Re: Interface Design - What do you want from us?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:46 pm 
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Yes I did use that address.


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