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February 21, 2022, 10:47:35 PM
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Offline Trillster

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Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« on: February 21, 2022, 10:47:35 PM »
It goes without saying that a lot of mods and a lot of people have modified the vanilla status bar in some shape or form. The backend for the status bar is seeing lots of reform for v6b API related reasons, so I anticipate that now might be a good time to get some centralized discussion about what works for the current status bar, and what might not work so well.

The current vanilla status bar has unconventional placements, a comparatively cramped design, and segmented bars which create ambiguity in ammo and HP values, but it is unarguably Mega Man in design and holds a charm for many of us.

We've had talks of the status bar in the development team, but without public perception, there hasn't been an easy consensus. So, the point of this thread is primarily to gauge insights on how people feel about the current vanilla status bar, but also to propose three new potential status bar replacements if the current is seen as undesirable, from minor changes to big overhauls. It is worth noting that these are primarily proof of concept, so if you like a certain layout but don't like the style, bring it up! Tell us what works and what doesn't, and especially fill out the survey at the end.

All of the following are being proposed as full scale replacements to the current default UI. While options would be nice, they are not viable for the modding scene, and would be more likely unsupported as horizontal bars often have been currently.

Genesis Flavor
At a Glance
(click to show/hide)

Goals
Genesis Flavor is very simple, as it's the current vanilla status bar, but with different bar graphics inspired by Wily Wars
It preserves the Mega Man layout and style with segmented bars, but removes the black portions to prevent ambiguity.

Download and Try!

Compromise
At a Glance
(click to show/hide)

Goals
Compromise has all the elements of Genesis Flavor, but it also introduces layout changes.
The ammo bar and HP bar are swapped, so that it follows more modern conventions introduced in MM8, MMPU, and MM11.
There is also now a gap between the bars, allowing for breathing room between UI elements.
With the ammo bars extending towards the right, there is more room for additional UI elements.

Download and Try!

Anarchy
At a Glance
(click to show/hide)

Goals
Anarchy, as the name suggests, overhauls the layout completely.
It uses more minimalist MM8-styled bars, contrary to the NES segmented bar.
It provides borders around UI element ala MMX to make things easier to parse.
In horizontal mode, it resembles more closely traditional shooter UIs, by having the HP on the left bottom corner and the ammo on the right bottom corner.
In vertical mode, it is a compressed version of the UI in the top left for previous vertical users.
Both styles are designed to use the same graphics to prevent modding and graphic work overhead.
Anarchy introduces new UI elements, one of which displays which weapon slots you have in your inventory and highlights the one equipped.
Another new UI element is bars and icons displayed on buster weapons which show charge status and cooldowns.

Download and Try!

Double Take
At a Glance
(click to show/hide)

Goals
Changes the bar graphic to use a bar closer to NES style, but still, one that fixes the black segments to avoid ambiguity.
Preserves the current order and general placement of bars, however, spaces them out a bit more to allow room for added elements and better reading.
Implements the weapon slot display of Anarchy and would be able to support buster UI elements.
Implements a mugshot that would change with skin.
All numbers have been standardized to one font which is bigger than all the previous ones, making numbers more prominent in the UI.
Vertical moved slightly closer to the crosshair, primarily more towards the right and slightly down.
For all intents and purposes, this is essentially meant to be the vanilla UI, except with stuff spaced slightly better and important information scaled and placed bigger.

Complete the Survey!

Give any further thoughts in the thread below!

February 22, 2022, 02:12:53 AM
Reply #1

Offline LlamaHombre

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2022, 02:12:53 AM »
Submitted my survey. A couple of personal points, mostly to jot my thoughts down. For perspective, I've chosen Vanilla with an open mind to change, but not seeing the change I imagined from any of these options.

- Though subjective, I greatly prefer NES style bars to the alternatives shown. I have in the past (circa-v8b classes) used HUDShot, but since we adopted health numbers officially I haven't returned and prefer the simplicity and versatility of the current bars' looks. I'm willing to (reluctantly) play softball with the Genesis style bars, but would still greatly prefer not to use them. I think Health/Ammo numbers have reduced the number of situations where the black separations in the bar actually hide information (e.g. when you have one more Screw Crusher but you think you're empty). I understand the point mentioned in Genesis "Goals" but have more recently only come into contact with that during single player campaign bosses, where they live with a sliver of health. Even then, we custom bars for the final boss so something like Genesis would actually be fitting there. In every other situation I can, if need be, use the numbers.

- The MM8 style bars are very ugly in my opinion - the 8 bit style of this game does not suit them well and even in other huds like HUDBall I'd prefer anything else.

- Who is this bar change for anyways? The NES bars hit the nostalgia and coolness factor of "oh man that's cool, they got the health bars straight from the games in here?" and health/ammo numbers already fix the problems that the other bars will fix as well. You could argue that the health and ammo numbers are kinda tacked on, and yeah they are. I'm not gonna deny that at all. But it's not like the other bars fix that either - there will always be more precision in the numbers, and more novelty from the NES bars. Will the casual player (numbers don't matter so much) get that much more value from the other bars? And will the seasoned player (numbers matter more) ever want to turn numbers off?

- I use Vertical, and have always found discomfort with Horizontal bars. No matter which direction they deplete, it doesn't quite feel right. I respect people who do use them, and have never advocated for things to change to fit my standards (which I wouldn't have really), but they've never sat right. As a result, I really do just sorta need an option to have my bars to deplete from the top and end at the bottom.

- I think closer to my crosshair, as my eye travels away from my crosshair, what needs to hit me first in terms of "can I continue this fight I'm in?" is my health. Ammo is important as well, but I trust my periphery with weapon ammo % more than I would health, where each point can matter against certain weapons.

- I need some selling on the gap between bars present in compromise. I don't understand what use it serves, and it just clutters more of the screen.

- Anarchy looks clumsy aesthetically. The squared white boxes around everything don't do it for me, and a newcomer is going to have very little idea what any of the numbers on screen mean. Health/Ammo numbers are now mandatory, and are both buried in between visual information and tucked into the border of the screen. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 means less when a user rebinds keys to make using slots more ergonomic, and plenty of maps leave some numbers unlit. Possibly known, but switching from Buster to another weapon results in a short flicker in the ammo number Infinity (which I thought was 00 for a while) before the other number comes in. Not having items leaves multiple empty boxes on screen. etc. etc.

- Questions a newcomer are more likely to ask (as someone who's been introducing more of his friends to the game recently) are things like: "What weapons do I have?" "Do I have other items to switch to?" "Can I swap to a specific weapon (say, Hard Knuckle) quickly?" and so on. None of these are answered by the HUDs provided, and even Anarchy which tries to fill in the gaps some fails to answer questions more on a newcomer's mind than "do I have a slot 3 weapon to switch to?". This question itself becomes less relevant in modded play anyways. Vanilla play itself is all about understanding the inventory and item layout on the map, and a newcomer can become encumbered by all of that when they're unsure what tools they do or don't have. An improvement on the HUD then, could reduce the knowledge barrier required to dive deeper into vanilla MM8BDM, or mods where a number of weapons and inventory management are required.

- How much is the 8bdm dev team familiar with Zandronum's Alternative HUD? You can enable it in Options -> Advanced Options -> HUD Options -> Alternative HUD. While definitely not made for MM8BDM, there are some extremely cool parts of this HUD that it seems are 1) important to newcomers 2) useful even to seasoned players 3) relatively nonintrusive and able to be built around the current HUD. A screenshot included:
(click to show/hide)
Note the inventory shown in relative detail on the bottom corners. I think if the HUD does develop, in an ideal world it should be trying to incorporate the existing HUD bars into this alternative HUD's inventory style. This could then still be an option (that could still be enabled by default!), or bound to a key similarly to how we add Map Cards to the HUD with MAPCARD command. Curious what could be done within the MM8BDM team's limits.

I like the transparency, and even though I disagree with the options provided here and would prefer to stick to v6a HUD over these options, I understand the plea and am interested in where this heads.

February 22, 2022, 03:03:51 AM
Reply #2

Offline __Sidle

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2022, 03:03:51 AM »
*reposting*
The WW bar and Anarchy bar feel kind of "out of style" imo.

Maybe more inspiration can be taken from the original games. I've had this concept for a bar in the back of my head for a bit, inspired by the weapon selection screens of 4/5/6/9/10.

(click to show/hide)

The basic goal is quickly finding the exact capacity of the bar, so I'd think making a size difference between the lower layer (empty) and top layer (full) would be easy to catch in the moment.
The only problem-spot is the prevalence of pitch black walls/ceilings being ultra common, but that could be remedied via making the black of the top layer a dark grey (though I don't know how much of a pain in the ass that would be to code).

February 22, 2022, 03:24:27 AM
Reply #3

Offline VGStar

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2022, 03:24:27 AM »
Personally, I prefer the Genesis style as it's pretty similar to what we have now but without the black segments it's easier to get a read on your HP/ammo. The only issue I have with the Compromise style is it swapping the HP/weapon bars which will certainly cause some confusion.

The Anarchy style comes in a distant third place to me for a major reason: The lack of vertical bars. I exclusively use vertical mode as it's easier for me to read; any time there's a game with customizable HP bars, such as Terraria, I instantly choose a bar design that is either icon-based or vertical if possible. Being able to read my HP at a glance is invaluable for me when reaction times matter. And as previous posters said, the Anarchy style does look like such a radical departure from the norm that it sticks out like a sore thumb to the point of being distracting. If it actually resembled the MM8 style more it'd likely fit in better.

February 22, 2022, 04:29:01 AM
Reply #4

Offline Trillster

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2022, 04:29:01 AM »
Just wanna take a moment to archive my own thoughts and responses to some previous comments,

For context, Compromise is meant to represent a more moderate route that was explored in-dev while I created the Anarchy status bar to push the bounds and see how people felt about various issues, such as horizontal bars in vertical mode and general layout stuff, as I felt that other UI proposals didn't venture much in that direction. However, I still basically imagined that any Anarchy usage would be heavily restyled to fit a more Mega Man design, barring maybe the minimalist MM8 bars, but seeing as people prefer segmented bars, definitely could see it moving in that direction instead.

Though subjective, I greatly prefer NES style bars to the alternatives shown. I have in the past (circa-v8b classes) used HUDShot, but since we adopted health numbers officially I haven't returned and prefer the simplicity and versatility of the current bars' looks. I'm willing to (reluctantly) play softball with the Genesis Flavor bars, but would still greatly prefer not to use them.
This seems to be the general reception on Genesis bars, people like the idea behind it but not so much the execution. After seeing some weapon color combinations, I can agree with that. I'd be interested in trying some different styles such as the following, (far left is Genesis Flavor bar for comparison)
(click to show/hide)

I've heard some folks around the classes side of things mention that they like Anarchy for classes, so I wanted to give full transparency on how I envisioned Anarchy horizontal and at least current Anarchy vertical looking in those zones with all features in place,
(click to show/hide)

- Who is this bar change for anyways? The NES bars hit the nostalgia and coolness factor of "oh man that's cool, they got the health bars straight from the games in here?" and health/ammo numbers already fix the problems that the other bars will fix as well. You could argue that the health and ammo numbers are kinda tacked on, and yeah they are. I'm not gonna deny that at all. But it's not like the other bars fix that either - there will always be more precision in the numbers, and more novelty from the NES bars. Will the casual player (numbers don't matter so much) get that much more value from the other bars? And will the seasoned player (numbers matter more) ever want to turn numbers off?
The major thing that Compromise and Anarchy try to resolve is standardization with other shooters. Newcomers can come into this game without much Mega Man experience and feel like the UI is backwards because we keep our ammo on the left while the HP is on the right. Compared to Apex, Valorant, Overwatch, and TF2, which all opt to have HP on the left of the crosshair and ammo on the right.

Anarchy's requirement for the HP and ammo numbers comes out of a feeling that many people currently do not know that ammo numbers and HP numbers exist in Vanilla as a toggle (which is backed up by the survey results as many people are bringing up the ammo and HP numbers in Genesis Flavor and Compromise as something new or something changed from Vanilla). This is partly the fault of Vanilla making it default to off, however, and it's something I resolved with newer versions of the 8BDM distribution, to ensure that it's at least on by default.

- I use Vertical, and have always found discomfort with Horizontal bars. No matter which direction they deplete, it doesn't quite feel right. I respect people who do use them, and have never advocated for things to change to fit my standards (which I wouldn't have really), but they've never sat right. As a result, I really do just sorta need an option to have my bars to deplete from the top and end at the bottom.
This is a valid take and this is essentially the response I've gotten from other people in regards to Anarchy's vertical mode. Creating the vertical but not mode was an attempt to see if people were alright with it to potentially save extra work for modders, as currently, modders need to create bars for both horizontal and vertical. Experimental change that people didn't vibe with, all good.

- I need some selling on the gap between bars present in compromise. I don't understand what use it serves, and it just clutters more of the screen.
The goal here is to prevent the current cramped design that the Vanilla hud has in my opinion. When all UI elements are in place, it leads to a lot of numbers and icons right next to each other with not much separation, so Compromise has that separation between bars as an attempt to make it a bit easier for new folks to parse with a distinct separation between areas of the UI.

- How much is the 8bdm dev team familiar with Zandronum's Alternative HUD? You can enable it in Options -> Advanced Options -> HUD Options -> Alternative HUD. While definitely not made for MM8BDM, there are some extremely cool parts of this HUD that it seems are 1) important to newcomers 2) useful even to seasoned players 3) relatively nonintrusive and able to be built around the current HUD.
A weapon bar is definitely an idea we've had in the dev team with some graphic mockups being made (thanks Russel!), but we're not entirely sure of its feasibility yet. There's some specific stuff on the backend that needs to line up for it to work and we just haven't had an opportunity to test it yet. Assuming that it is possible in the stuff we're implementing, I think I would personally prefer it far more than a weapon slot display.
(click to show/hide)

I'm definitely glad to see all the feedback we've been getting so far and I hope that it continues at this rate! It's very insightful and I hope to be able to create another proposal status bar using what's deemed the best elements from all of these. Once I've gotten more responses and have a moment to sit down, I'll try creating that so we can compare again with Vanilla and see how we're feeling about it. For now though, keep the feedback coming and feel free to throw out your own proposals.

February 22, 2022, 04:39:49 AM
Reply #5

Offline MusashiAA

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2022, 04:39:49 AM »
I prefer the Anarchy style solely because it gives proper prominence to critical information like HP/ammo/item numbers, and gets rid of the segmented bar from the NES games which does not segment well when these values are not multiples of 28.

I do agree that the segmented NES bar is iconic, but I think there should be more emphasis on important information to be accurately displayed, for said information to have a more prominent size and placement, and for more information like weapon icons to be displayed as well. The NES bar does not offer enough space to put all this in, as it wasn't originally designed with this in mind. Even with the addition of HP numbers, the bars are still bigger and more prominent, and not enough information is displayed or given enough space within.

I think the Anarchy UI should get a better visual frame, though. Something similar to MM8 or MM11's UI. The Compromise UI is what I think should be done, as relocating the HP bar and number to the upper left corner of the screen, separated from the ammo bar and number, is at least more akin to modern FPS UI conventions. In my opinion, HP should be in the bottom left corner, with a mugshot/icon of your weapon, and ammo should be on the bottom right corner of the screen, where your buster hand usually comes over the screen. Big numbers over icons, and bars only being aesthetic complements and not larger than the critical information.

The biggest reason why I'd support a UI change is because we've been too used to just accepting the NES bar as "good enough", even though it wasn't given much of a thought back when this game was made. A properly designed UI should be considered, with all the nuances said design process implies, instead of sticking to nostalgia over function.

February 22, 2022, 07:25:35 AM
Reply #6

Offline Stardust

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2022, 07:25:35 AM »
You could add all of them (NES, 16-bit, Minimalist) and allow the player to choose, defaulting to the one newer players are more likely to prefer (when they install MM8BDM)

February 22, 2022, 08:01:02 AM
Reply #7

Offline Trillster

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2022, 08:01:02 AM »
You could add all of them (NES, 16-bit, Minimalist) and allow the player to choose, defaulting to the one newer players are more likely to prefer (when they install MM8BDM)
All of us on the development team generally agree that introducing these as options is not a viable route to take. Modders already struggle to support both horizontal and vertical modes properly, given the amount of graphics and offsetting work it requires. It's definitely not gonna become any easier when that work becomes quadruple what it is now. The more difficult it becomes for modders, the more likely modders just won't support the other options or will remove the options, nullifying the entire point of them being options to begin with.

February 22, 2022, 05:24:10 PM
Reply #8

Offline Trillster

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2022, 05:24:10 PM »
Listening to some of the initial feedback and the stuff that was offputting about the various types, I wanted to propose a different take on Compromise which adds the UI elements of Anarchy and tosses in a mugshot for good measure, as it seems like the majority of people were leaning towards wanting one.

Double Take
At a Glance
(click to show/hide)

Goals
Changes the bar graphic to use a bar closer to NES style, but still, one that fixes the black segments to avoid ambiguity.
Preserves the current order and general placement of bars, however, spaces them out a bit more to allow room for added elements and better reading.
Implements the weapon slot display of Anarchy and would be able to support buster UI elements.
Implements a mugshot that would change with skin.
All numbers have been standardized to one font which is bigger than all the previous ones, making numbers more prominent in the UI.
Vertical moved slightly closer to the crosshair, primarily more towards the right and slightly down.
For all intents and purposes, this is essentially meant to be the vanilla UI, except with stuff spaced slightly better and important information scaled and placed bigger.

We've tested and it seems like a full weapon bar display won't be possible in a way that supports the scroll order well, especially for custom weapons, so it's likely that the icons in the weapon slot display would be these vague icon representations of the slots (Buster, Range, Rapid, Close, Power, AoE, Shield).

For full transparency, this take was partially designed with allowances for double ammo bars, as it is something we're looking to support with our weapon API updates.
(click to show/hide)


February 22, 2022, 06:26:17 PM
Reply #9

Offline tsukiyomaru0

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2022, 06:26:17 PM »
I liked Double Take a lot...

Also, please, try to Keep It Simple and also notate things in the SBar stuff. The most recent iteration was pretty messy for me when I was trying to make a cosmetic modification for it and could understand nothing.

February 22, 2022, 09:06:36 PM
Reply #10

Offline MusashiAA

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2022, 09:06:36 PM »
Double Take is a much better version of Compromise (especially now knowing that multiple bars can be resized next to each other), though I'm not a fan of weapon slots occupying that much screen space, especially in horizontal mode. I still prefer Anarchy UI since it accomplishes everything in a much more compact and realigned space, and with disregard of nostalgia for the NES segmented bar in favor of the minimalistic bar that fits value scaling more.

August 17, 2022, 11:26:53 PM
Reply #11

Offline cowsha

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Re: Bars and Numbers: a New Default UI?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2022, 11:26:53 PM »
All of us on the development team generally agree that introducing these as options is not a viable route to take. Modders already struggle to support both horizontal and vertical modes properly, given the amount of graphics and offsetting work it requires. It's definitely not gonna become any easier when that work becomes quadruple what it is now. The more difficult it becomes for modders, the more likely modders just won't support the other options or will remove the options, nullifying the entire point of them being options to begin with.
Personally i prefer "Double Take", as i first saw them like a year ago, when A-Chan suggested them as replacement for current ones.

But having, at least, some of them as separate options actually way more better.
I see no trouble with supporting multiple options in mod as well, and i doubt vanilla existence purpose is only to be modified in future.
People still play vanilla 8bdm and enjoy it.