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Author Topic: The Danger of Verb Coins!  (Read 4171 times)

Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #20 on: 26 Jun 2018, 23:42 »
Reminds me of Runaway 2,when you have to interact with the same storage thing more than once to take some things from it, but there's no indication you should do it again. Also you might have had to go somewhere else first to trigger being able to take the second item.

Well memory is foggy, but it was a really badly designed game with a detestable protagonist who kicks his own girlfriend out of a plane, and then chats up women while she's being held captive.

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #21 on: 27 Jun 2018, 08:46 »
Relying on context menus for essential functionality is very rarely a good idea. (An application where you had to right-click to bring up a context menu for everything you wanted to do would probably be a terrible UI, too.) As shortcuts they can be fine.
Yeah, you're right, relying on menus for essential functionality is a terrible idea, and results in some of the worst UI desicisons ever.
That's why we use it for everything. Including Real Time Strategy games (click on a building and a list of options of what you can build with a building appear at the side), MMORPGS (I don't even need to mention the number of menus you'll get from clicking one thing on World of Warcraft), and The Sims (which has been using a context menu since the first game).

But yeah, you're right. You can't rely on menus for basic gameplay. It's been tried and tested too many times, and proven to work each and every time. Which just goes to prove that it not only doesn't work for Adventure Games, but games in general. :~(

Once again I'm searching in vain for the "unimpressed with this bullshit" smiley...

RTS games and RPGs are somewhat notorious for their complex UIs. But when you have a huge selection of possible commands, it's difficult to create a great UI. UI design is always about constraints and tradeoffs. That can mean going with the "least terrible" option. Which then might be context menus – though these games also tend to rely pretty heavily on keyboard shortcuts.

Does that make those "least terrible" UIs great? Does it mean we should use them when you don't face those same tradeoffs? Where, for example, you only have about 4 different, standard options for every interaction (like in most verb coins)? Of course not.

If someone is making an adventure game where there really are custom interactions for most objects, with a huge variety of actions, or where there's a lot of specialized information to bring up about objects (perhaps you carry some kind of scanner that can present useful data, idk) then perhaps a "verb coin" or some other kind of pop-up menu/display would be warranted. Sure.

They typically take up far more screen space, for example, and usually cover up the thing you clicked on.
Yeah, because the verb coins ALWAYS has to be huge. And we can't go covering up the things we clicked on, because otherwise we'll have no idea what we clicked on with our ultra short memories! And as we all know, it's utterly impossible to place a verb coin slightly off center. It always has to go directly over the thing you clicked on. Yep, there's just no way to solve any of the complaints you have with verb coins. And they're definitely 100% valid complaints

Making the verb coin smaller has its own problems. And you don't in fact always know what you clicked on. And if you're actually thinking rather than just randomly clicking, you might easily leave the verb coin up for longer than short term memory lasts...

Certainly there are ways to mitigate some of the problems with verb coins, but the fact is that they are generally done badly, because the "standard" examples that most games take their cues from had these problems.

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #22 on: 27 Jun 2018, 08:46 »
Have a look at the screenshot below. It's straight from Windows Word, I simply highlighted some words and right-clicked on them. It's obvious that it does take up a large chunk of screen space and that it does partially cover the thing you click on. It's just that we have become so used to these effects in years of Windows usage that we've stopped wondering about them. Since it is easy to make a context menu go away, we don't seem to mind the covered space.

I think you're wrong that people "don't seem to mind". The Word UI is generally derided (it faces a lot of the same challenges as RTS games), and I would argue that this context menu is much longer than it ought to be.

There are some exceptions, and perhaps selecting text is one of them (I wasn't able to replicate this placement, and the menu I get looks quite different), but in general the context menu should always show up right below and to the right of the cursor.

Here's a verb coin of Netherworld, the game that started this discussion. I think that the covering aspect is comparable.

Perhaps, though it's hard to say since the Windows screenshot is cropped. I will say that I think the Netherworld verb coin is quite intrusive, covering up a large part of the screen and obscuring the thing you actually want to do.

Quote
I might be wrong, but to me it seems that context menus have become even more prevalent lately than they used to be. For instance, call up a browser such as the Internet Explorer or Edge.  The standard way of "opening in another tab", "Save destination" and so on is the context menu.  There used to be top-down menus etc., too, but those seem to have fallen out of fashion.

The menu bar is still accessible by pressing Alt. Also, these are not primary actions (I would bet you my parents have no idea about them), and in many cases I would think the more common way to perform them on the desktop is through key combinations (Ctrl-click, Shift-click, Ctrl-S etc.).

Don't take me to mean that I don't think context menus are useful or good for certain purposes. They are very convenient for less common, truly contextual commands. I would still pretty much always recommend having other ways to access the functionality.

I suppose one could force players to LOOK before INTERACTing, whether they want to or not -- by interpreting every first click on any interesting thing as a LOOK action and every subsequent click on it as INTERACT/TALK/PICKUP/COMBINE action. To make this work, you could introduce a property "EXAMINED" for characters, objects and hotspots. The on_mouse_click event would first read out this property and then set it to 1. Afterwards, it would trigger the LOOK event if the property had been 0 beforehand, or else the INTERACT event.

Thus you would only need the left button for both LOOK and INTERACT/TALK/PICKUP/COMBINE.

Yeah, I was gonna say: then you've effectively reverted to a one-button interface, like Ali describes.

It does mean you can't do anything with repeated looks (mostly used for jokes, in my experience), and it also means that after the first look you can't repeat the description (unless you put some rule that would eventually make it revert to "unexamined" state), so you probably shouldn't put can't-miss information in there. In other words: you have to take it into account in the design.

I do sort of like the idea of the timeout, or alternatively a configuration setting. It would be a kind of accelerator option for more experienced players.

I feel like how to deal with one-button/two-button depends to a large extent on your audience. If it's experienced adventure gamers, two-button is fine. If you anticipate some wider interest, tzach's idea of a reminder if you detect they aren't right-clicking is probably good to have. If you are aiming for a broad audience, one-button or this kind of hybrid one/two-button might be necessary.

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #23 on: 27 Jun 2018, 09:07 »
Whatever you decide to go with, make sure you nudge the player into doing it correctly from the outset, and it will be fine.

Virtually any interface will work as long as it's warranted, internally logical and tutorial-ized early on. Just because a one-click interface seems to be in vogue now for adventure games, it doesn't mean a player can't learn a new system after some practice.

You want a drop-down menu? Go for it, just make sure the options in the menu are needed, and frequently used. In Lure of the Temptress you have menus, and they're kind of needed since you can instruct your sidekick to do pretty complex things*. However, in most adventure games having the kind of menus you see in strategy games or sims is probably hard to justify.

Verb interfaces are great if there's an emphasis on various important interactions that can't be separated otherwise, like giving something to someone as opposed to using it on them, talking with instead of touching, looking at as opposed to interacting with, etc. If that's important enough to warrant a slightly more clunky interface, then go for it. People will get used to it. But don't use it just because you have one gimmicky puzzle somewhere in the middle of the game that kind of requires it, if 99% of all interactions could be handled with one click.

Prime your audience into often using all verbs, and understanding that their differences may be really important, and not only some extra flavour.

* However, both the menus and the system of having NPCs independantly wander around the game environment (made possible by the virtual theatre engine) are probably detrimental to the gaming experience in the eyes of a modern player.

Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #24 on: 27 Jun 2018, 09:08 »
I say theoretically, though, because I don't recall seeing any adventure game that actually has a fully dynamic context menu.

I've seen one in the past made with AGS, but it was made for russian community competition (RuMAGS) and I don't think it was ever added to database (and do not remember the title).

Author coded a dynamically constructed honeycomb-shaped context menu (kind of like this), supporting many simultaneous items added in spiralling order. I felt that was pretty cool, although the game was closer to "visual novel"/"first person look" style of game, and this UI perhaps worked better for that.
« Last Edit: 27 Jun 2018, 09:11 by Crimson Wizard »

Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #25 on: 27 Jun 2018, 09:14 »
Snarky, when my verb coin appears, there's hotspot text hovering nearby, that will change to say, "open draw" for interact, or "look at draw" for, well, you know. So, there's no doubt on what was clicked on. :)

I don't really like one click, i like to be choosing if I want to look at something or interact with it. having only one choice of clicking the left mouse button feels like I have less control than the little control one generally has already in a point and click adventure game.

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #26 on: 27 Jun 2018, 12:35 »
If someone is making an adventure game where there really are custom interactions for most objects, with a huge variety of actions, or where there's a lot of specialized information to bring up about objects (perhaps you carry some kind of scanner that can present useful data, idk) then perhaps a "verb coin" or some other kind of pop-up menu/display would be warranted. Sure.
I couldn't agree more. :)
You see, verb coins aren't perfect. But the whole discussion on this thread has proven that no interface is perfect. I've heard compelling arguments for why you shouldn't use any of the common interfaces. No one uses the right mouse button on the left-click right-click interface, no one would think of clicking twice with a single-click interface, the 9-Verb interface has too many options that usually go unused, the Sierra interface involves you right clicking a whole bunch of times, the text parser requires you to guess what the designer expects you to write. They all have problems, and some interfaces solve the problems that the others have.
As your comment suggests, you need to pick the right interface for your game and your audience.

Although with how you and Babar have been talking, I was starting to think that a verb coin killed your parents or something. (laugh)

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #27 on: 27 Jun 2018, 14:26 »
I just find the verbcoin to be a compromise UI system that takes the worst of both worlds and adds some extra problems of its own. I honestly can't think how a game would be better served with it rather than something else on either side. Obviously I can't say without seeing something like that in action, but even Snarky's example, which I'm imagining would be something like Lure of the Temptress seems it would be either too complex with too many possibilities (and spoilers or jokes- "Oh, I can squish the knife inside of the cake? Great, so THAT's how I am able to get it to the guy in prison! And here I was just planning on cutting a slice"), or too simple and thus unnecessary.
The verbcoin as it was used, had 2 advantages that I could see, either of which could be done better with another system, but the combination of both being what seemed to necessitate it:
- Verbcoin clears up screen real-estate (except two-click, one-click, or even Sierra iconbar pop-up systems do that better)
- Verbcoin allows greater choice of action (except the verblist does that better)

To list down the most perfect possible implementation of the verbcoin (culled from comments here):

Left-clicking where there's no interactable makes you walk there
Left-clicking where there's an interactable opens up the verb coin
What does right-clicking do? Is it unnecessary? A shortcut for the most common/obvious interaction?

The verbcoin opens in such a way so as to not block what you want to work on.
It makes a frame around the object (could be distracting), or it opens offset
Near the edges of the screen, the verbcoin that pops up will have to be displaced differently, making where the player has to move the mouse after be an unfixed thing.

The verbcoin has to be designed so as not to be so big as to cover too much of the screen, but not so small so that there isn't constant misclicking. What is this size in proportion to the size of the screen?

Will the verbcoin pause the gameplay when it is opened? This seems to be the more traditional behaviour, but it causes things on screen to be covered if there are lots of moving bits, not to mention how the verbcoin itself is covering stuff. If the verbcoin was not paused, however, we'd have it worse, with things happen that we can't see clearly, and if we made a mistake with what we clicked, we could be in trouble.

Speaking of making mistakes, how would the verbcoin handle a misclick?
Simply moving the mouse out of the UI space can cause it to close, but this could lead to problems where the UI is constantly unintentionally closed (goes back to the issue of the perfect sweet-spot size of the verbcoin),
The other option is to have the player click outside the UI region, and click again what they actually meant to click.
« Last Edit: 27 Jun 2018, 14:28 by Babar »
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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #28 on: 27 Jun 2018, 15:25 »
Speaking of making mistakes, how would the verbcoin handle a misclick?
Simply moving the mouse out of the UI space can cause it to close, but this could lead to problems where the UI is constantly unintentionally closed (goes back to the issue of the perfect sweet-spot size of the verbcoin),
The other option is to have the player click outside the UI region, and click again what they actually meant to click.

What about "ability wheel" kind of UI, where regular cursor gets locked and/or hidden, and verb highlighted depending on the direction of mouse move? This prevents from misclicking outside.
This may still need to complement with touchscreen somehow.

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #29 on: 27 Jun 2018, 15:50 »
We do have a thread about verbcoins every couple of months, and they generally show that using a verbcoin will prevent a substantial amount of people from playing your game. Bear in mind that AGS forum users are more knowledgeable (and more tolerant) of different GUIs than players on the internet in general. So as a game designer, ask yourself if you think it is worth it to use your personal favorite interface, if that keeps people from playing your game.

This applies to several other interfaces as well. As I recall, Dave Gilbert once adviced this forum to avoid the Sierra interface, because only people who grew up with Sierra games understand it (and that's probably not a large part of your audience). It is clearly NOT equally true for every interface ("all options have detractors so it doesn't matter which I pick" is not a great way of making decisions :) )

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #30 on: 27 Jun 2018, 16:52 »
What about "ability wheel" kind of UI, where regular cursor gets locked and/or hidden, and verb highlighted depending on the direction of mouse move? This prevents from misclicking outside.
This may still need to complement with touchscreen somehow.
That seems like a cool effect, but will probably make the other kind of misclick even worse: when the player clicked the wrong object on the screen in the first place, there would have to be a "CANCEL" option among the other verbs (or right-clicking to cancel?)
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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #31 on: 27 Jun 2018, 17:35 »
Soon we will have an interface where the game reality simulation just reads the idea you had in your mind for using a hotspot and then obeys that thought.

Or... do we already have that..?

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #32 on: 27 Jun 2018, 17:49 »
I swear some people played through The Fowl Fleet without right clicking on anything (even though it tells you how to do it), and then complained that the puzzles didn't make sense.

It just might be that bad walkthroughs explain the phenomenon:

Let's pretend you're a busy reviewer and that you need to play through a looong Point & Click. You'd probably need to expend lots of energy and brain juice to solve all those riddles. But the deadline is near, and, well, there's that internet so conveniently at hand, and, well, a walkthrough can be found.

Now here's the thing: A lot of (badly written) walkthroughs just list the clicks necessary for getting to the end screen:
Quote
“Pick up the YELLOW THINGUMMY behind the rose bush, then knock on the BRASS DOOR, when the POLICE OGRE answers, you get a DIALOG where you choose 3, 1, 2, 4, 5. The police ogre will hand you a BROKEN FLOOBY.”


Note that those walkthroughs DON'T usually tell you how you would deduce that knocking on the door was the right thing to do at that point in time. You might perhaps get that easily if you have EXAMINEd the door beforehand, but this examination isn't required to get you to the end screen, so the walkthrough doesn't record the right click on the door.

Also note that all the clicks you do for advancing the game (opening doors, responding in dialogs, picking things up) are usually left clicks; you need the right clicks for finding things out.

The effect is that the time-pressed reviewer is confronted with a riddle, can't be assed to think about the solution, consults the walkthrough, is given a list of left clicks with little or no context, exclaims “I'd NEVER have arrived at THAT solution” and complains that the riddles “don't make sense“.
« Last Edit: 27 Jun 2018, 17:55 by fernewelten »

Danvzare

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #33 on: 27 Jun 2018, 18:42 »
We do have a thread about verbcoins every couple of months, and they generally show that using a verbcoin will prevent a substantial amount of people from playing your game. Bear in mind that AGS forum users are more knowledgeable (and more tolerant) of different GUIs than players on the internet in general.
Is that true though?
Because from what I've been seeing, it's seems more likely that the opposite is true. With the users on this forum being less tolerant, and the casual players not really giving a crap, so long as it's clear how the interface works.

Maybe I should look at the Steam reviews for the Day of the Tentacle remake, and see how many complain about the verb coin that was added and how the interface was changed. I'm sure I'll find loads
...
And after doing a quick search, no one has mentioned it. See, no one cares. Only us elitists do.

I can't even find anyone complaining about the option for a verb coin when looking at the reviews and the forum discussions for Randal's Monday.
None of the reviews on the GOG page for Curse of Monkey Island mentions the verb coin or interface either!
Please, someone, correct me if I'm overlooking something here, because even I'm starting to find this hard to believe. Surely someone would at least mention it!
« Last Edit: 27 Jun 2018, 18:57 by Danvzare »

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #34 on: 27 Jun 2018, 19:30 »
I doubt most people outside of AGS even know what a verbcoin is, so you're not going to find people complaining about "verbcoins". And if this is their only experience with the game, they probably wouldn't be able to even pin down exactly what is bothering them about it (unless they're game devs, perhaps, and look at it through that lens).
For the Day of the Tentacle Remaster, however, going through the reviews, especially of people who played it back in the day, nobody is comparing the new interface favourably to the old, in fact, I am seeing complaints about the context sensitive wheel giving spoilers, and that you can't walk and interact with stuff.
EDIT: :cheesy: at the thread title
« Last Edit: 27 Jun 2018, 19:47 by Babar »
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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #35 on: 27 Jun 2018, 21:37 »
Maybe I should look at the Steam reviews for the Day of the Tentacle remake,
DOTT allows the player to choose between three different interfaces, only one of which is verbcoin; plus controller support and keyboard shortcuts. Clearly nobody is going to complain about that.

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Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #36 on: 28 Jun 2018, 01:37 »
The effect is that the time-pressed reviewer is confronted with a riddle, can't be assed to think about the solution, consults the walkthrough, is given a list of left clicks with little or no context, exclaims “I'd NEVER have arrived at THAT solution” and complains that the riddles “don't make sense“.

I think you just found the solution to what Ali has been wondering about that reviewer.

They do exactly this on Mostly Walking when they get too stuck and fed up with a game. They quit halfway through The Last Express even though the mechanic they were most interested in was the time-rewind feature and never used it except once at the start to show how cool it was and then instantly forgot its existance. They couldn't figure out what to do next because they had missed a vital event. So instead of rewinding time they gave up and used a walkthrough and were like "Oh my God, you won't believe what we were supposed to do. How the @%&# is anyone supposed to figure that out?!" and ragequit the game forever.

Ali, I'd say you can safely call that reviewer out with "DISCLAIMER: The puzzles in the game make absolutely zero sense if you use a walkthrough as this reviewer obviously has."

Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #37 on: 28 Jun 2018, 09:12 »
They're my personal favorite, but I didn't let that make UI decisions for me; instead, it was pretty much a requirement because of our game having two protagonists that both have a special ability in addition to use and examine. It should also work decently on tablets with a bit of tweaking.

From a comfort and user-friendliness perspective, I'd theoretically be in favor of the one-click interface, but that tends to remove the 'examine' part, and is what really brought down Broken Age for me, for example. I agree with the fact that people are idiots and forget to right click - I am in fact one of those idiots, and went through half of Primordia (I think?) until I realized I could right click on stuff (and kept forgetting throughout).

Unforeseen Incidents did an interesting thing with both click and right click acting as the same thing, but tbh that was super confusing to me, and maybe I'm slow but I think I was half-way through the game until I realized that both clicks do the same. Having the character say one thing on left click and another on right click made it hard to be sure what did what exactly, and I would've preferred right click to open the inventory (I may be in the minority, but I dread inventories that appear on hover in games).

So, yeah, if you do have at least 3 interactions that are consistently used throughout your game I think verb coin is justified and welcome. We actually experimented a 2 click no verb coin interface by accessing the sidekick from the inventory, but it lead to more annoying clicking every time you wanted to use her on a hotspot and...eeeh.

Another interesting thing that I think Unavowed does, and can lead to a nice compromise, is descriptions of hotspot appearing in text while hovering over them. Saves you VO budget, too! :)

And, as a verb coin user and endorser, I do agree they should instantly pop up when you click the hotspot. I have no idea if it's also doable in AGS, but you can both click-hold down-drag and release, or click, verb coin pops up, click option. It's pretty friendly, but again, it's Unity, don't know about AGS.

And that's my rant done :)
« Last Edit: 28 Jun 2018, 10:45 by Mr Underhill »

Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #38 on: 28 Jun 2018, 09:52 »
Hey Mr Underhill! As I said on here, I have right click for inventory, so you'll like that! I also was confused with Unforeseen Incident's left click and right click, I was trying to work out what was look and what was interact. Although it didn't take me as long to work it out, haha.

Here is my verb coin. I said it went see through, but I was mistaken, that is when it's at the bottom of the screen so you can see the text as it was obscuring under the verb coin. (My wall is lacking detail because I haven't finished drawing this background)

I would actually like to have it one click to bring up the verb coin. But it's too advanced for me to code. :(


Re: The Danger of Verb Coins!
« Reply #39 on: 28 Jun 2018, 10:43 »
Maybe going radiant might help? I find it a bit easier to either flick the mouse to the left, right or down instead of a vertical or horizontal arrangement.



I think it also makes life easier for the player in case a touch screen is involved.


E: Scratch that, just saw that you only have two options, so my point is moot.
« Last Edit: 28 Jun 2018, 10:46 by Mr Underhill »