All user interfaces in game design should accomplish two fundamental goals: function and form. The first goal, function, pertains to the actual usability of the interface, such as where the buttons are located, what organizational structure the interface adopts, how many layers deep the interface should go, et cetera. These are all factors that make up how an interface functions, and arguably are the most important ingredients in any good user interface—for you've hardly got a user interface at all without it properly functioning.
The second goal, form, is purely the aesthetics of the user interface. How large should this button be? What color should that button be? These types of questions are what an individual will ask themselves when designing the form of an interface.
It pains me to admit, but should not take you by surprise, that Erik, Elliot, and the rest of the developers of the Distant Worlds series are not the most "interface-savvy." Distant Worlds: Universe struggled to have a functioning interface, let alone an attractive one, and countless players have shied away from the magic of Distant Worlds solely because the interface was overwhelmingly... terrible, to say the least. In retrospect, I feel I can safely admit the first installment of Distant Worlds missed the mark on both its function & form regarding UI.
As a result, of all the improvements one could long for in a Distant Worlds sequel, to me, (surprise, surprise!), the most principal improvement was the user interface. My god, I've always thought, how much less of a headache Distant Worlds would be with a functioning interface. My god, I've always thought, how pleasant Distant Worlds would be with an attractive, clean, candy-for-the-eyes interface. I wept over function and form.
Then the gameplay reveal came for Distant Worlds 2. We were treated with a tour of the new UI, which was packed with a plethora of new icons, menus, and tabs. Gone were the days of screen-wide spread sheets for everything in the game. In addition, a healthy portion of the information was presented neatly on the playing screen. To me, this was a dream come true, and would surely attract a new generation of Distant Worlds players. The game had a functioning interface!
Then time passed. I looked back on the gameplay reveal and began to investigate DW2 for flaws in an effort to provide feedback. For whatever reason, my attention was focused almost entirely on the user interface. Something was wrong.
It lacked form.
I was not the only one who didn't feel completely satisfied with the new interface for DW2. I noticed people began commenting on how it appeared throughout the forums and other places around the internet. Some were constructive, others were flat-out rude, but all shared a common theme: it didn't look attractive. It was ugly, they said, and unfortunately I couldn't agree more.
I wanted to bring this to the attention of Erik but failed to untangle my mess of words. It's difficult to describe exactly what feels wrong about the looks of something, and I knew I wasn't going to provide any useful feedback with an opinionated paragraph or two. There's plenty of those already.
I convinced myself the only way I was ever going to demonstrate exactly how I believe the UI should look is by creating the appearance of such an interface myself. So I went about to do precisely that. Below, you will first find the original screenshot of DW2's interface, followed up by my own rendition presented alongside a gif to quickly compare the differences between the two. I believe my UI works to bring Distant Worlds 2 into the 21st century, de-cluttering, simplifying, and modernizing what was before a retro mess.
< Message edited by Galaxy227 -- 1/29/2021 6:54:34 PM >