MVC3 User Experience/Interface Discussion

Hey Everyone,

I wanted to discuss some issues with the user interface (UI) for MVC3. By UI I mean the menu system, and how certain features have been carried out. I hope that fighting game designers can take the feedback here and incorporate it into future games if not future updates.

I will start with a few examples

  • What happens: on an unconnected (to the internet) ps3 when the game starts, it will always remind/ask me to connect to the network in order to play online. “Do you want to connect to the network?” — reply “no” then another message pops up telling me that I have to connect to the network to play online.

  • The Issue: These kind of reminders aren’t necessary at the very start of the game before the start screen becomes active. In the main menu there are the offline and online modes. So if I choose the online mode without being connected, then the game could remind me that i need to connect. This is a minor issue, but it delays you when you really want to just jump into a training session or an offline match.

-What happens: on an unconnected ps3 after going through the online reminders and saying “no”, at the main menu screen the game checks for online downloadable content before allowing you to choose a menu choice

-The Issue: if my console is not connected to the internet in the first place, which was already previously established before getting to the main menu, why then does the game need to check for online downloadable content (that it can’t find b/c i’m offline) and make me wait again before I can do anything?

Above are two examples of minor annoyances at the beginning of the game. I could write more about the online implementation too … but anyways what does everyone think? What fixes could be done to improve the UI for MVC3?

Finally here is an insightful video from[FONT=tahoma]**[FONT=tahoma] **[SIZE=4]WorstGiefEver [/SIZE][/FONT]that discusses similar UI issues in MK9:

This sort of irritation was the impetus for starting the blog linked to in my signature. /shameless plug. MvC3 has tons of terrible design choices that have nothing to do with gameplay. They basically break up into two groups:

  1. making you deal with stuff you shouldn’t have to
  2. making a relatively simple process time consuming and irritating

About the online gameplay and the ‘tedious’ amounts of work you have to do during the Marvel 3 UI, sometimes you have to know the limitations that was put on it during the production process.

For instance, why does the game return you to the Online Mode menu after a failure? Probably because it was the best thing the programmers could do in the little time they had. How important is User Interface, really? Fighting games are pretty straight-forward, what do players want? The gameplay needs to be good, the characters should be unique and balanced according to the instructions given by the superiors. But most importantly: it needs to work without breaking. How many times have you played a quick round of Marvel only to have the system crash? Every time you see the Results screen, the staff behind the game did something right. A LOT of the time spend programming went to make sure you got to that screen, everytime you play. Because of that, other things like User Interface have gotten slightly less work. It’s a little uncomfortable and people might complain about it - but does it take away from the overall experience of a fighting game, which is about creating intense rounds of head-to-head, mano-a-mano combat? It doesn’t.

I was so interested by this thread at first because you, Formless, mentioned the words “User Experience” in the title. I’ll admit, I’m still a student in game design and I’ve only been involved in two game projects so far. But a “User Experience” quite literally should be telling you the kind of experience you want your audience to have while playing the game. We had to literally write these down, write a page as if somebody was playing the game you made and described it in first-person. The User Interface is not often a part of the experience. Most of the time it’s just menu’s you go through to get to the actual experience. In some games the menu is incorporated into the experience somehow, but even then it’s rare and not really noticeable. A good example of an experience-integrated menu would be the menu of Perfect Dark, which you could turn off to reveal it was just a monitor your character was looking at to get her intel on the next mission. A slightly more recent example are the Pip-Boys from Fallout 3, which are kind of like the Watch from GoldenEye on the N64 (if you noticed… Rare was probably on to something).

The point is, is that User Interface usually has none to little impact on the actual User Experience, which relates only to the actual gameplay. Your thread has nothing to do with the “discussion” of the User Experience, it’s just a place for people to complain about a menu system… And really, does it matter that much to you? You can turn dlc notifications off, you can sit in training mode to wait for a ranked/player match and that way you won’t be redirected to different menu’s all the time. You have to realize that during productions there are priorities as there are non-priorities. I’m glad that Capcom stuck to the priorities they chose because I love Marvel 3, it’s an incredible fighting game and I honestly could care less about the fact that the menu is a little inconvenient at certain times.

Also at least you’re not using the words “GUI” because then we’d be talking about the health and meter bars… But really, it’s SRK so it’s only a matter of time before somebody complains about them.

I hate the reminder when I choose online on the menu, it says i need gold to play online. Can’t it just say that when I choose ranked match?

There is no reset match in the pause menu. (not really an interface problem)

Ideally a great interface would be one that changes with you as you gradually use it more and more. It will show less repeated notifications, time wasters.

:034: Thanks for your input on the topic, but I have to disagree on some points. I believe that the UI is an important part of the user experience (UX). For example in an RPG players constantly have to deal with a menu system to upgrade their characters attributes and weapons etc. Also for other types of action oriented games GUI is very critical letting players know their amount of health, ammunition, number of enemies on radar, when to perform a special attack etc. If the GUI is hard to understand/use then the gameplay can be very frustrating. Also in SFxT (which is still in development) there was already issue with the lifebars.

Back to MVC3, I totally understand your point about production time and priorities and I agree that they got the most important stuff right. I’ve also studied design and realize that production timelines are usually less than ideal. I’m not trying to bash the production team or the game. In fact I think they put in some really awesome features. One in particular is the option to set three of your most commonly used teams on your in-game card/license. I think that this feature really fits in with the players needs/wants. But I’m hoping that future updates could address problems that we discuss here, UI elements that the perhaps the production team may have wanted to implement better but were unable to, due to whatever circumstances.

It’s a noble goal and for now I’ll disagree in thinking that a GUI or menu interface is an important part of the User Experience. I can explain further on the matter, but that wouldn’t be relevant to the topic at hand. SFxT has a very big problem with the lifebars, but I was talking about Marvel, which has a very clean lifebar and very clean meter bar as well. The SFxT lifebars are actually the first lifebars I’ve seen that are actually a problem (something new in every game I suppose). GUI is obviously important but especially in modern games you see designers putting a lot less emphasis on it. Most shooter games miss the classic ‘lifebar’ and go for the bloodsplatters on the screen to indicate you’re about to die. You don’t see it just in shooter games: if you take a look at the recent Mario games, parts of the GUI only pop up when they’re relevant (you get a coin, you see how much coins you have). Compare this to older, 2D games where the information is always stacked up on the top of the screen (most notably Super Mario World, which had score, coins, amount of points you have left to getting a bonus level, amount of lives, whether you’re Mario or Luigi and how much time there’s left).

I think the team that’s still working on updating Marvel (leaving out the possibility of a sequel) is still focusing on gameplay issues. What kind of bugs should and can we take out, how are we going to do that. They have to think about what’s detrimental to the experience, what do we want players to be able to do and what do we not want them able to do. Infinites have been patched out multiple times, for instance. I think it’s a much better cause to optimalize what’s most important, rather than having to fix all the small mistakes. If there are serious issues, then they should obviously be looked at. Not being able to use an option, unable to go into a menu, freezes when handling the menu, those are serious issues. Having to press ‘no’ twice is inconvenient, for sure, but it’s not a serious issue.

If that’s the best that those programmers could come up with then they should be put on notice. Maybe money that went towards less critical aspects of the game like shadow battles or the extra opening movies should have gone towards making sure that the foundation was solid. I also hope you change your attitude towards interface design as a poor interface design can really ruin or at least severely detract from an otherwise solid game. The interface is the door through which the audience has to go to get to the experience and if that door is irregularly shaped or hard to find then it will detract from that experience.

That’s the sort of thing that only needs to brought up when it’s done poorly.

Of course a bad interface can heavily distract from what’s otherwise a good game. But this isn’t Sonic Unleashed, where you had to go through a menu, then a world map, to get a list of levels which wouldn’t actually tell you whether they were werehog or normal levels. You had to do this every time you started the game, there was no ‘continue’ function which left you at the last level you played. The best parts of course were the load times between each part. THAT is bad interface design (and don’t even get me started about having to go through a temple to get into a level, or when you mess up and enter the wrong level and get more load times when you exit). The issues we’re confronting here in this thread is about having to press a button twice. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but honestly? It’s a minor issue.

There’s also no point in striking a tone like “I hope you change your attitude” with me. I’m a student and therefore still learning about game design, however I do have the knowledge to tell the difference between a ‘bad design choice’ and an inconvenience.

The tone was justified as you where/are extremely dismissive of this issue. On a bad day this menu bumping from ‘Failed to _____’ can easily tack on several minutes to every match. That’s bad design and/or lazy programming. The entire point of design IMO is the less clicks the better. From what I’ve heard Sonic Unleashed is a generally shit game so here’s my example of a good game with one terribad design element: Mass Effect 1. The inventory management for weapons and armor was awful. If you wanted to actually use the full potential of the aforementioned items you had to find the item (in an inventory w/ a capacity of ~200 items), equip it and then if memory serves correctly select the item again in order to go the the weapon or armor mods list (another potential 200 items to sort through) and the equip the one you wanted. God help you if you hadn’t been keeping you inventory tidy and/or you had a weapon or armor with multiple slots.

I don’t give a shit what time constraints the developers were under.

They charged me full retail price for an extremely shoddy experience.

I shouldn’t have to make 12 attempts to play a ranked match.

Some lag is inevitable, but come on now. I have great internet. Don’t set me up with a tin can in Guatemala.

I should have the choice of a customized match if the option is given in the menu. You’re a fighter, and want to play against someone your own skill level? TOO BAD! Here’s a 5th Lord. Have fun, jerk.

Why are you still trying to find matches in quick match?

I’m not - but that’s exactly my point. It’s a fucking shoddy product.

Quick match is actually the only way I can find matches now. I tried searching on custom (region same, rank any, language any), left it there for an hour (I’m in the middle of packing to move so no big deal), thought I must have hit a glitch or something so canceled and tried again. Waited another hour, canceled, tried quick match, got an opponent in under a minute. Seems like that was a fluke too though because now it takes 2-5 minutes on average not counting the average 4 “failed to join” errors between each game.

Even with all that though, by far the most annoying shit in this game’s interface is how long I have to wait on post-game screens seeing stupid shit I’ve seen a million times. Character win quotes and Player data (the graph thing) - who gives a fuck? As soon as the game says you win/lose there should be a button right there to search for next match.

Try sending out a fight request and fucking around in training till it connects.

/facepalm at myself. I used to do this. Forgot it even existed because I couldn’t play online for so long. Cheers!

This is for me a last resort workaround as when it works it lags up training mode but finds matches very quickly. When it doesn’t work it lags up training mode gives some random message about disconnecting from searching and then stops searching (forcing me to go back to the character select screen to restart the search).

All of the “checking downloadable content” pop ups at the beginning last much longer on the ps3 than on the 360

Anybody the special trick that gives matches against friends a “Rematch” button? i.e. you don’t have to wait a few seconds between games.

I like how someone asked Christian Svensson about the matchmaking search issue and I especially like how he deferred the question without actually answering it. He says why the search function works the way it does. So far so good. He completely fails to explain why it keeps bumping the user all over the place when search fails.

Eventhubs Interview.