Mouse Playability

Name dcss:brainstorm:tiles: mouse based play
Summary Our aim is to make it the Tiles version playable entirely by using the mouse. This page will cover concepts and suggestions.
Further information The Usability Project report, Tiles Interface Ideas (Bulk)
Added by jpeg
Added on 2010-03-15 13:27

It should be possible to play Crawl without having to memorize the keyboard commands. At the same time, all commands available in the console version should also be available in the Tiles version, to make the transition as easy as possible. Another reason: For common actions the keyboard commands are faster and more comfortable than moving the mouse to the required button and clicking, which is why it makes sense for the tooltip to always include the keyboard equivalent of a given command. Even without the keyboard commands, the keyboard itself will still has its uses for typing e.g. annotations, as well as for some special keys that are generally useful, e.g. Shift, Alt, Ctrl, and also Space, Escape and Enter.

Currently (as of 0.6), there are several concurrent concepts with the goal of reducing required keyboard use, not all of them equally successful.

Clickable menus

The basic inventory menu and its variations (e.g. pickup, search) includes clickable tiles as does the spell menu when casting or memorizing spells. Menus that are not clickable, but should be, include the ability menu and the help menu.

Clickable displays

Currently Crawl includes five toggleable displays: inventory items (also items on the floor), spells (both memorised, and not yet memorised in carried books), monsters in sight, and skills. Of these, the monster list is most useful if you handle your inventory and spells by keyboard rather than the mouse. By clicking into the tab area, certain actions can be executed:

  • Items can be picked up, used (main and secondary use, as appropriate for the item type) and dropped by help of the inventory display.
  • Items on the floor have fewer uses but there are a few that can be issued via mouseclick, i.e. pickup, chop and eat.
  • Spells can be memorised and cast using the spell display for casting and memorisation, respectively.
  • You can move closer to and melee monsters. (The other forms of attack would be nice, as well.)
  • Skills can be toggled.

Hooking further toggleable displays into the tab system should be relatively easy. The hardest part is probably designing all the new tiles we need for this. Candidates for such displays are:

  • abilities
  • non-item/spell commands (including meta commands)

Command display

The command display would have to include, at the very least, the following meta commands:

  • access to help screen
  • save game

The following informational commands:

  • mutation screen
  • character overview
  • dungeon overview
  • religion screen

… and the following gameplay commands:

  • message history
  • prayer
  • multidrop
  • shout/talk to allies
  • interlevel travel
  • set/remove exclusions

Item commands need not be included as they are logically grouped in the item display, and spell casting, memorisation and display ('I') is likewise handled better in the spell display. The common commands (autoexplore and healing, at the very least) should be available from elsewhere on the screen without requiring toggling between the tabs. There's nothing preventing us from additionally providing them here, of course.

Situation-based map clicks

A right-click will always pull up the description (otherwise reachable via 'xv') of the given feature/monster/item, but a left click will have different results depending on the situation. Clicking on an unoccupied cell starts autotravel, but clicking on a monster moves one step at a time into the given direction (shortest path) and allows ranged combat when combined with modification keys:

  • Shift + click ⇒ fire ammunition
  • Ctrl + click ⇒ cast spell
  • Alt + click ⇒ evoke wand (Shift + Ctrl acts as a synonym to the Alt key, if Alt is not available)

Ctrl + click on adjacent cells allows to untrap mechanical traps and open/close doors.

Left-clicking on the player doll issues the pick up command, while right-clicking pulls up the character overview screen. Shift + leftclick allows the player to use stairs and maybe also some other feature dependent actions. The problem with these feature dependent actions is that there's no indication to the player that they are possible unless you try moving the mouse over the player doll while the standing on said feature. In the The Usability Project report it was suggested that the tooltip should always list feature-dependent special commands (i.e. take stairs etc.), no matter where you are currently standing, possibly greyed out if standing elsewhere.

Clicking in other screen areas

Aside from the main map and item/spell displays, clicking into other dungeon regions can have interesting effects. For instance, it is possible to also travel and even autoexplore via the minimap. Less obvious mouseclick commands are access to the message log by clicking on the message area and resting/searching by clicking on the stat area. I like all three of these because they are very common commands and it is immensely convenient being able to do them by clicking into a huge area rather than a small dedicated button. The problem, it has been pointed out, is that they don't look clickable and that mouseovering over all screen regions is not as obvious as I thought it would be. *g*

Other ideas

Common commands

For really common actions (healing, exploration) it might be nice to have a neat button row in addition to the large-scale clicking into area system. As an intermediary solution these can be included in the action tab, but it'll probably get annoying constantly having to switch out of e.g. the spell menu because you want to continue autoexploring the level.

Monster list

A row of monsters currently visible in los, sorted by difficulty, (similar to the monster list) should likewise always be displayed on the screen. The current solution requires frequent toggling, and is thus a rather weak replacement.

Command menus

Instead of the current plethora of left-click options for monsters to be used together with Shift, Ctrl or Alt, a right-click could bring up a menu (move to/attack, cast spell, throw/fire, evoke something, describe) and a left-click would repeat the last chosen action for any monster or the same menu if you didn't previously use this command in a given game. This would make it easier to e.g. fire spells at monsters because it doesn't require you to press a key at the same time, and it would make sure that the command you use most often is easiest to access.

This does not apply to the rest of the map where clicking should continue to count as an attempt to travel, though right click <i>could</i> offer choices like disarming trap or similar special cases. I'm just not sure it'd be worth it.

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dcss/brainstorm/tiles/mouse_based_play.txt · Last modified: 2011-12-20 16:57 by XuaXua
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