Dev Diary #74 - UX Improvements
Hello, my name is Henrik, and I am one of the UX Designers on Victoria 3. For 1.2 I have been fully focused on improving the user experience of the game. Before we go into the details of what has been worked on for this update, I want to give a special thanks to the community, all the modders, and anyone who posted feedback here on the forum, Discord, Reddit, Youtube, or any of our other communication channels. Your feedback, ideas, and discussions have all been instrumental in helping the team prioritize our time and efforts for this update.
One of the first things we started with immediately after 1.1.2 was improving the usability of the Trade Routes panel. In addition to the current view of grouping Trade Routes by Goods, you can now get a sortable list of all Trade Routes in the Market, or get a view where they are grouped by Country. All of these lists can also be filtered to exclude any Routes not owned by you. The Country grouping is especially useful when setting up Embargos or Trade Agreements.
Our new Message Settings window lets you decide how you want a specific Notification to be displayed, and if you want the game to automatically pause when it gets triggered. In future updates, we are planning on expanding this to cover more functionality, like the Current Situation panel, Alerts etc.
Parallel to adding Message Settings, we also made a pass on making sure that the Notifications we post to the player are informative and have a reasonable default setting for how to present them. Among the tweaks we have done are:
Make the “Interest Activated/Deactivated” Notification into a “You can now conduct Diplomacy with X” Notification that only triggers if the activated/deactivated Interest is the first/last one that overlaps with any of your Interests
Moving the Price Report to the Market Panel (turned off by default, can be turned on in the Message Settings panel)
Splitting up Trade Routes Notifications into significant and less significant versions (Significant is turned on by default, less significant is not)
Only show “Mobilization” and “Declare Neutrality” Notifications if you are committed to the Diplomatic Play in question
Only show resource related Notifications if they happen in your Market (previously Strategic Regions in which you have an Interest in)
All of these changes should, according to our benchmarks, reduce the number of Notifications by roughly 50% for most Countries. In addition to this, we have also tweaked the animations for the Notification feed, so the overall user experience of the entire system should be much improved.
Our shortcut system has been replaced by a new system that can leverage rebindable keys. When adding this new system also made a pass and added a few more shortcuts, as well as hooked in a few existing ones in more places.
Another fully reworked panel is the Population overview, which now gives you more information about who your Pops are, how many they are, how much money they make, what they spend it on, and how much that goes to increasing/decreasing their Standard of Living (the last one not included in the screenshot, but visible without scrolling when the Taxes and Needs sections are collapsed).
In addition to creating this new panel, we have exposed more information in the Pop Lists used throughout the game, and improved a few of the Pop Need tooltips. They should now surface more of the relevant information higher up in the information hierarchy. We also exposed the top five Goods a Pop spends money on in this list, inspired by the Visible Pop Needs mod by Apprehensive-Tank213
Martin has already discussed some of the changes regarding Construction in DD #71, and in addition to these changes we have improved the user experience of the gameplay loop by providing better contextual information in several places. For example, we have added Infrastructure, Available Labor, and Qualifications to the Map List that is shown when expanding Buildings. In the screenshot below you can also see that we have restructured the layout of the Map Interaction panel to make it possible to navigate directly to another panel, which in the case of the Construction Interaction is the Building details panel for the specific Building. This layout also allows for more reasonable tooltip positioning, making it easier to navigate into a nested tooltip without accidentally opening another tooltip when moving the cursor towards the tooltip you wanted to dig into the details of.
The most recent improvement that made it into the game is the Reset Production Methods Map Interaction, a PDT project by our Lead Designer Mikael and myself. It should make it much more efficient to streamline the production in your Country, which is especially useful if you have just acquired a few new States. This is currently somewhat of a work in progress, and we are hoping to expand this to work on Buildings and Building Types in the future.
One of the most popular mods for the game is currently Visual Methods by FUN, a mod that we liked so much that we decided to make our own, slightly tweaked, version of.
The Investment Pool is now being more prominently displayed in the Buildings panel.
The tooltips for Market Access have also been improved to give more detail as to why a State is not fully connected to the National Market.
Radicals and Loyalists
We have improved the presentation of why your Pops turn Radical or Loyal, who they are and which Interest Groups they belong to. Information regarding this has been exposed in several tooltips and panels, like the Interest Group panel.
Your current Convoy balance has been added to the Top Bar, making it much easier to keep track of and access when needed. This item will be hidden for landlocked Countries and unlocked as soon as you gain access to a coastline.
We have added three new Map Modes (Literacy, Population and Infamy), and given the transition between two Map Modes a configurable fade in/out to make it smoother. One of the first mods I personally subscribed to at release was Practical Heatmaps by Ronin Szaky, and an ever-so-slightly tweaked version made its way into the base game in 1.2.
For Diplomacy, we have improved how we show AI Acceptance and signal more clearly if offering or using an Obligation would convince them to accept.
We have also exposed all types of Diplomatic Plays on the Country details panel, not only the ones you can currently start, making it easier to figure out what is blocking you from starting a particular Play.
When it comes to the Military system, the focus for the UX improvements in 1.2 has revolved around making it clearer how the Battle systems work. We approached this by exposing more data related to Battles, as well as, improving some of the tooltips presenting breakdowns of the calculations involved. Some effort has also been made to decrease the amount of visual noise from multiple Front Markers.
Work in Progress tooltip for the breakdown of the initial number of troops each General was able to bring to the Battle.
We have also surfaced the information regarding which HQ a Commander considers their Home HQ and made some improvements to the information presented in the Naval Invasion user flow.
The Outliner has gotten some polish, with pinnable Goods and non-Military Characters being the biggest additions. Interest Groups are now showing their Approval value, and States show their Available Labor and Qualifications.
Tech Tree improvements
The Tech Tree Improvements discussed in DD #70 also made it for 1.2.
In addition to all of these changes listed above, we have also made over 100 smaller UX tweaks and bug fixes, which you will either have to wait for the full patch notes to explore, or experience for yourself during the Open Beta. Once again, thanks for all the feedback, it really helps us make the game as great as it deserves to be! Next week, Martin will be showing us diplomacy improvements coming in 1.2!