News: Brainstorming a New GUI

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I've been thinking about that some day I may have to use my own GUI for Z-Net 3.0 or Z-Band instead of the zbattle cloned GUI it has now, so I started pondering about how I could make it different. Rather than trying to think up different setups purely for the sake of being different, it of course makes sense to think of how things could be done better, if they can at all.

So from there I decided to create a step by step list of the entire process of zbattle and Z-Net 2.0, starting from installation, and ending at when 2 players are finished playing a game with each other. Without going into the details I came up with for all the steps, I'll just say that I boiled it down to 10 steps. From there I supplied details about each step for each project, and went back over it giving each step a ranking regarding issues. Issues mostly being confusion or based on how many things need to be done by the user to complete that step. I went into it figuring zbattle would clearly win, and to my surprise, that wasn't the case. Now I didn't show any biased in my scoring for Z-Net, as doing so would taint the results and screw up what I was trying to achieve with this. That said, while I did learn a little, my conclusions about this scoring is that it just isn't accurate enough to be conclusive. Both zbattle and Z-Net scored a 14, with a 10 being perfect. zbattle is clearly less confusing for a user overall compared to Z-Net. Maybe my scoring numbers should have been doubled, because if so I think that zbattle would have scored lower/better, though still not by as much as it should.

While not a perfect scoring system, I did however learn some from it. Both projects I felt lacked in certain areas by options not staring the users directly in the face, leading to a little or a little to much confusion. To anyone that's used both projects, it should be no surprise that the steps were the 2 projects showed most of their differences is in the steps going from game room creation/selection, to game selection, and to starting the game. Both projects had most of the points against them in those areas. Z-Net however only did as well as it did because it basically combines those 3 steps.

As of yet, I have no idea about how I will use this info. My goal I suppose would be to boil all steps down to a setup resulting in a score of 10, and use that setup with a new GUI. Seeing as those steps contributed the most points against each, it would indicate that that's the area I should work on if I want to make things easier. I'm not completely certain how though. One idea I've considered before with Z-Net and more so Z-Band, is a X-Band like auto matching system. Each users simply just selects a game they want to play, and then wait to be paired up. No game room list or pre-game discussion needed. However this option wouldn't be ideal for everyone. Some people may just want to play with friends, so a option to play with specific users would still need to be present. Some people may not like that kind of randomness, and instead would want to choose from a list of games themselves after talking with another user. I don't think there's any one option that offers all that. So in theory offering all options would be best. The thing is though, the choice between 3 options can be confusing itself. So offering that choice may be counterproductive. Additionally, offering such options is another "feature" I believe needs to be reserved for a project that has a sizable enough establish user base. For example, people who would prefer to use a random match making system might end up being forced to use a game room list because to few people are using the match making system. And to few people using a match making system could easily be a result of to few people using the match making system, just further feeding an issue. Or vise versa, match making could be more popular than the game room list for the same reason and with the same results. There's no doubt that when presented with multiple options, one of those options is going to end up being more popular than the other. But that popularity should only be because more users PREFER that option. Not because more users USE that option.

Still, there probably is a more optimal solution, and devoting some brain cells here and there to the issue is the only way it will be found. So it's something I will keep thinking about.

If anyone wants to discuss their ideas, here's the steps I listed for my brainstorming. Honestly, I had 2 more steps in it during my testing, as I was considering Z-Band and its match registration steps, but I removed those. #8, and maybe #9 could probably be ignored too as they too have little meaning in regards to zbattle and Z-Net.

01.) Install:
02.) Startup:
03.) Setup:
04.) Connection:
05.) Find Opponent:
06.) Game Selection:
07.) Starting Game:
08.) Game Progress:
09.) Finishing Game:
10.) Done With Opponent:


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