How to deal with User Interface flaws

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Getting over it.

First thing first, you should always blame yourself. Not because you are the one to blame, but because this is how one learns. Yeah, surely, Abbrakam’s crappy design is to blame, and you should go flame them for as long as the issue persists, but in the meanwhile, if you got caught twice by the same UI flaw, you should blame yourself. This is the only way for you to reduce the probability to get caught by it the third time the occasion arises.

On the UI of a competitive Online Card Game

First allow me to make a disgression about chess, to illustrate why some rules, like touch-move, while potentially extremely frustrating, may be very healthy for the game.

On the UI of IRL chess

Playing casually with your friend.

Let’s say you’re down for a casual game of chess with your cousine. She’s stronger than you, so to make things interesting, you’re allowed to take back some of your moves, if you realise they are bad before she plays.

Playing casually at the club.

An other day, you go down a chess club and play some of your buds. To make it a bit more spicy, you have a clock, and, obviously, no takebacks are allowed. It would be extremely lame to make a move, hit the clock, and then take your move back when your opponent’s time is running.
However, it’s not a short time control and you’re not training for a competition, so you play by the clock-move rule : you can take a move back as long as you have not hit the clock.

Playing for fame and money against a hustler or in a blitz tournament

Third scenario, you play on a short time format, no more than 5 minutes on the clock.

You use all the time available to think. Not only your time, also your opponent’s. And when he starts touching a piece, you assume he’ll play it and proceed to further thinking accordingly. Same when he drops it. Would you be happy to see him shuffle his pieces back and forth in an obfuscating way? Even hustling one piece or two out of the board while doing so? Or making an illegal knight move too fuzzilly for you to notice? No. That’s why the touch-move rule exists (you have to play a piece you touched, and you can’t take back a piece you dropped).

Obvious, isn’t it? No. Had I introduced you the touch-ove rule from the perspective of the player restricted by it, it would have seemed exactly as frustrating and pointless as the inability to cancel a “chose” card in Faeria.

My main point here is that you have to take the point of view of both players to judge an UI design choice.

Back to Faeria

Faeria is an online computer game. It means each and every rule has to be coded, cannot be edicted on the fly. That’s why a balance has to be found to make a single UI suited for both competitive and casual play.

Some changes may even be impractical or impossible to implement. If you want to change the way dash is executed, you have to think how dash and gift interacts (eg crackthorn), and actually how dash and anything interacts, since Mistral Guide is a card.

Faeria is a card game with hidden information. In online Chess, the touch move rule is a bit loosen, because your opponent does not see you shuffling your pieces back and forth. In Faeria, much like in any competitive online CCG he does. Even in Heartstone, he does. It mimics some aspects of real life CCGs, like the ability to see which card your opponent uses (eg the topdeck), or to make a guess based on the things he looks at, and even to bluff.

That information has to be as clear as possible. Just like the way you cannot put a card you reavealed back into your hand in RL CCG, you cannot cancel a “chose” card you commited to play in Faeria. Just like you cannot move your rook toward your king in blitz chess, then decide two minutes later you also want to move the king to effectively castle, you can’t postpone your choice to dash in faeria and shuffle through all your other option in the meanwhile to eventually move the dash creature, confusing your ennemy into a “wtf, it’s not a haste creature, oh yeah, he still had the dash”. Bear with the fact that you completely could have pondered your options before playing the dashed creature, and that you can still ponder them in the meanwhile, but in your head, because your hand is holding the card you are currently playing.

A lot of UI suggestions I come accross are akin to allowing takebacks in Chess or in a RL CCG. Great for the takebackers, obfuscating for his opponent.

So Whenever you complain about an UI choice and think about how it could be otherwise, ask yourself :is it better for BOTH players? If not, then your suggestion is not strictly better than what is currently in place, and at least both ways can be justified over the other, if yours even can.

Final note

Of course this “guide” is a spit in the face of people complaining about the UI, but there has been and there probably still are things to complain about and to improve. Go ahead and denounce them, I just hope I helped in the process of thinking your suggestions thouroughly and making them better, while being more comprehensive toward Abbrakam and detractors and their current choices and opinions.

Post Scriptum :

For the sake of completeness, let me just talk about the two examples of the introduction I did not came back to.

Right clicking on the board (anywhere) used to open the emote menu. right clicking again did not close it… awfull. And now, it’s gone (only orb open’s the emote menu).

Derelict self targetting (with the intent to cancel) is a recurring problem of mine. I have no definitive opinion about it, but some insights :

  1. I am to blame. Faeria like most turn base mind game encourages you to think fully through your actions before executing them. Aimelessly moving stuffs and casually changing your mind is logically rewarded by bad execution, or misclicks. Also, I should target a non targetable hex to cancel somehting.
  2. Faeria’s UI is very consistent in general, and very consistent about what you can cancel (not much) and what you cannot. If you drop a card to the board, it’s as good as revealed, hence you played it, no canceling possible. But as long as you do not release the click, you can cancel. Derelict tower is no exception. It is a very good thing that I intuitively think I can cancel it, because I can (just not the way I do it), and I can because the UI is consistent. If I am to make a suggestion about it, I would have to think about consistency. Because if I don’t my suggestion might well happen to be worthless.