Yesterday I mentioned pop-up windows in Evony’s user interface as one of my pet peeves, and felt I should elaborate.
My first problem with pop-ups is the wasted space. Note the red scribbles on the image. When a player is in the barracks clearly his goal is either to recruit new troops or check on what troops he already has. The image of the city is completely irrelevant and when cropped like that is converted to visual clutter. The pop-up UI completely wastes that space which should be put to better use, even if just to make the barracks window a little bigger.
Second, pop-ups run the risk of covering up important information. Note the yellow arrow on the the image. Under the pop up is where the player’s current resources are displayed. This information is very important when upgrading a building or training troops, so why would you hide it? I’ve often found myself clicking on the barracks, then having to close them to check on my resources before going back to the barracks and issuing some training orders.
Finally, pop-ups can confuse the scroll wheel. Not all the possible troop types fit on a screen, and so a scroll wheel is necessary to browse through them. However, it only works if the player’s mouse is over the barracks window. Should the player wander over to towards the resources the scroll wheel switches back to zooming in and out of the (still irrelevant) city view.
The alternative to all of this is to use Travian and Ikariam’s strategy of just opening the building-specific screen as the main window. This wastes no space, ensures the main UI bar is always visible, and the player can scroll down from wherever they chose.
Of course, maybe there are benifits to the pop-up scheme that I’ve overlooked. It’s certainly useful in a lot of situations, especially when the pop-up is pretty small. For example, if you mouse-over any of the troop types in Evony you’ll get a pop-up over the pop-up that shows how many resources it costs to train one. Pop-ups are great for displaying context-sensitive information or options, but once the pop-up window reaches a certain size it seems better to admit you’re no longer dealing with a quick context-sensitive menu and convert the whole thing to a main view.
Hah, I’m probably the only OSG player who’s spent so much time complaining about user interface, but I wager it has annoyed plenty of Evony players, even if they haven’t realized it.