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Victoria 3 - Dev Diary #74 - UX Improvements

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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.

Trade Routes​

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.

DD74_1.png


DD74_2.png

Message Settings​

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.

DD74_3.png

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.

Rebindable Keys​

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.

DD74_4.png

Pop Needs​

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).

DD74_5.png

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

DD74_6.png

Economy​

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.

DD74_7.png

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.

DD74_8.png

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.

DD74_9.png

The Investment Pool is now being more prominently displayed in the Buildings panel.

DD74_10.png

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.

DD74_11.png

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.

DD74_12.png


DD74_13.png

Convoys​

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.

DD74_14.png

Map Modes​

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.

DD74_15.gif

Diplomacy​

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.

DD74_16.png

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.

DD74_17.png

Military​

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.

DD74_18.png

Work in Progress tooltip for the breakdown of the initial number of troops each General was able to bring to the Battle.

DD74_19.png

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.

DD74_20.png


DD74_21.png

Outliner​

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.

DD74_22.png


DD74_23.png


DD74_24.png

Tech Tree improvements​

The Tech Tree Improvements discussed in DD #70 also made it for 1.2.

Closing words​

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!
 
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This comment is reserved by the Community Team for gathering Dev Responses in, for ease of reading.


Skidofly said:


Great to see some needed quality of life improvements! Are the visual map upgrades from DD70 scheduled for a different patch?
Thank you! Most, if not all, visual map upgrades mentioned in DD#70 will not make it in for 1.2, no.


CassCD said:


I have been losing my god-damn mind trying to understand what the hell "toast" is supposed to mean in the context of message settings. Why is NOBODY talking about this anywhere? Does this terminology actually make sense to someone? The only toast I recognize is the kind I EAT.
Haha, sorry about that! Tooltips with explanations are coming for this!


SeekTruthFromFx said:


I am curious how the Price Reports in the Market Tab will work, but maybe that is adjustable in Message Settings if I prefer the current approach.
Yes! You can turn these back on in the Message Settings!


Logist said:


What do the checkboxes in the message settings do?
If checked the game Auto-Pauses when that thing happens. Labels for the columns are also added on our internal builds.


Oglesby said:


Can we pin other markets? If so, how; if not, is there a need for the "British Market" level?
The plan was definitely a "Yes, you should be able to pin Goods in other Markets", but recently we discovered a bug, or rather a limitation of how the data for the Outliner is structured, so for 1.2, it is very much a Maybe.

Oglesby said:


I know it is not mentioned here but group by country is currently implemented as group by originating country. Is there a reason for this? Would it not make more sense if it was all trade including said country? If I am checking my trade with Peru I would not want to have to check both the USA section and the Peru section.
Oh, that very much sounds like a bug! Thanks for pointing it out!


ZircomSkull said:


Please make the infamy states cost to conquer scale with gdp and not population, since that would make more sence and incentivize countries to develop their economy. in 1836 people would be more upset if you invaded beugium than if you grabbed a piece of india from britain(also make the raj and EIC be transferable in a cheaper way please)
It used to be like this, the problem is the way GDP grows exponentially over the course of the game. I've been eyeing a solution where I compare against the average state GDP in the world, but it's a little trickier to explain to the player.


mwc12 said:


Can we please get a literacy over time graph in the tooltip like we have with GDP and Radicals/Loyalists? I like to see how much progress I’ve made.
This one is on my wishlist for sure, but for 1.2 we decided to prioritize performance and memory usage, and since graphs can have an impact on both we decided to push this for a later release.


Keksburg said:


Personally I hope the "fade in/out" could be faster. I've to wait about 0.5s to keep on. It indeed looks much better but interrupt my thinking.
We are going to do a pass and look over the current default settings for this, and regardless of what we end up with you can also tweak those values to your own liking in the Settings panel!


Somberg said:


Are there any plans to allow us to see tax capacity per state when building Government Administrations so that we know which states have deficits that need to be resolved? Don’t like having to look at situations or clicking on each state to know where I need to build them.
Plans: Yes! Unsure if it will make it into 1.2 though.


Miraiteko said:


Nice Work!
BTW, will this new UI be able to show script value or variables? This is very helpful for us modders.
There has been some work on this, as we will be using this system to generate the tooltips for the Initial Number of Troops in a Battle, but I am unsure about how generalized it is. It will for sure be more useful than what we had before, but each tooltip might need some extra love to be presentable. Regardless of it's state at the release of 1.2, we will continue to improve it, as it is a very powerful tool for our designers (and for modders).


Cagallo said:


Hey amazing job at this rework! I have 2 questions on the trade panel:
1) What is the "revenue" column? If it is the revenue I get as tariffs, then wonderful because that info is much needed; if it is something else, then I don't know.
2) How can I quickly now set the export/import tariff for that good up/down? The buttons are still available?
1) That is correct! This is the tooltip for it:

1675973055579.png


2) You can either use the "Group by Goods" view (the same as what is currently in 1.1), right-click the Goods or go to the details panel for that Goods.


Cagallo said:


On pop info, I wish it was possible to easily do pivot tables.
Me too Cagallo, me too.


xbrunerohd said:


Those are some useful changes. Have you ever considered adding charts for Sell/Buy orders (when you hover over them on the goods panel) for each individual good? Just like the ones you have for the price itself. I think that could quickly give some important information about what's going on in my economy. I would bet this wasn't added for perfomance issues. Could you talk about that?
Yes, we have definitely consider those, but for 1.2 those we're deemed risky as we wanted to prioritize better performance and less memory usage over adding more graphs.


Fusilliban said:


Can we please also, perhaps in 1.3, have a "queue Railway" button on that same interface?
I definitely see the need for something like this, and I'll see what I can do there. It probably won't be for 1.2 though, but rest assured that we understand where this is coming from!


marxwasright said:


Will the new messages/diplomacy allow for something like setting a country of interest like EU4? It would be nice to see it display when a nation becomes open to diplomatic agreements, like taking on their debt. I always see the omniscient AI swooping in to take on debt, but as a human I have never done it, because of a lack of information. The country interest could also convey when they change politics or other info.
No, sorry, not for 1.2. We have a design for it, but we were not able to fit it into the production schedule for this update.


EsenTaishi said:


Great work team!

Sadly, no credit to my Visible Pop Needs mod (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2898482972) :(
Oh, I am so sorry, accidental omission from my end! Will update the post!


Oglesby said:


What is the fascination with buttons that appear to be not needed.
The main reason is "Players more often than you think miss that some buttons are buttons". We saw this time and time again when doing user research, both from new players and experienced PDS veterans. The arrow navigation buttons solved most of those problems.

In addition to this, for the Construction Map Interaction the reason was two-fold:
1) We wanted to be able to both queue a construction and navigate to the details panel for that Building, not just queue
2) We wanted to make sure that it was easy to move your mouse cursor into the tooltip if you wanted to dig deeper into it, which a button for the entire list item made much harder to get right

For the Construction Widget in the Outliner, it was also two-fold
1) We wanted to be able to Pause/Unpause the queue from the Outliner, and to be able to navigate to the Construction panel
2) We wanted it to align neatly with the rest of the Outliner
However, after looking at the result of this, and listening to the feedback we got from internal testing and the Open Beta, this will be changed in the upcoming release.
 
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Great to see some needed quality of life improvements! Are the visual map upgrades from DD70 scheduled for a different patch?
 
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A question about the outliner, I see I can pin goods but I rarely did that even with mods.
What is much more interesting is listing goods currently in a shortage, because this is an immediate problem.
Mods provide that functionality, will 1.2 aswell and it just wasn't listed in the dev diary?
 
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Good start, happy with all of these improvements.

One of the changes I’d like to see is if the “unproductive trade route” notification only pops up if the trade route is unproductive at level 1. Right now it blares at me if the trade route level is going down for any reason at all, even normal market adjustments.
 
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The feel of 1.2 is very good indeed, I almost cried when I saw this:

1675955741589.png


Also, I don't remember the front interaction ledger window, but it seems assigning generals to fronts is more natural in 1.2:

1675955788221.png


Also, naval battles! that is great to see, and makes naval invasions more understandable for all:

1675955915295.png


Strategic objectives throught the military lense is a bit hidden, should be in the war window somehow:

1675955839651.png


Lucky modifiers changing every now and then is very good improvement:

1675955867930.png
 
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Very good changes. Imho a GUI which has all important information in one place, a lot of shortcuts and allows to do tasks quickly and automate repetitive things in a smart way is ome of the most important things in a game, and your changes are an important step in this direction.
 
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The Convoy number in the top bar, the Pop Needs, and the Trade Routes overview were all sorely needed, so they will be much appreciated.

Message Settings are very, very welcome. I can't say it will be appreciated because hopefully I will set it once and then forget about it because I'm no longer annoyed by messages I (don't) want. :p

Pinnable Goods in the Outliner is a great idea.

I am curious how the Price Reports in the Market Tab will work, but maybe that is adjustable in Message Settings if I prefer the current approach.

All in all: really pleased to see improvements responding to player feedback.
 
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I love all the changes.
I also find rather annoying the interactions on mobilizing and deploying armies. Probably it's me not caring to promote my generals enough so that i end up with 20 armies, and probably because i dont care about military at all, but sometimes you are dragged to that useless distraction that war is and i find that the interface makes it more annoying for me.
if the problem is that the player should take more care about promoting generals some alarm message could be added when your army setup can be improved as when you are in war and mobilized generals have no orders to deploy in a front.
 
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Those are some useful changes. Have you ever considered adding charts for Sell/Buy orders (when you hover over them on the goods panel) for each individual good? Just like the ones you have for the price itself. I think that could quickly give some important information about what's going on in my economy. I would bet this wasn't added for perfomance issues. Could you talk about that?
 
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I have been losing my god-damn mind trying to understand what the hell "toast" is supposed to mean in the context of message settings. Why is NOBODY talking about this anywhere? Does this terminology actually make sense to someone? The only toast I recognize is the kind I EAT.
 
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xbrunerohd

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I have been losing my god-damn mind trying to understand what the hell "toast" is supposed to mean in the context of message settings. Why is NOBODY talking about this anywhere? Does this terminology actually make sense to someone? The only toast I recognize is the kind I EAT.
I heard about it somewhere, but also couldn't tell
 
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Troyen

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I have been losing my god-damn mind trying to understand what the hell "toast" is supposed to mean in the context of message settings. Why is NOBODY talking about this anywhere? Does this terminology actually make sense to someone? The only toast I recognize is the kind I EAT.
Assuming it means the banner at the top of the screen (complete with sound effects) rather than a silent notification in the corner. "Toast" is a common term for those popups in modern OSes and phones.
 
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Yonomin

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I have been losing my god-damn mind trying to understand what the hell "toast" is supposed to mean in the context of message settings. Why is NOBODY talking about this anywhere? Does this terminology actually make sense to someone? The only toast I recognize is the kind I EAT.
Toasts are those message panels that appear in the top section of your screen
 
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Logist

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All of this looks great!

Two things:

What do the checkboxes in the message settings do?

The only thing that felt like a step back is the tech tree. Could we get a toggle button for a low information version of the tech tree? I can see why this change might be useful to new players, but once you have the tech tree memorized it just feels really cluttered.
 
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