Stellaris Dev Diary #154 - UX Design in Stellaris

Stellaris Dev Diary #154 - UX Design in Stellaris

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I'd also like to see the Jobs screen allow you to drag/drop each job within a stratum so that you can order the priority of unemployment (say you put technician jobs at the bottom of the list; they'd be the first to go if you get more specialist jobs and your workers promote out of the stratum.
This, a million times over. It continuously annoys me that you cannot do this.

And this:
The outliner is a sad relic of an earlier age which is in no way fit for purpose any more. It probably needs collapsing into a set of menus like are on the other side of the screen, it's too cluttered to be useful as it is.
I would also love to see an army manager analogous to the fleet manager.
 

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Oh boy, another week without any kind of news from Stellaris. Why post these 'dev diaries' at all?
 

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UI tweaks I'd like:

1. Population growth better displayed. Currently I need to mouse-over and do math if I want to see how many months a pop will take to grow. It also doesn't show the actual growth per turn but instead only part of it (immigration) which is often 0 if all your planets are equally well run (no overcrowding, unemployment etc). For a comparison, imagine if tech research displayed +10 phys from stations instead of 3 months to finish and how annoying it would be to have to mouse over to see how much +physics is from pop jobs, and then look at the tech cost and do a bit of math to find out it's 3 months away, or 53 months or whatever.

2. Planetary decisions better displayed. Currently a long, frustrating list that moves around randomly when you click options. I watched Many a True Nerd spend about 50 years forgetting to even click a decision, then opening it to nominate the planet for the galactic market and never seeing the extra "boost nomination" decision that only appears after the first nomination is clicked (and also mistakenly thinking that the galactic market cares about trade value... because the tooltips and the entire mechanic are both lacking and nonsensical). I'd like it to be better... either a full screen/tab thing, a nice compact ordered list like edicts, also togglable (for boosting growth and amenities) or for the decisions to be removed entirely because they're annoying, fiddly and overpowered (deal with crime lords). If nothing else they need an announcement when they expire.

3. Planetary features better displayed. Currently all the cool planet art is on a small list that you only click when you need to remove a blocker or to check which planet has the cool stuff. It's just sad and doesn't work very well. Honestly there are so few interesting planetary features you can completely ignore it in the main game, but playing mods that add unique and powerful features I have to rename the planet as a reminder (e.g. add the prefix "2P+K+F" if it had 4 special features) because they're all but invisible and completely indistinguishable currently. Also, please go through and add a non-functioning version of all the features and instead of deleting them on terraforming simply change those features (like farmland) into the non-functioning version so that you don't also accidentally delete the planet's history, identity and the massive portal to hell by terraforming (that's just sloppy coding).

4. Tiny UI integration. It isn't perfect, but the base game is embarrassingly bad at showing all your ships and planets in the outliner. It wastes about 70% of the space it uses with massive fonts and unnecessary chunky graphics. The most important part of this is being able to see the following: Idle science ships, unemployment, overcrowding (other planetary issues that currently aren't shown here would be good like low stability) and also it doesn't show megastructures. It should be impossible to lose track of something that huge. Currently you can see (some) ships OR planets, not both because of how bad the default display is.

5. Relics being a tab within a tab is just awkward... I'm used to it now but that did not feel intuitive or normal when it doesn't happen elsewhere. Amusingly the minor artifact decisions also jump around like planetary decisions... also don't have a pop-up when they expire and are also overpowered and silly. (I know it's not a UI issue, but I hate that the player gets the only infinite source of minor artifacts via the rubicator every single game... if minor artifacts are so essential as to force the player to have an infinite amount every game, it'd be far better to give alternative means of gaining them instead and remove the forced relic world+relic combo. e.g. allow them to be bought for 500 energy each on the market, remove the awkward fixed price sale decision and let the price tank if you sell lots)

6. Inconsistency with precursors. The two new additions do not match the old precursors in showing you the progress towards completion "5/6 found" vs "minor colony" which may or may not appear, and isn't consistent between the two new additions. With the new additions I'd love to know how close I am to completion and not have the situation log empty when it shouldn't be. (Also one precursor targets nice, uninhabited locations often within your space to spawn new dig sites and so progresses smoothly... the other targets uninhabited but habitable planets and on low habitability settings jumps far away from your space to the only unclaimed planets around, which are usually guarded by powerful space creatures or so far out of your space I'm not sure if they even generate a new site at all). (Also the balance between the precursors and relics in general is painfully bad... but that's not your fault)

7. Building UI... This is bad. Currently it is better than release in showing the base output of the jobs... but you'll never actually end up with the base output. If you build a research lab what actually happens is 2 farmers are upgraded to researchers so -20 food, +20/20/20 tech. It may take some work but the tooltips should be dynamic and not fixed. Take into account which pops would be removed from their jobs and what the actual output would be (include stability, pop traits, tech, etc.) the "base output from jobs" is still useful when there are no available pops to fill the building, but that should also be shown. (I feel bad watching youtubers building a building, tanking their raw resource income and having 7+ districts and buildings with unfilled jobs because the UI is so terrible and showing predicted changes.)

8. More predicted changes. New techs should show the changes to output. Things like +20% minerals from miners vs +10% from outposts and similar techs are hard to evaluate at a glance and don't need to be. Ditto with edicts that add +20% farmer output or -% consumer goods upkeep etc. I know it's work, but the game would benefit in a hundred different places if things showed you what will happen BEFORE you click the button and not a month or two after when the UI decides it actually wants to update now. This combined with things like trade taking a month to update after loading a save makes the game feel slower, less responsive and gives a strange disconnect between actions and results.

9. Pops moving around like crazy people. Please someone fix this... tied to the above, the game needs to be able to predict the effect of shifting a pop from a farmer job to a clerk or technician job. Otherwise with just a handful of free jobs you get all farmers one month, then a deficit in amenities and energy, then all clerks and a deficit in food and so on and so forth with pops shuffling ever single tick. (I disable jobs, only have 2 open jobs at most if possible to avoid this but most don't).

10. Resettlement. Oh dear... it's not good or fun. I miss that pops can't move on their own. I despise how pop decline and growth are handled. It's obtuse, not explained... (e.g. have 20 pops on a low-habitability planet add 1 high habitability pop to the planet and now all the low-habitability pops start declining when they didn't before and it's unlikely you want them to die if they're rulers), buggy (pops randomly appearing to decline then not, grow then go blank etc.) and simultaneously overpowered with respect to purging. There are a hundred reasons to open up the resettlement interface and so I do every game, but I dread having to do it because it's repetitive fiddly distracting micromanagement.

11. Job counters. Presapients, domestic servents, biotrophy, livestock and other auto-generated "jobs" mess with the numbers so many of my planets have -3 or more jobs. Automatically generated jobs need a separate counter, I do want to know that there are 20 domestic servants that could do other jobs if I build a new district or that I have 20 livestock on this world. But having them mixed in with other jobs just breaks it as they each count as 1/0 so the game just doesn't know what to think or display to the player.

12. Branch office expansion planner. Just a way to see all the available worlds, the ability to sort by empire, distance or cost. It's frustrating having to guess which worlds would be best to expand to and not seeing new opportunities until many years too late.

13. Ship designer. Should include tech/empire bonuses on relevant stats - gets more annoying when you start stacking odd numbers of repeatable techs and want to compare lasers and kinetics. Be nice if it could show a summary of how effective each ship design would be in battle against hull/armour/shields and what it would be weakest to e.g. Design will do 100% vs hull, 125% vs armour 125% vs shields for the combined load-out. Design is shield heavy and will take 130% average damage vs giga cannons, then +120% from kinetic art etc. Not essential but would be nice to see. (more important in mods with weapons that have more interesting, less simple and linear effects and numbers. For example it's a bit trickier to see if 2.85 damage with +25% vs armour is better than 3.5 with -25% vs armour and +25% vs shields or 8 damage with -75% vs shields and -50% vs hull (made up numbers). Be nice to be able to pit my designs against a hypothetical opponent like a starbase and see how effective it would be. Also would help with balancing ships like cruisers if you could see highlights of whatever advantage that design has over corvettes/battleships at a glance... if it has any advantage.

In general... I'm sorry but I think the existing UI needs a lot more work if you want to be proud of it. I could go on for days and days with minor complaints and suggestions (trust me this is not an exhaustive list)... but instead I'll just wish you good luck. And I hope you work extra hard not to create new issues with the upcoming unannounced features.
 
Last edited:

fodazd

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When it comes to feedback on the UX: Can I have the option to bind "Add action to queue" to something other than shift + click? I always delete the entire action queue if the game doesn't recognize that I was holding shift. This has been annoying me ever since I started playing Stellaris.
 

Tech Noir Synth

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I guess we have to keep hoping Paradox hasn't forgotten that Hiveminds exist and they are in dire need of a big civic overhaul....

Also fixing pop ethics attraction so spiritualists can actually do what they are supposed to - convert pops- and not continually buffing anything with Robots (like you did with Driven Assimilators, changes to habitability without adressing overpowered Machine empires) or simply allowing us to choose between growing organics and robots for the same total pop growth would help with bringing back much needed diversity to the game.

I know you might think its funny to add a 50% pop growth relics for Robots, and it is for the first time and maybe 2-3 times after. But the way you treated organics vs Machines since 2.3 is a huge mistake and balance and enjoyment suffer greatly from it. Its no fun to always win with Machine empires because of how overpowered they turn out to be since 2.3 and knowing that playing as Hivemind has been a gimped version of Machine empires since 2.2.6.

And please do not wait with balance until the next big update. Machine empire dominance since 2.3 has been going on long enough. After 2.2.6 the game has been favouring Materialists/Robots/Machines/Synths but 2.3 turned out of make them too strong. That was an obvious outcome, anyone who read the 2.3 patch preview could estimate that Machines would become even stronger with these habitability changes, just not quite how overpowered exactly they turned out to be.

Another big balance patch similar to the one you did for 2.2.5/2.2.6 is severely needed, but this time you have to adjust Hiveminds and Spiritualists so they can be on par with Materialists/Machines once again.
 
Last edited:

Ridixo

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Kids this is what happens when you play Stellaris too much, you will need glasses to read the Dev Diarie. I can't read what the board says, i may need glasses :rolleyes:
 

Annihilat0r

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I guess we have to keep hoping Paradox hasn't forgotten that Hiveminds exist and they are in dire need of a big civic overhaul....

Also fixing pop ethics attraction so spiritualists can actually do what they are supposed to - convert pops- and not continually buffing anything with Robots (like you did with Driven Assimilators, changes to habitability without adressing overpowered Machine empires) or simply allowing us to choose between growing organics and robots for the same total pop growth would help with bringing back much needed diversity to the game.

I know you might think its funny to add a 50% pop growth relics for Robots, and it is for the first time and maybe 2-3 times after. But the way you treated organics vs Machines since 2.3 is a huge mistake and balance and enjoyment suffer greatly from it. Its no fun to always win with Machine empires because of how overpowered they turn out to be since 2.3 and knowing that playing as Hivemind has been a gimped version of Machine empires since 2.2.6.
I admire your endurance.
 

Ecervele

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I'm happy to see you're having fun modifying the story line structures and all...

But that part was working, you know...

There are things in dire need of a fix...

May be I'm not playing the same game they're working on though...
 

Spaceception

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What I'd like to see in UI updates have mostly been said by others, but here are some things I really want to see.

Having a megastructure tab on the outliner, so I can track progress without having to hunt down the system (especially for when it's still a platform, and doesn't have the megastructure symbol on it).

Being able to sort my planets, ships, and starbases out for - and this isn't a complete list - the following: Unemployment, housing, open buildings, available upgrades (capital and regular buildings can have slightly different icons), starbase upgrades (again, separate icons for the starbase itself, and defense platforms), fleet upgrades, available fleet reinforcements, and so on. EDIT: This could be further simplified based on priority. So red = dire/important: Unemployment, fleet repairs, negative amenities, etc. Yellow = needed but not quite bad yet: Available fleet reinforcements, no jobs/housing left, etc. And Blue = not super important right now, but potentially useful: Like upgrades, or low jobs/housing. EDIT 2: And in the event a planet checks off more than one of those priorities, it should take the worst. Changing the relevant font color as well (to red, yellow, blue, and green, instead of white) would make it very easy to see what needs to be done at a glance.

Not counting pops like pre-sapients or bio-trophies on the tab for available jobs (this is a bit annoying).

Having the ability to see what your output will be when you change policies (Sure, I have 100 energy credits now, but what happens when I change my trade policy?).

EDIT: Army manager

Being able to color code the UI to your liking, or flag color would be very nice as well.
 
Last edited:

HildorAnduv

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I wonder though, does your user testing and user research department take into account issues for players with limited mobility?
Because Stellaris is the game with the most issues by far on that front (of the ones I've played), and even when I want to play it I often decide not to because of this.
With regards to testing for colour-blindness and/or limited mobility, this is something that we'd absolutely love to do! This becomes tricky to accomplish, however, with restrictions that we cannot ask participants to give out information about any of these specifications due to GDPR regulations.

We'd have to investigate further on how this sort of testing can be conducted, but would likely involve outsourcing this - and ultimately not being as involved in the process - to an external agency based where this is not a limitation or restriction to the process.

Feedback, on the other hand, is always very much appreciated on this front and absolutely welcomed should you have any.
 

DrFranknfurter

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I admire your endurance.
I imagine some people find the repetition annoying, but I quite like seeing a passionate advocate for balance and a reminder that hiveminds have been neglected for far too long. I know it's a bit off-topic from UI discussions, but relevant in the context of treating the dev diary as one of the few opportunities for feedback from the devs. If they go months without any comments I think it's understandable to pester them a little until there's some response. (Preferably some teasers of reworked civics). Though I assumed that the mention of admin cap changes to hives and machines means that there will be at least some change to their strength... but no indication if that will be enough or if it will include new civics.
I'm almost tempted to rephrase it as a UI issue... it almost is.

Sarcastic difficulty UI suggestion:

"Could you add a difficulty rating to the UI for non-devouring swarm biological Hiveminds? Currently new players are unaware of how poor their pop-growth is and how weak all their civics are compared to machine empires."
But I wouldn't want to be taken literally as better difficulty settings, UI and indicators would be good.

Actual difficulty UI suggestion:
Allow the following on galaxy creation as part of an entire "Game Difficulty" section.
1. Tweak AI bonuses (e.g. give them +influence, +soldier jobs from capital, whatever isn't currently included in vague terms like "admiral")
2. Tweak Advanced start bonuses (e.g. add +3 free techs in each category, +1000 starting unity etc. as if they've played for 10 years or so before the game starts, it's a bit sad how small the bonus is currently)
3. Tweak crisis strength, type, number and aggressiveness. (e.g. allow all end-game crisis, allow AI players to end the cycle, force crisis spawn on/by a certain date or increase chance for spawning etc.)
4. Tweak neutral alien strength, numbers and respawning.
5. Modify the generosity of resource spawns/anomalies/ruins/relics etc. (I find them all a bit too generous tbh, especially with things like the head of Zarqlan, Rubicator, free relic and gaia worlds they all remove a lot of challenge from the game if they're too common).
6. Starting penalties. Planetary devastation from a war, extra tile blockers, recently liberated modifier on pops etc.
7. Lethal research events On/Off. I hate that the newest DLC reintroduced random scientist deaths via failed clue checks. I imagine some people miss leaders being killed to random level 1 anomalies too (Not me).
So you could have a harsher start, more established universe with stronger AI players, or have stronger PvE combat vs aliens or a tough late-game challenge vs all the crisis events happening one after the other. The downside is people playing with extreme settings, introducing new bugs and exploits but I think it'd be nice to play with the galaxy creation UI to make it a little clearer, more powerful and make each game more unique.
 
Last edited:

Tamwin5

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Yeah. I know man :)

I just look forward to these on Thursday afternoons and I'm worried the weekly hits are over now that the design team has changed.

Immaterial I know, I'm just going to miss the speculation and growing excitement. The thing I always loved about Paradox was that they shared the development in real time more or less.
I imagine we might get a dev diary going over things they are updating (Civics a la Warrior Culture and Ascension perks a la technological ascendancy). Then after PDXcon, we will get the juicy details about how the systems will work, and some more of those weekly hits.

P.S. to any devs reading: Please update more civics. Especially hive and machine ones.
 

Molikroth

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If you are not going to give us new information about the game, please don't waste everyone's time.
I found it interesting, maybe don't waste your own time by clicking on a thread, reading it and then deciding to post about wasting time. I'm sure you can find more fun things to do. :)
 

Annihilat0r

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I imagine some people find the repetition annoying, but I quite like seeing a passionate advocate for balance and a reminder that hiveminds have been neglected for far too long. I know it's a bit off-topic from UI discussions, but relevant in the context of treating the dev diary as one of the few opportunities for feedback from the devs. If they go months without any comments I think it's understandable to pester them a little until there's some response. (Preferably some teasers of reworked civics).
I wasn't being sarcastic. I actually admire his endurance and I hope it will bear fruits one day. The radio silence from the devs has been going on for so long, I am losing my motivation to regularly interact on the forums and strangely also my passion for Stellaris in general, so I am happy to see that this isn't the case for everyone.
 

Emperica

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There has been nothing worthwhile being talked about in past several diaries, highly disappointing.
 

Ecervele

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I wasn't being sarcastic. I actually admire his endurance and I hope it will bear fruits one day. The radio silence from the devs has been going on for so long, I am losing my motivation to regularly interact on the forums and strangely also my passion for Stellaris in general, so I am happy to see that this isn't the case for everyone.
I'm saddened to relate to your comment this much...

I hope the devs will adress the REAL problems this game have...

Balance the features they've forgotten for too long...
 

Paradoxon

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Stand by for a big announcement at PDXCon next month. Until then we will have to remain mysterious.
You guys are going to pull another Distant Stars-like announcement on us, aren't you ? :eek:


On a more UX-related matter, any plan on ever making it possible to "collapse" the subspecies' lists in the Species menu to only show the "main" species (with, I don't know, another number in brackets to show the total number of pops for main + subs) ? Most of Stellaris' menus got more user-friendly with time, except for this one, especially since the apparition of the Xeno-compatibility perk, in the mid/late game it can become seriously painful to browse through it.

In any case, keep up the good work !
 

PirateJack

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When it comes to feedback on the UX: Can I have the option to bind "Add action to queue" to something other than shift + click? I always delete the entire action queue if the game doesn't recognize that I was holding shift. This has been annoying me ever since I started playing Stellaris.
You can do Ctrl + Shift + Click to add a task to the front of the queue.
 

rubert

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Hopefully there are plans to fix up issues in the old parts of UI, too. Most notably troop recruitment and resettlement windows for Xenophile empires. Simple way to sort based on habitability and troop damage would go long way solving the issue.