A common complaint I find with new players (and with myself when I began using Vassal), is that trying to understand what your supposed to do with the interface to make log files, record moves etc, is not at all obvious. I remember myself I had to do quite a bit of experimentation writing and playing back log files etc, before I had a grasp of what was happening.
I propose that the main screen/toolbar/status bar should expose the user to several things …
- The current state of the game …
… Did I just load someones log file?
… Did I just save the game?
… Am I logging moves?
…A biggy => How many moves of what total moves have I played back, and when recording, how many moves/comments have I recorded? This should be front and centre when recording … a big record button on the toolbar, and a count of the moves/steps/what-ever recorded so far.
- I just broached the subject, but record and play back buttons and also a save game button (or save game at current position so as to distinguish it from save a log file). And someplace either on the tool bar or status bar, some feedback about the play back or recording.
You know, the number of times I have played back someones file, then saved the game, and later or next day or next week I have loaded it to start recording my moves, but forgot to open a log file. My big issue here is that the only way you know your recording is the title bar changes. That is not sufficient notice. And during playback, you only know when your opponents moves have finished because the toolbar button becomes inactive.
I am clutching a little at straws here. I know something is really wrong and annoys me with the interface, and everytime for example I have to explain to a new Vassal guy about recording etc I think why isn’t the interface showing him what needs to be done.
Oh, another one. The other day a guy was recording his move notes in the Notes widget under Public notes. I explained that he could just enter them into the log window chat and they end up in the log file. Again, this is not immediately obvious.
- Perhaps when ever you begin a new log file or new game (not just when you first open Vassal), the chat window edit box could contain an inactive message like . Or if your playing live with another player . This message could change and you change mode, which again is more visual feedback to let the user know what they are doing (recording/playback/live etc).
Some thoughts or ramblings perhaps. But yeah the main interface I feel needs to revolve more around numbers of moves and the current mode, are you recording a log file, how many steps etc.