Exploring the UI

I’ve been playing ARR since the alpha testing stage, and one element that has stayed pretty consistent has been the UI.  I’ve recently been looking into customizing it beyond the default setup and looking into other player’s ideas for customizing their UI.  I’m finding there are a lot of different ways people are setting up the UI.

The thing I like the most is that there is a “HUD Layout” mode where you can move any element on the UI to whichever position works best.  SE also did an excellent job with the hot bars and what can be put on them – making essentially every item, action, emote, and command in the game as an icon that can be placed on the UI.  Below are some of my favorite examples:

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In this example, the user has four hot bars along the bottom to create one mega command bar as well as a hot bar on the right size of the screen to quickly switch between different classes/gear sets based on the situation.

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In this example the user has two chat boxes open at the same time – one for chat and one for battle messages. A great solution for reducing chat clutter.

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Here the user actually stacked two hot bars on top of each other on the right side and is using this as a shortcut to many different emotes for interacting with others. The map is moved to the opposite side and there is a hot bar above the chat box where items are readily available.

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And here is my UI so far. I’m still trying to find the perfect balance, but I have been inspired to use four hot bars instead of the one or two I started out with in the beginning of testing.

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Here’s an example of the HUD layout mode, just to show exactly how easy it is to customize the UI and move each element exactly where you want it. Something I wish ALL games had.

The chat box is a very magical tool also.  Not only can it be moved anywhere on the screen or broken into multiple chat boxes as needed.  This was also possible in 1.0, but many people will never experience that magic.  In ARR chat can do anything you would want it to.  The font size can be changed from very small to very large, colors can be changed, channels can be toggled on or off, commands are as easy as “/follow”, “/shout”, “/em”, “/tell”, “/say”, “/wave”, etc.  User names can be clicked right in chat to add to party, send friend invites, and send tells.  Additional tabs can be added and switched to simply by clicking on them.  It is a very intuitive feature and causes zero frustration.

The set of maps in ARR are among the best I have seen.  The mini-map displays current location, quest markers, FATE battle locations, party member locations, and everything else a mini-map should have.  Clicking on the mini-map or pushing the “M” key the game will bring up the full map – a window that you can move and change the size of that contains the full set of maps containing everywhere you have explored and have yet to explore.  In a local area the map becomes semi-transparent so you can leave it up in front of you while on the move.  The map features in ARR make exploration and finding your next goal easy and intuitive.

Quest tracking is an amazing feature, and is something that isn’t new to an MMORPG, but something all MMORPGs should have and I am glad FFXIV now has.  Being able to see what you are currently doing in-game and what your next goal is is a phenomenal tool.  Being able to open your quest log and select which quests to track and which quests to hide is also available in ARR – again nothing new but still very useful to have.

ImageAside from the elements explained above, there are a lot of subtle little items in the UI that deserve mention, but are too much to go into at this time.  Many items I am still learning (such as the hate levels shown next to player names in the party) and exactly how many items can be placed on the hot bars.  But one thing I do realize with the UI in ARR is that anything is possible.  Just about anything I can think of or want to do with the UI has so far been available.  This is one of the many awesome things in ARR.  I am glad that SE listened and payed attention to so many pros and cons from other MMORPGs while developing ARR.  Nobody but SE had the power to pull it off, and they used their powers for good.

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3 thoughts on “Exploring the UI

  1. A great post!

    I like the UI so far, but I really hope that you can make everthing… smaller. The bars are so big, the names (characters, mobs, npcs) are huge too and I don”t feel like turning them off!

    The minimap was my worst enemy at start xD I was kinda lost, but I got used to it now!

    Have a nice day !

  2. I think anytime someone switches over to a new UI there is a fine balance between what they will get used to over time, and things that should be changed. I am pretty happy with the FFXIV UI, but I know when I first started I would have appreciated a way to scale the UI. SE said they are going to implement a way to adjust the size of the UI elements, so we’ll have to wait and see.

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