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User interface review


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A user interface as per my knowledge on the matter, serves two equally important function, to present the player with information and offer them a way to interact based on that information. To a degree the SW:TOR UI functions, but it functions at a very low level in comparison to what I’m used to from other games within the genre.




I find that more often than I’d like, I’ll end up having the wrong player targeted yet I think I have the right player targeted because there is very little feedback from the UI in regards to who you have targeted. The target frame has a function of course, but due to the relatively small size of it, combined with the awkward placement, again combined with the small and non-intrusive targeting circle (around the targeted player’s feet) makes it hard to tell that you in fact are targeting the wrong player.


This probably takes more getting used to from me, since part of the challenge is probably related to what I’m used to. However, I do think that giving us an option to increase the size and visibility of the targeting indicator would help quite a bit.


I’ve started using “target nearest enemy” instead of “target enemy” because regular tab targeting seems less efficient in this game for some reason. Frequently it targets players that are further away and targets the same few players multiple times instead of cycling through the players within range.




From what I’ve experienced so far, the combat flytext does not have a setting or rather a working setting for displaying abilities coming off cool downs, class resource gains, which CC ability you just got hit with and what the source is for the above. As a player who plays entirely with keybinds I rarely if ever look at my quickslot if I can avoid it, however in SW:TOR I find myself having to in order to monitor ability cool downs. I also find myself having to stare at my resource bar as opposed to getting a flytext message similar to;


+10 force (Saber conduit) [insert new total force].


I also am not seeing messages telling me when I gain beneficial buffs or rather if I am, it’s not done clearly enough for me to see it. This is a must have for any flytext worth its salt.


Character and Target frames:


My big issue here is the placement of them, by placing them close to the bottom of the screen in opposition to most MMORPGs I’ve played does create a problem with what I’m used to but it also creates a situation that requires the player to glance/look away from the action in order to see the state of an opponent or themselves.


When the frames are located near the top of the screen looking at them comes naturally since most players in my experience looks “ahead” so to speak while playing. This challenge is further compounded by the size of the frames themselves. As with much else with the SW:TOR UI they are just too small to be “glancable” in the middle of combat. One of the things I loved about the WoW frames were that the placement and size of them meant I could glance at them without really taking my focus off the action in the middle section of my screen.


Buffs and debuffs.


I have to give the icon designers credit, the icons in this game looks fantastic, it’s just such a shame that the way the buff and debuff icons are used, sized and placed I’d have better luck trying to deflect a lightsaber with a lifesaver than seeing what debuff or buff just went up on me in combat.


I’m glad I play DPS, if I was still playing a healer and had to deal with the current buff/debuff display it would make me want to sign off the raid more than having to buff an entire 40 man raid with single 5 minute blessings.




This is not so much combat related as social, but I find myself being concerned that I’m viewed as that rude guy who never answers whispers on my server because I never ever see them come in because of the chat placement.


No combat log


Now, I know there are players out there who are against the concept of a combat log, however I’m missing the combat log more than I miss being in College. I have no idea which mob ability or what player ability just took off half my health so that I can avoid it in the future. I have no way to check whether my theorycrafting is confirmed in game.




The quickslot is fine really, I just want the option to display cool down timers as numbers inside each box on top of the icons in addition to more bottom-center quickslots. It is kind of sad that I’ve run out of quick-slots before I’ve run out of keybinds.


You should also be able to keybind a slot on the quick slot by doing a modifier key + right click option rather than having to navigate in and out of the keybinding map every time you want to switch something around. Just the fact that the top quick-slot is first in the keybind map and the bottom center quick-slot is near the bottom says enough.

Party/Ops frames.


It would be nice to be able to scale these in addition to configuring how buffs and debuffs are displayed in them, because like I’ve said about a few elements of the UI they are just too small, which again makes the information in them too small, which again leads to them not being “glancable” in combat. As a general rule, if I have to lean in close to the monitor in order to see what numbers it says for health and class resource, they are too small.


In summary:


I would like to suggest looking towards two UI mods from World of Warcraft, namely Bartender and Scrolling Combat Text as examples of functionality being at the center of the UI. Bartender allows you to freely create, size, scale and place action bars to your liking, in addition to allowing you to directly keybind these through a right click combined with a modifier key.


Scrolling combat text allows you to set different colors for all kinds of different combat messages, displays buff gains, debuff applied, healing taken and much more.


The two addons mentioned above are examples of how a user friendly and functional UI should be and would solve many of the issues that I outlined above. While I am aware that some players are not fans of player created UI modifications, the superior

functionality of both Bartender and SCT speaks for itself in this regard.


This is not a mods vs no mods thread, this is a “The UI is bad, how and what needs to be improved” thread.


Also note that the suggestions I outlined above have little effect on the combat mechanics themselves, all they do is alter the way information is presented and how I interact with the game to a way that is more to my liking. We are all different as players and thus the standard UI is unlikely to cover the different needs of us all. However by adding additional options for customization of information display and interaction we increase the chance that a player can set it to his or her preference.

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