I was thinking recently that no single MMO gets everything right about its User Interface. As I play my way through various MMOs I’ve naturally ended up comparing what is done well and not so well. I’ll focus on the positive in this post and just cherry pick a few features I really like.
Guild Wars 2: two-click mail system
I have to say I love the intuitive minutiae of the Guild Wars 2 mail system. You can right click an item in your inventory to mail it as an attachment, that right there is good, but add in that if you have a party member targeted when you do this right click action then both the item attachment and the recipient are pre-filled and you have a beautiful two-click simplicity. This makes it very easy to share items with friends!
Rift: AoE looting
Many games have copied this feature, but the first MMO I played with this was Rift. Once you’ve experienced area looting it is *very* annoying to go back to frantic clicking after battles. All games should have this feature, after all what value does clicking individual opponents corpses after a fight really bring to the game experience? As an aside I’ve recently read that Guild Wars 2 should be getting this feature, so no more mashing the ‘F’ key while running madly around a battlefield!
LOTRO: party-friendly quest log
One of my biggest bugbears in any MMO is a user interface that doesn’t support easy grouping for normal questing (not just dungeons!). LOTRO, way back in 2009 when I first tried the game, already had advanced quest log features to display if other group members had the same quests or if they were on an earlier or later stage of a quest chain. That’s a lot of very useful information in this quest-heavy game.
SWTOR: loot ‘pillars’
Although some might think this feature affects immersion; I really appreciate the very clear markers for unclaimed items dropped by opponents in SWTOR. The yellow ‘pillar’ for mission item loot is especially useful. Sparkles of various kinds can’t really compare to a colour-coded beacon – they even add a bit of excitement to general gameplay by hinting when an especially rare or valuable item drops!
Neverwinter: auto-hide UI on screenshot option
This is an interesting option that I’ve not seen before. The default screenshot key auto-hides the UI for all screenshots, that’s a big convenience feature for a screenshot-addict like me. Better still you can bind additional key combos to take screenshots with UI intact. I usually want to take screenshots without the UI showing for my blog so this is a nice feature to have.
Guild Wars 2: crafting materials management
Personally I think the “right-click deposit” idea for crafting materials in Guild Wars 2 was sheer genius. Coupled with the auto-sorted (and pretty generous) shared account vault and I’m one happy crafter in this game. All my characters can easily tell what materials are available to them at a moment’s notice. Even better I never have to resort to mailing materials between characters just to do some crafting!
This isn’t an exhaustive list, just the top features I could think of while writing this. Some features, like full-on customisation of UI elements, are shared across several games so I’ve left them off of this post.
Beyond my picks above, do you have any favourite UI features from a MMO?