Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Sun Jun 22 23:35:37 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Sun, 22 Jun 1997 11:09:04 PST8PDT, "Jon A. Lambert"
<jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

>> From: Caliban Tiresias Darklock <caliban at darklock.com>
>> GUI interfaces are not generally a good idea for a text-based MUD.
>> There's too much text entry required, and the mouse/keyboard switching
>> is ultimately a pain and a slowdown. If a particular command in the MUD
>> building interface is easily automated by a button, it is also either
>> easy to type or should be simplified in the MUD design. 
>I disagree.  Of course there are badly designed GUIs.  Mouse/keyboard
>switching are not as common as you would think.  In fact there is no
>compelling requirement for using a mouse with a GUI.  Well designed
>applications do not require mouse petting. ;) 

That's true, and something that can certainly make the application more
usable; however, if you look down a little, you'll see what I mean by

>> There *are* places where a GUI can be useful, for example a series of
>> checkboxes that graphically illustrate the locations of exits -- these
>> checkboxes could be turned on or off, and then a single button could
>> make and destroy exits as appropriate through something like this:
>There are many more.  

Yes, a GREAT many more. The more time you spend thinking about it, the
more cool ideas for graphic representation of the game world and
building interface come to mind. The more thought I give to it, the more
I realise that there are literally infinite possibilities.

>The checkbox has the advantage of validating/restricting the input and
>the user need not know the command at all.  I do exits by allowing the
>builder to draw lines between room boxes instead of using checkboxes.

Just out of curiosity, how in the world would you do this from the
keyboard? This is exactly the sort of great idea that starts to present
a problem when you take the mouse out of the picture; I can already see
several potential solutions (such as allowing you to select a room,
choose 'make exit' off a menu, and then select the destination of the
exit), but when working with a large number of rooms in a single area it
can become very tedious from the keyboard. This is why I like the option
of a text-based interface; there are occasions when the mouse, keyboard
navigation, *and* direct command entry become unwieldy. In any given
situation, all three should be available, because there will inevitably
arise a situation where the one you've neglected will be exactly the one
that best fits the specific task. 

For example, if I have a large series of rooms that are linked together
in a sort of torus, and all of it is laid out graphically on my screen,
but it won't all fit... in order to select the rooms, I have to choose
one end of the map and then scroll all the way to the other end of it to
select where the exit goes. With a command line, I can do this easily,
but when I'm connecting one room to the rooms immediately around it I
can do it much faster using clicking and dragging with the mouse. When
I'm designing rooms one at a time and adding in everything I need as I
create the rooms, there's a lot of typing, so I would find it much
easier to work exclusively from the keyboard. 

To use the torus description again, I would find it much faster to lay
out the initial room structure and most of the exits on drag-and-drop,
then go through and add descriptions and programming entirely from the
keyboard, and finally add the last couple exits to link the ends of the
torus from a command line. A properly designed GUI environment, in my
opinion, would support just this sort of thing, and allow the
pathologically stubborn like me to use a non-optimal tool if they like.

>This is hardly intuitive.  For instance why is a builder forced to
>deal with internal server issues like room numbers (5321/4231)?
>Why not drag a line between rooms and have a popup box appear to
>allow them to enter the exits description?  The use of special
>characters like (=,/,|) is not user-friendly, IMO.  They are 
>certainly programmer-friendly though. 

I knew I didn't make this clear enough... the command line you are
referring to is an example of a pathologically bad command that someone
might cobble together in the interest of increasing functionality. Not
only is it not user friendly, it's ugly and annoying and rather tedious
to parse when you consider that much of the information in the command
is optional. It's a BAD thing. I was saying NOT to do something like
that. Ever. Even under threat of massive wedgie. ;)
-+[caliban at darklock.com]+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
 I am here to grind your eyes harder into the miasmic bile of life; to 
 show you the truth and the beauty in the whisper of steel on silk and 
 the crimson scent of blood as it rises to meet the caress of a blade. 

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