Tuesday, December 06, 2011

SEDS interface revision with Atnas

One of Pixelation forum moderator started investigating tools for pixel-art (essentially game art) on DS/DSi. The only competitors listed against SEDS were actually animation programs (animatee and InchWorm on the DSiware). Pocket Pixies and Smoove are defunct homebrew. Yet, SEDS is still far from being user-friendly.

My main problem with the interface is even with the documentation, I have no idea what anything does and the controls don't respond as I'd expect, in fact at times they seem situational. I think if a little screenspace was dedicated to a tiny toolbox it would help things a lot. Another option is a sort of pop up menu like animanatee does: when you hold a key, in their case it's L, all the options are at your fingertips.

Also, sometimes when I'm fooling around with the tools to try to learn them, I get locked out and cant find my way back to drawing and need to restart. While I pixel I'll only ever have one hand for buttons, so making the left (or right, its usually mirrored in ds tools) dpad (buttons) contain everything I'll need is a plus.
If you want, I could give you a mockup of what sort of thing would be most helpful. SEDS is much more powerful than anything else out there, it's just much harder to use.

My first modification was thus to make sure you can always return to the normal "drawing" mode, by the addition of a "Draw" button on every sub-screens (such as palette screen or animator screen). That should avoid guest to get lost, even though they explore the controls. Pave they way out to the "normal" screen. I hope those colour-reduction buttons will not cause trouble.

SEDS est difficile à prendre en main. Ce n'est plus un scoop. Mais quand c'est un modérateur sur Pixelation qui en fait la remarque alors qu'il cherche un moyen de dessiner des graphismes pour un jeu avec une DS, ça a de quoi me motiver ... et pas qu'un peu. En attendant qu'il me propose un 'mock-up' pour une interface graphique remaniée et réponde à mon questionnaire, j'essaie déjà de résoudre les deux problèmes principaux que j'ai pu identifier en discutant avec lui: permettre à tout moment de recommencer à dessiner et choisir ses outils de dessin sans le secours des boutons ABXY.

Second message I've heard: keep the stylus-holding hand free. I mapped quite a lot of controls on the ABXY buttons, especially on the grid. If one doesn't know too well the drawing options available, it's easy to be confused. The "block", for instance, doesn't immediately draw, but needs two touches for the two extreme corners. Now, the tool you're using is always highlighted, and you can select a tool by just clicking the toolset on the top line.

Now, I still have to work on a way to provide a "menu" for secondary actions. Colour reduction, palette re-ordering and similar actions could be candidates, but I'll have to think which one must really go there to unclutter the UI without making most actions being multi-click.

There are other features I'd like to bring to SEDS, and one of them is free-hand sketching at "real DS resolution" over the "grid", so that you can then do your anti-aliasing or curves rendering with some guide-line.

Anyway. I'm waiting for Atnas' feedback in form of a UI mock-up ... Let's see whether we'll also have SEDS revised for christmas ;)

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