Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Discuss the free TT-like game Simutrans.
Varkaleas
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Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 16 Apr 2012 11:04

Hello together,

this is my first post in this place, I hope it is alright to tell a bit about my project right away.

Since a while I've been working on a Simutrans fork with the idea of creating a nicer UI for Simutrans. I've set up a sourceforge project site for this project, including sources and a binary release for Windows.

Image

Project site:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Download:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r015/

Installation is meant to be done upon an existing and working Simutrans 111.2 version. It's at the moment a bit tricky since it involves moving files to the right placea, but I hope my instructions are good enough to explain what needs to be done. Please read the readme.txt file from the above linked folder carefully, particularly if you are not familiar with Simutrans.

There isn't so much new yet, but a number of changed dialogs and a new skin for the Ui, particularly for the dialogs which are shown early in the game, the pak set selector, the title screen, the new world dialog, and the various lists, like vehicle, goods or town lists. Over time I plan on renewing all dialogs, but SImutrans has plenty, and will will take time.

Notes:

I've called this fork "Simutrans Iron Bite", to avoid any connotation if this is a better or worse version of Simutrans - it is just meant to be different.

The first versions were published as part of the Simutrans project on Sourceforge, but after a while I decided to make a new project for the project. That's why there is so little history in the Iron Bite project site.
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 17 Apr 2012 09:54

I've started to work on the next dialog on my list, the game saving/loading dialog. Only minor changes to do there, I think.

I've enlarged the buttons "OK" and "Cancel" slightly, so that they are easier to hit with the mouse. Also I've relaxed the layout a bit by adding additional space between the elements. Other than that I left this dialog as it had been. And the dialog has a smal drop shadow effect now, but that is a feature for all dialogs in Iron Bite (can be en-/disabled in the config).

I must admit, unlike the other dialogs which I had been reworking in the past, I don't think this one will make a big difference.
Attachments
new_file_selector_layout.png
New File Selector Layout
new_file_selector_layout.png (32.63 KiB) Viewed 13290 times
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 18 Apr 2012 20:39

To make installation easier, I've compiled a ready-to-play bundle, with pak64 (the standard Simutrans object set), pak48.Excentrique and the Iron Bite executable. (~8MB download)

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... p/download

Just unpack the "iron_bite_complete_r015.zip" file. This will create a "simutrans_iron_bite_r015" directory. Change into this directory and start the "sim_iron.exe". That should be all that's needed to run it. Have fun :)

If the download link doesn't work, try this one and select "iron_bite_complete_r015.zip" manually for download:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r015/
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

sss
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by sss » 21 Apr 2012 04:12

Nice, but dont need this.
good work though!
:D

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 21 Apr 2012 10:59

sss wrote: good work though!
:D
Thank you :)

At the moment I have nothing new to show though, because I'm busy with restructuring the code. It might have been more clever to work on more functionality first, but well, now I'm doing code beautification which is a bit like beautifying the UI, just on a programmer level :P
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 24 Apr 2012 16:52

I've released a new Simutrans Iron Bite version, r016

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

There have been only few functional changes, but it underwent a rather deep restructuring and refactoring of the code. I have changed a real lot of places in the code since r015, and therefore it is very unlikely that everything still works as it should, although a few first tests seemed to say it is alright.

So I have a request - if you have some spare time, or if you are just curious about Simutrans Iron Bite, please get the "iron_bite_complete_r016.zip", install it, and test it a bit.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... p/download

If the link above doesn't work, please try this one and download the file manually:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... 20Testing/

If you find mistakes, particularly mistakes in the UI, please let me know about them. Thank you for the help in advance :)
Attachments
new_file_selector_layout_2.png
new_file_selector_layout_2.png (29.31 KiB) Viewed 13118 times
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 25 Apr 2012 10:30

I've activated the bug and feature trackers for Iron Bite project on Sourceforge:

Bugs:
http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_i ... id=3001382

Features:
http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_i ... id=3001385

If you have a Sourceforge account you can readily use the trackers. Otherwise they might still be useful to get an idea if a problem is already known or if a feature request already was entered.

Reports right in this thread are welcome as well. I'll try to file them in the trackers as I can.

Thank you for taking the time to report problems :)
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 26 Apr 2012 21:05

During my code refactoring and restructuring actions more things got broken than I was aware first. I've tried to fix all those things which had been reported to me, and those which I found by myself - a lot of small things and I have forgotten many of the changes, just that I fixed rather big problems in the city info, vehicle info, and station info dialogs.

I've uploaded a new version with the fixes, r017:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r017/

I think it's worth the effort, more and more file names and identifiers in the code become translated to English, and soon the code should be easier to read for English speaking developers.
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 27 Apr 2012 20:55

I've further tried to improve the UI, and also have been doing a lot of bugfixes for things that had been broken during my refactoring and code translations.

I assume that I'll have less time for development till end of next week, so I have compiled a new release with all the current changes and uploaded it to Sourceforge.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r018/

The easiest way to get started is still to get the "iron_bite_complete_r018.zip", unpack it and double click the sim_iron.exe

I got a report that the source code also compiles for Linux, but that was r017 and it required a tiny fix. So there are chances that r018 will compile, I've now included the mentioned fix, but due to lack of a Linux system I cannot test that by myself. You'll need developer versions of SDL, zlib and bzlib installed to compile and link successfully.

http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/i ... _Iron_Bite
Attachments
player_colors.png
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Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 02 May 2012 20:39

I have been further restructuring and refactoring the code, but I was also able to fix one or two mistakes that had been introduced in the UI during earlier refactoring operations.

While most changes are internal this time, I have still compiled and uploaded a new release to allow early testing of the stability and functionality of the code base:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r019/

The easiest way to get started is to get the "iron_bite_complete_r019.zip", unpack it and double click the sim_iron.exe

There is one fix that might be worth mentioning - the "speedbar" UI component was broken in r018, due to an optimization attempt of mine, but works again now. "Speedbars" are the colored bars used to display vehicle speed, traveled distance, loading state etc. It's a component that is found in quite some dialogs.

Overall this version makes a quite good impression to me, but I haven't done any extensive testing yet. If you find mistakes, particularly mistakes in the UI, please let me know about them :)
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 08 May 2012 20:52

I've been busy with restructuring the code, and that is not the best moment to build a new release. But I found two bugs which both could lead to crashes in unlucky circumstances, and so I've decided to build a new release anyways:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r020/

Besides the two bug fixes (one in the management of file names in the save game dialog, and one in a newly created routine for drawing horizontal lines), all other changes should be internal changes, and not affect players. Unless I've introduced more bugs with my changes, which can always happen.
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 09 May 2012 20:08

I didn't want to publish a new version this soon again, but I had lost some code for the city info window during my restructuring and the window layout got very confused during size changes. This problem is fixed in r021, and also the factory info window got a few smaller cosmetic updates:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r021/
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 10 May 2012 14:54

The old colors got boring during testing, so I made a UI skin in the same style but with diferent color hues. The green/lilac might not be to everones taste, but if you like it, just unpack and install from the attached "menu.iron_skin.pak.zip" and vòila, done.
Attachments
new_skin.png
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menu.iron_skin.pak.zip
(2.09 KiB) Downloaded 276 times
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 11 May 2012 16:28

I had broken some of the signal code in r021, so that each time a train was checking a signal the game crashed. This crash is fixed in r022, but there seem to be more signal related problems which I need to investigate.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r022/

Except the fix for the crash the updates to the city info window are the only notable changes. Well, it looks mostly the same as in Simutrans Standard, just with some minor cosmetic corrections.
Attachments
city_info.png
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Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 12 May 2012 11:05

Varkaleas wrote:I had broken some of the signal code in r021, so that each time a train was checking a signal the game crashed. This crash is fixed in r022, but there seem to be more signal related problems which I need to investigate.
I found another signal problem, which I could fix meanwhile. I've uploaded a new executable "sim_iron_signal_fix.exe", and I hope this one will work better.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r022/

Feedback and bug reports are welcome :)
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 14 May 2012 20:47

I've been renovating the factory info dialog a bit. I've tried to get more information into the same space, but also to keep it well readable. Overall I kept the design from Simutrans Standard and made only a number of smaller changes.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r023/

Feedback of all sorts is welcome :)
Attachments
factory_no_chart.png
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factory_w_chart.png
factory_w_chart.png (35.75 KiB) Viewed 12609 times
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 15 May 2012 20:49

I've also updated the second tab of the factory info dialog, as well as a few more factory info details. A new message options window was made, too.

A new version with the mentioned changes is available on Sourceforge:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... te%20r024/

Have fun testing it :)
Attachments
factory_w_chart_new.png
factory_w_chart_new.png (38.67 KiB) Viewed 12557 times
message_options.png
message_options.png (11.03 KiB) Viewed 12557 times
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 22 May 2012 21:01

I've released a new version r025. There aren't many changes this time:

- I've merged a number of bug fixes from Simutrans Standard.
- pak64.Crisp is now included in the "Iron Bite Complete" bundle.
- The pak set choice screen got a minor update.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsim ... Bite/r025/
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by This is my name » 23 May 2012 06:23

Keep up the good work on your Simutrans UI fix! :)

EDIT: This project seems like an experimentation on UI psychology. :lol:
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Varkaleas
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Re: Working on a nicer UI for Simutrans

Post by Varkaleas » 23 May 2012 11:53

This is my name wrote:Keep up the good work on your Simutrans UI fix! :)
Thank you, I'll try my best :)
EDIT: This project seems like an experimentation on UI psychology. :lol:
I have some guidelines from books, but I'm mostly self-tought in UI design. You're right, some of the shown things are to try and see what might work well in Simutrans, others are just to see if an idea turns out as a good idea at all. I think, later in development when more decisions have been made, more consistency will return. (Also I have damaged a few of the old Simutrans UI with side effects of my changes, and have to repair them).

It's quite interesting though to try and make better UIs, particularly if workflow and handling issues are considered. I'm still just starting with those.

Thanks for the feedback :)
Working on a Simutrans fork with a nicer UI: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ironsimu/

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