Since yesterday’s post was inspired by Language Log, I thought I would cite them again on user interfaces.
Don’t worry about me. I’ll figure it out by trial and error. I simply offer this to you as proof number 37 (I have made mention of many such examples in the past: road sign psycholinguistics and so on) of my claim that human/machine interface design today is in a state of total freaking disaster.
He is talking about projectors, ovens, and clock radios, but the discussion is especially relevant to MMOs. We are used to having forty hotkeys along with five chat tabs and a heads-up display that looks like a flight simulator. We forget that this is potentially insane.
I could point out that designers should pay more attention to the interface, that a MMO without UI-mod ability is a broken MMO, or that developers should prepare to adapt mods into the official UI after the players find a way to compensate for designers’ failure to pay attention to the interface. Feel free to take that direction in the comments. Instead, I will just point to WoW, which has more or less followed that cycle but also has a pretty easy interface for new players. The flight simulator display is for the advanced raider who can use forty buttons without thinking about it. The starting UI is simple enough for granny to start beating up wolves and bunnies. If, you know, your grandmother thought it was all right to beat up puppies because some dwarf told her to.
Three people on that Language Log thread cited The Design of Everyday Things by David Norman. I have added that to my (very long) reading list.