Monday, 28 March 2011

User interface design

I really do enjoy playing Fifa 11, but every time I do so I am reminded of possibly the worse user interface design in menu history.  OK perhaps I exaggerate, but for what is an advanced product with millions invested it in relatively speaking it has to be the worst menu design ever.

The first issue is accessing the menu.  To get to the Main menu to select the type of game you want is horrendous.  You first must press Enter to choose your language (why on earth is this not remembered on my HDD and changeable at a later date?), then you must press Start to exit the cut scene, then you must press Enter to acknowledge the message about auto-saving (I have acknowledged the message countless times, remember that I have done so!), then press start again.  Then I need to press start again to get to the menu from the arena!

Yes you counted it right that it 5 button presses just to get to the game menu, but hey there are still problems at this point.  I personally like playing career mode, so I select this option and then even though I have saved game data it always selects New.  This would obviously only be a minor flaw if selecting New did not lead to a 10+ second load time so I could quickly skip back...  This 10 second load time could be easily avoided as there are so many pieces of information that need to be collected before career mode can start a simple data entry screen could be loaded in a fraction of a second rather than a significant load time.

Seriously what other program has the same level of investment but takes 11 button presses to restart where you left off!

The game otherwise is generally well designed.  Although player switching is still frustrating as it selects the player I am aiming to choose 50% of the time.

Please EA fix the menus and the player switching an you have pretty much the perfect game...might be switching back to PES 2012 if you don't...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Setup applications

Trying to create an installer for Windows 2008 of a .NET application which installs several services and a Web front end has been fun. I looked at several applications to do so:

Installshield X

Wow it is expensive and if you want to do anything even vaguely harder than copy some files to the harddisk it looks like you need to program it all yourself anyway and support is paid for and the forum does not include much help. After a frustrating time of having to program all of my own file permissions. Needed network service user to have write permission...obviously though network service does not exist on Windows 2000. I used the lovely GUI tool set the permissions, but there is no way in the GUI to say but if the user does not exist, just carry on the install. So yes you have to script to set the permissions... same was true of anything in IIS.

NSIS

Looked promising, but again getting towards the good stuff like detecting .NET versions and downloading the required version, and again IIS stuff required separate console programs.

InnoIDE

Well it is still not perfect, but the community provides lots of .NET and IIS examples and the documentation is certainly more comprehensive than the other two.

Nothing truly fits the bill, there is no easy way for me to have a drop down that allows me to specify the website (all GUI tools either ignore IIS or only install to the Default web site), no simple requires .NET 3.5 checkbox so I do not need to code error messages checks and downloads.

For the price Installshield charges I am sure there must be a place for a GUI installer that does the above. For the time being I am sticking with InnoIDE. It is not perfect, but it is the best I have found so far and it is free!