It’s been almost a year since we discussed the digital card game Solforge on the podcast, and I haven’t ragequit once. If anything, I’ve stepped up my playtime, including a couple of ongoing async games with friends and a fair number of real-time tournaments or random matches. It’s fun!
But we need to talk about UI. Solforge recently released its shiny new client, and while there are a few things to love about it, they made some elementary interface mistakes that are shocking to see in a pro-quality game in 2016. Wasted space, confusing layout, and poorly displayed information caused one game designer pal to call it a “sobering UI nightmare.” This Reddit post lays out the problems in detail–it’s not just the standard resistance to change that we all know and hate.
But it’s not all bad! I like the new card design, and some of the other new elements are pretty sweet as well–but they’re drowning in a sea of bad choices (which is also the title of my forthcoming memoir). They’re working on it, but it’s hard to see how they can fix some of the issues without a major overhaul.
Game designers, I’m talking to you now: Take your interface seriously from day one. Your revolutionary mechanics, eye-popping art, and delightful storytelling will all die lonely deaths if your players run into any obstacles at all. It’s hard work, and it may carve out more of your time and cash on hand than you’d like, but it should be an uncuttable corner. Solforge will survive and may even improve as a result, but it has a sizable player base and additional support to keep it going through this rough patch. New games don’t have that luxury.