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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Skyrim - PC Interface Frustration @ GamaSutra

Default Skyrim - PC Interface Frustration @ GamaSutra

November 12th, 2011, 18:26
Eric Schwarz has penned a piece on his blog at GamaSutra dealing with his frustration on playing Skyrim with the current UI. Here's some excerpts, here's a quote about the user interface:
Other issues, like mouse acceleration being forced on and impossible to remove without an INI tweak, or the game defaulting to "Xbox 360 Controller - On" when started, even without a controller plugged in, or needless breaks from convention ("Tab" instead of "Esc" to exit menus) show just how little thought or care was put to the PC version's interface, and how little priority was given to this version in the game, or foresight given to what its players might want and expect.
Here's something about the hotkeys:
After rebinding the hotkey for the Favorites menu to "F" and the auto-walk key to "Q", I found that Favorites menu didn't want to open anymore. Curious, I pulled up my inventory and tried assigning some items to the Favorites - only it didn't work……Turns out, the "F" key is holy ground - because it controls the assigning of items to the Favorites menu, rebinding it to perform another function during regular gameplay, even a related function, makes it impossible to assign items and spells to it.
Here's something about optimization:
A second issue I immediately ran into was an intense audio distortion - crackling, skipping and popping most commonly heard in dialogue, but also in many of the game's environmental sounds. No in-game audio options helped and there seemed to be no relevant settings in the game's INI files to help. On a lark, I went to my Windows Sound Properties page and dropped my sound card's bit rate from 96,000 Hz to 44,100 Hz. Instantly, the problem was gone - and instantly, I was frustrated at the fact that once again, it was clear Bethesda had foregone so much as basic compatibility testing.
And here's a rather interesting quote:
All of the preview footage for Skyrim I'd seen was for the Xbox 360 version, with the PC version only featured in screenshots. Many PC-focused web sites were reportedly denied their own review copies from Bethesda, as well, and in all those glowing 9/10 and 10/10 reviews, the PC version was either downplayed or not mentioned at all. Now it's clear why - it's because it is at best a half-functional, poorly-performing wreck of a game.
Scwartz has an edit saying this:
I have to at least in part take back some earlier complaints I had listed here. The game was patched today and apparently fixed some of the interface problems with unresponsive and inconsistent controls and menus. Either way, those problems shouldn't have been in the game to begin with, but it's nice to see Bethesda on the ball.
As Scwarz mentions the game has been updated to version 1.1 - The changelog to both the bug and quest fixes can be found at the Skyrim forums - here.

I'll list the bug fixes below:
•General optimizations related to stability and performance.•Essential followers recover properly if player fast travels away.•Fixed rare instances of dragons flying improperly though objects after player exits an interior.•Fixed rare instance where the a music track would not stop playing properly.•Autosave message properly displays when going through a load door.•The fifth level of the Light Fingers perk correctly calculates the Pickpocket skill bonus.•Enchanting an item to improve the Sneak skill properly calculates the bonus to the player's Sneak skill.•Enchanting an item to improve the Lockpick skill properly calculates the bonus to the player's Lockpick skill. •Corpus Enchanter perk properly calculates bonuses to stats for the player’s new enchantments.
More information.
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November 12th, 2011, 18:26
I'm ok so far with the interface with some exceptions. I re-bound the very keys the blogger was complaining about and it works fine (Q is now 'auto-run' and F brings up favorites instead of the baffling default). There are three main issues I still have:

1. Generally speaking the binding menu isn't open enough. Generally you can change world oriented key-bindings but not GUI bindings. So there's no way to re-map 'E' to something besides "confirm" or make 'Space' confirm instead of 'Enter'. Not good.

2. This is borderline between design decision and bug. You can scroll through menus by either the arrow/WS keys or highlighting with the mouse. But the mouse doesn't make the list scroll up or down, it just highlights. If they were really going for an 'Apple dock' behavior, the mouse would've zoomed as well as highlighted. So you can have the bottom of the menu "zoomed" while the top is highlighted and you can't press 'W' or 'Up' to scroll the menu up because the top item is highlighted.

3. There is no key binding for "General Stats" on the journal/stats/map menu. You have to click on it with a mouse belying the keyboard-centric scheme they set up.

So I know QA deals with a lot of stuff and its easy to miss things, especially when dealing with the metric tonne of world and quest material, but UI issues like this do not and cannot get a pass from me unless something disastrous happened. This is sloppy work.

Other than those I find things about as passable as the Fallout 3/NV interface. Not awesome, not bad.
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November 12th, 2011, 18:33
Oh blah blah blah boohoo. Meanwhile, other people are completely fine with this "half-functional, poorly-performing wreck of a game." What utter nonsense, does he need more clicks to his website? I can't speak for the pre-day-1 patch, because I assume it was included in my Steam download, but, bugs aside, I can't imagine it was that bad. This guy comes across as a douche that wants to make friends with the PC elitist crowd.

Disclaimer: I only read the quotes as I have no interest in reading the full article.
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November 12th, 2011, 18:39
I'll admit, the PC UI is a bit sketchy, {really though, its just when using the mouse inside menus thats giving me issues, but I've mostly been using the KB, so all good for now.} but there is already a ton of talk in the modding community about making a better one. After playing with the custom UIs from Morrowind, Oblivion, and Fallout 3/NV I'm confidant the modders will do a grand job once again. And even if Bethesda were to fix the problems we're all having, the custom UI will be way better and worth the wait, be it weeks or months from now!

Even with the Creation Kit being MIA, there are already quite a few interesting mods and tweaks being released, of which I'm using several of!



Besides all that, its been too much fun, and far too difficult to log out, thus overlooking this minor issue is a no-brainer!
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November 12th, 2011, 18:42
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
Oh blah blah blah boohoo.
Well, I'm still very much enjoying the game and all the amazing touches (actual river currents!) they included. But I think the author still raises legitimate complaints about the UI design and implementation. And don't be so silly and dramatic.

I also loaded what appears to be the control text file into a hex editor but haven't detected any recognizable patterns yet.
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November 12th, 2011, 18:54
Oh poop. It's not XML. It's Autodesk Scaleform apparently. An unfortunate derivative of Flash.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:08
And I take it back. Re-mapping Q to F breaks F in the menu. That's just plain unprofessional. I'm still enjoying the game, but they definitely get a "bad doggy, no biscuit" for this.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:13
Just wanted to say that despite catastrophic PC GUI, Skyrim is so good its simply amazing.

I played only 10 hours , but all ready can say its far far better than Oblivion.
( and i am comparing it to Oblivion when it was released)
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November 12th, 2011, 19:18
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
Well, I'm still very much enjoying the game and all the amazing touches (actual river currents!) they included. But I think the author still raises legitimate complaints about the UI design and implementation. And don't be so silly and dramatic.
Really? I'm being dramatic? Was I the one to suggest that Bethesda didn't do any compatibility testing? Calling the game only half-functional? Who's the one that's over-dramatizing and magnifying the issues here?
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November 12th, 2011, 19:18
I may be in the minority but I find it one of the better user interfaces I have used. Everything works the same way when crafting, selling etc. It is quick and effecient…no longer are you scrolling through your inventory looking for things, it's all right there split up into catagories such as books, food, apparel, weapons….I'm not sure how you can have trouble with that?

I am begining to suspect that with lack of things to pick on, some of the more "fervent" people are looking for things.

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November 12th, 2011, 19:19
It's quite a good game so far, but they did really fall down on basic mouse support. It shouldn't take half an hour of fiddling with ini settings to make a game remotely playable. Forget about quickly getting to anything in a menu, either. I really hope someone puts together a real UI soon.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:22
Seriously, how can you not use the menu systems? Perhaps, because we are so used to using a mouse for everything that going to using the WASD keys is hard for people…as for messing with ini, I haven't done that and it is playable for me….? I'm not sure why you had to do that.

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November 12th, 2011, 19:24
I got to admit that the mouse sensitivity was way too low by default. I couldn't steer for shit, but after I put it about half-way, the mouse accelleration didn't bother me at all. I won't even be disabling that.

But I agree: the UI is pretty efficient once you get used to it. Miles ahead of Oblivion, which kept feeling awkward and difficult. Most things are easily reachable by keyboard. Just only use the mouse for looking around.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:34
Yes, the PC UI sucks, but this is ridiculously hyperbolic. I have had two crashes that cost me about 10 seconds between them (it quickly went to desktop, and the game quickly started back up ); my load times have been extremely minimal (occasionally, the -change instance- load time is slightly longer than I'd prefer, but the initial load-time and the load saved game load time are both 2-3 seconds tops); the game has been very good looking (not top tier, but still great); I have experienced just a few minor glitches and no major bugs; and I'm loving the heck out of the game.

This all said.. I can't wait until some interface mods come out. I do kind of wonder how much play testing went into the PC version, if only because so many of these choices are so baffling. It's just not nearly as extreme as they make it sound.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:36
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Seriously, how can you not use the menu systems? Perhaps, because we are so used to using a mouse for everything that going to using the WASD keys is hard for people…as for messing with ini, I haven't done that and it is playable for me….? I'm not sure why you had to do that.
No, moving around the menus is easy enough, but far more convoluted than it needs to be. Trying to look at, say, what perks you have is a tedius mess. Of course, it was obviously going to be like this as soon as they showed off that ridiculous iInterface.

The big problem for me the terrible mouse sensitivity in game, and what's up the weird x/y axis split? You're quite lucky if you didn't have that problem. You have to wonder why they put all the effort into making what's otherwise been an amazing game, only to put absolutely no effort into making sure it runs on PC.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:39
But it runs fine on my machine….? I love the menu system, to you it is broken, to me it is a step forward in UI's that have been the same forever…

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November 12th, 2011, 19:41
Before 1.1 it was horrible, now it's actually quite good i think..
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November 12th, 2011, 19:42
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
Really? I'm being dramatic? Was I the one to suggest that Bethesda didn't do any compatibility testing? Calling the game only half-functional? Who's the one that's over-dramatizing and magnifying the issues here?
Be more clear who you're talking to, me or the blogger? If me, I didn't say any such thing and I'll repeat: stop being over-dramatic. If you're talking about the other guy, I still say he raises valid issues.

Either way I'm sticking to my guns that the following should've been caught:

Remapping certain keys breaks functionality in other parts of the interface. Certain functions have no keybinding even though it's a key-driven interface (which isn't a complaint btw, I'm cool with key-driven interfaces). And mousing behavior is not consistent with key behavior in lists causing the list scrolling functionality to break.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:48
I plan to install the first pre-beta demo of the first UI mod that appears… until then I'll be okay though. Looks like DarN just posted a screenshot on the Bethsoft forums where he changed the cursor so he's apparently already poking at the UI. Good times.
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November 12th, 2011, 19:53
It's a bad MOUSE interface, but if you use WASD I think it's a great menu system, other than the perk menu. Morrowind had a very PC focused mouse-driven UI system and I would take Skyrim's menus over that ANY day. Much easier to get what you need done and then get out.
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