Improving Interface Clarity (Qualities)

I posted this originally to the Dev discord and it was suggested I open a thread here. I’ve been thinking about ways to add more information clarity and lower the cognitive load expected of players. One of the elements I feel can be improved is communicating what “qualities” a player has available to them at a given moment. To my understanding there isn’t an easy way to check what “qualities” a player is capable of, or whether a tool is obsolete/outclassed, besides checking and comparing items descriptions. I have 2 suggestions on ways to consider improving the interface and making it easier for players to figure out what they’re capable of and what they need.

First: Add a consolidated list of the players available qualities. I think it would be the most natural/intuitive to integrate it into the character sheet. Hovering over the quality can show which tool is being used for that quality
Second: Make it easier to decide which tools you need to be carrying and which are redundant by color coding qualities. For example, if a player with a digging stick comes across a snow shovel, if they check the snow shovels description “Level 2 digging” would be written in green to show it has a superior digging quality compared to anything else you have. This would be particularly helpful when reviewing tools with multiple qualities as it would make it much easier to keep track of how useful they are. I think ideally this color coding would only appear when checking an items description, but it could also be added to items being picked up. Tools whose qualities are all inferior to what you have on you could be greyed out or red when picking them up. Building off of the “qualities list” I suggested, there can be a separate color for “tools in reach but not in inventory”

These are 2 unrefined suggestions I came up with. I am interested in hearing what others think, other ways to improve this aspect of the interface, or if this sounds like something that goes against cdda’s design philosophy.

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I like the idea of seeing qualities on the character sheet/similar menu. I can’t count the number of times I thought I had everything I needed for todays scrap run, just to go out and go “damnit, forgot bolt turning 2” and need to march all the way home for a different wrench. While loading a toolbag helps alleviate some of this, its easy to lose track and dump a bag out for another projects purposes. Picking up my ‘tool bag’ and immediately seeing the qualities I have on hand with just one extra button press would be excellent.

I’m more ambivalent about the second suggestion, comparing loot to my current inventory is going to be far more irrelevant than not for tool qualities - It would muddy the waters around the current color coded information, being “compatible ammo” and “stale food” along with “unread book”, all things useful to immediately note at a glance whether your looting, crafting, or skimming inventories for supplies while fighting. Whereas I don’t need every screwdriver under the sun telling me “Hey I’ve got screw driving 2 and you’ve got none, better grab me” when I’ve probably got 60 at home. This would get messier as more things get qualities to describe useful traits - Lots of things are getting hammering. I think the immediate identification issue could be worked around by not using colors, but I’m still not sure how relevant it’d be in the moment - The period where you have all your belongings on your survivor at all times should be really short, so its not actually providing much useful info.

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You can already see all qualities you have available in a particular bag by examining the bag. If you keep all your tools in a bag, you’ll have a huge list of tool qualities, which I never found particularly useful. Having a screen or dialogue that lists all available tool qualities is just not going to have much use in practice. I’m never going to look at that list and think “Hm, what can I do with these tools that I have?”. I’m much more interested if I have a tool for a specific recipe, or “What tool do I need to make this?”

Coloring upgrades is likewise not going to be very useful in practice. One, people usually leave most of their tools when looting, so pretty much everything is going to be green. Things that you might have on you that could be upgraded would also be green, defeating the purpose because you’re probably already ignoring all the green text anyway. On the flip side, when you play more and recognize tool quality isn’t as important as you might be thinking now, you will be very interested in perhaps the same or lower tool quality but perhaps a significantly lower weight and size…

I hear what Profugo is saying regarding confusion when it comes to other item categories that use color coding which is part of why I suggested keeping the color coding to the items description page. That way it would only be there to highlight and make parsing information easier. This can also help players make better decisions when it comes to managing inventory space by showing them at a glance what tools are unnecessary and what tools are being used.

Please keep in mind that while this may seem like a non-issue for veteran players, one of this games biggest barriers to entry is familiarizing yourself with the UX and interface. While I think this kind of change would still be helpful for experienced players, like I said earlier, this is primarily a suggestion aimed at improving clarity for information and lowering overall cognitive load, things that will mainly benefit new players