Designing Multiplayer Robot – Games

Giant Multiplayer Robot was originally designed in early 2012. Back then, you could create and join games, play your turns with the desktop app, and leave games. So, we designed our interface to make these basic tasks very simple and easy. Since then, we’ve introduced playing turns via the website, the turn timer, mod support, game comments, vacation mode, Community, and more. As we’ve added these new features, they’ve been built on top of our original, simple framework. This has resulted in a lot of clutter throughout GMR’s interface. This is the game detail page as it looks today:

Giant Multiplayer Robot Game Detail Page

As new features have been added, they’ve simply been tacked onto this page. This has resulted in the game detail page being nearly 2,000 pixels tall for game hosts. Overall, it’s become very busy with lots of different options and information scattered everywhere.

Because of this, one of our primary goals for the new Multiplayer Robot is to overhaul the user interface to make everything more clean and easy to use. The main way we’re doing this is by splitting up all of the various options and information into multiple pages. So, I’d like to show you our current designs for Multiplayer Robot games. Please keep in mind that all of this is a work in progress and is subject to change before release.

Here is our current design for the Game Overview page:

Multiplayer Robot Game Overview

First of all, you’ll probably notice our new vertical navigation bar. We’ll talk more on this later, but the new navigation bar allows us to use screen space much more efficiently. It’ll also include dynamic items, such as a list of all your games, reducing the overall number of steps to get where you want to go.

Anyway, back to the Game Overview, rather than trying to fit everything on one page, the Game Overview page will give you a high-level overview of what’s going on in your game, including how the turns are going and recent conversations occurring about your game (more about that later). The Game Overview page will also have a button to play your turn when you’re up:

Multiplayer Robot Play Turn

Multiplayer Robot Play Turn Detail

On the left, we have an expandable bar for navigating to other game pages. All in all, there are eight game pages: Overview, Conversations, Turns, Turn Timer, Players, Visibility, Expansions + DLC, and World Options.

Multiplayer Robot Game Navigation

With Multiplayer Robot, we’re replacing game comments with Conversations. Conversations is a mini-forum for your game:

Multiplayer Robot Conversations

Multiplayer Robot Conversation Detail

Not only will you be able to better organize discussions about your game into multiple threads, but you’ll also be able to create threads which only include certain players from your game. In the above designs, the first one is the main Conversations page. Each thread will have a card cycling through recent replies. The second design is the thread detail page, which will show a thread not unlike a classic forum. We’re also toying with the idea of having sub-threads that branch off to the right for tangent conversations.

Next up, here’s Turns:

Multiplayer Robot Game Turns

The Turns page will provide a detailed list of all turns for your game. It’ll include how long each turn took and, for the game host, the option to revert to a previous turn. New in Multiplayer Robot is the ability to revert to any turn that we have stored (which, right now, is the last two rounds). This should make going back a few turns much easier than the current method of reverting multiple times.

We’ve streamlined the new Turn Timer, making it more powerful and easier to use:

Multiplayer Robot Turn Timer

You’ll now be able to fine-tune exactly when you want the Turn Timer to run. It’ll also function more like a real timer by simply ticking down during the highlighted times.

The Players page will show precise details for what human players and AI players are in your game, and also show details on who’s invited (apologies for the incomplete nature of this design):

mr-game-players

As for the remaining pages, the Visibility page will allow you to control who is able to see your game, including being able to limit your game to more experienced players or newer players. It’ll also be where you can set your game as private or public.

The Expansions + DLC page will be where you set what expansions and DLC are required for your game (we’ll probably have mods show on this page too). The World Options page will replicate the world options page from Civilization V, showing the map, victory, and other settings which will apply in-game. By having all of these options on Multiplayer Robot, not only will players know exactly what options are set for a game, but we’ll also be able to give game hosts a Game Configuration file to load with all the settings already built-in, making hosting much easier.

Overall, we hope you find the new interface for Multiplayer Robot much easier and more enjoyable to use. So, we’d love to hear your feedback on our designs. Sound off in the comments below!

Comments (7)

  1. Kavalor

    I like it a lot. Looks good and efficient to me. Will we also be able to have non-game related discussions, stats and ranking etc. in the desktop Client which would precede the need to log into the website.

    As an additional wish – if you manage to support Beyond Earth after release and there is a Linux Version please also think of making a GMR Version for Linux. I would appreciate it and absolutely willing to help testing.

    • The current plan is to have the desktop app function as a pretty lightweight auto uploader and downloader. That being said, the way the new website will be significantly faster, and have a “stay logged in” option.

      We also definitely want to create Mac and Linux clients, although it’s unlikely we’ll have them until after launch sometime.

      • Kavalor

        of course the Linux Client is not high priority as you currently can’t play the game in Linux (maybe with wine, but I have not tested it).

        Ah i somehow thought this would be in the Desktop client – that would indeed have been very sweet. But even so the redesign is impressive and nice.

  2. Christen

    Nice work!

    It would be great to have these available in the desktop client. I find I never go to the web page once I have a few games going.

  3. Erik

    …aaaand now there IS a Linux version of Civ. :-D

    I’m considering using GMR to play with my friend. Haven’t used GMR before. I think I might try running the client in WINE before giving up and going web-only.

    I really really want to know when GMR is updated… I guess I am going to have to start using RSS again :D

  4. K-Money

    This looks absolutely amazing. Definitely loving the ability to have selective conversations for strategic purposes as well as the estimates on turns.

  5. Drachenfels

    I have one suggestion – not sure if it’s good place to make one though.

    When you enter your vacation mode, auto turn is executed as soon as players get’s a turn. It would be lovely to let user or game creator define when auto turn should be executed. Let say 3 options: at beginning, middle or at the end of turn timer (when set).

    This is not a big deal, but when someone goes on holiday, suddenly pace of the game is increasing. It wouldn’t be that bad, but assuming npc bot is absolutely idiot it actually is. Keeping the same pace as previous turns would help limit the damage.

    Thank for hard work!

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