User Avatar Image

Thinking about a better launcher

posted by hansschmucker on - last edited - Viewed by 200 users

I'm not a graphics artist, so please forgive me if it doesn't look so well. Also: The images are just placeholders and not what I want to discuss.

tomi_launcher.png

I'm still not entirely happy about the Telltale launcher and have been fooling around with Inkscape to see how different concepts work out. The one above has a lot of stuff that I think makes sense to explore. Basically, I tried to make it fit in a little better with the normal Windows look and feel.

I also tried to take care of my #1 annoyance with the launcher: The launch button. Right now I always need a second to find it and the fact that it moves around almost feels like playing whack-a-mole.

I'll explain some more tomorrow: Now I'm off to bed, I just wanted to post the picture now.

OK, now there's some more time for an explanation. The basic logic behind the design is this: form follows function. A launcher window should primarily launch and be a window :)

The launcher as it exists now has a bit of an identity crisis: Instead of playing with the layout of a normal window, it looks more like a tooltip: No identifiable title bar, a very thin border, the window controls so far away from their normal position that it takes a second to realize they are there. That's all fine for a splash screen, but the Telltale launcher is more: it needs interaction and in some cases (when people go to the forums) you have to move the window and find it again when you're done.
Nobody is saying that it should look exactly like a standard window, but it should be obvious that it is one. A thicker border and a title bar with familiar dimensions and controls takes care of that.
I didn't use the normal Windows controls since this is a game after all and it's all right to look a bit fancy. More importantly, it's pretty hard to make a window that's mostly filled with graphics look good with a window decoration that looks like chewing gum (Luna) or worse (legacy theme).


About the launch button. A launcher is primarily supposed to well, launch stuff and it shouldn't deny it. The big red button is probably one of the most recognized metaphors for "launching" since the invention of colour TV. Having it dominate the window layout makes the whole thing feel more "honest". And BTW, it makes it a lot less painful to use as well, since you know that when the window opens, that button is always right at the center of the screen. You can even move your mouse there already while the launcher window is still opening.

20 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I prefer Telltale's over yours. Infact, I don't think there's anything wrong with the Telltale one. Obviously no launcher would be better, but I'm glad that if there has to be one that it looks good. It gets the information across in a simple and attractive way. And I for one like the way the current launch button acts.

  • @hansschmucker said: Well, in my defense: it's supposed to :)

    Well, Telltale will not make a change to the launcher that results in people ignoring the information the launcher is designed to present to people, that's all I was trying to say.

  • I got it. How are your feelings about window borders, titlebars and so on?

  • The telltale one hardly ever works for me, crashes 9 times out of 10 :(

  • That shouldn't happen LennieMelvin and you might want to ask about it at the support forum. The launcher consists mainly of an InternetExplorer instance and the Securom copy protection libraries, so chances are that fixing your InternetExplorer installation (by installing the latest upgrades) will fix it. If it doesn't, please create a new topic at the support forum or contact Telltale.

  • Thanks for the launcher feedback, guys. I don't know when we'll go back for another pass with it, but its always good to hear outside opinions to have on the table when you're talking about things.*

    * That doesn't mean we're going to make the launcher build-to-order from this thread or something -- we have our own ideas and future planning and motivations for things -- but additional ideas are always welcome.

  • Thanks Jake. Don't worry, I don't even want you to build it exactly like that, I just figured that providing an entirely different draft as a starting point would lead to a better discussion.

  • @hansschmucker said: That shouldn't happen LennieMelvin and you might want to ask about it at the support forum. The launcher consists mainly of an InternetExplorer instance and the Securom copy protection libraries, so chances are that fixing your InternetExplorer installation (by installing the latest upgrades) will fix it. If it doesn't, please create a new topic at the support forum or contact Telltale.

    Thanks, I'll try that.

  • If it ain't broke?

    I've never had a problem with the TTG one to be honest. As you are not a graphics artist I won't be critical of your design, but why do you think it looks better with windows borders, titlebars etc as opposed to a bespoke layout?

  • Remember the discussion we had about Flash? You could probably see it a bit of a continuation of that conflict. Right now, the launcher doesn't feel "native". It sticks out: I have to think about where the buttons are and that I can move it around if I click "that black something up there". It's something I don't have to think about with other applications and it annoys me a bit.
    There's a certain amount that application behaviour may differ from standard system behaviour, but title bars and borders are in my opinion essential to an application feeling integrated into a system.

Add Comment