Daily Archives: January 14, 2023

The EverQuest Team Expands on their UI Engine Roadmap Update

On Thursday I wrote about the 2023 roadmaps that Daybreak posted for EverQuest and EverQuest II, calling out a couple of items from each that were of interest to me.  On the EQ side of things, one item of particular interest was the reference to a new UI engine, which they plan to start introducing this coming April.

The 2023 road map for EverQuest

Interest in this particular update sparked notice in more people than just I, such that over in the forums the team decided to expand on their plan, at least to a certain extent.

We’ve seen lots of questions about the New UI Engine. While we’re not ready to answer all of them, here are some that we can answer now.

That was followed by a list ot things they chose to share

  • There’s some confusion around the new UI engine and if we’re doing a port or a revamp of the UI / UX. We are performing a port which means we’re replacing the engine (the part the runs the UI) and not planning to do any changes to the look or flow of any of the existing windows in this phase.
  • Once we have completed porting all the windows in the default UI to the new UI engine, we have plans to discuss a revamp of the UI / UX.
  • For people that use the default UI, we’re trying to make it as much like the current UI as possible. That means that ideally, in this phase, it should look and behave like the current UI except for the new features.
  • Some of the new features that will be there when we do the initial launch are:
    • Window scaling – there will be a slider that controls the scaling of all the windows that have already been ported. This means if you want to make your UI larger (or smaller) you can use this and not have to use a custom UI to change the size of the text and images. This would be like the scaling of the “Button Size” on hot bars right now or /chatfontsize in the Chat window, but it would apply to the entire UI all at once.
    • Window docking – each window in the UI can “snap” to the edges of the entire game window and other windows within the UI when moving around the window.
    • Do note that the features will not apply to windows that haven’t yet been ported and will apply as soon as the window is ported.
  • The initial launch will only have a part of all the windows in the UI ported. We will continue to port windows throughout the rest of the year. This means some windows will be using the new engine and its features, and others will not.
  • For people that use or develop custom UIs, this next part is for you.
    • While we cannot port your custom UI for you, we will be supplying a converter tool. The goal with the tool is to help aid with the porting of your custom UI. We can’t guarantee that it will cleanly port everything for you, but it should automate some of the parts to help you get converted.
    • The language that the new engine will use is HTML5 based. So, if you’re comfortable with building web sites or pages, you should already be comfortable with the new language. It isn’t fully HTML5 compliant, but a large portion of the language is supported in the new engine.
    • The specific details of how new custom UIs will mix with the new default UI and the old default and custom UIs will be supplied as we get closer to release on the Test server.
  • We plan on launching the new engine and some ported windows to Live with the April Update. The plan is to put the new engine on the Test server in March. Depending on how things work out internally it may go to Test with the March Test Update or soon after the March Live update completes. If we can launch the new UI engine to the Test server earlier, we will try to do so.

I have some mixed feelings on this, but I understand the logic of it as well.  As somebody who finds the current EQ UI balky and outdated, I would prefer a clean sweep.  I have, in the past, written about having Norrath content with a WoW UI being something of a dream.

Well, we won’t be getting that, the focus being on changing the underlying engine and trying to keep the UI consistent with what the current user base is used to, and rightly so.  Many a title has foundered by not catering to its installed base.  They need to service those who are paying the bills today and worry about people like me much later on.

That in mind, I am also a bit worried about the team killing the current custom UIs.  There are a lot of slick versions of the EQ UI out there, and it is probably a surprise to many how customizable the UI has been over the last fifteen years or so.  I try to avoid mods, but playing EQ is one place where I have indulged.

The worry is that when you kill off that field of options, many of which are probably now unsupported, there is a big question as to how many will become available after the change over.  I am happy that they will support a form of UI customization, and the EQ installed base is nothing if not dedicated, but I fully expect the selection of options to be significantly narrowed.

That said, even with the statement about sticking to the current UI conventions, I am still interested to see what the team will bring to the table when the update lands in April.