Project 2 Part 2: the New Oblivion in a Flash

After feedback from the class and some collaboration with the other group, we decided to specifically focus on improving the Quests page: all three subgroups agreed to work on improving the Maps feature, as well as redesign the overall menu system according to their own ideals.

I thought about menu systems from other games I’d played and I noted that the more intuitive menu systems would list the main pages to one side. In certain games a menu listing the various other pages will first pop up: you would then hit a link and you would be taken to the respective page. In other games, particularly console role playing games, hitting a button would take you to a window listing the pages down one side with the current page in front of you.

In Pokemon Emerald, hitting the Start button on the GBA makes the menu slide in from the side. You can then choose to view one of the pages. You will then be taken to the page, which takes up the whole window. Pressing ‘B’ for back returns you to your game.

In Kingdom Hearts, the menu is listed to the side: choosing an option takes you to the page with its submenu. If you chose “Items” in the menu below, you would be taken to the inventory, and a submenu that gave you further options would appear. Pressing “O” would take you back to the main menu.


Taking the main menu idea, I decided that once the player hits the “Tab” key the menu would slide out from the right with the choices listed legibly.

Hitting the “Maps” button or pressing its hotkey M would bring up the following window: the Map was redesigned so that players could now zoom in and out of the map. In the original game players cannot zoom in or out, and to find a location players would then have to pan across the screen to find a location. Users can also mark locations for later reference. For example, you might have found a clump of rare plants that you can use for a health-healing potion.

Quests now has its own page and can be accessed either by the menu or by the hotkey “Q”. Though I didn’t play enough through Oblivion to get into guilds, my partner stated that managing all the quest lines later becomes difficult. Quest lines are basically a series of related quests that can make up a sort of storyline. The very first quest line you complete, for example, are the Tutorial Quests that guide you through the  first dungeon. There is apparently no way to organize your quest lines later, meaning that tracking your progress on a particular questline can get messy if you have several running at once. Almost all quests come from a guild, which you join later. For this reason we decided that quests should be further divided according to what guild assigned it to you. Quests would then be listed as questlines: clicking a questline would then show the quests you have completed/ are working on under that questline.

Classmates who were familiar with the game either didn’t like the concept of organizing quests by guild or appreciated it: Oblivion is a game with many different angles people can play it from. For example, one classmate mostly used spells and magic: another freely wandered about and didn’t care much about quests. I personally also had little interest in quests and was more interested in leveling up/ finishing the main storyline. Those who did do quests, however, declared it would be useful.

Many people appreciated the map markers; the fact that they could be labeled and that the user can place as many of them as they want on the map were pluses. Classmates noted that we should remember to put some indicator at the ends of the zoom-bar to tell users which way to slide the bar to zoom in or out.

It was noted that the light text on dark is difficult to see, and that the additional lines on the quest page were unnecessary. The font didn’t help with the lack of legibility, and the new design took away from the antiquated feel of the original game. We decided based on the feedback to return to a look and feel more similar to Oblivion’s original menu design.


About foldingwishes

I am a 3rd year CM major interested in animation and narratology. I believe that design is important and highly applicable to all fields and that good design creates enjoyable experiences. My favorite shows are Samurai Jack, My Life as a Teenage Robot and Avatar the Last Airbender and my favorite movies are Le Grande Chef, Ratatouille and the Great Mouse Detective.
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