After account and character creation the UI is the first hurdle players experience trying to get into a new game. And one that persists to be a barrier to just getting on and having fun for as long as they play if not done properly.
If you are working on a game that is playable to the general public in 2021, I don't care if it originally launched in 1997 or yesterday, there seems no excuse for microscopic fonts that can't be scaled, and UI elements that can't be reordered. Or bad UI design in general.
If it's an actual modern game, no excuse whatsoever other than absolutely moronic decision making. Nobody cares about the UI looking like whatever game inspired you or whatever stupid ideas you have on UI layout. We all come from different games and have different preferences. Save your inspired or unique ideas for the gameplay. Just make the UI as customizable as possible with every element able to be resized and dragged around. Then it's done and everyone is happy.
If it's an older game I realize it may be a challenge and the engine might not make it easy… but not impossible. Put the effort in and get it done. It should have been made a priority a decade ago and the longer it persists the more stupid it seems.
For a lot of older games custom UI's are better designed than the one in game. That's shameful. You should be ashamed that your UI sucks so bad people resort to making and using custom UI's to play it. And doubly ashamed some hobbyist made a better UI for your game than your studio of paid professionals. And don't try to spin it like it's cool that people can make custom UIs for your game. Plugins are one thing. Your UI being trash and necessitating unpaid end-users to come up with a workaround is all together different… in a product you are charging money for as a finished product or even in F2P at least making money from subs or cash shop.
And on prioritizing other things: If I feel like I'm going blind trying to deal with your UI, or to a lesser degree getting annoyed at whatever UI placement you feel is so perfect I shouldn't be permitted to move anything, I really don't care about graphical updates, content updates, or whatever else you do to these games.
Especially in the genre of MMORPGs where so many of us value gameplay over graphics. Thousands of us still play old school Everquest, Asheron's Call, Runescape, DAoC, UO, and tens of thousands more playing slightly newer but far from "modern AAA" MMOs… If you polled any of their playerbases I'd venture most would say we might like some graphical updates or polish but it's not a deal breaker. Some even find them nostalgic. But there is not a single soul who would say the same about trash UIs. Nor any that would say they couldn't wait a few measly weeks for whatever you're working on so a decent UI can be finished.
The UI is our gateway into your world. The way by which we interact with it, and the others in it. If it's a frustrating hindrance little else will matter.
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