Here's the screenshot:
Note the lack of prompt spam. Only the latest prompt is displayed, and it's right next to the input box. When you send a command, the prompt dims a little, then lights up again when you get an updated prompt (indicating the MUD is ready to receive your next command).
The latest room description always stays on screen, so you never have to scroll up or send a fresh LOOK command to review it. I think this helps maintain a sense of your surroundings.
The "compass" indicates which of the "standard" directions you're able to travel from the current room. The number pad can be used to send the common travel commands. I say "standard" here because some MUDs have exits like "house, shop, gate, castle", and those aren't well-communicated by any graphical compass.
I'm sending talk to a separate block as well. I've defined talk as any messages with both quotation marks and "say, yell, or shout".
The block at left shows lengthy text, like help content, shop lists, and lore. In Achaea, such text is usually followed by "type MORE to continue". These chunks of text are problematic because they like to gradually scroll off-screen as new text arrives. By sending them to a different block, I can keep them on screen for reading and still pay attention to any new text arriving without having to scroll constantly up and down.
Finally, having eliminated prompt spam and sent room descriptions, chat, and lengthy blocks of text to special areas of the screen, the main text area displays only the happenings going on around me - combat, arrivals, departures, and non-combat actions like inventory management and emotes.
Now I can neatly prioritize my thinking based on areas of the screen - I focus mainly on the output directly above my prompt, and look to other areas as the situation permits.
So what's left?
Some things need doing:
- Including some pre-configured custom interfaces to install with the app.
- Allowing for import/export of custom user interfaces like the pictured UI.
Others need fixing:
- Dialogs are functional, but look like crap (not pictured above).
- Dropping very old text to avoid running out of memory.
- Disabling logging for very short play sessions (cleans up the log list).
- Eliminate unnecessary whitespace in all output areas.
- Wrong moves in design mode can get the user stuck.
See how short that list is?! I'm excited. Finally, I have to test. I'm thinking maybe 10 hours of standard play in each of Achaea and Aardwolf will be good enough for an alpha release.
Please share any feedback you have!
Also one addendum - recent questions not addressed in the screenshot... Yes, you can define scripts, macros, and triggers. Yes, you can change the background image and the color scheme. Yes, you can rearrange the user interface without knowing anything about regular expressions (but you need them to create NEW blocks to receive text).