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IDProjectCategoryLast Update
0018920Website/Wiki/Bug TrackerSuggestion - General IdeaJun 26, 2024 8:12 am
Reportermememaster Assigned ToChris_McElligottPark  
Status resolvedResolutionnot fixable 
Summary0018920: Why are your games so ugly?
DescriptionI really don't mean to be rude, but guys, seriously... My favorite reviewers (mainly Extra Credits) rave on about the amazing gameplay and complexity of your games. This is great, and for that reason, I own your entire backlog. I then booted up Tidalis expecting I'd be able to look past the incredibly dated looking graphics, and I just couldn't.

I'm sorry, and I it frustrates me too because I'm sure under that eye sore of a UI lies a great game. Sadly, all your stuff looks so crude and uninspired. I think the funniest thing about it that you have a really amazing artist. The cover art, the soundtracks, the concept art, the menu backdrops, all of that, is great. I really enjoy it, but some reason, the games look so damn poor.

It's like you guy dumped all your efforts into everything BUT the aesthetic appeal of your games. Is this to secure that market niche? Is it a profitable corner of the market to rule? Do you feel your games are ugly? Not bad, by any means, but just ugly?

Hell, even this forum. It's bare bones, hard to navigate, looks from the 90s, but I'm sure is really functional for you guys. Is function over form a motto for your company?
TagsNo tags attached.



Nov 28, 2016 4:21 am

reporter   ~0045727

1) Aesthetics are subjective, I certainly wouldn't call the games "ugly". Sure, Arcen games don't look like AAA games, and, yes, some of the older titles are kind of an eye-sore if you're used to comparing them to the standard out there on Steam. However, when you consider that they use only their own in-house developed sprites and they don't save money by doing everything in pixel graphics, they start to look better.

As a further upshot, though I've never stopped in an Arcen game to admire the view (as first happened to me with KOTOR II in 2007), the graphics do a very good job of conveying what's going on while also getting out of the way and allowing me to thoroughly enjoy the gameplay.

2) This isn't really a forum, the Arcen games forum is here: This is a bug/issue tracker, and as a developer (web, not games), I feel qualified to tell you that this is a damn fine bug/issue tracker. The UI is barebones, but I see that as a plus in this case. I've used a lot of issue trackers that have too many UI "features" and make it almost impossible to actually navigate or document issues.

Dominus Arbitrationis

Dec 20, 2016 5:51 pm

administrator   ~0045733

I'm very sorry to hear that you don't like the artwork in the games. As sherpajack said, however, aesthetics are subjective, and thus what looks good to one doesn't look good to another. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

That being said, for the site appearance, that is something that we can work on. If you tell me what you think needs to be changed and updated, then I can look into the feasibility of doing that.

This part of the site (Mantis) is actually our bug tracker, which is specifically designed for function over style. Hence the lack of a background and overall very grey color scheme. Adding things to this just make it harder for us to parse the feedback people give, which is not what we want.

For the rest of the site, we do want to have a good looking site that is also functional. As such, if anyone has any ideas on what would improve the site, please don't hesitate to email/PM/tell me on Discord/the forums/any other means of communication.


Jan 8, 2024 7:51 am

reporter   ~0068072

Hello Acren team,

It's been quite a few years since I wrote this and I've never quite forgotten your team's response. I really appreciate the fact that you all took the time to respond and I am sorry about how callous I was in my original post. Now that I am older and at least a little bit more mature, what I meant to say is that the UI and art design of the games when in play is an incredibly distinct almost anachronistic look I couldn't process as a teenager, and now as a young adult, I am still struggling to understand it. I wanted to apologize to you and your hardworking team for coming off as so degrading about your work. I'm still very inarticulate about what it was that I was trying to say, but now I guess that its a sort inf_dev look I suppose? I don't hate your company or your games, I was a very young gamer at the time and still I think there's a certain generational gap that I couldn't look past. The games looked like what my very uneducated self would describe as DOS (never having used DOS), and it was just very distinict and out of place in the gaming landscape at the time. I don't know if there's an "issue" as such other than I am just far too used to a certain modern UI, not strictly triple A, most games I play are indie, but a more, I don't know, end user sort of look? I see the bug tracker is very different now. It looks much cleaner (to me) than I remember it. Anyway, I'm sorry for any offense I caused those years ago. I have no doubt Blue is a very talented artist. God bless the Acren team.


Jan 8, 2024 9:49 am

administrator   ~0068073

Cheers, thanks for taking the time to come back by and leave an update. I am struggling a bit with exactly what to say, because I don't want to accidentally come off patronizing. So I think the best thing for me to say is: I get it, and we've all been there. Saying something we regret in some fashion, even if there's an underlying truth to how we feel about what we said.

Most of the games with the anachronistic UIs and visuals are things that were meant to be along the lines of "what if PC 2D development had continued into the future, rather than everything flipping to 3D?" They also were very much mechanics-first, and then UI-second kinds of games.

It turns out (something I only fully realized in the last four or so years) that when you are designing mechanics, you can't just make whatever UI to deal with those mechanics. The form somewhat follows the function. So if you make something that is incredibly intricate in certain specific ways, the UI is going to be similar. When you have a design like that, then suddenly you have to fit a lot of things in a relatively small amount of space. There are really only so many things you can do when you have a lot of information to put in a small space. Ultimately it's when games start moving towards feeling a bit like Blender (the 3D modeling software), which is a UI I've always despised. We all have out bugbears, you know? In recent years, Blender has gotten an overhaul so its uis are much better and more contextual, but I think they had to fully explore the space they were in first. It was a bit similar with Arcen.

Heart of the Machine is upcoming this year, and our first game where the complexity is not matched by an equally complex UI. The steam screenshots are out of date and not attractive, but here's an example shot. It's still simplistic in some ways, but a lot less cluttered, and probably less anachronistic. Ultimately the other goal is how to show the information you want, at a size people can read, but get it out of the way of the main game view rather than having it take over a third of the screen.

On the subject of the bugtracker, bear in mind this is third-party open source software that is very good at what it does (it doesn't have any peers that allow for the same amount of functionality with people anonymously signing up), and their team did some visual updates in the intervening years. I agree it's much nicer now, but the older version was essentially a programmer/business tool in raw form. I never liked the old look very much, there were other tools with much sexier visuals, but none of them allowed for unlimited user registrations with folks uploading files, let alone some of the other features.

Anyhow, hope that makes some sense, and thanks again for stopping by to leave a kind note.
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Issue History

Date Modified Username Field Change
Oct 29, 2016 6:32 am mememaster New Issue
Nov 28, 2016 4:21 am sherpajack Note Added: 0045727
Dec 20, 2016 5:51 pm Dominus Arbitrationis Internal Weight => Discussion Only
Dec 20, 2016 5:51 pm Dominus Arbitrationis Note Added: 0045733
Dec 20, 2016 5:51 pm Dominus Arbitrationis Assigned To => Chris_McElligottPark
Dec 20, 2016 5:51 pm Dominus Arbitrationis Status new => feedback
Dec 20, 2016 5:51 pm Dominus Arbitrationis Resolution open => not fixable
Jan 8, 2024 7:51 am mememaster Note Added: 0068072
Jan 8, 2024 7:51 am mememaster Status feedback => assigned
Jan 8, 2024 9:49 am Chris_McElligottPark Note Added: 0068073
Jan 8, 2024 9:49 am Chris_McElligottPark File Added: image.png
Jun 26, 2024 8:11 am Dominus Arbitrationis Status assigned => resolved
Jun 26, 2024 8:12 am Dominus Arbitrationis Category Suggestion - Room Ideas/Complaints => Suggestion - General Idea