Developer diary: plans and progress reports.

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Archive of July 2009

Another beta, and a peek behind the curtain Saturday 18th July 2009

Boxer 0.86 20090718-1 has been released, which fixes a couple of bugs and tweaks some interface strings. This version is also up on the Boxer betacast and will appear as an automatic update for previous betas.

At the same time, I figured some users might be interested in a peek at the iterative rewriting process that Boxer’s interfaces go through.

First, a little background

In the newest 0.86 betas, Boxer will ask you after game installation if you’d like to import the original installation files into your new gamebox. These files then become available to the game as a fake CD-ROM drive. This is necessary for games that still need access to those files after installation: usually, CD-based games that only install part of their total files. Boxer 0.8 and up would already offer to do this after installing from a physical CD: but now Boxer offers to after installing from any installation source, such as a regular folder of files copied from a CD.

Round and round we go

The first released version of the interface for that choice looked like this:

This is unsatisfactory: the window tells you broadly what would happen (the installation files would be imported), but not why you would need to do so, nor what effect this would have on the game.

After a few iterations, it became this:

This is better: the window now specifies why you would choose to import the files (because games that check for a CD will need them), and what effect it would have (the files would become a new CD for the game).

However, the wording is clunky and ambiguous: users could mistakenly think that Boxer would burn a physical CD from those files. The buttons also refer to two separate concepts: “importing” and “making a CD.”

A few more iterations later, and we have this:

Clearer still: the text flows better and does away with the distracting “importing” verb, instead focusing on the more familiar notion of “making a CD.” It also clarifies that the CD will be “fake”, as opposed to a real, physical CD. (This is a sufficient description, as the user doesn’t need to know how Boxer handles fake CDs: just that they won’t need to burn a real one.)

However in the quest for brevity, the text no longer indicates a connection between the fake CD and the game itself. The brevity is also deceptive, since the folder label (“DFCD”) could be much longer and would then wrap to a third line anyway. So we can spend a few more words to clear this up:

This is the final window used by the new 20090718-1 beta. We’ll see how long it lasts before being rewritten again.

Design by 40watt.