March232011
Every. Freaking. Time.

Early on, I didn’t realize this traction control setting was not something you set once and it was permanent for all cars in all scenarios so I’d wind up doing worse than I could’ve because it was set to 5 when I thought I had turned it off.

I mean, that’s not such an unreasonable expectation given that other settings in this dialog are like that - the driving line setting, for example, is permanent across all situations, as far as I can tell.

There’s probably some sort of logic to when it sticks and when it doesn’t (A-spec, it sticks per car, but in Special Events, it doesn’t stick across reboots?) but it’s not clearly defined and so you end up either wasting time checking it and being paranoid about it, or you lose races (not exaggerating).

Every. Freaking. Time.

Early on, I didn’t realize this traction control setting was not something you set once and it was permanent for all cars in all scenarios so I’d wind up doing worse than I could’ve because it was set to 5 when I thought I had turned it off.

I mean, that’s not such an unreasonable expectation given that other settings in this dialog are like that - the driving line setting, for example, is permanent across all situations, as far as I can tell.

There’s probably some sort of logic to when it sticks and when it doesn’t (A-spec, it sticks per car, but in Special Events, it doesn’t stick across reboots?) but it’s not clearly defined and so you end up either wasting time checking it and being paranoid about it, or you lose races (not exaggerating).

March152011
Quick, which of these Seasonal Events have I participated in?

Yeah, I can’t tell either.

Quick, which of these Seasonal Events have I participated in?

Yeah, I can’t tell either.

March102011
Taking a step back from all this, I think studying the main career mode menu screen illuminates from where so many of GT5’s interface problems stem. From a cursory glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong, per se. A bunch of menu options to navigate around. Maaaaybe, it’s a little puzzling the direct route from point A to point B. And from “GT Auto”, which is where the “cursor” currently lies, if you hit left, where does it go? Dealerships or used cars? Also, why certain things are differently sized and placed is not particularly obvious.

These are all just symptoms of the underlying problem, one that’s plagued Gran Turismo since it’s early days: it wants to be a computer interface. It’s designed for a mouse. It wants dialog boxes to pop up and alert you of stuff, just like Windows.

But the PS3 controller is not a mouse (the analog stick is a poor substitute, the d-pad not at substitute at all) and the constant incessant dialogs of Windows are annoying too.

This is the Fundamental Error #1 in my book and probably a majority of the specific instances covered here will be attributable to it.

Taking a step back from all this, I think studying the main career mode menu screen illuminates from where so many of GT5’s interface problems stem. From a cursory glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong, per se. A bunch of menu options to navigate around. Maaaaybe, it’s a little puzzling the direct route from point A to point B. And from “GT Auto”, which is where the “cursor” currently lies, if you hit left, where does it go? Dealerships or used cars? Also, why certain things are differently sized and placed is not particularly obvious.

These are all just symptoms of the underlying problem, one that’s plagued Gran Turismo since it’s early days: it wants to be a computer interface. It’s designed for a mouse. It wants dialog boxes to pop up and alert you of stuff, just like Windows.

But the PS3 controller is not a mouse (the analog stick is a poor substitute, the d-pad not at substitute at all) and the constant incessant dialogs of Windows are annoying too.

This is the Fundamental Error #1 in my book and probably a majority of the specific instances covered here will be attributable to it.

March22011
[ The text of the menu item selected reads “Create Thumbnail” ]

I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I suspect when my 1st gen 60GB suffered the YLOD and I had to do a backup/restore to a new unit, that was when I noticed most of my cars no longer had images when I went looking through my garage. I didn’t even realize there was a “Create Thumbnail” option or even a menu at all.

Regardless, and to the the point: Polyphony Digital expects me to manually to through and create thumbnails for all my cars. Individually.

[ The text of the menu item selected reads “Create Thumbnail” ]

I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I suspect when my 1st gen 60GB suffered the YLOD and I had to do a backup/restore to a new unit, that was when I noticed most of my cars no longer had images when I went looking through my garage. I didn’t even realize there was a “Create Thumbnail” option or even a menu at all.

Regardless, and to the the point: Polyphony Digital expects me to manually to through and create thumbnails for all my cars. Individually.

February152011
You would think 1 showstopping modal dialog during the lengthy game load process would be enough, but Polyphony Digital wasn’t satisfied. This is the second, and like the first, there are a couple of different issues at hand here.

First, again, it’s a modal dialog in the middle of the load. The onerousness of the modality would be ameliorated if it had been moved to the end of the load — I mean, really, what is going on during game load it needs me to sign in? Nothing, clearly, since I have the option to decline.

And that gets me to the 2nd issue with this dialog, one that’s not conveyed but this screen shot alone: if you don’t want to sign in, you have to dismiss this dialog three times. Not a typo: three times you have to decline signing in before you can play.

First time is midway through initial game load. If you decline again, it asks again when you finally hit the main menu screen. And if you decline again, it’ll ask you one last time if you enter GT (campaign) mode.

So to summarize: if you want to play GT without signing in, you have to babysit the loading and go through four modal dialogs.

Mitigation: get rid of the 1st and 2nd instances as described; signin should only be prompted when the player is actually going to do something.

You would think 1 showstopping modal dialog during the lengthy game load process would be enough, but Polyphony Digital wasn’t satisfied. This is the second, and like the first, there are a couple of different issues at hand here.

First, again, it’s a modal dialog in the middle of the load. The onerousness of the modality would be ameliorated if it had been moved to the end of the load — I mean, really, what is going on during game load it needs me to sign in? Nothing, clearly, since I have the option to decline.

And that gets me to the 2nd issue with this dialog, one that’s not conveyed but this screen shot alone: if you don’t want to sign in, you have to dismiss this dialog three times. Not a typo: three times you have to decline signing in before you can play.

First time is midway through initial game load. If you decline again, it asks again when you finally hit the main menu screen. And if you decline again, it’ll ask you one last time if you enter GT (campaign) mode.

So to summarize: if you want to play GT without signing in, you have to babysit the loading and go through four modal dialogs.

Mitigation: get rid of the 1st and 2nd instances as described; signin should only be prompted when the player is actually going to do something.

February102011
As this is a blog of problems with the Gran Turismo 5 user experience, it seems most fitting to start with the first problem you run into, one that you encounter before the game is even loaded.

Shortly (maybe 15 seconds or so?) after you launch the game you see this screen. It’s modal, first off - this means that it blocks the interface and nothing will progress until you dismiss this dialog. This use of modal dialog will come up again.

The greater sin, though, is where it occurs and for what. It occurs somewhere in the first half of the game load (measuring to the point where the first menu screen appears). That means you can’t start the game and go get a drink of water and come back to have the game loaded. Instead, it’ll be on this screen, which you then have to dismiss, and then wait another 30 seconds or so for the loading process to complete (actually we’ll come back to this in another post).

And for what? What is so important that the game has to stop itself to warn you like this? Game saves are bad times to interrupt the console. Something every gamer since the dawn of time has known since every single game presents this information. It’s very rare these days that it blocks the interface like this - more commonly, this type of information is presented on the loading screen to read as it’s loading, not in a dialog.

Mitigation: move the dialog to the very end of loading process, or best yet: just present it on screen and not in a dialog.

Update 2011-03-02: Well, that’s interesting. Since the time I posted this, there’s been two updates and in one of them, this modal was removed, it appears.

As this is a blog of problems with the Gran Turismo 5 user experience, it seems most fitting to start with the first problem you run into, one that you encounter before the game is even loaded.

Shortly (maybe 15 seconds or so?) after you launch the game you see this screen. It’s modal, first off - this means that it blocks the interface and nothing will progress until you dismiss this dialog. This use of modal dialog will come up again.

The greater sin, though, is where it occurs and for what. It occurs somewhere in the first half of the game load (measuring to the point where the first menu screen appears). That means you can’t start the game and go get a drink of water and come back to have the game loaded. Instead, it’ll be on this screen, which you then have to dismiss, and then wait another 30 seconds or so for the loading process to complete (actually we’ll come back to this in another post).

And for what? What is so important that the game has to stop itself to warn you like this? Game saves are bad times to interrupt the console. Something every gamer since the dawn of time has known since every single game presents this information. It’s very rare these days that it blocks the interface like this - more commonly, this type of information is presented on the loading screen to read as it’s loading, not in a dialog.

Mitigation: move the dialog to the very end of loading process, or best yet: just present it on screen and not in a dialog.

Update 2011-03-02: Well, that’s interesting. Since the time I posted this, there’s been two updates and in one of them, this modal was removed, it appears.