Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop's user-interface is aging, both due to the incremental approach we've used for making changes and due to changes in how players expect game user interfaces to act in the past 14 years. Therefore, we are redesigning the entirety of Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop's user interface for the 7th anniversary update, with some parts changing more than others.
The interfaces within the game are split between Menus (accessible from the moment the game is opened) and In-Game (accessible while connected to a server). The interfaces are then further divided within those two categories.
The overall goals of the redesign are:
The main menu has, for a long time, been just a list of places away from the main menu that players are encouraged to go. There's a large amount of blank space on the main menu that could be better used to advertise trending workshop addons, new game updates, upcoming unlocks for the player, Heroes of the Interstellar Armed Forces, and maybe some live global stats.
Taking cues from Dota 2, Team Fortress 2, and CS:GO, this screen works best if the buttons players need to click are clearly labelled and in a consistent place (we will be adopting the power button style of exit button, the gear for settings, etc.) and the main content of the screen is interesting to look at but ignorable if you've seen it many times.
Additionally, only a small fraction of players read update notes, so highlighting major updates on the main menu may be a good use of space.
We'll create multiple new looping background videos for the main menu, with the first being an improved version of the current Landing Bay themed one and others being brand new (themed on other campaigns?)
The way the main menu chooses background videos will be moddable, with options to keep or remove the "vanilla" ones and support for multiple mods adding videos without overriding each other.
Loading screens have very little content, and therefore very little to adjust. Changes here are going to mostly relate to when things go wrong - loading screens need the ability to abort loading, and need to be better at telling players what went wrong and why when a player is disconnected.
Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop's settings screens are a mess due to having been added and re-added over the course of multiple decades of Source Engine. The goal for this redesign is to make it closer to what modern multiplayer Source Engine games (CS:GO, Dota 2) use, with everything accessible from one tabbed settings screen with a custom layout and inline previews.
The server browser is completely disconnected from the lobby browser, doesn't give anyone any ability to moderate it, and has some features that have broken over time (such as the tag list). Meanwhile, the lobby browser is hard to navigate, confusing to new players, and uses design cues from Left 4 Dead 2's lobby browser, which was designed to work well on a far-away television screen, whereas AS:RD is generally played on a much closer computer or Steam Deck screen. We've also added a lot of functionality to the lobby list without moving existing things around.
The mission chooser is mostly in a good state already, but could use some minor touch-ups.
We'll be splitting the medals tab out and making it part of inventory management and renaming "Collections" to "Swarmopedia" and the Swarmopedia tab to "Aliens". Additionally, we'll be adding a tab that contains information about obtainable Steam inventory items, a tab that contains information about marines, and a tab that contains general articles that can be about anything (predominantly lore). Apart from the changes to tabs, the Swarmopedia is mostly in a good state already.
The global statistics on the weapon selection screen have been received well by new players, and the web version of the leaderboards is fairly popular. The current in-game representations of leaderboards and achievements, however, need a lot of work, and we don't really have an in-game way of viewing interesting personal or global stats other than the weapon selection screen.
The interface for configuring workshop and manually-installed addons in Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop is the bare minimum and needs to be updated to be more smoothly usable.
The briefing screen was not built with 8 player lobbies, multiple teams, medals, unique weapons, unique marine suits, and so on in mind. There is a very good 8 player lobby redesign on the Workshop, but the author has declined to make it part of the game, preferring to keep creative control over it.
We're going to make a brand new briefing screen that can handle everything the game currently has and hopefully most of what we throw at it in the future.
The ready checks on mission completion are more of an annoyance than anything useful. If possible, it would be interesting to start loading the next mission as soon as it is known for sure and show the debriefing screen during the loading process.
A customizable chat wheel with predefined (and translated!) phrases would not be a bad use of our time.
It might be interesting to set up closed captions (and possibly other messages related to characters) so that they appear closer to who's talking (as an option, of course. the classic style will remain available.)
Warframe has captions for people talking on the side of your screen directly below their portrait and the Dota 2 relic level up UI could make for a good way of displaying marine and alien captions.
The hacking UI is mostly okay. Could use a pass to ensure that controller support is the best it can be.
We might want to consider adding new forms of hacks for use by mappers and challenge authors, such as the rhythm game hack that Warframe's Duviri Paradox update added or the Simon Says hack that Helldivers uses extensively.