Future of TU Menu or No Menu

So what this is about is the idea of TU (Tower Unite) in the future having a main menu or not, since TU is based of GMT, and gmt never had a menu, and in my opinion the main menu is the main thing that stops TU feeling like GMT, also TU may benefit from getting rid of the menu.
please give your ideas of what should happen with the main menu below (and so you know, by no main menu, i mean loading straight into the lobby, condo or other things such like it, also if you got ideas make sure to remember to still keep a way to have features of the menu somewhere), i will also give a few ideas below.

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So i have 2 main ideas for getting rid of the menu
IDEA 1
you open TU, and just load into the best available lobby automatically (hoping the load times are fast)
then from the TAB / Scoreboard menu you can get to the games, condo and such from there.

however this could be an issue for things like just wanting to quickly go to condo, or workshop and such and what happens if the servers all go down or if they are full?? then a counter measure will need to be put in place. pluss some people may not be able to load into the lobby and such, and without keeping the menu it could be a pain.

IDEA 2
Load into a mini personal server that could work like the main menu but not the same, eg like the inside of a train, and from there you can load into the lobby, open workshop, go to your own condo and such, but you can only be in there when you load in, you cant get back unless you re open TU.
this fixes a few of the issues of first idea and makes the rest of the game feel more connected together, and plus it should load up really quick since you host it kinda like the condo, and also its a tiny map so it should load quick,
then from there issues like changing graphics on load up or going to places can be done easily since it also will allow you to test your graphics in game without having to be in the lobby, it could also be used as a tutorial room for people who first open TU
oh yeah also in this idea the menu will also be put into the scoreboard / tab menu
its just the same idea as number 1, but having an easy room to connect into that will allow you to do other things at first, and lets say if you are in this room, it will see that you are and then put player ghosts at the train spawn in the plaza making it feel like there are more people without flooding the plaza with afk people


also personally i am in favour of no menu, since i feel it takes away a big social factor that a game like TU needs, but in can understand that people may want the menu to stay, so another idea people have is to make it an option to load into the lobby and have no main menu at all or just have a normal main menu and load up to that.

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I’ve already spammed the discord one too many times about this, so I’ll do a brief summary:

  • Convenience shouldn’t need to be sacrificed

However:

  • One of TU’s major issues is overall connectivity/community

So it’s about striking a balance. Personally, I believe systems like the score board can take on the main menu’s function and convenience, and with optimized loading, the menu will then serve no purpose.

Another general thing in this area, all options should be available from all places. For example, currently game world queuing can only be done through the game ports, and server joining can only be done through the main menu. Ideally we’d have a system that can support all options from any location

In terms of how I’d like to see it executed, I do feel a simple auto-join plaza as default would work. Though it would need lots of different fail-safes and whatnot, and some menus should still be accessible even without joining, or if a join fails.

I will say the biggest issue for me is Condos. Game world queuing or server browsing can eventually be done through the scoreboard, and that strikes a good balance of Plaza integration. Condos however, are a tougher case. If they remain easily available from a menu, the Condo area of the map will still be very underused. I haven’t been able to think of a solution that doesn’t compromise convenience.

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I’ve been heavily in favour of keeping the main menu, so I figure I’ll take the time here to list some of my arguments and get a real discussion going.

Here are a few reasons why I personally wouldn’t like if the menu was ditched altogether:

  • Convenience
    Above all else, the main menu is convenient. GMT being a gamemode in a different game with only 2 servers made it much more reasonable to load directly into the plaza. Tower Unite being it’s own individual game with potentially thousands of concurrent players means that it needs to adapt to all these new players’ wants. If some people want to just go ahead and play minigolf, the lack of a menu is going to seriously throw them off. When I first load up the game, I often want to join the plaza, but there are times when all I want to do is play singleplayer Minigolf and grind out some units or exp. If I was forced into the plaza first, honestly I think I’d be less likely to boot up the game at all.

  • Load Times
    While load times are less of an issue now that PAK is the default, they are still pretty long for some people. Additionally, there are people with slower Internet speeds that would prefer to opt out of PAK entirely and stick with slower times whenever they do want to connect to the plaza. If the game automatically connected them to plazas every time they boot up the game, some people could be facing load times of 5,10, even 15 minutes or more. I don’t think it’d be fair to them to force how they start up the game, especially when this could honestly prevent them from booting TU altogether.

  • Server Size / Capacity / Ping
    Another big thing is server size or capacity. As it stands there are a limited number of servers that may or may not get full depending on the time and general activity in the game. However, whenever a server does get full, it slogs. Loading into a server with 40 people on it feels very jittery and things like bowling physics start to mess up, playermodels start teleporting around, etc. All of these issues are on servers that I have <50 ping on too, so imagine if every single server was full at peak hours because of the game automatically loading everyone in. Additionally, what happens when the best server for someone’s location is full? Do we simply connect them to the next closest server? That might work in some cases, but I’ve seen reports from people on this forum that they literally only have 1 or 2 viable servers or else they lag like hell. And if we just assume Pixeltail will get more servers to compensate, how much will operating costs go up?


So now I guess I’ll discuss some solutions I’ve seen pop up on here and on Discord.

  • Mini Personal Server
    If I’m understanding correctly, this’d just be like an interactive meta-game menu where you walk around to pick your starting activity instead of pressing buttons on a menu screen. While it could work, I do think it lacks convenience and purpose. I think the whole reason I’ve seen people want autojoin plaza is so that lobbies get more full, but if you can simply load up Minigolf from this starting zone, what difference does it make? I also think that it’d make sense to be able to rejoin this area when you want to disconnect from the plazas. Where else would you go if you lose connection or need to go AFK?

  • Trial Run
    This, in my opinion, would be kinda reckless. As I’ve said above, I think that fundamentally changing how players connect to others and play the game can open up a lot of issues, including several that nobody could even foresee. If it ends up working very well and all goes according to plan, that’s great and I’m happy to see the changes go through, but if it doesn’t then we would probably have to revert back to the old system. I’m not against doing a trial run, but I think Pixeltail should at least take a lot of time to consider all of the consequences and possibilities, and perhaps test it through a closed beta so they don’t overrun servers or anything.

  • Optional Auto-Join
    I’ve seen this option as well and I think it’s probably the most reasonable way to do it without an entire overhaul. I think a simple option in the Gameplay settings like “Enable Auto-Join Plaza” along with a dropdown menu of which server to automatically join would work. I do however think that there should be failsafes in case for instance, you don’t have Internet, or you’re not in the mood to go to the plaza even though you have it enabled. I think the best way to handle this would be a way to cancel out of plaza loading, but I don’t know if this is possible in Unreal Engine. In any case, I’d be happy if they find a way to implement an auto-join feature without forcing it on everyone.


Phew, well this post ended up being longer than I expected, but I hope I brought up some good points that some of you maybe haven’t considered yet. This is a pretty big topic lately so I’m glad to be having a proper debate on it, and hopefully we can come up with a great solution together :slight_smile:

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I pretty much agree with all of that. The big things that need to change are servers need to be more stable, and loading could be optimized a tad. I don’t think the menu should be shifted in-game until those goals are met, or another workaround is discovered.

EDIT: Also, I think the goal should definitely be making joining the game from the plaza equally simple and convenient as using the menu. That’s the end game.

3 Likes

^big thanks to M2 for bringing over a bunch of points said in the discord, they deserve a like so give em one

i want to say that although this thread is talking about the idea of removing the menu
that in my mind i see that if the menu was ever removed or whatever, it will be ages away
there are a bunch of things that would need to be done first

  • the endless gameworlds would need to be finished off since having to rejoin the plaza and such would be a pain when you are grinding games
  • a mini menu to join a different gameworld would have to be made and possibly added into endless gameworlds
  • again, even faster load times would be a godsend for this
  • player ghosts would be a desirable thing to also be fixed and working with this
  • a easy way to get to other things such as the workshop menu and such
  • how the gameworld / lobby / condo menus will probably need a giant rework (idk though since im not a programmer)

i think in the end it should come down to a giant community vote (that is if it ever became close to happening, not that it will by the looks of it at the moment, in the plans / trello that the community have heard or seen that is)
but even if there were lets say 15% of people against it, things will need to be put in place to still keep them happy since that still is a lot of players.

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I think I’ve said this on the discord server before but I’ll post it here anyway, but I think a good way to keep the convenience of the main menu while also making the plaza more social would be to keep a simpler version of the main menu and have the tab menu do everything the current one does.

So, you could choose to spawn in either the Gameworld ports, plaza, or your condo and be able to change settings without having to join the plaza and possibly fry your PC, and the tab menu would be for changing playermodel/hats, fast travel, and other stuff.

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I agree. At the very least, the main menu being removed shouldn’t even be a possibility until those issues are sorted out. It seems like the devs are trying to improve them a bit more by shrinking the plaza and fixing up networking issues with workshop, but I’m sure there’s still a lot more to be done before load times and server stability are good enough.

Yeah, joining gameworlds from the plaza should be more convenient, but I don’t know how they could make it more convenient than pressing a button haha.

I do agree that a lot of these would be nice to have done before any real changes are made. I think the hardest part honestly would be how you jump from one part of the game to the next. If all server jumps were made from the pause menu or scoreboard I could see it working, but what do you do when you’re just taking a break?

A vote would be great, but ultimately I still trust Pixeltail to pick the most feasible option. I’m sure if it was polled, the issue would be much more split than 85% vs 15% though. Regardless of which option wins, I’m sure that a good portion of the fanbase won’t be happy. (Hell, just look at what happens during the more divisive polls in Oldschool Runescape :stuck_out_tongue: )

Making the main menu simpler could work, but it seems like the main thing here is to cut out hosting gameworlds from the main menu. I’m all for getting more people to go to the ports, but then there’s the issue of not having Internet, or having bad connection to the ports. Players should still have the option to play things singleplayer if joining the gameworld ports aren’t available for them.

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Hosting a singleplayer condo/gameworld match still needs an internet connection, though. Whenever I try to start a singleplayer game or enter my condo without internet I get a connection error.

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Is that so? Regardless, that doesn’t solve the case for if somebody can’t connect to the gameworld ports for other reasons like horrible ping. In those cases, even if they can connect to the ports, it’s going to be very difficult for them to actually find a match with good ping.

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Oh boy, big opinion time, but rightfully so. Taking a lot of control that players already have away is a divisive plan. So, if the idea obviously pisses a lot of people off and puts limitations on player freedom, why do it? Most classic GMT players will probably understand and be more receptive, but for everyone else who feels 100% different, you REALLY had to have been there (Reunion doesn’t even come close.) Community centralization may sound insignificant, but it is not. Behind early access-related issues like the amount of content, bugs and optimization, this is probably the #1 criticism I see against TU.


lmao I legit did a quick MSpaint doodle of this very idea forever ago when I was planning on making this exact thread, but got lazy. 100% in favor of this at least. Regardless of what they do, I feel like the main menu needs some major consolidation and flavoring:

To reiterate, I’m not explicitly for or against the idea of funneling people into a lobby first atm, but that depends on how other already implemented and planned features pan out. The performance boost from the PAK is one thing that’s pushed me further in that direction. If done right, I’d totally be for it, but there are A LOT of factors that need to be considered:

I believe there should still be AT LEAST one menu buffer before forcing lobby connection and initialization.
I accidentally launch TU all the fucking time because I’m not paying attention to order of recently launched games on this window when you click Steam’s tray icon. God forbid someone who doesn’t use the PAK accidentally launch the game and have to wait several minutes to close the game proper.
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And corresponding to my doodle, here’s a list of things that I REALLY don’t want to have to wait to load into the plaza to deal with:

  • Game settings: Players shouldn’t be forced into a multiplayer environment (even as inconsequential as the lobby) without having the chance to first adjust their graphics, controls, and content restrictions. Consider a scenario where someone accidentally turned their graphics setting too high and their game/windows/computer crashed, so going straight to the lobby just grinds their system to a halt every time.
  • Appearance: Players should get a chance to tune-up their appearance before pushed into an environment where they’re virtually presenting themselves.
  • Workshop: See below.

Workshop contributors don’t need to jump through even more hoop to test models.
I’ve already outlined some annoyances with how many things stand in the way of effectively testing workshop playermodels. I would absolutely detest “having to go through the lobby just to connect to certain modes in order to test how a model behaves” being piled onto this list.

Gameworlds are no longer limited to just one officially hosted server per mode.
Back in GMT, there was a very obvious practical reason for going through the lobby and having to queue up for games and wait; there were limited servers for each mode. Now, everything is P2P, so there can be infinite instances of any game mode. The question stands that will forcing people through the lobby really make it that much more active if people are free to play modes as they want still?

It could dent the convenience that Tower Unite has as a casual game.
I feel like this is one of the most overlooked aspects of TU. My circle of online friends is around a dozen-and-a-half, and they’re always coming and going online. As it stands right now, TU is probably one of the easiest PC games for us to play at any given moment. What do I mean? Well, just about every game we play makes it a pain in the ass to get anyone else involved after we already started. TF2’s match making sucks, Mordhau makes it hard to be on the same team, Deep Rock Galactic only allows 4 at a time, any battle royal game will have friends waiting forever to join the next round, but Towers? TU is just boot up and go with almost any amount of people. Coordinating 6-8 people to jump into several games in a row could definitely become cumbersome if this style of play isn’t accounted for.

Lobby 3 needs to be A LOT better before it’s mandatory.
It’s hard to make something more convenient than simply accessing everything from a main menu, so if the plaza is meant to functionally replace it, then it damn-well better be as polished as humanly possible before that rug gets yanked out from under players. That said, improvements to Lobby 3 is a topic that warrants it’s own discussion entirely.

14 Likes

Yeah all this is pretty true
Also I really like the little doodle you did for the menu idea, especially with the workshop which as it is right now feels tucked away in the corner of the screen but with this it makes it feel like feature of the game people should look at and try mess around with
And the easier access to the settings while having the game rendered allows to test the quality you may want

This is a great compromise, I would probably be using this if it became a feature. Usually the first thing I do when I launch Tower anyhow is join the plaza and mess around for a few minutes, and I wouldn’t have a problem sacrificing the convenience of the main menu for the “Immersion” of walking to my destination. It’s just a personal preference, and I completely understand if most others would rather use the main menu.

Auto-join reminds me of how joining old GMT worked (No main menu, always connected to the lobby), and I feel like it’d really allow for that central, “always connected” feeling for those of us who would opt-in to use it.

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Very well said. I definitely understand the feeling you’re alluding to when it comes to the immersion of auto-joining the plaza but it really is situational and everyone is different.

In the end I think this quote sums up the concept of menu vs no menu perfectly. Part of the reason I cited optional autojoin as the most feasible (and my personal favourite solution) is because sacrifices don’t need to be made and individual players can enable/disable it if they change their mind.

A lot of the other suggestions here are viable and could work very well if executed correctly, but they all have the drawback of being permanent. Regardless of how they’re implemented, some people will be unhappy.

I think the major reason that the menu could/should be removed entirely (As opposed to just giving an option to auto-join), is that the entire idea is having the whole community in one place, if people still have the option to ignore it, it’s not really doing that.

I know I’m saying the same thing over and over, but what it really comes down to is making it convenient. Hypothetically, joining a game in this new system would be only one extra button press and click away at most (Plus a few extra seconds loading), which is technically less convenient, but mostly negligible.

I will say I like the menu idea as Niz has proposed it. It reminds me of Club Penguin, just a giant play button, and in this case a few direct features like appearance, units, friends, etc. I hadn’t thought about that aspect too much, but just joining the plaza from boot is definitely a bad idea in my opinion.

Just to quickly address some other things Niz mentioned: I don’t think this will solve the game world issue (Though it may help), but there are other strategies (Mainly a revamped more robust queuing system) in the works. In terms of convenience, again, there should be only negligible change between the current and new systems, if convenience is being dented, I’m against it all together.

Just so this post has a bit more meaning other than repeating the same points, I will say having game worlds not immediately accessible from boot up may be tough in terms of players starting the game for the first time. Though I do think Tower Unite needs more robust tutorials in general. That and the issue I mentioned with Condos are my main concerns for the moment. A lot of this, as people have been saying, depends on how it’s implemented.

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yeah this sketch is really cool

maybe even a cutscene that shows the train coming into the station and your character coming out

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Unfortunately I don’t really see a way that those two goals align. I also happen to really like @Niz’s prototype design aesthetically, but I think you’d have to sacrifice convenience if the only “Play” option there is to connect you to the plaza.

Even if it’s very quick to load into, you’d have to travel to the gameworld ports, find people for matchmaking, and then let the game pick a suitable host. That could never be nearly as convenient as simply hosting your own gameworld and inviting friends or waiting for randoms to join.

I think a lot of people have said to use the tab menu or pause menu as a replacement for the current main menu so that you can access these features directly once you load in. I think that sounds great as a way of making things more accessible from in-game, but I don’t feel like this’ll get more players in plazas. Instead what we’d likely have is a lot more players joining plazas, only to immediately leave and start up a gameworld.


I’d love it if we could find a way to get more players in the plaza while also making everything super easy to access but I can’t think of any way that this happens.

However, on another note, I was also thinking that the plaza should become more populated as more activities are released. We don’t necessarily have to force people to be in the plaza to play the game, but we could very heavily incentivize it as more minigames/events/locations open up. I think it’d be interesting to record and observe how playercounts in the lobbies spike with new updates like the Arcade, Bumper Cars, etc and decide if more drastic changes even need to be made in the first place.

Keep in mind, I just think the main menu needs to be consolidated regardless of whatever approach is taken.

Maybe the big “PLAY” button picks and drops you in a server.

Or maybe it encapsulates all the server or gameworld options that are strewn about on our current main menu. Maybe you click it and the camera angles changes to your character getting ready to step out in the background while you pick the server on a menu in the foreground. I’m just throwing out some speculative polish.

All I know right now is that this is how I feel looking at the current menu.
idiocracy-tv-dvd11

I don’t see why both methods of creating a game can’t co-exist. Put a counter for joining a queue and one that simply opens our current game hosting menu within the lobby. Being able to join separate instances from the plaza/condo is an area that will need improvement anyways.

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Just gonna clear up that I am 100% in on the “scoreboard as menu” idea. If you have to walk to the game ports, or anything like that, obviously that’s not nearly as convenient. Plus, I kinda think the game ports as they currently are should be scrapped (Though I get that’s a tough concept).

On people “joining plazas, only to leave immediately”, that’s fine, if anything, that’s what people should have the freedom to do if they just want to play games. Though I think people just being there is a big change. If you want to go straight to games, you can, but you also have the whole plaza already right in front of you, which makes the choice of “games or plaza” a lot more balanced.

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I am perfectly fine with updating the menu, so apologies if it sounded like I was looking for flaws with your design. If it has a simpler yet better look to it while retaining all the functionality, I’m 100% on board with it.

As for having multiple different ways to access gameworlds, I am also 100% on board with that. My whole point was just that I don’t think removing the option to host gameworlds from the menu is a good idea.

@ScienceBird, just for clarification, I don’t necessarily see the “joining plazas, only to leave immediately” bit as a flaw with putting those options on the scoreboard. Honestly, I do completely agree that it’d be cool if the scoreboard had that functionality. All I was saying is that it doesn’t make sense for that to be the only way of accessing them.

Removing the buttons from the main menu, but keeping them as easily accessible buttons from the plaza just adds an extra step of having to load into the plaza before doing your own thing, which just seems pointless to me. Those who connect only to leave for a gameworld won’t make the plaza feel more lively since they’ll be disconnecting before they even leave the Subway Station.

As Niz said, having both options would be wonderful in my opinion.