Below is the official documentation and an example guide for the new custom observer user interfaces, from Blizzard.
Note: To use the custom UI, create a folder called "Interfaces" within your SC2 user documents folder:
Custom Observer Interfaces
The overall goal of the interface was to increase the visibility of the most important information while removing any extraneous and unnecessary visual clutter that is preventing the viewer/observer from having the most optimal experience. We found that the bottom 1/3 of the screen was more or less “wasted space” that, for the most part, is basically covered up by tournaments or streamers anyway. By allowing the bottom 1/3 of the screen to only display information when there’s something to be displayed in the first-place, we allow a much more unobstructed viewing experience. Additionally, we felt that by allowing a number of elements to be toggled on and off, the viewer/observer can tailor the viewing experience to best-suit their own needs. We also wanted to help smaller, grass-roots tournaments which might not be able to afford external overlay software the ability to display information such as the win-loss count in a best-of series, team logos/player images, player bios and information, or even the logo of their tournament built completely into the interface. While this is only the first push for a more fully-integrated approach, we will be working on additional exciting features to help push the custom observer interface system to the next level.
Finally, we know that for many of you, your primary mode of watching tournaments is through tablets or mobile devices where the resolution may not be the greatest. With this in mind we’ve made sure to make all text and all values much bigger throughout all of our different interface options. We believe that this will allow you to obtain all of the necessary information that you could ever need even on lower stream quality settings.
With the release of HoTS, we have created three different choices of Interfaces to choose from based on your own individual needs.
For the HoTS launch event interface, we wanted to try a new approach for displaying what is happening in the game to the viewer/observer. With this in mind we decided to break up the interface to have each player essentially “own” a side of the screen. By allowing this split we feel as though there’s an extremely clear delineation and separation between who is doing what. We feel as though this is an interesting way of presenting the information to the viewer and encourage you to try it out and let us know how you feel about it.
While we’re excited to give the community a different way of displaying the information, we understand that it may not be for everyone. The re-skinned interface is the interface which is closest to the normal, default interface. The only changes we have made beyond removing the un-necessary interface elements, has been to re-skin the existing interface and make text larger and easier to read.
Finally, we have a third direction we’re pursuing for our custom observer interface setup. This is what we’re calling our “Super Minimal” interface. A number of changes from the traditional interface are present within this version, and we’d like to explain the decisions that were made with this interface.
- No Minerals or Gas: After viewing countless tournaments, we feel as though there really isn’t any actual need to have the minerals and gas constantly displayed. It may seem very weird at first, but if you think about it, very rarely do the vast majority of players actually look at the minerals and gas. Most of the time we only actually notice it when a caster points it out. Resources can still be brought up by pressing “R” which will bring up the default resources leader panel. We feel as though Supply is the most important information here, which is why we have displayed prominently next to each player’s name.
- No Multiple Select: We feel as though the main time that this is important is when a caster or observer has multiple units selected and we can see that a number of the selected units are very low on health. With unit health bars we feel as though this negates needing to display this information.
- Upgrades not shown: We feel that with the availability of the new Upgrades Panel (G), that displaying this information all of the time is unnecessary and potentially redundant. By removing this information, we are also allowing for the UnitInfoPanel to occupy less screen real-estate and provide a more optimal viewing experience.
- Queued Units not shown: Beside being a bad way to play in general and reinforcing negative habits, we felt as though this provided no benefit to the viewer beyond knowing that a person has additional queued units that won’t be available for use for quite some time. This also helps to save the amount of space that is required for the UnitInfoPanel. We have however displayed both active queues if a production facility with a reactor is producing two units at the same time.
- Leader panels along the bottom-middle: After looking at a number of professional sports casts and analyzing their use of screen real-estate, we noticed that many of these organizations were utilizing the very bottom of the screen to display additional information. While it is still displayed on the screen, we feel that this is a more optimal location which keeps the primary view of the battlefield un-obscured.
- Score “numbers” rather than “pips”: While the score pips present the number of wins in a new and cool way, in order to best utilize space while adhering to the “minimal” theme of this interface, we felt that numbers denoting wins would be the most appropriate for the scores.
- Removing the portrait and abilities command card: We have noticed that the vast majority of tournaments obscure both the portrait panel and unit command card with advertisements or player cameras. With this being the case, we found that there was no need to display this information as it would most likely be covered up.
Again, as was mentioned earlier, this is the first version of a very new way of displaying Starcraft, and may be very different from what you are currently used to. After a number of times watching replays and live games with this interface though, it felt as though this was the correct direction to head. While we may push this direction further, by possibly eliminating more elements and further streamlining the experience, we feel as though this is a great first step towards an optimal viewing experience. We really hope that you try this interface out and let us know what you think about it.
Here we have a full breakdown of all of the new features that have been included within the new HoTS Observer Interfaces:
- A: Custom Team Logo toggle (Ctrl + 8/9, Shift + 8/9)
- B: Custom Score toggle (Shift + S. Ctrl + Shift + 5/7 – Best Of 5 or 7. Ctrl + 1-4, Shift + 1-4)
- C: Minerals/Gas toggle (Shift + R)
- D: Observer Shortcuts + Menu + Replay Frame (Shift + O)
- E: Player Bio Frame (Ctrl + Shift + 8/Ctrl + Shift + 9)
- F: Unit Abilities Frame toggle (Ctrl + Shift + A)
- Chat Frame Toggle (Ctrl + Shift + C)
- New Units Lost Toggle (Shift + L)
One additional feature that we are adding to all three of the custom observer interfaces is a new “Units Lost” panel. We believe that the current “Units Lost” panel doesn’t provide anywhere near the amount of information that one would need in order to understand what has occurred in the game. If a zerg player has lost 37 units and 3750 resources worth of units…what does that actually mean? Up until now there has been no way to understand exactly what each player has lost, and will look something like this:
As you can see from the image above, we can clearly see every individual unit type that each player has lost, and exactly how many of those units have been lost. As is mentioned above, this is brought up via Shift + L and can be toggled on and off at any point. Moving forward we will be working on additional improvements that should help improve the entire eSports experience for everyone.
Interface Features Breakdown:
|Required Players||1v1 ONLY*||Any amount||1v1 ONLY*|
|Team Logos||Yes||No Yes|
|Leader Panel Layout||Split + Bottom||Top Left||Bottom Middle|
|Resources Displayed||All – Minerals/Gas Toggleable||All||Only Supply|
|Unit Abilities Toggle Yes||Yes||No|
|New Units Lost Toggle**||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Observer Frame Toggle||Yes||Yes||Yes|
*Note: Please note that the 1v1_Launch and 1v1_Minimal interfaces only support 1 person versus 1 other person. If you attempt to load a replay or observe a live game with another configuration, the interface will not function optimally.
**Note: Please note that this feature will function starting with one of our future patches. Currently if you bring it up, it will display the units that each player has rather than those they have lost.