Absent direction, here:
5.0.0 First Look badecfa
Big improvement over 0.4.x but not without issues.
Must note porting MT to Android well
is impossible; the paradigms are incompatible. Play is best on a large screen with Razer Tartarus and 104-key Dvorak kbd. Fat-fingering a device the size of a bar coaster will always be bad.
• Irrlicht Bug Resolved
This bug made chat impossible, server commands difficult, and even vanilla singleplayer tough. Workaround required hours of studyup to config... nothing is easy on Android. Buried setting in Hacker's Keyboard to create a permanent notification so kbd can be pulled down and F2 struck to hide chat, plus disabling logging.
I don't care how messy the patch.
• Soft Joystick
The new stick allows diagonal movement. This is more freedom but a mixed blessing. My play style involves a lot of rigid, repetitive movement constrained to orthogonal rows and columns; I don't want to veer off. Someone who wants to explore the jungle may find the freedom a big help.
The new stick may be an improvement but it's presented badly. The default has the stick jumping all over the left 40% of the screen... for me. Naturally the setting to make it fixed
Exposing settings later. Specific to the stick, must allow user choice among fixed, jumping, and old-style arrows.
Controls are a matter of taste: highly subjective but highly important. No point debating why one user loves this control scheme and another hates it. I was so infuriated by the jumping stick I nearly deleted and reinstalled 0.4. Sure a lot of work went into it but if you want to serve the user, let him opt.
• The Boat
This has seen considerable improvement... to the point where it's an important tool and not mere novelty. However weird boat controls interact very badly with new stick.
Rather than force users to swap back to the old stick when sailing, suggest a rethink of boat controls. Let forward be forward always, in the direction character faces; let diagonal stick turn boat and player together in small
increments. This discussion needs to go into detail.
• Health/Breath/Hunger Status
There are several issues with the new status bars, I'm sorry to say... the old bars were nasty funky, looked like a 0.0.1 feature nobody bothered to fix. So about time for a rethink! Sorry it went wrong for Android.
In normal two-handed play, my right thumb covers the entire status area. This is bad when, say, diving for clay. I'm highly experienced and know play so when I drowned in shallows I was ashamed.
Critical indicators must always remain in clear sight. On a shitty pocket screen this may also be a matter of taste so offer choices. Ideally the status area should be draggable anywhere.
Turns out this was all fault of a mod. Base game uses the same old hearts-and-bubbles: no better, no worse.
• Screen Edge
The old stick and new jumping stick are too close to the bottom edge. The new status area isn't merely crammed into a bad corner; a good portion is cut off. Debug HUD is cut off on the right. Not sure how to inform MT of desired... size? resolution? I foresee much fiddly in my future... while common player just shrugs, says it's broken, and uninstalls.
The client gets the correct screen size in pixels; I checked. This is a basic task: you have a hard clip, stay within it. May all the gods forbid a rich kid with a bezelless aircraft carrier be infuriated because you're drawing not only beyond hard clip but also under the rim of his flash Pokécase... and he asks his dad to sue, call his Senator, or order a drone strike. This... coloring off the page... is unacceptable.
Consider leaving the standard Android soft keys onscreen... make this a choice. Make it a choice to allow the notification bar, too.
This is Android... KISS. Page after page of nested configs is useless to all but the most hardnosed user.
Not everyone plays on a tablet bigger than an old ThinkPad. I see main menu text as about 3..4 mm tall; my fingernail covers three lines and some. At least in 5.0.0 I don't have to navigate to buried setting and shrink the whole GUI... to work the even tinier text menus to fix sth else before restoring GUI to play... good that. But the settings are still all but opaque and inaccessible.
Someone needs to take a good hard look. Retain the hierarchy of midget menus; some of us demand full control at any price. But mere mortals expect a set of a half-dozen clear choices to be available under a gear menu. Decide what to offer. Make good choices! And yes, these need to be available ingame. A pregame main menu today smacks of... well, people as old as me.
Flip side of easy config is wise defaults. Indeed choosing defaults is the pinnacle of good programming: Make good choices! Lazy to say let user fix it. But arrogant to fail to offer other choices.
• Formspec Text
Virtually all text is cut off by its bounding box... even short simple buttons like "Proceed". (You want "OK".)
Core devs can't enforce on all mods some standard of terseness but it can be presented and encouraged. That foobar button will never be self-documenting; it must read "Foobar", period... and there must be a standard '(?)' button available at all times for further explanation. (And helpful help text must be written! Not foobar help => "This foobars.")
Shrinking text to fit available area is Bad... but perhaps better than clipping it or letting it run over other formspec elements.
Finally an AUX button so Down can be set independent of sneak! But this puts Down above Up and the overlay makes no sense. Also, enabling button requires thought and knowledge (why would i want...?)
Provide three controls by default but let down be Down, sneak be Sneak (with a simple but distinct icon and not the not-ready-for-prime-time AUX image), and yes let up be Up.
A better approach might be to use
the new soft joystick to provide variable movement speed. The further displaced touch is from center, the faster you go; small displacements sneak while large ones invoke fast. This makes immediate sense to new people and keeps them from asking whiney questions about a feature they don't even know to describe.
Unwise to crowd screen but must provide optional buttons that can be bound in minetest.conf. Such binding can't interfere with Android control binding. See example use case https://github.com/minetest-mods/technic/issues/472
Yes, this topic has been argued but the other side boils down to We Devs Like Debug HUD. But so long as players vastly outnumber devs... and if there's any desire to expand userbase... it will always be the wrong side.
Nobody argues against debug info. Let that feature remain just as it is. But common users need a user-oriented HUD.
I hacked around with a HUD mod and thought to improve it but... this is inappropriate method. HUD should be a configurable client choice; most users will play on public servers so their personal choice cannot be tied to server admins' mods.
This issue has always applied to all non-dev users but Android makes it urgent. We don't have the real estate to waste on several lines of ciphertext, each cut off just when it gets interesting.
I'd love to prototype a user-centric HUD as a mod and I will do so as soon as someone with pull stands up for sanity and says HUD must be mainstreamed. Otherwise the effort is mere self-amusement.
• And The Other 42 Things...
More could be said but that must be enough. I feel I'm running a modernized game, with significant improvements; issues old and new addressed. But the Android pressure cooker leaves no room for "our way" thinking. If you want to attempt this difficult project you need to think inside