Rig Checking

Concept for heuristic improvement for Escape from Tarkov


Rig Checking is a UI concept to enhance the current experience in Escape from Tarkov's advance
reloading mechanism. Its goals are to:

Check out the mockup.


Escape from Tarkov

Tools Used

I. Introduction

Escaping from Tarkov....

First off, I am a fan of Escape from Tarkov, I've clocked in more than 500 hours and enjoy the gritty and painful realism offered by the game. For those who are not familiar with the game, Escape from Tarkov is a hardcore loot based multiplayer shooter with RPG elements. When players are eliminated in a round, opponents are able to loot their gear, thus raising the stakes of each combat encounter.

How to "Advance Reload"

Since the game is technically still in development, Battlestate Games, the developers behind the game are still introducing new features and improving on existing ones. One said feature is to be able to designate specific magazine/ammunition for specific purposes, this allows the players to prepare their loadout to be more effective when engaging different combat scenarios and give players an upper hand when facing their opponents during gameplay.

This is how the advance reloading mechanism work:

  • Players first tag a magazine by right clicking the magazine they want to label/designate, this could be done prior or during a match in the inventory menu.
  • Contextual dialog window pops up and players can select colors for visibility and enter a desired description.
  • Players can quickly access specified magazines by holding Shift + R + Scrolling mouse wheel

II. The Problem

The introduction of this mechanic increases player agency when it comes to making even more specific decisions when it comes to engaging in-game opponents, yet I can't say for sure that my gameplay experience has improved. After playing around with it more, I was able to pin point why that was the case:

How can I improve the usability of this mechanic by reducing keystroke complexity and making it more visually coherent?

III. Ideation

Inspirations & Synthetization

I proceeded to search for appropriate precedents to guide my concept, looking for ways to quickly access inventory without being overtly intrusive to the gameplay experience. In-game inventory management is nothing new to the industry, a well designed interface shouldn't purely be about accessibility, but also adhere to the vision and message the game is trying to convey.


Escape from Tarkov employs a voice command OSD overlay that could be repurposed for quick item/magazine management.

    Inventory Management

    While serving a separate purpose, Apex Legends' inventory HUD is well designed for rapid visual recognition - great for quick glances during combat.

      IV. Mockup Demonstration

      How to "Rig Check"

      In the case of Escape from Tarkov, the game has a fairly rigid approach to items & equipment. User interface components are often representations of their real life counterparts, so an over-abstraction of the interface can dilute the experience.

      After carefully considering my concerns as a player, inspirations as a designer and the game's vision in the shoes of the game developer, I devised a solution. Introducing, Rig Checking.

      The concept of Rig Checking is a distilled look at how the game allows users to manage their playstyle and inventory. It is not a full inventory check, but rather a rapid glance of what matters.

      It further removes the need to rely on abstractness of the macro/inventory bar and instead introduces a more realistic way of accessing what is in your character's rig compartments.

      Rig Check achieves the following:
      1. Reduced input - Hold "R" and navigate with mouse.
      2 . Inspired by the voice command OSD, rig checking pulls key visual information towards center of focus instead of the abruptness from top-bottom transition.
      3 . Bringing familiar & recognizable interface from the
      inventory menu.
      4. Retains realism.

      Rig interface is directly pulled from inventory, so naturally, players should be familiar with the item placement within. Color tags are also still visible as well for rapid visual acquisition.

      Here is a demonstration if the player has different gear equipped.

      While building the mockup, I realized that "checking the rig" could be useful for accessing non-ammo/magazine type items that are also not assigned to your macro/inventory bar. This could prove useful for consumables and healing items.

      V. After Thoughts

      So there you have it! Rig Checking.

      There are definitely still some kinks to the design, not being able to implement and test it also means that this solution may also introduce unforeseen problems. One thing I know it doesn't address well is the restricted character movement. The concept of rig checking can theoretically free up character's body movement, but instead, the player's freedom to look around is intermittently locked.

      Veteran players may enjoy the original implementation more and argue that, with custom key-binding or macro setting, the problem may be alleviated. While I do recognize this logic, I'd like to point out that at its default state, the feature does require intervention regardless of implemented solution.

      That being said, I personally think that the increased functionality does bring more to the table. I would be more than ecstatic if Battlestate Games can see this and take it into consideration.