Zen mode is interesting. However, the stylized “Z” in the top right disturbs concentration. Since the opposite of “zen mode” is “full mode”, I suggest replacing the current layout with a “F” of “full mode” in the lower right corner.
I love zen mode. It’s just not so zen if there are buttons that appear and disappear under the board (depending if it’s your move or not). I would move those buttons to the side (since vertical resolution is rarity on modern screens…)
Also I wouldn’t make them disappear if they are not needed (just to reappear when the turn changes) Maybe just make them do nothing (not even an error) when they are pressed out of turn (like passing on your opponents turn)
There is also no way to see the timer on zen mode (makes playing blitz impossible without sounds) There must be timers on blitz and live games. Correspondence games don’t need them that much.
I think it is also important to see if there are new messages on the chat. This is problematic to implement since it should blink something to indicate that there is unread chat. Blinking stuff is distracting.
Maybe just blink for few seconds, or for the duration of the current move when the message was typed.
Would it perhaps be possible/make sense to construct Zen mode this way?
Have an invisible border of about 1-2 cm around the board.
As long the mouse pointer is inside the board or the border, all controls, “gauges”, and chat are invisible.
If you move the mouse outside of this area, controls, “gauges”, and chat are gently faded in.
As soon as the mouse comes inside the border area, all controls, “gauges”, and chat are gently faded out again.
For touch devices, fading in/out of controls/“gauges”/chat could be done by tapping outside/inside of that border.
My concern with that suggestion is that zen mode, desirably, centers the board, leaving insufficient space for chat and player information without moving the board. I think the fading controls at the bottom based on mouse location for analysis is a good idea, but I think in zen mode, chat should not be visible at all - as it is set up currently.
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