Cardinal Sin: "Strategic" Zoom

Discussion in 'PA: TITANS: General Discussion' started by bmb, August 25, 2018.

  1. bmb

    bmb Well-Known Member

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    First, listen to Chris Taylor describe the importance of the original Strategic Zoom in Supreme Commander.


    The main takeaway is that when you zoom out, you get a complete overview of everything that is going on. This allows you to deal with many different things going on at once.

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    Now consider the information currently presented to a player who fully zooms out in PA. That's right, absolutely nothing. A player must fully hold in their head the entire knowledge of the star system in order to be able to follow the action and make decisions.

    enemy base.jpg
    Even the concept video in the kickstarter pitch lacks information, but at least shows the location of the enemy base.

    For a game of this scale and scope, I think it is critical that fully zooming out should give you an overview of where your units are, allied units are, enemy units (that you know about) are, etc. This lack of information is a critical oversight, and should be a high priority fix.

    [​IMG]
    Now consider at the planetary level, the information given is very difficult to read. The icons are large, indistinct, and often just appear as an unreadable soup of noise. The most you'll glean from this is the location of the commander since his icon goes on top of everything, and the colour of the unit. One of the more popular mods seems to be a supcom style icon pack, that should be telling.
    The orbital layer is also difficult to use as orbital icons blend in to the surface icons, and selection actions fall through.

    The icons also appear at a proportional zoom distance, meaning they appear too far out, when you already have trouble seeing individual units without, on large planets. And too close, when you can still easily see the units, on small planets. It should be based on absolute zoom instead, so it always appears when you need it. Seems to be a simple fix.

    inconvenient.JPG
    Another critical problem is that zooming from the planetary to the system level, the angle is retained, meaning you get essentially a random orientation in space, and this is very often one which is not convenient for seeing the layout of the system. The camera should automatically orient to give you a good overview of the local gravwell, or the entire system. The more seconds spent battling the sluggish camera the less are spent battling the enemy.

    Another problem of orientation is that because the camera is free in 3D space, just moving around a planet can radically alter your orientation. This is, obviously, disorienting as well. The pole lock option for the camera works against this, but breaks down and becomes difficult to use near the poles, putting you at a disadvantage. Choose your battles... with the camera. It works much better on metal planets, where the laser caps the poles and prevents any action from taking place there. This could be made a rule, but would require remaking all planets and systems to have unpathable polar caps on all planets. It's a drastic measure but I don't have a better solution.

    Because of all of the above, and the unreasonably fast pace of the game for something of this scale, it is a highly disorienting experience that simply puts obstacles in front of the player just to get an overview of the action.
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  2. lulamae

    lulamae Well-Known Member

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    Seems to me that the icon display distance setting, the PIP(s) and the camera anchors give you the tools to address most of these issues. yes?.

    Personally, since I don't have time to appreciate the aesthetics while in game, I set the icons to be visible until I'm up in the unit's face. It's less confusing to me and I need all the help I can get. :)
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  3. bmb

    bmb Well-Known Member

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    They don't.

    What an awful philosophy.
  4. lulamae

    lulamae Well-Known Member

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    No, it just is.
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  5. manlebtnureinmal

    manlebtnureinmal Active Member

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    I don't think this is a very popular mod anymore. I don't know any players who record matches who still use the supcom style icon pack.

    On the other hand, I agree that a lot of the other problems mentioned are true, but I'd argue that many of them are inherent to the spherical maps, multiplanet systems, and presence of orbital in the first place, and cannot be fixed.

    I admit that a vast majority of the current PA community has found a simple "solution" to the multiplanet problem: not playing multi-planet systems at all.

    I do believe that the existence of multiplanet in PA, whilst being the primary draw for many newer players, is also its greatest curse.

    Spherical planets present issues of their own too, of course, but I think a decent percentage of players are able to get used to the camera movement after a few hours of play.

    ______

    I admit that an unlimited amount of picture-in-picture cameras could be useful, but this is currently too computationally expensive for most systems.
    stuart98 likes this.
  6. icycalm

    icycalm Post Master General

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    Multiplanet systems are for team games. That's plain common sense, and whoever still ignores it lacks it.

    There is no technological advance that will allow you to properly play multiplanet systems on your own before scientists find a way to give us superhuman computer-like intelligence, so it is unreasonable to except some game developers to do this.

    In the meantime, you can keep banging your head against the wall, trying to play on 5-planet systems on your own, or whining to people why PA doesn't allow you to do it (PA allows you to, it's your brain that lacks the power), but it's your head that will break, not the wall. Have fun with that then. I'll be playing team games with my clan and laughing at you.
  7. manlebtnureinmal

    manlebtnureinmal Active Member

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    Megabasing ironically fails to take advantage of the reasons why shared armies makes multiplanet systems bearable to play.
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  8. Quitch

    Quitch Post Master General

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    It's used in <1% of games.
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  9. bmb

    bmb Well-Known Member

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    Arguing that the problems don't exist, or should not or could not be solved is not productive. All except the pole lock issue have simple solutions. Workarounds that demand the player to put in extraneous effort just to play the game is basically just telling that player to piss off. And they will.
  10. ledarsi

    ledarsi Post Master General

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    What information should be displayed at the solar system level?

    It seems like we are principally interested in three things; 1) Who controls the planet / asteroid? This could be done with a color platter around the planet, such as 100% control by blue player being a complete blue platter, or 40%/60% blue/red players being shown as a split. A count of units and structures or some other approximation is probably adequate.

    2) We are interested in strategic assets on the planet, such as Halleys, interplanetary nukes, artillery, or other units that can make a difference across planets such as spacecraft. Adding icons for these displayed near the planet in the solar system view would be very helpful.

    3) Teleporters. Surface units can travel to a different planet if there are teleporters so we need to know if a planet is equipped with one or more teleporters and to whom they belong. A teleporter icon or a count would also be helpful.

    Obviously for enemy players the UI should only display strategic weapons and structures that you have scouted.
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  11. billthebluebot

    billthebluebot Active Member

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    for the pole lock thing, you could have an option that disables pole lock when you get within a certain distance of a pole. the option would be a slider, of course. maybe a hotkey to disable/enable pole lock would be good enough.

    In addition to ledarsi's suggestions you could add manual labeling mechanics that allow you to place your own indicators like those seen in the kickstarter. I imagine labeling bases so specifically would be difficult to automate but easy for players.
    Also an Icon for scouted comms that darkens when they leave vision and dissapeers after they haven't been seen for a while would be nice.

    it would be nice if we could somehow filter out superfluous alerts after a certain amount of time has passed. I don't need to know most of the things I get alerted about late game.
  12. exterminans

    exterminans Post Master General

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    Add fabber and factory types present. Want to know if / what T2 production facilities are present.
  13. bmb

    bmb Well-Known Member

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    Personally I'd like to see at least what players have units, that are revealed to you of course, in what proportion or number they have units. As well as what you have said about game enders. Resources, unclaimed and claimed would also be nice.
    The idea if a tier 2 indicator isn't bad either.

    Just anything more than nothing is fine honestly.
  14. tatsujb

    tatsujb Post Master General

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    something should be done about that :rolleyes:
  15. RaTcHeT302

    RaTcHeT302 Guest

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    i don't like the unit clusterfuck, and if it was up to me, i would move on from the planet stuff, but, these are the only solutions i could think of right now

    you guys are just lazy
    Last edited by a moderator: September 4, 2018
  16. mwreynolds

    mwreynolds Well-Known Member

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    There was something a little like that in supcom2, with the automatic grouping of units close together showing the number of units there.
    It was be nice feature to have something similar, and then the icons turn off as you zoom out but the number of units there remain.
    [​IMG]
    Last edited: September 5, 2018
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  17. grandhomie

    grandhomie Active Member

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    I play every game (single planet) zoomed out at the planet level so I can see everything that's going on on that side of the planet. I find it pretty clear, maybe highlighting key elements (enemy's when you have vision or mine) would be good: nuke, anti nuke, big concentration of static defenses.

    I agree that the planet menu could get some love to highlight what we know so far on each planet.

    I couldn't disagree more. The "planet stuff" is one of the thing that makes PA great.
    manlebtnureinmal likes this.
  18. w33dkingca

    w33dkingca Active Member

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    I had an idea for multiplanet, using camera anchors and having the camera orientation save to the last used anchor before moving to anchor 2-3 etc. navigating a single planet without camera changing orientation and without the need for pole lock and blocked poles is easily done using this method and macro micro can flow as one, of course some orientation will be needed but no where near as time consuming or confusing as control groups when it comes to re adjusting. Also when quickly switching between planets your always jumping back to where you were previously on that planet with no need to keep setting camera anchors, which is the slowest way compared to just hovering over the planet icons, which by the way is a good way of seeking intel on other planets as hovering over the icon creates a small pip for that planet.

    What if just like anchors you have a set of keys setup to directly switch between specific planets, no change in camera orientation, no need to flick between a few planets to go to the one you want, no need to hover the mouse over the planet icons to change, saving time.

    Back to the mini PiP.
    Quitch suggested it before and I shot it down (woe is me) but this idea grew on me, you could set the little pip to stay focused on screen instead of main pip which is more adequate id find.

    No planets only flat maps, This game isn't "Annihilation:Titans"

    The idea of circles to represent units on a planet. As players we need to be able to see each individual icon to properly manage our forces, if the intel were to show on non focused bodies (every planet your not looking at) it wouldn't be bad, when on a planet every icon at the maximum distance is key, you need to know where things are, like fabbers etc. I don't see how it would really help your game at all though, given we need icons as far out as we can get without loosing focus and that most of what you see of planet wont be seen it will be of ne real use as flicking between planets and keep log on forces etc. is still going to be more effective.
  19. n00n

    n00n Active Member

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    Personaly I've no issue zooming in and out, spinning and panning arround (highly recomend using hotkeys for this). I don't use it myself but because it's not been mentioned yet I wanted to make sure you'll were aware of the UberMap mod.
    [​IMG]

    The Expanded Hotkeys mod add this functionality.

    The alerts are fully modable, so get to work (at lease write up exactly how you think it should work so others can consider making it for you). ;)
  20. n00n

    n00n Active Member

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    This is not true at all. You have incorect assumptions on the purpose of the celestial view. It shows whether there are currently traveling interplanetary units, nukes or halleys traveling betwean planets & collision courses.

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