Unofficial "Official" GUI Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Planetary Annihilation General Discussion' started by Culverin, September 29, 2013.

  1. Culverin

    Culverin Post Master General

    Likes Received:
    3D is more complex than 2D.
    The UI needs to be smarter to compensate.


    Mavor said the goal is 1 Million Units.
    To manage that many, across multiple planets and multiple fronts, PA will need a very smart and powerful GUI.

    These are pretty lofty goals.
    We must take the best of the best from every industry, not just video games.
    This means a synthesis between Graphics software, 3D modelling software, eSports announcer tools, and tools from games with complicated game economy and asset management (Sins of the a Solar Empire, Civilization, EVE Online?).

    A good GUI should achieve 2 primary goals:

    1. Intuitive. (it should all "make sense")
    2. Fluid, not intrusive. (The less clicks and movement of the mouse and keyboard the better).
    This can be achieved by following the 4 'C's in GUI Design.
    Control, Conveyance, Continuity and Context
    Click here for a detailed description

    The following list is now outdated.

    Please see link above.

    *** Features ***

    [SUGGESTION] Pause button
    [SUGGESTION] Tool Panels ~ Can "hide" when not in use. (Similar to Supreme Commander)
    [SUGGESTION] Tool Panels ~ Can be "unlocked", dragged on the fly, mid game.
    [SUGGESTION] Tool Panels ~ Snap to corners, edges of "windows" on the fly.
    [SUGGESTION] Tool Panels ~ Duplicated onto different windows.
    [SUGGESTION] Tool Panels ~ Configuration saved to external file (to be shared).

    Gameplay HUD (Heads-Up-Display)
    [IMPLEMENTED] Zoom support (extensive strategic zoom, etc): #1 #2
    [UNCONFIRMED] Mouse-panning as per here: #1
    [IMPLEMENTED] Strategic Icons
    [SUGGESTION] HUD ~ Info Panel Size slider #1
    [SUGGESTION] Planet Key ~ 1-click jump to planet. (Ordered from Sun-to-outer planets.)
    [SUGGESTION] Planet Key ~ Planet composition on mouse-over. (# of Metal spots, Diameter, Water %, Land %)
    [SUGGESTION] Strategic Icons ~ Commander is always on top.
    [SUGGESTION] Strategic Icons ~ Toggle for "Always render strategic icons" (even at non-Strategic zoom).
    [SUGGESTION] Strategic Icons ~ Size slider.
    [SUGGESTION] Strategic Icons ~ Selected units have a highlighted Strategic Icon. Currently user does is unaware of selected units. (Similar to SupCom).
    [SUGGESTION] Strategic Icons ~ Factory, Build Queue, Construction Panel to display Strategic Icon overlay in unit portrait. (Similar to SupCom mod: GAZ UI). #1
    [IMPLEMENTED] Unit Information Panel ~ On mouse-over of completed unit.
    [SUGGESTION] Unit Information Panel ~ On mouse-over of Build Panel.
    [IMPLEMENTED] Unit Information Panel ~ Unit type name.
    [SUGGESTION] Unit Information Panel ~ Unit HP (Current/Max.).
    [SUGGESTION] Unit Information Panel ~ Unit HP regen.
    [SUGGESTION] Unit Information Panel ~ Economy Income/Drain/Storage
    [SUGGESTION] Production Manager (Similar to summary list in a Starcraft 2 replay as per here.
    [SUGGESTION] Navigation ~ View Orb (From Revit/AutoCAD)
    [SUGGESTION] Navigation ~ Star System Map. 1 Click jump between different celestial bodies. Best-case scenario is if Uber can find a way to tie this to the window-in-window system so the Star System Map is live.
    [SUGGESTION] Navigation ~ Latitude/Longitude Grid in both Planetary and Star System View. Labeled so we can use it in conversation. Ex. "Boats in C5 need to die".
    [SUGGESTION] Navigation ~ Spindwards/Counterspinwise and Solar North/Solar South Grid in Star System View (can be toggled of course)
    [SUGGESTION] View Control ~ Pan Speed ~ Slider
    [SUGGESTION] View Control ~ Pan Speed ~ Acceleration slider (With option of 1:1 for zero for precision)
    [SUGGESTION] View Control ~ Strategic zoom ~ Acceleration slider (With option of 1:1 for zero for absolute precision)
    [SUGGESTION] Diplomacy ~ Make/Break Alliance
    [SUGGESTION] Diplomacy ~ Share Energy/Metal/Units
    [IMPLEMENTED] Economy Panel (Showing Income, Drain and Max Storage)
    [SUGGESTION] Economy Overlay, per unit/Building. (Similar to SupCom)
    [SUGGESTION] Smarter Economy Panel. #1
    [SUGGESTION] Economy ~ Display the max Metal and Energy drain possible with all factories and fabricators allowing you to see if you're at risk of stalling or if you can ramp production.
    [SUGGESTION] Show lifebar on buildings. (On less than full health) (toggle)
    [SUGGESTION] Show lifebar on buildings (enemy). (On less than full health) (toggle)
    [SUGGESTION] Show lifebar on units. (toggle) (On less than full health)
    [SUGGESTION] Show lifebar on units (enemy). (On less than full health) (toggle)
    [[SUGGESTION] Display color toggle for player alliance (True colors and Ally/Enemy) (Similar to SupCom)
    [SUGGESTION] Celestial Body Orbit Path to be displayed in Solar System view. (toggle)
    [SUGGESTION] Celestial Body Orbit Path ~ Estimated Collision point to be displayed in both Planetary and Solar System view. #1 (toggle)

    Game Summary Panel (Similar to Score Bar in SupCom)
    [SUGGESTION] Game clock/Timer
    [SUGGESTION] Game speed (Sim speed/Current)
    [SUGGESTION] Unit count/Unit Cap
    [SUGGESTION] Players List/In-Game Score/Ladder Ranking
    Last edited: October 19, 2013
  2. Culverin

    Culverin Post Master General

    Likes Received:
    Units (Information/Selection/Orders)
    [IMPLEMENTED] Order queueing: #1
    [SUGGESTION] Orders/Selection ~ Contextual selection. Drag-from-Left selection box = Attacking units only. Drag-from-Right = Production units only. Commander can be selected by both methods.
    [UNCONFIRMED] Orders/Selection ~ Adding orders to the beginning of the order queue (see here): #1
    [SUGGESTION] Orders ~ Show "ETA" of to complete order (move, specific patrol waypoints, time to complete building production. (Similar to SupCom)
    [IMPLEMENTED] Orders/Selection ~ Control Groups (Similar to Starcraft 2 and SupCom)
    [SUGGESTION] Control Groups Panel ~ Dedicated Commander panel, with health bar. Right click to zoom-to. (similar to SupCom).
    [SUGGESTION] Control Groups Panel ~ Control Groups. Left Click to Select. Right click to zoom-to and cycle through units. (similar to SupCom).
    [SUGGESTION] Control Groups Panel ~ Idle fabbers. Left Click to Select all visible on screen. Right click to select, zoom-to and cycle through idle fabbers. (similar to SupCom).
    [SUGGESTION] Control Groups Panel ~ Idle factories. Left Click to Select all visible on screen. Right click to select, zoom-to and cycle through idle fabbers. (similar to SupCom).
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Units/Structures ~ Separate Econ, Unit class and tier.
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Units ~ Infinite Loop button (Similar to Supreme Commander)
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Units ~ "Right click" to subtract current "in-production" and stop production.
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Units ~ Build queue template.
    [IMPLEMENTED] Building/Production ~ Structures ~ Auto align.
    [UNCONFIRMED] Building/Production ~ Structures ~ Build Templates (see also here for more automated construction): #1
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Structures ~ Build Templates (can be rotated)
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Structures ~ Orange glowing arrows in ghost overlay to show exit ramp directions.
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Floating Overlay, cycle through building options via shortcuts. (Similar to Zulan's Hotbuild for SupCom) #1
    [SUGGESTION] Drag/Drop for Move/Delete of waypoint/Orders (Ex. Cancel build, cancel attack, change reclaim target, change move destination)
    [SUGGESTION] Skinny waypoint lines. Currently too obtrusive. (Similar to Starcraft 2)
    [SUGGESTION] Color coded waypoint lines, move (green), attack (red) and build (blue) (Similar to Starcraft 2) #1
    [SUGGESTION] Custom formations, see e.g. here
    [SUGGESTION] Ferrying controls for transports (automated, modifiable waypoints, can be assisted) (Similar to Supreme Commander).
    [SUGGESTION] Range Rings on selected units. (Radar, Sight, Primary weapon, Secondary weapon.) (Each has an Optional toggle).

    Events Notification
    [SUGGESTION] User-defined notification units/buildings (ex. Tag an in-production building to flag notification when complete).
    [SUGGESTION] Link to select "X-Unit" under attack.
    [SUGGESTION] Link to jump "Current Window" to notified area. (Do not select unit, do not track)
    [SUGGESTION] Link to "New Window", jump camera to notified area. (Do not select unit, do not track)
    [SUGGESTION] Notify on ~ Building under attack.
    [SUGGESTION] Notify on ~ Commander under attack.
    [SUGGESTION] Notify on ~ Celestial body changes orbit.
    [SUGGESTION] Notify on ~ Nuclear launch.

    [SUGGESTION] Map marker (temporary pings). (Similar to F5-57 keys in SupCom)
    [SUGGESTION] Map marker ~ Persistent text message (Similar to F8 key in SupCom)
    [SUGGESTION] Drawing on the map.

    2-Way Functionality
    [SUGGESTION] Unit production queues can be modified via Production Manager (see above).

    Keyboard Shortcuts
    [SUGGESTION] Fully rebindable keys.
    [SUGGESTION] Key bindings can be accessed/changed in Options Menu.
    [SUGGESTION] Key bindings are stored in a file to share and load.
    [SUGGESTION] All units/buildings to have keyboard shortcut.
    [SUGGESTION] "Playing" keys to be focused on "left hand" keys.
    [SUGGESTION] "Viewing" keys to be focus on "right hand" keys.
    [SUGGESTION] +/- keys for adjusting game speed.
    [SUGGESTION] Unit selection shortcuts. Ex. CTRL+B for bombers. (Including: All, all of the same type, Commander, Bots, Vehicles, Fighters, Bombers, Naval, Orbit, etc.).

    Simulation View (Camera/eSports/Replay/Chronocam)
    [IMPLEMENTED] Cinematic camera (for observing, replays, or making machinima) #1
    [SUGGESTION] Reclaim counter.
    [SUGGESTION] Free look (Similar to Supreme Commander "Space bar")
    [SUGGESTION] Free look with smooth zoom. (Similar to Supreme Commander)

    [SUGGESTION] Remove default cursor glow/ping. It should only glow when awaiting for player to complete a noun-verb-target command (Select unit, click attack from Order Panel, select target).
    [SUGGESTION] Remove "left click" glow on click. It confuses player to thinking order was issued.
    [SUGGESTION] Metal Spots highlighted by default.
    [SUGGESTION] Building/Production ~ Structures ~ "Click+Drag" for line of structures (Similar to Supreme Commander)

    - - -

    About me:

    I'm a 3D CAD modeler. I model structures and processes in complex industrial buildings.
    I am literally staring at 3D modelling software for 40+ hours a week.
    I understand powerful 2-way features in software, it's pretty much expected from the software I work with.
    I'm hoping that is something I can help bring to the table.

    Here's is the latest mock-up.

    I'm still in total brainstorming mode, I'm hoping you guys will be able to come up with ideas.
    I think if the interface is good, then it will be powerful and intelligent and won't get in the way of strategy and fun.

    I believe the more ideas we can drum up, the better we'll be able to help out the guys at Uber.

    I'm excited to hear what you guys have to say!
    Last edited: October 19, 2013
    brianpurkiss, Quitch, tatsujb and 4 others like this.
  3. thepilot

    thepilot Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    Feedback when selecting unit. No, a thin blue square only visible when zoomed in is not enough.

    keys for selecting air/land/naval/orbitals/ACU only.

    Better categories for the building menu :
    Economy | Land | Air | Naval | Orbital | Defense | Attack (separated with spacing)
    and tabs with "normal", "advanced".

    The current layout doesn't make much sense. I want to be able to build a pgen and a factory in 2 clicks, not 4 or by having to look in a enormous build bar at T2.
    kalherine and Culverin like this.
  4. Culverin

    Culverin Post Master General

    Likes Received:
    1. Unit Selection Feedback?
    Can you please elaborate on your first comment?

    2. Keys for selecting types.
    Do you mean shortcut keys/filters?
    How would you like this to work?

    3. Tabs with "Normal" and "Advanced" in build menu.
    Am I correct that this is when you have both a T1 and a T2 fabber selected?
    Otherwise you have just 1 tech type?
  5. rgturner244

    rgturner244 Member

    Likes Received:
    EDIT: my bad
    Last edited: September 30, 2013
  6. thepilot

    thepilot Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    1. It's impossible to see which units are selected or not when zoomed out. I don't care how they fix it, but it need a fix.

    2. Like FA : ctrl-A/L/N (and probably here, ctrl-O). Customizable of course, and probably customizable with filters (ctrl-B for bombers, ctrl-T for transport, ....)

    3. Yes. I don't see any use to the current tabs. It's too slow to navigate between these tabs.
    They are not separation between categories inside a single tab, making them, well, a mess.
    Culverin and kalherine like this.
  7. kalherine

    kalherine Active Member

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    +1 exactly zep
  8. darac

    darac Active Member

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    Suggestion: Display the max Metal and Energy drain possible with all factories and fabricators allowing you to see if you're at risk of stalling or if you can ramp production.
    Culverin likes this.
  9. mkultr4

    mkultr4 Member

    Likes Received:
    1. Addition of command/build queue lines is welcome, but could be enhanced. I like the very skinny aesthetic of the Starcraft 2 lines. I also think they should be color coded for move (green), attack (red) and build (blue?). I realize you can enable/disable the lines, but I like them unobtrusive and always enabled. There could also be an option to have them only enabled for selected units.

    2. Optional game timer
    Last edited: October 1, 2013
  10. dallonf

    dallonf Active Member

    Likes Received:
    The economy panel on the top is totally insufficient at the moment. It's deceptive to new players and teaches them how to lose. It might even trip up a few medium-to-advanced players who aren't paying very close attention.

    More specifically: it oversimplifies the economy to be all about the net income per second. If your net income is positive, it gives you big happy green numbers and tells you everything is good. If your net income is negative, it turns red and angry and tells you that you're doing something wrong.

    If you're asking what's wrong with that, then the UI has already deceived you. There are many cases where a positive net income is not a good thing: namely, when your storage is full and you're wasting resources. Similarly, a negative net income is not necessary bad - you should be dipping into your storage to produce as much as you can, especially in the early game.

    The end result of this is that every player is encouraged to waste resources and subconsciously punished for even touching an entire mechanic of the game (storage). That means that new players will be losing and not knowing why, because the UI tells them that their economic mismanagement is optimal play.

    What do I suggest, then? Suprisingly, very little. Just lay out the economy panel a little bit differently, add an indicator for certain cases, and change the coloring codes:

    PA economy mockup.png
    I seriously can't see past this simple yet fatal flaw in the interface, and if something like this design is not implemented before release, I will have a hard time recommending the game to my friends who are not hardcore RTS gamers.

    Now my crosshairs are focused directly on the completely useless build queue. I'll see you guys next week with more wireframes.

    EDIT: Wow, that's a really melodramatic post, reading it a day later XD. I think the inflammatory language is helpful, though, because this interface has been around since Total Annihilation and any suggestion for change probably needs a bit of a shock factor to shake loose the "it's fine" mentality.
    Last edited: September 30, 2013
  11. mkultr4

    mkultr4 Member

    Likes Received:
    That is an incredibly good suggestion, dallonf. And you essentially just taught me how the economy works. I too was deceived into thinking green was good and red was bad, not taking storage into consideration whatsoever.
  12. darac

    darac Active Member

    Likes Received:
    That sounds bang on dallonf! With an additional sound effect for when you enter a Warning or Overflow state it would help people stay aware of things a lot better too.
  13. SleepWarz

    SleepWarz Active Member

    Likes Received:
    Very good suggestions. This type of stuff should have gotten in during the supreme commander days. I hope the devs take a serious look at this.

    One thing to suggest though, maybe put some more emphasis on the overflow side. Possibly yellow text with some flashing every so often. Excess metal is never a good thing in this game and every effort should be made to communicate what is going on for the newer players.
    Culverin likes this.
  14. smallcpu

    smallcpu Active Member

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    One simple addition to the game that often gets overlooked is loading tool tips. While they often look useless to the average players thy can give invaluable information to new players. (And PA has long enough loading times for them to be easily read.)

    Some examples:

    - Tell them what ctrl+n does
    - Give them pictures how halleys work
    - Explain how wasting mass is bad

    Culverin likes this.
  15. kryovow

    kryovow Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    CTRL - N needs to be standard on. I played now with some clan mates, and nearly none of them read about CTRL+N before the game, but I did luckily.

    the reaction was every time the same:
    mate: "Dont see the metal and I dont know how to play this game"
    me: "press CTRL+N"
    tatsujb, mkultr4 and Culverin like this.
  16. smallcpu

    smallcpu Active Member

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    Same with patrol: "It doesn't work."

    "You need to give multiple patrol orders with shift."

    "One can give multiple order with shift? Cool... but why does a single one still not work?"
  17. Culverin

    Culverin Post Master General

    Likes Received:
    I would consider Game Speed as a gameplay feature and not GUI related.
    Can you add make the suggestion to add it to the main tracker?
    I have added a suggestion to display the Game/Sim Speed beside the clock :)

    I would consider to be gameplay balance mechanic.
    I think you can suggest there is another thread for balance?
    Sorry mate, didn't mean to shut you down.
  18. Culverin

    Culverin Post Master General

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    Thanks for your input! :)
  19. Culverin

    Culverin Post Master General

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    Thanks! :)
  20. Dementiurge

    Dementiurge Post Master General

    Likes Received:
    Some way to select Fabbers and Factories using drag selection.

    There should be no 'Select Everything on the Planet' hotkeys. At least not in team games, if you know what I mean.

    I wonder how many of these features could be modded in...

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