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Lt Bull

What were they thinking? I ask again...

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If there is one thing about CMBN that severely affects my ability to address the most fundamental and basic requirements of gameplay which is simply to understand WHERE units are actually locate on the map/battlefield, it would be those @##$ing stupid floating unit icons! They are so counter-productive to what they should really be doing and so incomprehensibly poorly implemented that I just can't let their existence in the game go unexplained by BFC or anyone else. The implementation of these floating icons is so ridiculous, yes I would even say retarded, that I can't help but demand some kind of explanation, any!

I have pointed out my gripe with these damn floating icons before and it seems that I am in no way getting "used" to the way they are implemented in the game. NOTE: I am not saying CMBN should have no icons! (contrary!)

So let me clearly point out again what I believe is one of the most poorly thought out "features" of the game and why it is so damn annoying having to put up with such a portly implemented concept.

A game like CMBN with 3D battlefields WITHOUT some kind of "visual aid" to 1) locate/identify and 2) determine the position of known friendly/enemy units while surveying the battlefield map would make it basically unplayable, so their inclusion is a FUNDAMENTAL concept. If units were NOT highlighted "artificially" by some kind of marker/base/icon on the battlefield, it would be just too easy to lose track of where they all are, mainly because the units will just get lost amongst all the foliage/terrain on the map. A game like this NEEDS some "artificial" marker implementation. This should be of no revelation or surprise to anyone.

So what's the problem with the CMBN icons?

First lets consider a basic/fundamental "check list" of information you would expect any implementation of "artificial markers" should convey to the player. It becomes apparent that they can convey quit a bit of information beyond just location.

1. VISIBILITY: The markers should stand out from the rest of the battlefield. The CMBN markers (icons) for the most part do this (so did the CMx1 base markers). That's not the problem.

2. UNIT INFORMATION: The markers should (though not totally critical to the function) convey "some" information as to the ID/status of the unit it is attached to. The CMBN markers (icons) do this, the CMx1 markers did not. That is not the problem.

3. LOCATION: The marker location on the battlefield should coincide as closely as possible with the actual location (the centre of mass) of the unit on the 3D battlefield landscape so as to provide the player scrolling/panning around the battlefield with easy to interpret accurate positional information relating to exactly WHERE the unit associated to the marker is located. CMx1 however fulfilled this requirement fully and as good as you could expect. The marker was a "base" that actually coincided with the virtual spot on the battlefield surface the unit was located on.

So what do we see in CMBN? For some still yet unexplained reason, BFC decided to virtually "float" the markers (or icons) at some seemingly random/arbitrary distance ABOVE the spot on the battlefield the unit they are attached to exist. The name of the CMBN unit markers alone , "floating icons", indicates just how poorly considered their implementation is in the game. Equally as baffling is that for some as yet unexplained reason, all "?" icons representing unknown/unidentified units DO NOT FLOAT and actually DO appear where you would think would be the IDEAL position to place these icons in the first place, as close as possible to the unit base!!!!?!!! :eek:

WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?

WHY DO THE ICONS HAVE TO FLOAT??????

WHAT IS THE UPSIDE OF FLOATING THE ICONS ABOVE UNITS???

And THIS is the problem I have with the implementation of the CMBN markers, floating icons. They fail so badly at providing the player any quality information related to the LOCATION of units on the battlefield and actually actively work AGAINST the natural intuition of how you would expect these markers to work and behave.

Let me graphically point this out in graphical detail, because what we are talking about here is a visual thing:

Here is screenshot of typical CMBN battlefield perspective playing as the US with the floating markers activated. You can see 7 US unit icons and 3 German icons.

snagprogram0014.png

If the icons DID NOT FLOAT, we would all be quite confident in being able to perceive WHERE all those units represented by the icons are actually located (terrain/cover etc) on that 3D battlefield. However, because they float, the positional information they convey is simply garbled. All you know is that it is "somewhere BELOW the icon".

For example: That left most US icon that is overlayed on some tress. Can anyone really tell where the unit associated with that icon is? Is it:

1) behind those trees the icon is on? 2) under the trees but on the opposite side of the hedge? 3) Under the trees but on this side of the hedge? 4) somewhere else? All those answers would seem correct.

Well it is in the open ground this side of the hedge. And as you can see in the next screenshot the icon is in game floats around 15m above the unit. WHY????????? (see here).

Lets now look at the German units. The left most icon that also is overlaying some trees. Where is the unit located? 1) In those trees just below the icon? 2) In the field below the tree/hedgeline? 3) In the field but along the hedge lining that road? 4) On the hedge line road?

It's actually on the hedge line road. The location of where the unit related to "?" icon however is clear.

Seriously, why must what should be simple to convey/communicate basic spatial information be so ambiguous and difficult to interpret in CMBN??? Why float the freakn icons!!!?????????

And for some reason (which I again beg ANYONE to explain why) BFC decided that unlike other icons the "?" unknown/unidentified icons should NOT float. Why???? If floating them in the first place seemed liked such a good idea to someone at BFC, why not apply it to all icons? What could possibly be the logic behind that??????????

Lets now just see what happens if we were to replace the floating icons with icons that DIDN'T float, just like the "?" don't float.

snagprogram0015.png

The unnecessary ambiguity is gone. It is clear (using the bottom edge of the icon), where on the battlefield the units are located. So why float the freak'n icons in the first place? Just compare the two screenshots. The difference seems trivial, but the implications to what they communicate to the player are huge. And please if ANYONE prefers the first screenshot (the status quo) to the non-floating version, please, let it be known WHY you prefer the icons to float and disagree with what I am saying? How is this better for you?

Who could possibly argue that arbitrarily floating icons above a unit has benefits (name even one!) over just letting the icons reside as close as possible to the location on the ground where the unit is actually located??

But the problems don't just end with looking at/interpreting static screens like these. These "floating icons" are even more confusing when you pan/scroll/ the camera to look around the battlefield.

What the heck is up with not allowing the icons to overlap????!!!

If you pan the camera, the icons will randomly "jostle for position" to prevent themselves from overlapping another icon as if doing so would cause cataclysmic confusion/distress to the player. :rolleyes:

What is so wrong with just letting the icons overlap themselves should the camera happen to be oriented in a way that would result in one icon partially/fully overlapping one that is in the background? As a matter of fact keeping the icons fixed at one position on the battefield and allowing the icons to overlap would even give the player an better idea for the "depth"/spatial separation of the icons.

Here is an example of what would happen if CMBN icons DIDN'T float and DID overlap. How can one NOT say it vastly improves your understanding of what and where things are on the battlefield. Again, if your disagree, please clearly state why.

snagprogram0011.png

This random jostling of icons you see in CMBN again is an inexplicable implementation of a feature that makes a bad situation (floating icons) even worse by actively adds to the spatial confusion/lack of reference presented to the player. Just like the decision made by someone at BFC to "float" the icons, the decision to have them jostle randomly/erratically to avoid overlapping each other is yet again another example of an extremely poorly thought out implementation of a feature that actually is counter productive to what should be the whole point of it's implementation in the first place.

So, for the reasons I have demonstrated and in the absence of ANY reasonable logically explanation for why icons in CMBN were implemented to float in the first place , I just can not see how anyone could argue their persistence in the game/series can be seen as a positive/necessary feature to have in the game, let alone useful!

At this stage here my very humble and simple #1 "easiest to fix/huge improvement in playability" request for CMBN is:

- Make ALL the icons behave like the "?" icons currently do in the game.

I am sure it is just one line of code that needs to be changed. A parameter that defines how many pixels about the action point the icons float. Just set it to zero (or what the "?" are set to).

It is such a shame this game is let down by seemingly poorly conceived design decisions that just frustrate the player and really affects the players ability to just play and enjoy the game.

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God some people are lazy....I cannot believe that with all the things that could be improved in this already fantastic game, you talk about the floating icons!!!!

Fore one, in a folliage heavy game like CMBN, if the icons did not float you would loose your first point. "Visibility" how are you supposed to find a unit say in the middle of a forest if the Icon does not float above the treetops?

If you couldnt guess the germans where along the headge, why dont you just pan the camera over there and have a look! its not even hard work its 2 click of a button!

And dont know what your icons do but my icons float exactly over the middle of the unit.

To be honest I cant think of a way to improve it. it works absoultelly perfectly for me.

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???? You entire post :confused:

God some people are lazy....I cannot believe that with all the things that could be improved in this already fantastic game, you talk about the floating icons!!!!

Lazy???? Are you serious? You think communicating simple information in a game should be a chore to the player? You think needlessly having to pan around the map because the interface/icons just can't tell me where the units are in the first place is of no consequence? What a ridiculous comment you start off with. Please NEVER get in to software/GUI design!

And you can't believe I am talking about these floating icons which I have already pointed out would most likely be a sinch to fix. They are the PRIMARY way of keeping track of what's going on in the freakn game and are essentially critical to providing the player key information.

Fore one, in a folliage heavy game like CMBN, if the icons did not float you would loose your first point. "Visibility" how are you supposed to find a unit say in the middle of a forest if the Icon does not float above the treetops?

:rolleyes: OMG, just like BFC it seems you really haven't thought this one out correctly have you? What are you talking about? You think the only reason you see the icons belonging to units located in trees is becasue the icons "float" above the tree tops!!?? LOl!!! :D The freakn icons (even in their current state) NEVER get obscured by ANY foliage or terrain because they are NOT actual 3D objects/entitites in the game and it simply is impossible to do!! LOL you think that the icons would be "hidden" by the trees if they were at ground leve and so that's why they "float"l!!! Please think about what you are saying, it is nonsense.

If you couldnt guess the germans where along the headge, why dont you just pan the camera over there and have a look! its not even hard work its 2 click of a button!

Another example why you should never consider a job in software/GUI design. What the heck?? You seriously are telling me that I should "guess"? What are you talking about? I not looking at my screen to "guess" where my units are. I am not playing the game to needlessly click/pan/whatever just to make sure I know where units that are already marked (but precisely) are located just because the markers in the game do a bad job of it? Why should I have to?

And dont know what your icons do but my icons float exactly over the middle of the unit.

??? Who is questioning whether the icons float directly OVER the middle of the unit? Not me. Did you actually red my post/look at the examples?

To be honest I cant think of a way to improve it.

To be honest, based on your comments and assessment, I am not surprised.

it works absoultelly perfectly for me.

Try answering/explaining WHY arbitrarily floating icons that don't tell you where units are actually located "work absolutely perfectly" for you. You just like the way you can never really be sure where units are like having to individually check each unit by zooming right in and seeing the actual units themselves??? :rolleyes: I understand some people really are masochists and that's fine, but the majority of us are not.

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Do you really want an answer, or are you just going to line us all up and tell us why our personal opinion is wrong?

I have no real problem with the status quo. If you see that the "string" from the ground to the balloon is the same length for all units you can easily tell from the perspective where the units are.

I would prefer the icons a bit lower and to scale a bit better with distance, but I very rarely have any trouble with things the way they are.

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Maybe they aren't supposed to tell you exactly where the units are located? Maybe it's just a quick reference and when you click the icon the bases light up and tell you exactly where they are? I don't know...I've never had a problem with them and during a good part of my game sessions I turn them off.

I can't give you an answer to why they are better or aren't better all I can say is for me, personally, they have no effect on how I enjoy the game.

Mord.

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Do you really want an answer, or are you just going to line us all up and tell us why our personal opinion is wrong?

I have no real problem with the status quo. If you see that the "string" from the ground to the balloon is the same length for all units you can easily tell from the perspective where the units are.

Except that the "string" isn't always the same length. It certainly isn't when icons are attempting to rearrange themselves to avoid overlap (how could it be?) and I have even seen teams in line-abreast have their icons at different heights when viewed across their line. I've also noticed that when looking at a large cluster of units in the distance, the icons do overlap, to the point of not being able to click on the one that I'm after.

The biggest reason for 'floating' the icons that I can think of is so that you don't have an icon obscuring the unit you're looking at. If icons always superimposed themselves on the terrain view, 'visibility' of the icon in foliage wouln't be an issue.

The reason for not generally allowing the icons to overlap is so that you can easily use them to select the unit they represent.

I would prefer the icons a bit lower and to scale a bit better with distance, but I very rarely have any trouble with things the way they are.

Lower icons that are meant to overlap and which scale with distance would be the ideal compromise for me.

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I seem to recall that the icons float so high because otherwise there would be a technical problem with them randomly being covered by trees. That may be all there is to it.

Best regards,

Thomm

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I seem to recall that the icons float so high because otherwise there would be a technical problem with them randomly being covered by trees. That may be all there is to it.

Best regards,

Thomm

thats what I said but hey, its wrong!

You think needlessly having to pan around the map because the interface/icons just can't tell me where the units are in the first place is of no consequence?

what are you going to pop a vein by clicking on two keys?

Please NEVER get in to software/GUI design!

No need to worry there, Im sure ill do much better with a Comission and a platoon than a mouse and keyboard.

They are the PRIMARY way of keeping track of what's going on in the freakn game and are essentially critical to providing the player key information.

Again, I dont know what kind of Icons you have, but mine do just this.

The freakn icons (even in their current state) NEVER get obscured by ANY foliage or terrain because they are NOT actual 3D objects/entitites in the game and it simply is impossible to do!! LOL you think that the icons would be "hidden" by the trees if they were at ground leve and so that's why they "float"l!!! Please think about what you are saying, it is nonsense.

Again, I dont know what Icons you use but if a tree pops infront of one of MY icons, I cant see it because the folaige block it, it would be MUCH more diffult to control your units if the icons where at ground level.

Another example why you should never consider a job in software/GUI design. What the heck?? You seriously are telling me that I should "guess"? What are you talking about? I not looking at my screen to "guess" where my units are. I am not playing the game to needlessly click/pan/whatever just to make sure I know where units that are already marked (but precisely) are located just because the markers in the game do a bad job of it?

You obviously dont know the context in which the word "guess" was used.

If you bought CMBN I guess you want to play the role of a WWII comander in a realistic environment, dont know why you are so eager to know the exact location instantly of any unit you spot unlike the real situation (which it does give you if you panned around a little, or used the Keyboard to your advantage, you are probably unaware of the shortcuts the keyboard has to moving quickly arround the map). But hey.

Why should I have to?

You dont have to, but you seem to wish to have all information spoon fead to you.

Try answering/explaining WHY arbitrarily floating icons that don't tell you where units are actually located "work absolutely perfectly" for you. You just like the way you can never really be sure where units are like having to individually check each unit by zooming right in and seeing the actual units themselves??? I understand some people really are masochists and that's fine, but the majority of us are not.

All I have to say is, I have never had one single problem with the Icons, I always know where all my units are and have no problem finding them or knowing what type of unit they are. i have adapted to the game as it is, the game should not addapt to you. Maybe its just my mentality but I dont expect things to change just because I dont like them (which I do). All I can do is forward a suggestion in a civic manor to battlefront and hope they change it, instead of ranting about it like a 14 year old crying "its not working!!! why wont it work!!!".

Maybe I shouldnt have called you lazy and kept that opinion of you to myself, ill give you that one. But apart from that you seem to want to go against any civic argument that goes against what you state, and that problem my friend is not mine.

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thats what I said but hey, its wrong!

Took me a while to figure out that you are refering to Lt Bulls comment!

Indeed you are right. Lt Bull is also right that the icons should stay in front of the 3D world at all times, but that simply was not the case. Why, who knows? Making the icons float over the trees solved the problem, whatever it was in the first place.

Best regards,

Thomm

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Lt. Bull,

There is some validity to your criticism. However, in your "fixed" screenshot, you actually use floating icons. If you look at the rightmost US unit, it is clearly in the woods. Your icon is ABOVE the trees. It's floating in the air.

Flotation is required to avoid being submerged beneath foliage and structures. If an icon were fixed to the ground, any intervening foliage/structure would prevent the player from seeing the icon. As the camera position gets closer to the ground, the icon would need to float higher and higher above the intervening obstacle.

U= Unit, O= Obstacle, C= Camera

U______O_______C

If the icon were affixed to the "U" location, the player couldn't see it. Now, you say, "Well, let the player move the camera." Now you've FORCED the player to investigate the battlefield every single turn. Camera positioning would be critical to find the units. You'd only be able to play with a very high angle camera position. That is not a solution.

Despite your seemingly frenzied use of bold (which I try to minimize so I can economize on ink), and exceeding your allotment of both exclamation points and question marks, your criticism has a point. Your solution, as stated, is wrong. Your solution, as pictured, seems better but only for players who zoom out.

Where should the icon be when I zoom into the unit? Should it, eventually, overlay the squad leader's face? Where should it be? Under the base of the squad leader?

I would hope you read my suggestion regarding your solution. Think through every permutation of unit, intervening obstacle, play style, and camera position. Then come up with an algorithm, or just even a rule of thumb, that would work in each of those cases.

My screen's ink cartridge is refilled: I await many bold words. Your supply of "!"s and "?"s are inexhaustable! Are they not? Ruminate, postulate, and fulminate.

How can BF.C make it work better?

Thanks,

Ken

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Part of the problem is the dense trees and foliage. It's almost impossible to play without frequently turning trees off, and I wish we could also turns undergrowth off like in CM1 as it's often hard to see units (esp WIA) in the bocage as well.

While I haven't experienced serious problems with the current system, there are several retrograde steps compared to the elegant CM1 abstractions and I do agree it does seem to pander to masochists who mistake "added difficulty of play mechanisms" for "added realism."

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On rare occaisions,I have switched the Icons to the off position,for maybe a turn or two in wego,if I am wanting a more unobstructed view of a particular unit. I probably do it more often in replay mode than in live time.

I also prefer the period based icon mod. They seem to me to be less clutery looking than the stock icons. I just wrote the legends for the period based icons on the inside cover of the Game manual. Before long you will have them all memorized.

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Flotation is required to avoid being submerged beneath foliage and structures.

You are mistaken. The graphic representation of the icon could be placed "along the line between the unit-object and the camera, far enough from the unit that the foliage doesn't intervene". Which would mean that if the camera was at ground level, facing a wall 2m away, the icons would appear as if painted on the wall. Which is no more nor less useful than some icons floating in the air "somewhere beyond the wall". But would look like they're at the unit's location from the perspective of the player.

If an icon were fixed to the ground, any intervening foliage/structure would prevent the player from seeing the icon.

That would, indeed be suboptimal, but isn't necessary when the programmer has complete control over where on your flat (or flat-ish, if you're still CRT-bound :) ) viewing surface the icon will appear.

To pike your little diagram:

U= Unit, O= Obstacle, I= Icon C= Camera

U______O_I______C

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Wow, LT Bull, ease off on the coffee.

Has it even occurred to you that BFC has already tried putting the icons at the base of where the unit is located???? I can bet you that they have, although I don't have any firsthand confirmation of this. And I can bet you that it was a big fat FAIL. Why a fail? Because the marker would cover up the pretty 3D graphics that we all so adoringly admire. The reason the a "?" unit marker is at the base is because you can't actually see the 3D unit, therefore there's nothing to cover up.

Maybe what you should be asking for is an option to raise/lower the icon height instead of putting it on the base? I admit that sometimes I think the icons are a bit to high (especially when the unit is far away from the camera) and yearn for an option to control their height.

I think the real issue is that the icon height doesn't scale to the distance. In other words, a unit that is far away from the camera has it's icon floating at the same height(pixel wise) that a unit close to the camera has.

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You are mistaken. The graphic representation of the icon could be placed "along the line between the unit-object and the camera, far enough from the unit that the foliage doesn't intervene". Which would mean that if the camera was at ground level, facing a wall 2m away, the icons would appear as if painted on the wall. Which is no more nor less useful than some icons floating in the air "somewhere beyond the wall". But would look like they're at the unit's location from the perspective of the player.

That would, indeed be suboptimal, but isn't necessary when the programmer has complete control over where on your flat (or flat-ish, if you're still CRT-bound :) ) viewing surface the icon will appear.

To pike your little diagram:

U= Unit, O= Obstacle, I= Icon C= Camera

U______O_I______C

Yeah, placing the icon as you've drawn would work...for a game with one unit. What happens when I'm maneuvering my panzer battalion (with my usual dash and elan ;) )? If my camera is in front of the very wall you posited, the wall would be totally obscured by the dozens (hundreds?) of icons.

One benefit of that would increased fps due to a total obscuration of terrain and units. (:) to ensure my humor comes through.)

I don't have a solution. I'd like to.

I've gotten confused by the icon placement a bit too often.

Overlaying them based on distance would help. Maybe a stick, or flagpole, dropping down to where the unit is located could help. I would limit that ONLY to the cases where the unit is hidden from the camera. Otherwise there would be a forest of sticks.

JMHO.

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Never been a problem for me... I'd rather see time spent allowing a <shift + mouse wheel> type of command that lets me control which adjacent action spots my other teams will occupy.

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Never been much of a problem here either. However one thing that would make connecting the icons to the troopers easier is to draw a thin line to the ground. Similar to the pins on google maps.

Wouldn't clutter too much and give a better 3D understanding of the positions.

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I am guessing part of the disparity in experience may also be an issue of game play. I make an effort to maneuver my platoons together managing overwatch between the various squad units etc. It is a level of detail I enjoy in the game and by default I can pretty much tell you where my units are, current state and current objectives. Periodically I will double click the pltn and then company HQ just to make sure no one is left out and the overall company is maneuvering as I intend.

If you do not like managing units in that kind of detail or are not taking the time to ensure platoons maneuver as such then I could see how managing your units in general would be more difficult. Individual squads are separated from their platoons, teams from squads may end up way out of communication etc. If that is the case I'd respectfully suggest your units are likely suffering more than need be as C&C and morale are being hit and the diffculty dealing with the icons may reflect a different problem.

If my supposition is wrong, please ignore the post as more useless gibberish from another nut case out here on the west coast.

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Lt Bull,

May I suggest you

1. Take a chill pill

2. Get a puppy

3. Get someone who doesnt have pins welded to their body to hug you.

4. Occupy Wall Street

5. Take a Valium

6. Join the French Foreign Legion but refuse to learn french.

7. Tell your wife or gf or both you need a little more humma humma tonight.

8. Run for President from the Republican party. I mean a guy named Newt is running, how hard could it be to beat someone named Newt?

9. Get a spot on Glee. You will be so famous and rich you wont ever care about playing CMBN again.

10. Blame Fox News

If you like none of these options, please oh please just turn off the icons forever. This is one of the least easy to fix things about the game and trust me they have tried. Its not that bad but hey no need to get worked up over this when all you really need to do it turn them off.

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Ha ha this is funny. When one person disagrees with him he goes ballistic at them, when everyone disagrees he suddenly goes all shy. Love it. Personally the issue of floating icons has never even crossed my mind. The reason I play a PC war game and not a game of chess is because it looks like a battle, not a game of chess. It seems he's suggesting we might as well do away with the soldiers altogether and replace them with icons. Why not get rid of the 3d view while we're at it and make it a top down game to save him having a nervous breakdown.

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I say we go easy on Lt. Bull. I've certainly had my moments of frustration with this game. Once I really look closely at the issues though, I mind most of the time, that it has something to do with the way I interact with the game, rather than the game itself. All of the criticisms that have been mentioned, from the clunky UI, to the Icons, and even the action phase/replay phase confusion, I believe have more to do with the individual than the game. I don't have any other explanation that explains why some people have trouble with something, and others don't.

I'll go ahead and address this, 'casue I know it's coming, those who say that it works the same for everybody, how could I interact with it differently. And that's precisely my point. Very few of us adopt the attitude of trying to get used to a different set up controls than the ones we're already used to. The camera controls are a great example, since there are plenty of ways to adjust your view, ie multiple methods on the keyboard, and the mouse! Try something thats different.

Lt. Bull, if you are really having that much trouble, could you post a video of you playing the game, and solicit some feedback. I suspect if it's that hard to tell where your pixeltruppen are, that you might not be mentioning something about the way you play that would make all the difference.

vK

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FWIW, I can sympathise with Lt. There are certainly times when icon placement gives me a WTF moment.

As with many things (like spotting gaps in bocage) I've gotten used to it. Steep "getting used to" curve for this game, which could be argued to be a problem, but it is possible to get used to.

GaJ

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Lt. Bull, if you are really having that much trouble, could you post a video of you playing the game, and solicit some feedback. I suspect if it's that hard to tell where your pixeltruppen are, that you might not be mentioning something about the way you play that would make all the difference.

vK

Who here thinks von Kleist has a PBEM going with Lt Bull and is trying to get intel? You are a sneaky sneaky opponent vK! :D

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