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On-screen Event Cues?

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You don't think the Strat AI (i.e. the AI player, rather than the built in unit reactions) knows what's happening to each unit as it happens? Currently the Strat AI has that advantage over us.

Of course it doesn't because all it can do is what your units will do without guidance from you. Unless you've ordered them to move really quickly in the face of enemy fire your units know they're under fire just as quickly as the AI's do as it's units will react according to the same TAC AI as yours do. And then, you come along and go 'whoa', stop advancing, retreat to that building and bring some units over from this flank. The strategic AI is just an enormous WEGO turn and the AI has no ability to do anything else but that.

Where I'd agree that the AI has an advantage over a human player is that it can co-ordinate a large force without getting a major headache but that's it.

And as we're the squad leader as well as the CC we should know what goes on at squad level immediately.

But you do. You just fail to notice it because, like a real life commander, you're attention can only be focussed on one thing at a time in the game. I just think of it as hats. When I'm focussed exclusively on one squad, I'm wearing my squad leader hat. I think you get my point. The flashing icons will definitely help to bring this to our attention and I agree that it is needed for RT play. Now, for WEGO...

So, in reference to PaperTiger stating, "...but WEGO players really do have all the time in the world to see what just happened and do something about it. If you miss something important, who's fault is that? Otherwise, anything that increases the fog of war factor in the game is welcomed by me.", I disagree.

I, a WEGO player, do NOT have all the time in the world! My game time is limited by real life.

OMG Ken, you really CAN'T be serious! Of course I didn't mean that you have ALL the time in the world. I can't believe that you refuted that as if it were literal truth. Okay, WEGO players can replay their turns to their hearts content so who's fault is it if they miss something important.

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Paper Tiger,

I appreciate your point of view. (I also, very much, appreciate the campaigns you've made: both on my hard-drive awaiting patch v1.10.)

I've got a thread about one of my M249's changing into an M4A1 with 2 seconds left in the turn. That should show you that I am a very detail oriented player. Please give me the benefit of the doubt. Yet, I do incur casualties, vehicle damage, and lost vehicles without knowing about them! So, on the one hand I notice a single individual changing his weapon, and on the other hand I do NOT notice a Bradley being destroyed. I place that squarely at the foot of the developer and the choice in user interface. (Note the PCGamer September magazine review of Theater of War by Tom Chick. In it he chastises the user interface. There is a trend here.)

As a vehicle commander, I would know if my vehicle were destroyed. Obviously. As a game player, the INFORMATION about the vehicle is there; I must SEEK the information. There is no Fog of War, there is only an interface which does not actively transmit status information.

So, as we've said, I - the player, the vehicle commander, etc. - must check every single unit at time 60 and then check it again at time 00. If there is a change, I must find out where and when and why.

Of course, the beginning and end snapshots are only of utility IF there is a PERMANENT change in status, i.e. damage, wounding, death, destruction. If there is a TRANSIENT change in status, i.e., pinning, increased suppression, smoke dischargers firing, reversing out of sight, etc., then I am forced to watch every second of replay for each and every unit.

I will watch some units as a matter of course. These are the ones advancing up front, leading an assault, etc.

My complaint, gripe, suggestion, revolves around the issue of the OTHER units.

A Stryker platoon has 4 vehicles, 3 squads, 2 MG Teams, and 1 HQ element. 10 units in toto. A company has almost 40 units. I've been playing with scenarios containing 3 companies or so. That's well over 100 units. There is no way I can poll each unit each turn.

I am NOT the overall commander; I am also the various sub-commanders. THAT is my argument for requesting a tweak to the user interface.

Now, if all I did was play as the overall commander, I'd agree. In that case, I'd sit on my hilltop and give commands. I'd wait for the feedback, all audio files, from my subordinate units as they radio in (maybe visualize a blue force tracker) and make adjustments. That would not be this game. It would be a boring company/battalion command simulator.

If I can DRIVE a Bradley, why cant I be notified (actively) when it is DESTROYED?

Regards,

Ken

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I found the labels above the units showing their status from any view level in CMx1 very, very useful. Knowing a unit was being pinned, suppressed, etc made the game much more enjoyable for me.

I miss that feature in CMSF.

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I found the labels above the units showing their status from any view level in CMx1 very, very useful. Knowing a unit was being pinned, suppressed, etc made the game much more enjoyable for me.

I miss that feature in CMSF.

yes, this feature from CMBtB and AK missing in CMSF

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Ken

Yes, I certainly am aware that you're a detail oriented player and I respect that. So much so that I'm surprised that BFC haven't invited you to join their Beta testing team (honestly) as your eye for detail does pick out some very peculiar anomolies, i.e. the changing M249. That's an exceptionally good catch.

With the exception of my first playthrough of the 'Boot Camp' training campaign that comes with the game I have played CMSF exclusively in Real Time so my opinions are strictly limited to the RT perpective and so will probably be out of synch with yours and other WEGO players. I wouldn't want to see the ticker tape introduced for RT as it would break the magic for me. But for WEGO, well, heck, yes, if it makes it easier for players to keep track of what's going on without having to watch every unit for a full minute, why not.

If I can DRIVE a Bradley, why cant I be notified (actively) when it is DESTROYED?

I guess this highlights the difference between us when we're playing the game. For me, I rationalise it like this. I have a Bradley that's moving unaccompanied by infantry along a street and it gets whacked by an RPG team in a building along the way. The crew dies (no survivors) and has no chance to call in what happened. Even the BEST C2 in the world would yield zero information about the enemy force other than a loud BANG and smoke and 'why isn't Charlie answering my calls?' And God forbid that the game should reward me with the information that there's an RPG team sitting at the third floor window of the pink fronted building on that street so that my avenging angels can move in and take them out risk free. All that a real life commander SHOULD know is that there's a burning Bradley up that road and that means trouble. More info than that is not realistic IMO.

Now, that's how I see things and it helps ME enjoy the game, enhances MY immersion. It also helps overcome some of the limitations that the AI operates under. That ambushing RPG team won't do the logical thing and change position after it's performed it's ambush. It will sit there either until it's current order expires and it's time to move to it's new one or, it stays in place. Even the very BEST scenario designer can only approximate the time span that an ambush can take place so the first is very hard to do while the latter is what usually happens.

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Sure, but I say again, the Tac AI doesn't presently -- and may never -- give my units enough self-preservation sense to take care of themselves without my micro. That isn't realism, unless I'm commanding Zombie Company.

In realtime, absent any alert mechanism beyond "I hear shots", my only recourse is to constantly pause and tab through my force to see what's changed. So not only am I now playing a flawed COMBAT SIMULATION (in RL, my squaddies would NOT lurch about in the beaten zone), but it's also a needlessly time consuming GAME.

I'm not slamming BFC here -- AI is a real beotch to do right and they're pushing the envelope as hard as they can all the time, bless 'em -- but until the infantry show a reasonable degree of self-preservation behavior, RT play for company sized forces in non-open terrain.... ain't. An alert system -- whatever it is -- would be a critical gaming aid.

(I'd also encourage a toggle so those who don't agree with my assessment can disable the tickers. You can already toggle off the unit icons with Alt+I.)

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Immersion seems to mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To some it's having the map appear as close to a battle as possible, but to me it means being able to have *tactics* as realistic as possible and for that reason I want as much SA as I can get. As much as each unit in the battle would have so I can make the decision they would.

I appreciate there's other points of view but given that each position is an opinion - and so no one is going to be wrong - I think it might be more productive if the discussion turned to what feedback is needed and the best way to present it.

I've given my idea, which will never happen - lets hear others.

To start off, here's what I think is important to get over:

  1. morale
  2. movement
  3. posture (firing etc)
  4. casualty taken
  5. facing

Anyone disagree?

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First off - I want to give a cheer for my 100 post -

I agree with Other Means. I think there is info missing that is crucial to running your units.

My order of important required information is

1. Morale

2. Occupied Terrain

3. Facing

4. unit casualties

I think that the cone indicting incoming fire is nice but takes up too much real estate that could be used for more important information. One thick vertical bar (colour coded) would be better. I hate that when I need to see how many casualties a unit has taken, I have to click on the unit and then hunt for the red (soon to be also brown) circles to see how the unit is fairing. E.g. The 3 active /5 incapacitated (for an 8 man unit) in CMx1 was crucial to many of my decisions in the game.

I also am not sure where my unit is actually located. As the dimensions of the squares gets smaller, it may not be realistic to say that this unit is in rubble as an example but sometimes my units are in the open when I think they are in cover.

I know that BF wants to get away from most thngs CMx1 but do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Please realise that some of your design decisions in CMx1 were very well thought out and perhaps bringing them back into CMx2 would not be a bad thing. The design of the interface in CMx1 was great and it may be that I am just used to it and adapted my playing to use the available information but some things are very important (casualties) and some things would be just great to have to make the game more fun (kill record at end of game).

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LLF

I admit that I can see how this feature would be useful to you if you're playing in RT on your Ramadi map (750m x 500m of densely packed urban terrain) so fair enough.

Other Means and Canada Guy, what do you mean 'get over' with regards to Morale, etc? Do you have any ideas or are you asking for a whole new game interface? (Not that there's anything wrong with that :D) Are you talking about pop ups when you hover your mouse over units or just more info made available through visual cues in the icons? For movement, all you have to do is select 'Show all movement orders' and they're all there for you in all their colourful glory. What more are you asking for there?

Anyway, after playing my way through another mission on a very large map this morning, I have to ask you guys, how much attention are you paying to the sound cues in the game? I have become very sensitive to what's going on 'off screen' just by listening to the game sounds. Apart from RPG rounds being fired a LONG way away, I can pretty much identify everything from the sounds. I know when an ATGM fires by the POP, a Recoilless Rifle team by the chunk sound, an RPG team by the POP. And anyone who fails to notice the sound of a Red tank firing must either be deaf or playing with no sound. I am even able to discriminate between the standard Syrian MG (with 1000m range) and the HMG (with 2000m range). Or perhaps some of you are playing with music in the background?

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LLF

I admit that I can see how this feature would be useful to you if you're playing in RT on your Ramadi map (750m x 500m of densely packed urban terrain) so fair enough.

Other Means and Canada Guy, what do you mean 'get over' with regards to Morale, etc? Do you have any ideas or are you asking for a whole new game interface? (Not that there's anything wrong with that) Are you talking

about pop ups when you hover your mouse over units or just more info made available through visual cues in the icons? For movement, all you have to do is select 'Show all movement orders' and they're all there for you in all their

colourful glory. What more are you asking for there?

I want to be able to see the status of all my infantry at one go, without having to look at each individual unit. To illustrate (sorry this is so dark) have a look at this screen-shot from CMAK:

cmakSS.JPG

You'll have to squint, sorry, but in that screenshot I can see who's running, who's taking cover, who's firing - all at once.

If your man is moving, you can see where he's going - not because you see a line coming from him (which in CMSF disappear during the movie phase anyway) but because he's big enough to actually see.

  • If you man is firing, it's not because I can hear a lot of firing and see tracer, it's because he brings the rifle to his shoulder and fires.
  • If a man is face down he's taking cover.
  • If he's running and shooting he's assaulting.

So I can see the tactical situation at a glance - and not in a way I have to interpret but in an emotionally engaging way that I get the information from straight away. I can be over the other side of the map and if I see all my men hit the deck I know they've run into an ambush and I'm over there, looking where it's coming from. In RT I would be ordering covering fire, popping smoke and pulling back. In WEGO I'm grinding my teeth and hoping not too much damage is done.

Currently I might hear an increase in fire so I look round to see if I can see any tracer flying about. Then I've got to find it and what do I see? This:

cmsfSS.JPG

Which is what I've been calling the sterile battlefield. If I get real close to a unit I can see this:

cmsfSSclose.JPG

and that's brilliant. I can see each guy and see how they're exposed or firing or whatever. But while I'm doing that I have no idea what the rest of the company are doing. So I constantly scan the battlefield and gather all the tactical information I need to make my decisions. And that is a lot of work and loses me my sense of what's going on.

The underlying mechanic of the game (in RT & WEGO) is plan->implement->observe->back to plan. You're making plans to bring your best element into a position to use it in concert with the rest of your tactical elements, moving them or firing them to make it happen then seeing how your plans have worked out. Then planning again. Currently the plan and implement are as good as ever but the observe is a lot of work. What we're talking about here is how to make that observe phase a bit easier to do, that's all.

CMSF has so much going for it. There's really nothing else like it out there. Steve, Charles and the rest of the very small gang have done a fantastic job of bringing a battlefield to life ON HOME PC'S. Amazing really. But I think a lot of the greatness of the game is un-noticed because it's vey difficult to see the effects of what's happening. If you play very small battles with 3/4 units it's fantasic because you can see what's happening at an individual level. But when you leave that level things get a lot harder to follow; and so less engaging. Frustrating really because all the good stuff is there but to play a decent sized battle you're too spread out to see it all.

It's like being a conductor. You want to listen to the whole orchestra and make the whole thing perform but you can only listen to one violin at a time and attempt to bring them all into line but you don't know what line because everything is constantly changing...and by the time you've them playing how you want the tuba is on fire.

Anyway, after playing my way through another mission on a very large map this morning, I have to ask you guys, how much attention are you paying to the sound cues in the game? I have become very sensitive to what's going on

'off screen' just by listening to the game sounds. Apart from RPG rounds being fired a LONG way away, I can pretty much identify everything from the sounds. I know when an ATGM fires by the POP, a Recoilless Rifle team by the

chunk sound, an RPG team by the POP. And anyone who fails to notice the sound of a Red tank firing must either be deaf or playing with no sound. I am even able to discriminate between the standard Syrian MG (with 1000m

range) and the HMG (with 2000m range). Or perhaps some of you are playing with music in the background?

I don't want to have to listen to sound cues. I want to be able to see the game happening.

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Ah, now that's much better. I can better understand what you're talking about now. I 100% understand what you mean about getting all the info you need just from that one view of the battlefield. You get all that because you're using the huge standard unit types. If you played the earlier CMx1 games with the real sized figures (I tried it once and hated it) you wouldn't get any of that info at all. So it would appear that you want BFC to include an option to super-size the soldiers (Big Mac anyone?) and maybe abstract the squads back to 2-3 men figures ONLY when their super-sized? And possibly the vehicle units too?

When I look at the first CMx2 photo, I see you don't have the movement commands on. Those make a HUGE difference as they communicate a LOT of information. I occasionally notice a yellow or red movement line turn purple from far off which means that a unit has changed status. Of course, I often play on more open maps and not in dense urban terrain where this feedback would be almost useless. Once again, the super-size me option would probably be what you're looking for here.

It appears to me what we're talking about here is completely changing the way the game is displayed on your screen. Possibly by going back to the old CMx1 type representation or at least having the option to have the game displayed this way much like the way CMx1 gave us the option to use realistic sized soldiers?

With regard to not wanting to use sound clues, (VERY Martian :) ) if you don't take advantage of them, then it's your loss. They're a very important part of the feedback.

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CMx1 also had unit labels that were displayed like the icons in CMSF. The labels would have descriptions (pinned, panic, etc) letting you know the status of a unit at a glance without having to supersize the units.

I also play most computer games with the sound off. I have a laptop that I use on the couch while my wife watches TV, works on her computer or reads. We can thus chat while I work on a PBEM turn for a couple minutes before going back to reading or such. Having to rely on sound cues is no replacement for visual clues that can be seen at a glance for me.

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Ah, now that's much better. I can better understand what you're talking about now. I 100% understand what you mean about getting all the info you need just from that one view of the battlefield. You get all that because you're using the huge standard unit types. If you played the earlier CMx1 games with the real sized figures (I tried it once and hated it) you wouldn't get any of that info at all. So it would appear that you want BFC to include an option to super-size the soldiers (Big Mac anyone?) and maybe abstract the squads back to 2-3 men figures ONLY when their super-sized? And possibly the vehicle units too?

Not quite. I'm a big fan of 1 to 1 - I think when you can see the soldiers in action it looks brilliant, so it's only the units that are too small to see properly that would have been abstracted to a 3D soldier icon. I thought about all the different pieces of information you need to make a tactical decision and how get that over. Flashing icons for casualties, directions arrows on top of them for facing, filling up with colour for morale, changing shape - all that. But then I realised BFC had actually already done it in the best manner possible in CM1 - large icons representing platoons (or teams if split) that can get over everything needed instantly (see post #8 in this thread for details).

So it's a hybrid, not a replacement. While you're close enought to see the individual soldiers we get the full CM2 goodness; troops actually in a firefight. When a unit is too far away to see the individual men then you get the type of icon that gets over the most information - a large generic soldier.

I'll state what Steve said when he considered this idea last year; it's too visually jarring.

I think because we've got 2 different sized soldiers running round a basically 2D world you would get confused as to where a soldier actually was in the depth of field (but...but...we could make them look different - translucent - whatever/you'd get used to it - it's just a convention/it's better than flashing tiddlywinks...).

So my idea has been considered - several times, very politely - and found wanting. Anyone else have a good one?

When I look at the first CMx2 photo, I see you don't have the movement commands on. Those make a HUGE difference as they communicate a LOT of information. I occasionally notice a yellow or red movement line turn purple from far off which means that a unit has changed status. Of course, I often play on more open maps and not in dense urban terrain where this feedback would be almost useless. Once again, the super-size me option would probably be what you're looking for here.

Actually I always have movement lines on - those guys were hunting before they hit the ambush. Best have them show as much self-defence nous as possible I find. It helps a little but how engaging is it?

It appears to me what we're talking about here is completely changing the way the game is displayed on your screen. Possibly by going back to the old CMx1 type representation or at least having the option to have the game displayed this way much like the way CMx1 gave us the option to use realistic sized soldiers?

With regard to not wanting to use sound clues, (VERY Martian ) if you don't take advantage of them, then it's your loss. They're a very important part of the feedback.

As above, I prefer the current way - I just want to not have to hunt for tactical information.

Sound cues - of course I use them. Let me re-state:

I don't want to have to listen to sound cues. I want to be able to see the game happening :)

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Hi Other Means

I was at work when I was writing that and was under time pressure. I wanted to conclude with this point rather than the sound cue point..

Since the main problem with the new engine is that the units themselves are too small to appear in any meaningful way when viewed from above, the grand tactical view if you like, we need to find some way to get this info across in approximately the same way that your original picture does. Is there something in the game already that is equally visible from any viewing height? Yes, the unit's icon.

Now we don't have to super-size anything to add more info to the game. We just need to somehow adapt the unit icon to visually transmit the info. Once again, flashing when firing or under fire is a brilliant idea. And different shades for different morale states wouldn't be an unreasonable request either. Since the movement lines pretty much tell the whole story, there's no need for movement info to be portrayed in the icon. There's probably not much that can reasonably be done to include casualties in that info as you have to select the unit to get accurate information there.

So, try pushing BFC for more informative unit icons. They're already 'jarring' so having them flash or change colour wouldn't be any more jarring. And if you don't like them, you can turn them off. Combined with your CMAK picture, you should now have quite a good argument in your favour.

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Actually, what I was getting at previously is it might be good if we could discuss exactly how the icons might look under various conditions.

Get some discussion of what people like and don't like, possibly get some ideas together for BFC.

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Ach... and there was me thinking that you Beta testers had some clout... never mind :D

I'd be happy with the blue icons moving from blue to yellow as their morale deteriorates. (For red, from red to yellow) No need for anything else there as I'm sure after a few hours I'll be sensitive to the different shades. They already illuminate when they can see an enemy unit they've spotted so getting them to flash should be a no-brainer. I definitely don't want the other side's icons to change though as I feel I already have way too much information about them.

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Useful info I'd like to see at a glance would be

Taking fire

Taken casualties

Suppressed

Seen enemy unit

Out of command range

Destroyed (yeah, you miss a unit getting eliminated sometimes if you're not paying attention)

The best way I can think of to show this is associated with the icon in some way. Changing the colour is the simplest way, but currently between red / blue, being shaded or normal, or flashing yellow the icon background is doing a fair bit of work already. My preference is for adding a coloured border around the edge of the icon which is colour coded in some way (and can be toggled on or off for those who find it intrusive. Personally I like to watch replays for the cinematic effect, and then again in more of a techinical, info gathering way). The main problem is that you have a number of independent things you want to show, which you can't reasonably do with a single colour. Blending colours gives you useless 'information'. Giving some states priority over others means you still get to miss some alerts that would interest you. Showing all of them separately can get cluttered, and would take much more practice before we could get the information we wanted at a glance (rather than pausing and going back to the last patch notes to decipher the message).

One other possible approach is to have a (toggleable) box tucked away on the left or right somewhere where unit icons pop up when something of interest happens (along with a single word of explanation). And clicking on the icon takes you to that unit. (In an 'ideal' world you'd have both, with the box for units off screen, and icon changes for units on screen). But this is getting suspiciously close to an event-log-style affair.

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I'm all for including a little more information on the unit icon. Part of that might be to include the labels from CMx1. I totally forgot about them but I usually had them on all the time, particularly in large battles.

I prioritize morale state and recent casualties taken. Firing I can see from tracers and smoke puffs. Movement is also not that big a deal for me, I can usually spot the little guys moving about or the general location of the icon moving. However casualties cropping up from unseen enemy fire or a panicked squad is something I really don't want to miss.

Thus I would suggest a red border appear on the unit icon when they take a casualty. It could fade away over a period of a minute (or slightly more to remain at the end of a WEGO phase). A yellow border with lower priority for incoming fire could be used simultaneously.

For other status reports I would like the labels just as they were in CMx1, they worked fine there.

Great and relevant discussion BTW! I think you have found the reason for why I don't play CMSF all that much after all. When I do it's PBEM where I review the turn many times to catch all the detail. I kind of lost interest in the campaign when I reached the big urban scenarios in the end.

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PaperTiger,

I think you posted earlier about the situation which prompted me to start this thread; the destruction of a Bradley. You (if not you, I apologize) stated that in real life if a Bradley were destroyed in isolation, I would not know about it for a while (acting as commander): as vehicle driver, I would be dead. Same effect.

I would be fine with the system if that had been the situation. Unfortunately, it wasn't. The Bradley was in a compound, facing another Bradley. 3 other vehicles were behind the Bradley, well within 100 meters (more likely 20 meters), there were 2 squads of 9 men in front of the Bradlely, one squad of 9 men behind it, and the platoon HQ was behind it. All looking towards it. And 2 crewmembers survived.

Somehow I think the command net (hey, that's me) should've known about it. Instead, I focussed on the two front squads for 5 minutes. Ach.

I still think a simple icon color change would be a very good clue that something is happening to the unit. (An intuitive long-range visual prompt incorporating TheVulture's list would be fantastic. I haven't the foggiest how to implement that much information in a simple visual manner.)

Regards,

Ken

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Okay, some more thoughts.

If I select TARGET, or TARGET LIGHT, sometimes I forget about it. Too true. I may have half a dozen or so units area firing at a building in order to suppress the defender while my manuever unit assaults it. Then I go back and click on all my suppressing units and cancel their TARGET/LIGHT orders. Sometimes I miss a few. Usually it's a unit far back or at an extreme oblique angle.

How helpful it would be if the unit icon had a thin colored edge added to it if they were TARGETING? For example, add a yellow border: that means it's under a player ordered Combat command, be it TARGET, TARGET LIGHT, or COVERED ARC. Just a little reminder.

That could be an option to toggle on or off at the player's discretion. As an added benefit, it wouldn't interfere with any of the proferred ideas about notifying the player about the unit being fired upon.

Regards,

Ken

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Okay, some more thoughts.

If I select TARGET, or TARGET LIGHT, sometimes I forget about it. Too true. I may have half a dozen or so units area firing at a building in order to suppress the defender while my manuever unit assaults it. Then I go back and click on all my suppressing units and cancel their TARGET/LIGHT orders. Sometimes I miss a few. Usually it's a unit far back or at an extreme oblique angle.

How helpful it would be if the unit icon had a thin colored edge added to it if they were TARGETING? For example, add a yellow border: that means it's under a player ordered Combat command, be it TARGET, TARGET LIGHT, or COVERED ARC. Just a little reminder.

That could be an option to toggle on or off at the player's discretion. As an added benefit, it wouldn't interfere with any of the proferred ideas about notifying the player about the unit being fired upon.

Regards,

Ken

This is similar to CM1's "see all targets". Don't feel you're along in missing this :)

I've been very busy lately and I'm waiting for my copy of Photoshop to arrive (you try making a compelling business case for having a £200 piece of software on your home machine when you're not a designer ;)) but after that I'll try and whip something up to show how we might get as much info into the icons as possible.

This would just be for our own amusement of course.

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