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ICON VARIATIONS AND EVENT WARNING INDICATORS

Here are variations that could be made. I think they all work effectively. Since there are more than 3 types of C2 icons then 5 bmps would be needed for C2 to have it that way. (radio, voice, close visual, far visual, and out of contact). This would make it possible to have the detailed C2 variation while still making it possible to have the original simple approach of 3 (green, yellow, red) circles. All that would have to be done to do this is give good C2 markers (radio, voice, close visual) the same green circles, and yellow for far visual in place of the detailed icons.

Comparedvariationscopy.jpg

ADDED EVENT WARNING INDICATORS: Added as you can see are event warning indicators. This is either a luminous yellow, or red boarder that pulsates slightly, and appears around the unit box in the ROSTER for about 2 seconds to highlight that a new event has occurred. EVENTS are slipping into the YELLOW, or RED in any of the categories C2, Fitness, morale, contact, or ammo. After 2 seconds the event warning indictor disappears, but the color change to whatever event icon remains as long as the unit remains in yellow, or red status. Event warning indicators are shown in the order they occur to the micro second. In cases where events happen simultaneously to the micro second then a condition of priority would be established as to which event indicator to flash first. Example the unit lost C2, and got tired at the same exact moment. In this case a second 2-second yellow flash would follow one 2-second red flash. Just like the C2 in the game, and in reality only so much information can be processed at one time so in some cases a slight delay from what happens real time on the battlefield may occur in its mirrored ROSTER with the EVENT WARNING INDICATORS. Icon color changes will have no delay, and will happened immediately, but the event indicator may lag a second or two to alert the player that an EVENT has occurred.

So from looking at the ROSTER we can see the latest event for 2nd platoon’s 1st Sqd. is YELLOW, and since the only yellow icon is the lightning bolt then we know it is new contact. From looking at 3rd platoon’s 2nd Sqd. the latest event for them was a change to RED. In this case we know it was a lose of C2. There will be cases where there may be few icons that are either red, or yellow at the same time so it may not be clear which is the newest event. To know more about what is going on players would want to select that individual unit which can be done via the ROSTER too.

You will also notice icons have been removed for the destroyed unit since they are no longer relevant. This removes unnecessary graphics to keep the ROSTER from being cluttered with information that is no longer needed.

SCROLL BARS: The latest build shows alternate ways to have scroll commands beyond side scroll bars. In this case they are clickable buttons located top and bottom. Click for increment scroll; click and hold down for faster scrolling. The advantage of the buttons is it makes the ROSTER narrower. The disadvantage is they take up room to show a few less units. Either way the top/bottom are optimal placement as new EVENTS from units not shown in the current ROSTER window will appear at either the top or bottom of the ROSTER window depending on their placement in the organization tree. This occurred with Roster’s AUTO SCROLL feature. Players can manually scroll, but during doing it it will override auto scrolling.

NEXT: The incorporation of sound. TO BE CONTINUED …..

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It looks good to me, but I guess BF would probably stick it in the "nice to have" pile, which is mostly obscured by the "must have" pile ;)

This one is a must have especially for the RT player, and especially H2H real time. This would be an optimal tool to address all the situational awareness, and management difficulties found in EVERY Real time game, and addresses many concerns all in one neat package. Even the WEGO player will find it very useful. If one does not see how this gives you eyes on all while seeing only some then the light needs to come on. Try playing H2H real time totally from camera level 1 to 3 effectively, and without frustration. With this it can be done. This gives you eyes 360 degrees at the same time, which is a problem all real time games face. In other words things are missed which is not fun, but frustrating. We want the simulation of combat, but not the frustration associated with it.

This also reduces click fest, and the time it takes to know everything about everyone of your units in a glance. To know all that is shown in the ROSTER one would have to individually select each unit. All players will get a much better overview of their force in a new way that is more efficient.

Little, by little CM is adding the missing pieces to improve situational awareness. The lobby went out for more unit icons, and all saw it was good. The lobby went out for FoW icons to improve the contact markers to let the player know what was seen if his eyes were elsewhere and missed it. All will see this is a very good thing especially for the real time player.

My roots in war gaming are in Real Time games that were much more chaotic than CM. This concept comes from understanding the limitations that real time players face. They all give the player complications to overcome that the WEGO player who has never played a real time game cannot understand unless they have experienced it. The ROSTER addresses these limitations, and overcomes them.

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Oh I agree, I particularly like the Geometric idea with the units rectangular - makes them easier to separate from the HQ's.

I've never played a RT battle and am unlikely to ;) my comment was mostly so that a newish player didn't think that this was "coming soon".

As a programmer, I personally feel that this wouldn't/shouldn't be very hard to do since all that feedback info is already "there", but BFC march to their own drum.

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Oh I agree, I particularly like the Geometric idea with the units rectangular - makes them easier to separate from the HQ's.

I've never played a RT battle and am unlikely to ;) my comment was mostly so that a newish player didn't think that this was "coming soon".

As a programmer, I personally feel that this wouldn't/shouldn't be very hard to do since all that feedback info is already "there", but BFC march to their own drum.

I agree. After looking at these side by side for more time I think this, the geometric detailed C2 combo, is the most effective for creating organization that can be decipher quick. The detailed C2 icons work to bring more attention to red out of C2 circle. This is my final I think for a prototype.

Nice to know you have programming knowledge Baneman. I was wondering how hard this would be to do. Am I right in that each unit in the ROSTER should have its own box, or “button” as an object to program to? My programming knowledge is limited to just web site creation.

RosterC2geometricSoundcopy.jpg

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TROUBLE SHOOTING, AND POSSIBLE SOUND INCOPORATION,

TROUBLE SHOOTING:

In thinking about the EVENT INDICATORS I thought of some problems that I did not originally consider. Some statuses change back and forth very quickly, which may be a bit too hectic, and annoying. I am referring to C2, and CONTACT. Every time a HQ moves it becomes out of C2. So if you moved many formations at once there would probably be too many EVENT INDICATORS going off one after another in rapid succession . Also, with CONTACT,a unit during a fire fight might be in contact one second, then not in contact, then back again, so again it may be too much highlighting going on at once. For these two categories then I think it might work better to just have their icons change alone, except for contact RED. For C2, I think the detailed versions icons act as a sort of filter making the red out of C2 circles stand out more. For this the player can just scroll through quickly and pick out the red circle showing him what units are out of C2 in the entire force instantly. This is still much, much, faster than having to select each unit individually to find that out.

INCORPORATING SOUND:

Since the ROSTER is part master list for more efficient unit management, and part radio traffic event log I think adding some sounds with it would have benefits not only for practical reasons, but also for more immersion. The ROSTER in part is the player’s radio to link him on the C2 net with the force. What I can see are some vocal messages to listen in on the traffic that corresponds with the visual EVENT INDICATORS.

Ears pick up what eyes can miss especially when lots is going on in the battle. The sound prompts correspond to the visual EVENT INDICATORS so when the player hears a transmission coming in it alerts them to glance at the ROSTER to see which unit is reporting in. As the indicator flashes the player will hear what is happening, and know what unit it is happening with giving him a good situational awareness and less time micro managing. Since there can only be one “person” talking at a time there can be times when there is slight delays in what may happen on the battlefield, and transmitting it to the player in the order the events happen. More events happening at the same time will mean longer delays. Single events at a time will transmit simultaneously with what happens with the associated unit in the battle. Unit icon changes always happen simultaneously, and can happen with more than one unit at a time.

What I see is modeled after the artillery radio chatter one hears in the game now that sound like military radio talk. Short, to the point, and easy on the ears that sounds cool.

VISUAL, and SOUND EVENT INDICATORS I think that may work well, or at least worth testing. Some things are more important, or play out better than others. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes not. Remember icon/color changes happen regardless, and are instant. In some cases the indictor may be a few seconds delay as in real life radio delays.

C2:

(Visual Yellow/Red EVENT INDICATORS) None. (Remember icons always change for all of these below regardless of having an EVENT

INDICATOR (flashing yellow/red boarders that briefly appear) associated with them or not. Also, Icons change instantly in conjunction with what is happening with the unit always the instant the unit situation changes. The yellow or red borders that appear are to warn you that a unit has gone yellow, or red.

(Sound Yellow/red) None for reasons stated above.

FITNESS:

(Visual Yellow) Yellow event indicator.

(Sound Yellow) “Tired”.

(Visual Red) Red event indicator.

(Sound Red) “Exhausted”.

It is important to keep tabs on this. When troops go yellow you MUST rest them! I found this hard to keep track of in real time.

MORALE:

(Visual Yellow) Yellow event indicator.

(Sound Yellow) “Low morale”.

(Visual Red) Red event indicator.

(Sound Red) “Lost morale”.

The unit icon fades, as in the battlefield if “Panicked, but you can still select it in the ROSTER to navigate the camera to it.) You want to know when units are panicking as soon as possible. Faded unit icons alone on the battlefield can be missed if out of camera view, and concentrating in somewhere else.

CONTACT:

(Visual Yellow) None for reasons stated above.

(Sound Yellow) None.

(Visual Red) Red event indicator.

(Sound Red) “Taking heavy fire”. This alerts you to hot spots where units suppression meter is full.

AMMO:

(Visual Yellow) Yellow event indicator.

(Sound Yellow) “Low on ammo”.

(Visual Red) Red event indicator.

(Sound Red) “Out of ammo”.

When you see them in the yellow it may be a good idea to start making resupply plans if possible. Players will know the instant the main ammo goes out. This great for taking the micro managing out of keeping micro tabs on ammo status.

CASSUALTY:

(Visual) Unit icon rapid flicker, but expect an event indicator from one of the others such as morale to show an accompanying border either yellow, or red.

(Sound) “Man down”.

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FURTHER TROUBLESHOOTING, and SOUND TOGGLE:

Troubleshooting:
In thinking about ammo changes that may also be rapid transitions back and forth in status. The EVENT INDICATORS(Audio/visual) might also be more like the complications realized about C2, and CONTACT unless there is a delay programmed in the reporting of it to the ROSTER regarding the EVENT INDICATORS. Rapid transitions back, and forth are not a problem for the status icons since they are not obtrusive, or annoying. The problem I am speculating for in advance is AMMO SHARING. With this testing would need to be done as to how often messaging occurs. Usually ammo sharing happens very quickly so if a delay were put in it would solve this. For ammo lets say that if the status icon does not change within 15 seconds then a EVENT INDICATOR appears/is heard. Also EVENT INDICATORS only occur for transitions to lower status. IE: Unit goes from yellow to red which triggers the event indicator. Unit then goes from red up to yellow, and there is no event indicator. Only downward status changes EVENT INDICATORS are reported.

EXAMPLES time delay:
Unit A goes from yellow to red with its ammo count going to zero for a second while ammo sharing happens. Unit A then gets some shared ammo from unit B which happens very quickly in the game. This changes unit A’s status back from RED to YELLOW quickly. In this case it is not very important to receive an EVENT INDICATOR highlight. If a unit was out for more than the typical ammo sharing time that usually occurs, THEN the EVENT INDICATOR message could be sent to the ROSTER so the player can be altered to the status change. EXAMPLE: Unit has been out of main AMMO (status RED) for more than 15 seconds, THEN the EVENT INDICATOR warning is sent.

SOUND TOGGLE:
You will notice in the latest graphic presented above that a RADIO icon has been added to the ROSTER button. This radio icon is a separate toggle from the roster. In this way the greatest amount of user options can be achieved. The player can then choose to have either just Audio, Visual, both together (best), or neither. In cases where the audio is on without the visual players would get the audio warning, but will not know what unit is reporting as there would be no visual association to let them know.

Edited by Vinnart
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FURTHER SOUND TROUBLESHOOTING:

Drawing from my experience with the Sudden Strike series sound can be helpful, but if over done it can be annoying. In that game series Sudden Strike 2 was Fireglow’s (the developer) most realized. They did a Sudden Strike 3, but just like a guy who has a beautiful girl, and doesn’t know what to do with her they eventually flopped because they did not fully realize their game. Mainly because going from great multiplayer support to the worst I think ever in the history of gaming. Multi-Multi player was why the Sudden Strike 2 sold over 2 million copies. That game was a great learning experience.

As I have said there are common challenges ALL real time games pose to the player. This is the ability to manage command and control, often of many units, and the ability to see all the units at all times as there is only so much the camera can fit in the screen at one time. To compensate for the later many RTS games have a mini map in the corner. In Sudden Strike 2 when a unit was attacked out of the current camera screen an orange marker would appear in the mini map along with a ping sound to alert the player of problems happening elsewhere. Often the sound would be the prompt to look at the mini map. This was a good use of sound. In SS3 they removed the sound, and it was a big step back for that function of that game. It was a noticeable difference in what one would catch. Often I would not notice the orange marker alone missing events. In SS2 if a unit was out of ammo it would sound off “Out of ammo”. This was good, but the problem was the guy would keep repeating over, and over again which was annoying. If I couldn’t supply him I would end up shooting him to shut him up. This is a bad use of sound.

In testing with something like this if words become overdone, then I believe just the sound of a radio schwelch when the mic is keyed would be something to try, and would be suffice enough to alert the player to glance at the roster. Of course, there will be dudes like Mord who would probably make something more dramatic sound wise if incorporated. I can hear him yelling “Man Down!” already. As long as the files are there in the first place they can be changed, or eliminated all together if desired. You can take away, but you cannot add.

One thing I know is testing is essential to find the best design. We may find sound really isn’t needed at all for all that is known in concept.

Da Vinci had his notebooks, and I guess I have the Battlefront forum as mine as far as my interest in war game design goes. It’s an artist thing, and another way to creative buzz. It is like I have to get it out of my system. I certainly don’t think I am as brilliant as Leo, but I think he would be proud of my “Armchair General Sleeve” invention.

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“Armchair General Sleeve” – A sleeve that fits over the armrest to move the mouse on in total comfort. The edge is slightly raised to prevent mouse sliding off. I love it! I added a pad at the elbow that is not shown in this pic. Another good one I came up with is the “The Tile Man’s Seat”. If you ever layed tile you would love this! It is a tile caddy with wheels one kneels in, but has a bicycle seat at the end of a bar that extends to rest the rear end on. This reduces fatigue greatly. Now I just need money to manufacture these things in mass. Posters were much easier to make in mass.

cockpit016.jpg

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TOW war has that. Honestly I didn’t use it because it became annoying preferring to pause at my will. Really don’t see the need in WEGO as one can easily rewind, and pause to catch things. For real time perhaps some might like that, but again during single player one can pause at will. Also, one can scroll through the Roster at any time for quick review at a glance of the condition of all the force. For these reasons I would say that is more on the “would be nice” side IMO, and less on the necessary side for function.

I see the WEGO benefiting from it during the replay to not miss something. Sometimes I will miss something in a replay because I did not watch it from a particular angle only to hit the red button to find myself in command phase saying “wonder what happened with those guys?”. In Command phase I see it convenient to scan through it to see all’s conditions in one comprehensive report that one could only get otherwise by selecting each unit individually.

The biggest benefit for this is to the real time HvH player. He will find this tool most useful in SO many ways. As an alert system seeing all that otherwise could not be seen., as a navigation system, and as a management tool that reduces micro management which is another challenge all RTS games face.

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As someone who has tiled large floors I really like the Tile Seat concept! Not to mention your original CM improvement!!

Thanks dieseltaylor. I came up with it when I tiled my house. I searched for such a product, but could not find it, so I invented it.

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Here is the latest, and best by far:

Included more detailed icons to reduce color, so simpler yellow/red icons stand out more. This gives it a more “Combat Mission” look, and improves what is important to pop out more. Here shows a company, and size if full screen length.

The generic runner clip art I grabbed is now a soldier, and the green lightning bolt is now a soldier looking though binos (spotting.)

ROSTERFINAL.jpg

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“Armchair General Sleeve” – A sleeve that fits over the armrest to move the mouse on in total comfort. The edge is slightly raised to prevent mouse sliding off. I love it! I added a pad at the elbow that is not shown in this pic. Another good one I came up with is the “The Tile Man’s Seat”. If you ever layed tile you would love this! It is a tile caddy with wheels one kneels in, but has a bicycle seat at the end of a bar that extends to rest the rear end on. This reduces fatigue greatly. Now I just need money to manufacture these things in mass. Posters were much easier to make in mass.

cockpit016.jpg

Sorry, what were you saying? I was staring at the Guinness...mmm Guinness. Though I prefer the Draught cans.

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  • 2 years later...

actually they do have some situational awareness items, flashing icons etc. .  Hyperbole doesn't help get answers, they usually just get annoyed.  It is fine to say that the tools at hand are too limited.  That is opinion and a defensible position.  It is another to say none. Steve prefers RT so it isn't like he doesn't understand the play style.

 

Now in regards to this thread - 3 years old that it was, (cough cough, dusty in here!) Steve actually has commented somewhere (not in this particular one) that he really wants to hit the UI, but it will be an organized major upgrade approach.  An engine version difference is what I think he said at the time.  Don't look for it soon, but the fact is he isn't happy with the current state of affairs either.  That is about as much as I think they are willing to say.

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