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TOW Interface thoughts (long)


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Hi All,

some thoughts about the interface. In the wargamming area, my ideas are based on combat mission, and panzer command - and a lot of other non wg games.

Firstly, the graphics are great. I am not a sim gamer, more into strategy and FPS, however I love the period very much (I put together a lot of Tamiya models).

Realtime- vs pause mode

I am comfortable with the realtime aspect of the game, a way to look at it is that it adds to the quality of the sim. Who has ever played trad wargames and hasn't used the turn based rules to exploit something?

A couple of things


  • 1. Current pause options -emphasis that in pause mode you can issue as many orders as required. Being able to issue waypoints are important here as well.</font>
  • 2. Add ability to auto-pause -as in games like Baldur's Gate. In BG you can set a preference to get the game to pause on a range of events like - first contact, spotting new contacts or causalities.</font>

I don't think this would change game balance, or the philosophy behind the game.

Key Command Reference.

Is there a quick reference card, or even a page in the manual listing all key commands? I couldn't find one anywhere, this follows onto my next thought - the camera control key - enter.

I fully understand and appreciate the design decision behind not doing a LOS tool (they didn't exist in 1940). What I really wanted was a first person view or at least sitting behind the shoulder of a commander to be able to position a tank or vehicle just where I wanted it. I got the download and went through the tutorials and the manual - but missed any reference to the enter key and the ability to do just this.

When I first learnt about it - from a forum post here, I found it was just what I wanted. By all means put the LOS tool in, however people will ideally (ie real sim players) use the first person view.

Grouping and Next Unit.

When playing I want to use keyboard commands exclusively to move around the battlefield, and select units. Using the mouse takes from thinking about the battle and tactics and makes me stop, try to pick the CO of an infantry unit and the double click on him to select the whole unit. The tab key - move to next unit , doesn't really do this.

Look at the first german scenario - Mokra. I am assigned 5 tanks and 50-60 infantry. The tab key will happily try to step me through each and every infantryman.

What I want is

1) The ability to assign groups at the setup screen, so from an organisation point of view, and not in the heat of battle, I can assign units to groups.

2) A next group key that will take me to the next group and centre the view on them. For me this is more useful than remembering that ctrl-1 is my PzIVs, ctrl-2 is a set of PzIIs, though I would still use this. Also I think this is how a commander might think, they would go through each unit in turn, call for a status update, consider the situation, issue new orders and then move to the next unit.

In the later stages of a battle I may want to take control of individual units - which is a great feature of the game, but not in the first part of any decent sized battle. Panzer command in my mind does this well. Also their panel display reflects this well. The group select defaults to units (eg 4/5 tanks per unit).

Anyway to wrap up, I think the game is great and my gripes are only a reflection on how good the game is and with a few interface changes it could be a bit better.

Another way to look at this is that the interface should be invisible , I am the commander on a battlefield, anything that takes me away from this doesn't add to the game.

Also to everyone a UI is a personal choice, so give lots of options, there is no one right way to do it.


John 'gnuru' Reidy.

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