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Why was the interface not developed further?


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I could see how players that spend a lot of time in other games (RTS, shooters, etc) could get crossed up by any new game that defies what they now consider "conventional" interface routines.

Maybe the UI bothers me less because I haven't spent a lot of time on RTS games and frankly have not played the original CM1 for a long time. It is much easier when you don't have to break old habits and only have to develop new ones.

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Yes, habits have a lot to do with how we perceive things. For example, this suggestion:

Make the default action when you click on an enemy with a friendly unit selected TARGETING it.

This might be fine for an RTS where there's no reason to click on an enemy unit except to target it, but in CM? Holy crow... I spend almost as much time clicking on enemy units just to see what they are than I do clicking on them to target. Having the default behavior be to assume you want to target would be HORRIBLE!!! It would never make it out or the Beta Tester group if we implemented it. Just think:

I'm setting up the perfect ambush. I've got my guys all hidden and ready to go and one of my units is selected. I see an enemy unit come into view. I click on it to see what it is and now two things happen:

1. I don't see what the enemy unit info is because it doesn't automatically deselect my friendly unit information. All I get is a target line and now I have to undo the target and deselect my unit and then select the other unit. That doesn't sound like an improvement. But it's worse than that...

2. Because I just accidentally gave my hidden unit a target command it is now up and blazing away when all I wanted to do was check the enemy unit. In WeGo you have a chance to head this off if you notice, but in RealTime you have NO CHANCE AT ALL!!! Ambush blown.

How many times would this need to happen before there was a thread popping up on this Forum to change it back to the way it is now? I can give you that answer... exactly 1 time.

Honestly, it never ceases to amaze me how much time people can put into suggestion lists and how little time they put into thinking through the implications of their suggestions. I know that customers shouldn't be expected to be as thorough in their thinking as we developers MUST be, but c'mon... at least try :)

One reason why game designers are so annoying to talk with about feature improvements is we can't afford to daydream. We have to think through everything VERY HARD before we even try to implement something. Have to. Otherwise we wind up wasting time on a bad idea and then wasting more time fixing the bad idea. Good game designers do "tire kicking" as second nature, bad game designers are out of a job because they don't. Customers can afford the illusion of infallibility and therefore don't tend to double check their ideas because they're assumed to be "perfect".

Borrowing ideas from other paradigms is fine if it is adapted to fit the CM paradigm. Blindly trying to carry stuff over from another game genre, just because it's "standard" and/or works well for it, is a recipe for disaster. There's plenty of room for improvement of CM's UI, but there's far more room to make it worse. Those who don't understand this probably have never had to design a game UI. Just guessing here ;)

Steve

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The interface is a large improvement from when CMSF was released. We got through the CMSF interface, you can get through this one. :)

There is just a large amount of "micromanagement" in CM games whether you like it or not. I think it would take a diminishing returns amount of effort to actually make a "perfect" interface for this game.

I've gone back to WEGO and find it considerably more enjoyable, especially given the large WW2 formations. Maybe give that a try.

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When i first played this game i thought the controls didn't make sense and were combersome. But after plowing through, it makes perfect sense. They aired on the side of safety. If BFC does change the controls, please leave tthe current setup as an alternate, legacy, something.

When BFC could do is make everything command bindable, including to the mouse and all its extra buttons.

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The interface is a large improvement from when CMSF was released. We got through the CMSF interface, you can get through this one. :)

There is just a large amount of "micromanagement" in CM games whether you like it or not. I think it would take a diminishing returns amount of effort to actually make a "perfect" interface for this game.

I've gone back to WEGO and find it considerably more enjoyable, especially given the large WW2 formations. Maybe give that a try.

Or you could give RT another go and try simplifying your playstyle a bit. Of course just saying "change your playstyle!" isn't really a valid suggestion unless you desire to, but the TacAI has improved over CMSF, as has pathfinding. The pace of combat is slower as well.

I find, in short, that a lot of the micromanaging I was doing with CMSF is no longer (and in some cases may not have been even then, but that's another topic) necessary. Like I said, I do very, very little micromanagement, and I seem to do just fine. As Steve said, personal preference plays a large role in determining how one interacts with and ultimately enjoys the game. When I actually sit down to play, my own personal preference is to do as little work as possible and maximize my enjoyment. :)

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Holy crow... I spend almost as much time clicking on enemy units just to see what they are than I do clicking on them to target.

i never click on enemy units because it gives too much info on iron (i really wish this could be fixed). though i almost never give any target orders either. :D

it would be cool if you could add a FACE order with some mouse gesture (drag or whatever).

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I don't know...I must be one of the odd men out 'cause the interface never bothered me...I threw away CMX1 thinking when CMSF arrived and figured I'd learn the new way...I have and works fine for me. I think a lot of dudes need to stop thinking in terms of CMX1 and what ever RTS games there are and wrap their head around CMX2. CMBN isn't CMBO and it's not Starcraft II...it's CMBN. Take it for what it is not what you wish it was and you are half way there.

Mord.

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I agree that you have to learn a new way and that it's entirely possible and entirely reasonable to have to do so.

So personally I don't come with any "why don't you make it like <blah some other game>".

The only thing I've read so far that ryhmes with me is that it is frustrating when the camera bumps into the edge - not because "some other game doesn't do that" but just because it seems natural to have a given camera angle looking at the ground the move "backwards" to see more stuff.... it's strange that there are areas of the map that you can't see this way due to bumping into the edge. It's not "unworkable" ... obviously you can turn around or whatever, but ...

GaJ

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I've come straight from CMx1 and although the interface threw me at first I'm now quite settled into the CMBN way of doing things.

After a few days i thought it's a better game with a clumsier interface,after a week or so, well it's light years ahead of CMx1,there really is no comparison.The only thing i wouldn't mind being able to do is adjust waypoints and click on path lines to access units.

The flexibility in issuing commands,maintaining contact with HQs,designating or more importantly adjusting to opportune targets,coordinating units and artillery fire,maintaining ammo,moving large groups of vehicles is just awesome,I feel like a surgeon wielding a scalpel now as opposed to a blacksmith in CMx1 hammering things into place.

I am in awe at what BF have done.

Chris

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In my opinion the controls are much better now than before, at least I can do it all with the mouse, before it was a pain having to hit a key to change elevation.

I'm really quiet suprised with the nitpicking, if you were expecting the perfect game then of course your going to be dissapointed.

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Ok first of all I personally do not like the panelled interface of the CMx2 engine, the amount of times i've accidentally bailed out vehicle crewes when i've meant to face them, jeez.

However it really annoys me to see people throwing a little bitch fit about the game being broken when they simply havn't figured it out

No info in the unit panel, if a unit is hidden, or if a tank is buttoned or unbottened. I'm already getting really frustrated, to zoom in to check that out, instead that the interface shows that info.

You don't need to zoom in to find this info out. If you go over to the S panel you can see if the hide/unbutton command is selected and see it that way. Also if a unit is hiding it will tell you in the green text over on the left hand side.

Another huge step backbward is, that there are no target lines. So you can easily overlook important action. Three steps back from CMx1.

So now a 10 man squad can target 10 individual targets at once in theory in the CMx2 engine, how easy would it be to track what is happening with all those red lines flying about the screen?

That there is no window for unit data and no kill stats is ten steps back.

There are kill stats in the game, you just can't see them until the end of the scenario, if you havn't noticed these it suggests you havn't even bothered to play a scenario until the end. If you are referring to the kill stats that you could get mid game in CMx1, I never really used them as they wern't exactly accurate.

Way to much info about foreign units.

Huh?

Or that waypoints still cannot be moved, is also not really a step further from CMx1. How long has CMSF been out now?!

But the main reason CMx1 had moveable waypoints was that if you deleted a waypoint and replotted it you would incur a time penalty which is now no longer the case in CMx2. It can be a bit of a pain i grant you but does it really matter?

When CMx2 was announced, it was claimed, that dynamic lighning will allow to judge terrain undulations. That was not true. But what is much worse, that in all the years nothing was done, to give the player a tool to judge terrain undulations

You do have such a tool, you can check LOS from any action point on the map what more do you want?

[/rant over]

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Or you could give RT another go and try simplifying your playstyle a bit. Of course just saying "change your playstyle!" isn't really a valid suggestion unless you desire to, but the TacAI has improved over CMSF, as has pathfinding. The pace of combat is slower as well.

I find, in short, that a lot of the micromanaging I was doing with CMSF is no longer (and in some cases may not have been even then, but that's another topic) necessary. Like I said, I do very, very little micromanagement, and I seem to do just fine. As Steve said, personal preference plays a large role in determining how one interacts with and ultimately enjoys the game. When I actually sit down to play, my own personal preference is to do as little work as possible and maximize my enjoyment. :)

I don't actually mind the micromanagement, but compariatively there is a large amount of it to a lot of other games.

I found starting on RT was just tedius compared to WEGO, that's just my personal preference though due to larger formations, and not a belittlement to the game.

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+1 on the map edge camera problem.

Since playing CMSF for 2 years....... I haven't seen much change in the actual UI, it feels very similar to CMSF.

Some minor things I'd like to see:

I can't seen to use the "escape" button on my Mac to get to the desktop from the game startup screen - - OH - scratch that - just realised "command+tab" works, Doh!

I'd like to be able to delete saved games from within the game in the saved games screen, rather than having to go to the finder and do in the file system.

I'm also having a problem with the button sensitivity many many times - I've thought I've clicked a, say move button, and it's not registered, without me realising, and I go to click the first waypoint, the unit is then deselected - and I have to start all over again. It's getting quite frustrating.

I use the mouse to navigate - I find I keep on activating "Expose" on my mac when I'm trying to rotate the camera - this is getting quite frustrating too! I wonder if, for Macs, the sensitive areas could be further away from the corners of the screen.

Minor points, I know - fab game anyway!

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You don't need to zoom in to find this info out. If you go over to the S panel you can see if the hide/unbutton command is selected and see it that way. Also if a unit is hiding it will tell you in the green text over on the left hand side.

Great you only have to move the mouse and click and double check, if it doesn't display an order at a waypoint... Ofcourse much better than no mouse movement and no click...

So now a 10 man squad can target 10 individual targets at once in theory in the CMx2 engine, how easy would it be to track what is happening with all those red lines flying about the screen?

I don't know how many gamers play infantry only battles, that you come up with the worst possible example of an implementation, but i personally would already be satisfied, if the game interface would notify me, if my precious cat, my last ATG or my fragile TDs are engaging a deadly threat like a ATG/TD/tank or if they are being engaged (besides the increased thrill aspect).

There are kill stats in the game, you just can't see them until the end of the scenario, if you havn't noticed these it suggests you havn't even bothered to play a scenario until the end.

What, if i want to use kill stats, to judge efficiency of units or the tactical orders they received? Oh, i can do so after the battle...

And btw: the missing unit info does not allow you to finde the secure engagement range of tanks - or in the case of weaker tanks, you don't know what's the distance you need, to knock the heavier tank out. But i guess, that's just me and my personal preference, that i want to know such things, before i maneuver tanks/TDs or open fire with my ATGs...

But the main reason CMx1 had moveable waypoints was that if you deleted a waypoint and replotted it you would incur a time penalty which is now no longer the case in CMx2. It can be a bit of a pain i grant you but does it really matter?

Have you never added additional units to move on a bending street? Moving waypoints allows to separate the units. They also allowed the player to direct units on one side of the street, if faster units were approaching from the back, or if oncoming traffic was necessary.

You do have such a tool, you can check LOS from any action point on the map what more do you want?[/rant over]

I'm not talking about checking undulations at specific locations, i'm talking about the problem of reading a 3D map on a 2D surface to get a correct visual impression of the topology. This knowledge is a prerequisite, to identify possible routes for tanks, or to quickly recognize, where the amoured infantry could be moved within their carriers, without being exposed to enemy tankfire. It's so basic, that i'm stunned, that using a LOS tool was even brought up a solution.

If i would enjoy playing against a stupid computer with premade plans, ok, i wouldn't need to see the terrain's undulations, but playing against good human oponents means, that they will invest a fair amount of time to find the best spots and if you don't recognize them, because you haven't checked every meter of the map at ground level with a LOS-tool, then it's going to be a very quick battle... :D

I'm also having a problem with the button sensitivity many many times - I've thought I've clicked a, say move button, and it's not registered, without me realising, and I go to click the first waypoint, the unit is then deselected - and I have to start all over again. It's getting quite frustrating.

OUCH! So it's not only me? You just remembered me about one point, that in the meanwhile gives me physical aversion against the interface. How long would it take, to throw a defective mouse away, if the click has become unreliable? In CMBN the defective mouse button seems to be simulated with one problem: you can't get rid of it. :mad:

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I'm setting up the perfect ambush. I've got my guys all hidden and ready to go and one of my units is selected. I see an enemy unit come into view. I click on it to see what it is and now two things happen:

1. I don't see what the enemy unit info is because it doesn't automatically deselect my friendly unit information. All I get is a target line and now I have to undo the target and deselect my unit and then select the other unit. That doesn't sound like an improvement. But it's worse than that...

2. Because I just accidentally gave my hidden unit a target command it is now up and blazing away when all I wanted to do was check the enemy unit. In WeGo you have a chance to head this off if you notice, but in RealTime you have NO CHANCE AT ALL!!! Ambush blown.

[sNIP]

Honestly, it never ceases to amaze me how much time people can put into suggestion lists and how little time they put into thinking through the implications of their suggestions. I know that customers shouldn't be expected to be as thorough in their thinking as we developers MUST be, but c'mon... at least try :)

That's rather insulting but I'm going to look on the bright side and assume you meant to insult everyone and not just me :D.

The target function could easily be left click to target and right click to select, currently no function is given to right clicking an enemy. I don't know how retarded you think your customers are but I think most of them could manage that without giving accidental targeting orders all over the place as your strawman suggests.

Besides, making it exceedingly difficult to set an incorrect order is not the best design philosophy and CM hasn't managed it anyway (hunt vs bail).

This is a matter of personal preference. I find it VERY F'N ANNOYING when I'm trying to move a unit near another unit and the system thinks I want to switch units. Lacking an explicit deselect feature, like CM has, the game switches units and then go back to the previous unit (which might even be off screen) and pick up where I left off. I've had this happen to me enough to know I don't want it for my CM experience.

Yes its a matter of personal preference but it is also a matter of economy. You force everyone to do more movements, more clicks every time to prevent a few people doing something stupid occasionally.

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I'd love to see a bit more camera freedom 'over the border' as well, just enough so that when I am in views 3/4 I don't have to tilt the view to see the back of the map as I move back - if you see wat I mean.

That said it is definitely a 'nice to have' rather than urgent.

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This is a matter of personal preference. I find it VERY F'N ANNOYING when I'm trying to move a unit near another unit and the system thinks I want to switch units. Lacking an explicit deselect feature, like CM has, the game switches units and then go back to the previous unit (which might even be off screen) and pick up where I left off. I've had this happen to me enough to know I don't want it for my CM experience.

This could be entirely avoided if you went with the standard of "left click select, right click acts". So if you want to place a waypoint near a unit, you're right-clicking on the game field and will never select a unit, even if you hadn't got a unit selected. And if you want to select a unit, you'll never add another waypoint for the previously selected unit by accident.

The right-click to deselect is second nature to me.

Hardly a surprise when you've played 1000 hours of your own game, eh? Just because you're used to it doesn't make it good design.

I'd hate for it to be like RTS games...

Well, there's a problem. :) I know what you mean, but if (I say if) that means that you'll never adopt any features of an RTS game, then you're missing some very well-designed interfaces.

Again, this comes down to personal preference. In RTS you're trying to select a bunch of guys in one area and you don't really care too much about what you're doing because it doesn't really matter (because it's an RTS). In CM it's important to be more exact. The way we have it now allows you to be more exact and I for one wouldn't want it to change.

Bullhockey. How is it more exact to sometimes, arbitrarily (i.e. those times you forget and don't notice that you started with a unit already selected) move the group you intended and the last unit you had selected? What it allows is for you to be slightly quicker in having your current unit plus a group selected, whereas if a shift-dragbox select didn't add to the current selection you'd have to go back to your previous unit and add that with shift-click. It lets you add dragged groups together, too. It is however, nothing to do with precision.

How one uses the UI ultimately determines what their perception of it is.

Of course the adherence or otherwise of the UI to familiar, proven standards (like scrollbars, cursor control keys, ESCape to cancel, double-click to select and OK, left-select/right-act etc) have no effect on that perception? There's a reason computer applications tend to have similar interfaces to a greater or lesser extent.

While I absolutely will never make the argument that the current UI is "perfect"...

Good. However, CM's interface barely rates 'adequate'. Please don't be blind to that.

...I think that some people create their own problems.

And some people's problem is that their head is in the sand, it seems.

And the more complicated a game's UI is, the more potential there is for players to get frustrated with it. Combat Mission is "cursed" with having far more features and user options than other games, therefore it is saddled with a certain complexity of UI which few games have to deal with.

You need to get out in the gaming world more. Look at MMOs. An entire genre where you have 5-10 times the game functions that CM has to bring to the interface. CM is a breeze compared to those games.

We design the gameplay and then figure out how to make the UI work for it. It's an imperfect process, but I'd rather err on the side of having a super rich game with a slightly clunky UI than a super slick UI with a game devoid of detail.

Fair enough, your choice. But you're totally throwing babies out with bathwater. Good interfaces aren't difficult to conceive, and take no more work to program than poor ones.

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I tried to get used to it but i'm noticing, that there are so many clicks necessary, that wouldn't be necessary, if the interface would have been developed further.

Clicking on movement paths does not select the unit.

No info in the unit panel, if a unit is hidden, or if a tank is buttoned or unbottened. I'm already getting really frustrated, to zoom in to check that out, instead that the interface shows that info.

Another huge step backbward is, that there are no target lines.

Another pain in the ass for me are the missing C2-lines:

That there is no window for unit data and no kill stats is ten steps back.

Way to much info about foreign units.

Camera movement is blocked way too early on the map edges.

Or that waypoints still cannot be moved,

When CMx2 was announced, it was claimed, that dynamic lighning will allow to judge terrain undulations.

Steiner, I agree with some of your points, but still do not think it is a bad interface all together. Sure it can be improved.

I have thought too that I miss being able to select a unit by selcting its movement line, and would like to see that return also if possible.

I hear you about the buttoned, and unbuttoned and totally agree. I have submitted a design change to address this. I am sure you have seen the graphic, but here it is again. This consolidates the experience level to the empty box and makes froom for FLOOR/PASSENGER/BOTTONED/UNBUTTONED info to be displayed. Also note that integers alone, are not better than color, and integers together for the amo panel. Color is general at a glance of overall sitrep. Integers give the specific. Only need to pay attention to numbers if indicator is yellow, or red. Green is good.

Floor-passangerv4_edited-1.jpg

The return of target lines would be nice I agree.

I don't miss the command lines personally, and have adapted to the new system. One thing I find is that "iron" mode is easier in this regard with how it shows units are not in LOS for CMBN since most of the time a unit must be in LOS to be in command.

You can get kill stats at the end of the battle now which is an upgrade from CMSF.

As far as the spotting system I think CMx1 was perfect. Indeed it was more "irony" than Iron mode is. Another benifit to it was that after a unit was spotted, and the icon turned to generic you could select that generic icon to get the last known intell on it. This would be great for RTS play where the player can miss sightings and has no way to rewind to see what was missed as in WEGO.

I have had no problems with the camera as expressed.

Movable waypoints have been in the duscussion ever since CMx2 was released. Apperently it is much easier said than done for reasons that are beyond most understanding of programming. It has something to do with conflicts between RTS, and WEGo from what I gathered, but BF is still working on trying to get it in if possible I believe.

As far as the terrain undulations I do not have a problem with that either. Grid mods always help whether it is Cmx1, or CMx2. Another thing that helps is adjusting GPU settings to get better shading. There are some good threads on this in the tech forum. I have Nvidia and the advice has made the game look better than ever in this regard.

The important thing to remember is that development is a PROCESS. I do feel though that sometimes developers try to re-invent the wheel. Things sometimes change, just for the sake of wanting to do something different. Sometimes these changes are good, and sometimes the original concept was best.

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I find one of the most annoying "features" of this UI, to be the many clicks you need just to get the information you want. Also, all the different panels with protection, ammunition, damage of vehicles should be visible *at a glance*, as well as all the orders for that matter, and not requiring an extra number of clicks.

This UI is totally unsuited for larger RT battles in its current form. It's clunky, it's slow; and as Womble said, just because people get used to something, doesn't mean it's necessarily good.

Throw in the clunky camera controls and during especially intense RT engagements I find myself cursing the interface of this game, definitely not enjoyable. It might have been more enjoyable if there wasn't such a thing as RT (Thus, WeGo TCP/IP), but that's another story. Luckily, the old hotkeys make this endeavour slightly more tolerable, but just slightly. The sooner a UI overhaul is done, the better. For the good of the game.

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Best game since Steel Panthers!

- Next unit key doesn't work on finnish keyboards.

- Put next unit + lock view as an option into options menu so that we can see units in lock mode while pressing next and previous unit buttons.

- Floatin unit list.

- Unit information database in purchase screen would be nice.

- hard target command please :)

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