Author Topic: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"  (Read 518 times)

Offline keith.lamothe

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AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« on: November 09, 2017, 06:55:26 PM »
Release notes here!

One resounding theme of recent UI feedback is "the upward-expanding pile of buttons at the bottom has got to go". So for this release we told all the functions in that menu "you ain't gotta go home, but you can't stay here".

The result is a general layout of:
1) Passive info on the top half of the screen
2) Interactable controls on the bottom half
3) Stuff pertaining to your selected units (if any) on the left
4) Stuff pertaining to your selected planet on the right

(edit: the lobby still needs to be changed around to be consistent with the interactable-stuff-at-the-bottom; the above refers to in-game stuff)

There was also a major switch in the graphics pipeline (now using Alloy since it recently became open-source and we could thus let modders have access to it) and a move of a ton of visualization code into the external-visualization project, which greatly expands what modders can impact.

Enjoy!
Keith
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2017, 09:02:31 PM »
This UI seems like a significant improvement. I like it. It might need some additional massaging, but it's a great step.

Now for some critiques from playing for a few minutes.

It feels much harder to click on things in this release. I feel like you have to click on things extremely precisely or it just doesn't work.

"T" no longer opens the Tech Menu, which is unfortunate.

There's a problem with the Build Menus, especially for the Starship Constructor. To reproduce, start a new game and hit B a few times. After you rotate through the Planetary Controller, you'll only have the Infra Menu available for the starship constructor. Clicking "Starships" doesn't help. However, if you get the Build Menu for the Planetary Controller, click on "Turrets" then hit B again to get to the Starship Controller, you can then click "Starships" and that menu will open.

If I am trying to build turrets, it's really hard to click on a turret, holding shift then move my cursor up to build things without accidentally causing the tooltip to suddenly be a different turret (since I'm moving my cursor up through the rest of the build menu). Perhaps if you are holding Shift for repeat build, it will always hold the tooltip as the unit you are going to repeat build?

It feels like Usurpers aren't recapturing planets. See Mantis https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=19289  (which includes a save game). Usurper fleets seem to often include Mark IV ships, which is surprising to me.

Waves have a strong tendency to get to a target planet, realize there are strong defenses and immediately run away. This makes sense as threat behaviour, but it means that Waves can feel anticlimactic. I'd rather they give a good faith effort to take a planet first (maybe something like threat units "won't retreat until timeOnPlanet > X"). What do others think about this? 
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 11:50:01 PM by BadgerBadger »

Offline FalseMyrmidon

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 09:59:25 PM »
Oh, that bottom bar rework helped a lot!  Still rough but definitely usable now!  Gave actually playing it a shot for the first time and took some stream of consciousness style notes as I went.

  • Getting the tooltip for hovering over a unit/structure only seems to be working if you hover over the model, not the icon you get when zoomed out.
  • The Pause/Break key doesn't pause the game
  • Selecting things by dragging a box selects everything, instead of just mobile military like in the first game
  • The sidebar doesn't highlight when things are selected
  • The tooltip when hovering over resources at the top seems oddly low framerate.  This is hard to explain but it doesn't follow the mouse smoothly.
  • The description for the Ark gets cut off with ellipsis
  • I don't like all of the turret types in the research menu having the same icon.  Too samey.
  • Having the objectives in the bottom left window is kind of odd.  I'm assuming it's a placeholder.
  • I like what you're going for with the quick select numbers in the menu.  Like 0-4-3 selects docks.  I suggest changing the menu hotkey from 0 to ` so it's easier to do `-4-3 with one hand.
  • I hadn't realized that the ship cap was so low now.  It's also really quick to build up to the ship cap.
  • Control groups being 1-0 and menu hotkeys using the same keys seems conflict.  Maybe move he menu down to qwerty?
  • The icon for starship constructor and space dock does not make me think of either of those things.
  • Ships not moving fluidly is pretty disappointing.  I think I remember you saying at some point that it might not be technically possible?  Maybe there's a middle ground?  I think keeping them as they are would hurt your sales.
  • The tractor beam turret looks like mines?  Placeholder?
  • Planet standing orders seems neat...
  • It feels like I'm controlling 30 units instead dozens? hundreds?  The only time I can tell that each icon isn't one ship is when I zoom way in.  Partially zoomed in the unit models still end up obscured by the icons.
  • No range indicator when building turrets.
  • Why is the tractor turret under defense?
  • I'm not sure how to get more power
  • Fuel looks like a form of supply cap.  Why that and a cap on individual ships?
  • Oh, the icons under the converters shows what they convert from, to.
  • I didn't have enough power to fortify all the wormholes in my starting system.
  • Control+2 doesn't assign things to control group 2? 
  • I got attacked by what looked like Mark Vs pretty quickly without them being part of a wave.  They died really easily
  • though.
  • Capturing planets seems harder than in the first game.  I failed to take any of the ones neighboring my starting planet.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2017, 07:56:54 AM »
It feels much harder to click on things in this release. I feel like you have to click on things extremely precisely or it just doesn't work.
Bizarre. Same on linux as on OSX? It works fine for me, in both dev version and steam version.

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"T" no longer opens the Tech Menu, which is unfortunate.
Odd, will fix. I'm guessing that it's conflicting with the new rules about when the tech menu can be shown (to prevent it overlapping the build menu, etc), but it's simple to address.

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There's a problem with the Build Menus, especially for the Starship Constructor. To reproduce, start a new game and hit B a few times. After you rotate through the Planetary Controller, you'll only have the Infra Menu available for the starship constructor. Clicking "Starships" doesn't help. However, if you get the Build Menu for the Planetary Controller, click on "Turrets" then hit B again to get to the Starship Controller, you can then click "Starships" and that menu will open.
That's pretty weird, but I think I know what's going on. Honestly I forget about keys like B and T and don't test them.

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If I am trying to build turrets, it's really hard to click on a turret, holding shift then move my cursor up to build things without accidentally causing the tooltip to suddenly be a different turret (since I'm moving my cursor up through the rest of the build menu). Perhaps if you are holding Shift for repeat build, it will always hold the tooltip as the unit you are going to repeat build?
I could look into that, but does the different tooltip interfere with your placement of the clicked type?

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It feels like Usurpers aren't recapturing planets. See Mantis https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=19289  (which includes a save game). Usurper fleets seem to often include Mark IV ships, which is surprising to me.
Thanks for letting me know on the non-capturing thing.

The MkIV ships are conceptually fine to me, but looking at the code I think it's supposed to be applying the MarkLevel_RequiredAIPLevel filter, so I'll look into that.

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Waves have a strong tendency to get to a target planet, realize there are strong defenses and immediately run away. This makes sense as threat behaviour, but it means that Waves can feel anticlimactic. I'd rather they give a good faith effort to take a planet first (maybe something like threat units "won't retreat until timeOnPlanet > X"). What do others think about this?
That timer-based approach is what AIWC did, and we can do that here too, if desired.


Oh, that bottom bar rework helped a lot!  Still rough but definitely usable now!
Glad to hear it :)

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Getting the tooltip for hovering over a unit/structure only seems to be working if you hover over the model, not the icon you get when zoomed out.
Weird, icon works for me. Win/OSX/Linux?

Quote
The Pause/Break key doesn't pause the game
Yea, I need to add support for multiple mappings to the same function. Right now it's just P.

Quote
Selecting things by dragging a box selects everything, instead of just mobile military like in the first game
I can't remember if I added that or not, will look into it.

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The sidebar doesn't highlight when things are selected
It should recolor the control group icon when you select that control group (specifically, not just happen to select all the ships in it). I'm not sure if any of the others do. I think it highlights when you mouseover something, but I may be misremembering.

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I don't like all of the turret types in the research menu having the same icon.  Too samey.
I'd like to do different icons rather than the colored flairs under them, in general; the main question is whether it's reasonable for people to know all those different icons.

That said, I've found it very helpful to just look for that "chain" tractor flair to know if I can't steamroll a particular cluster, or the "plasma bolt" flair to know if there's something I need to kill sooner than later if I don't want my shields to die quickly.

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Having the objectives in the bottom left window is kind of odd.  I'm assuming it's a placeholder.
Where else would it go? I think we're close to the limit of how many buttons can go on the "surface" without getting back to the problem we ran into with the bottom bar. In AIWC the Objectives button was buried in a whole other screen, along with a bunch of other stuff.

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I like what you're going for with the quick select numbers in the menu.  Like 0-4-3 selects docks.  I suggest changing the menu hotkey from 0 to ` so it's easier to do `-4-3 with one hand.
Not everyone has that backtick (`) character, and not everyone has it in that position. But I can make both 0 and ` work for it.

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I hadn't realized that the ship cap was so low now.  It's also really quick to build up to the ship cap.
It's squads instead of individual ships/turrets, for the most part. Build times could be made longer, those haven't really been tuned.

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Control groups being 1-0 and menu hotkeys using the same keys seems conflict.  Maybe move he menu down to qwerty?
There's already camera functions using Q, W, and E, and pause uses P. That only leaves 6 keys in a row, on a particular (albeit very common) keyboard layout.
And no other region of the keyboard is going to be intuitive enough for it to make sense.
And having the 1-9 row and the 1-9 NumPad be default-bound to different functions isn't going to fly (many don't have a NumPad, and even if they do it won't be intuitive to have them be so different).

So if the menu keys can't live on the 1-9 row they just have to go away entirely (in terms of defaults, anyway, and if they're default-unbound we're back to the situation with AIWC's context menu where like 0.1% of the players knew about it and even fewer used it).

That said, I'm guessing most of the conflict comes from "1 followed by 2" does not "select control group 1, then select control group 2", but instead does "select control group 1, try to click menu button 2".

So I can make it so that having a selection does not automatically open the context menu, it just makes it so that if you do open the context menu it shows your selection commands rather than the top-level menu (System/Tech/Objectives/QuickSelect). That way any combination of numbers 1-9 still only selects control groups, unless you specifically press a button to open the context menu.

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The tractor beam turret looks like mines?  Placeholder?
I haven't checked recently. There are still a few units using the kinda-spherical-gray-ball placeholder model but if it's not using that it's probably final or near-to.

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It feels like I'm controlling 30 units instead dozens? hundreds?  The only time I can tell that each icon isn't one ship is when I zoom way in.  Partially zoomed in the unit models still end up obscured by the icons.
We made stuff about 25% smaller recently, that may be contributing.

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No range indicator when building turrets.
Did AIWC show it by default? In AIWC and AIW2 you can show it by holding Z.

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Why is the tractor turret under defense?
Because it doesn't have a gun.

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I'm not sure how to get more power
A fair point. It's per-planet in AIW2, and the main way is by researching more turret techs, but it totally doesn't tell you that right now :)

There's also the resource converters, which only affect things up to a point, and some planets have more or less power than average (shown on galaxy map through tooltips or the resource display mdoe).

All of the above stack, so a high-power planet with converters shunting metal and fuel into power will gain much more from the turret-tech increase.

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Fuel looks like a form of supply cap.  Why that and a cap on individual ships?
Exactly the same as AIWC with ship caps and energy.

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I didn't have enough power to fortify all the wormholes in my starting system.
Yea, power is still pretty low by design, though with some turret techs I suspect it's closer than one might think.

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Control+2 doesn't assign things to control group 2?
It did, but I don't know what all's happened there. Will check on it.

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Capturing planets seems harder than in the first game.  I failed to take any of the ones neighboring my starting planet.
In AIWC

First game's process:

1) Select fleet on Origin planet
2) Send fleet from Origin planet to Target planet
3) Switch view to Target planet
4) Select fleet
5) Right-click Target command station to give kill order
6) Switch view to Origin planet
7) Select builder
8) Build Colony Ship
9) Select Colony Ship
10) Send Colony Ship to Target planet
11) Switch view to Target planet
12) Select Colony Ship
13) Click desired command station type
14) Place command station

If you don't worry about losing a bunch of colony ships you could shave it down to:

(have a bunch of colony ships already built and with your fleet)
1) Select fleet on Origin planet
2) Send fleet from Origin planet to Target planet
3) Switch view to Target planet
4) Select fleet
5) Right-click Target command station to give kill order
6) Select Colony Ship
7) Click desired command station type
8) Place command station

But in practice I don't think that was commonly done, as colony ships died easily.

Second game's process:

1) Select fleet (including a planet claimer like an Ark or Flagship) on Origin planet
2) Send fleet from Origin planet to Target planet
3) Switch view to Target planet
4) Select fleet (may already be selected due to new active-selection rules, but probably not if you did stuff between the orders)
5) Right-click controller to give kill order
(Ark/Flagship will automatically claim controller once it's neutral, and no guardians are present)
6) Select controller
7) Move controller to desired position

Those last two steps aren't necessary if you're re-taking a planet, or otherwise are already happy with the controller's position.

Using standing orders you can cut it down even more:

(from the galaxy map, clear the "do not capture" standing order from any planet you want to capture)
1) Select fleet (including a planet claimer like an Ark or Flagship) on Origin planet
2) Send fleet from Origin planet to Target planet
(ships will auto-target the controller when they're in range and nothing higher-priority is, so either send long range stuff or send them on FRD)
(Ark/Flagship will automatically claim controller once it's neutral, and no guardians are present)

Granted, you'd only be that hands-off in a case where the actual battle for the planet would be trivial, but you get the idea.

In short: the process is certainly different, yes, but it's in no way harder. Quite the opposite.

The tutorial does bring you through the process, including the bit about "kill all the guardians" and "give the order to kill the controller", but it will need to do a better job.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2017, 08:22:48 AM »
The different tooltip does not affect my ability to do placements. This is a quality of life complaint (maybe I want to glance at the stats for the unit I'm placing, or maybe I want to remember which unit I'm placing because I'm forgetful).

For waves, I think a timer or a "% of wave destroyed" approach might work. At the moment waves have a tendency to turn immediately into Cross Planet Waves by running away and joining the Threat, which seems suboptimal; if the user wanted cross planet waves then that should be done diferently.

For the difficulty clicking things, it's happening on OSX as well. I started a new game and then tried to click on my ark (or just to mouseover it and have the tooltip come up) at max zoom and it's extremely hard. If I zoom "enough" then it becomes easy again (the way it used to be). Suspicion: something is wrong at the highest LOD. I think FalseMyrmidon is complaining about the this as well when (s)he writes "Getting the tooltip for hovering over a unit/structure only seems to be working if you hover over the model, not the icon you get when zoomed out."

The "Selection box gets Military and Civilian" thing, see https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=19147 as well. It's definitely still a problem.


Offline Mckloshiv

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2017, 02:43:56 PM »
I don't know how long this has been a thing, but there's way too much reflection going on in further zoom levels:
Look's kinda cool actually... but I'm sure it's not intended :)
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2017, 03:05:38 PM »
Look's kinda cool actually... but I'm sure it's not intended :)
Disco inferno!

Yea, it's related to the recent graphics upheaval (specifically for ships that used to have different models at different mark levels, iirc) and will smooth out once the LOD work is redone for those.
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Offline FalseMyrmidon

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2017, 05:58:53 PM »
Weird, icon works for me. Win/OSX/Linux?
Win

Where else would it go? I think we're close to the limit of how many buttons can go on the "surface" without getting back to the problem we ran into with the bottom bar. In AIWC the Objectives button was buried in a whole other screen, along with a bunch of other stuff.
I prefer it popping up in another window.  I think having the text in oversized, stretched out buttons doesn't look great.  Ultimately those objectives don't get used much so I guess it doesn't really matter though.

Did AIWC show it by default? In AIWC and AIW2 you can show it by holding Z.
I think the ranges were shown by default, I don't think I have them manually turned on and they definitely show when place turrets in AIWC.  I think it should definitely be the default when building turrets.
A fair point. It's per-planet in AIW2, and the main way is by researching more turret techs, but it totally doesn't tell you that right now :)
That's a bit counter-intuitive, why would better turrets give me more power logically?  I guess it works out well from a balance perspective?


On capturing planets, my issue was destroying the enemy forces.  I built a full cap of fighters, bombers and missile corvettes and sent them through the wormhole to fight a few times and they all got killed.  This could just be me playing the game wrong but doing something similar works pretty well in AIWC.  I wasn't sending my Ark along, I guess I should have been doing that?

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2017, 06:01:04 PM »
To take the first planet you will definitely want the Ark, and also build as many starships as your fuel will allow.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 07:18:59 PM »
I prefer it popping up in another window.  I think having the text in oversized, stretched out buttons doesn't look great. 
Oh, I see what you mean. I thought you were talking about the placement of the button that opens the thing.

The current display of the objective window itself is placeholder.

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Ultimately those objectives don't get used much so I guess it doesn't really matter though.
If they're not going to get used I'll just remove the Objectives thing altogether. It was added to AIWC by popular request, and later updated to consider stuff added in expansions by further request. If it's not needed here I'd be happy to remove that bit of complexity from the design and upkeep of the game :)

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That's a bit counter-intuitive, why would better turrets give me more power logically?  I guess it works out well from a balance perspective?
It's not totally unreasonable that researching better power-using units involves refinement to power generation technology, but yes, mainly it's a balance thing. I suppose it could be granted by techs named "Power Generation" or something like that instead, but it's not a great fit to have techs that don't actually grant any units.

One out-there thought that occurs to me is:
1) Have power-upgrade techs
2) Remove turret techs
3) Remove the unit caps on turrets (so power is the only cap on them, and you can build 100% Laser Turrets if you like, etc)
4) Have the Turret Controller capturables automatically upgrade all your turrets by 1 mark level, at the same power cost (usual rules of "either capture and hold it, or hack it and you can't lose the benefit")
5) Keep non-turret defenses (grav generators, tachyon arrays, shield generators, etc) using the current rules

So spending science on turrets would be a less granular thing, you just spend science there when you want Moar Turretz.

Thoughts? (from anyone)

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On capturing planets, my issue was destroying the enemy forces.  I built a full cap of fighters, bombers and missile corvettes and sent them through the wormhole to fight a few times and they all got killed.  This could just be me playing the game wrong but doing something similar works pretty well in AIWC.  I wasn't sending my Ark along, I guess I should have been doing that?
Yea, the Ark is key in combat until you find and repair a flagship, as only Arks and Flagships can claim a planet for you.

And as Badger said, you want to build a fleet that uses all your fuel (if you're facing an individual combat that's a serious challenge, which the very beginning is).

Balance will change a lot, right now we're dealing with more fundamental issues like making the UI not cause Interface Poisoning.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 06:47:51 PM »
I think the Objective menu is the sort of thing that would be valuable to a newer player. I used it in AIWC when I was starting (and still do sometimes to remind myself of where all the things are). I think it or something like it needs to exist for a new player.

Those turret changes sound ... drastic. I'm not sold on the current state of Power/turrets, but I'm also not sold on this idea.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 07:41:29 PM »
Those turret changes sound ... drastic. I'm not sold on the current state of Power/turrets, but I'm also not sold on this idea.
I agree.

The current state isn't stable, because it doesn't really make a lot of sense to have per-planet caps and per-planet power and mark-upgrades, because the mark upgrades aren't really all that useful. Adding the power boost to them makes them useful, but in a non-intuitive way.

Removing the per-planet caps (on turrets) and just letting power be the pop-control for turrets makes sense to me, though that still leaves the mark-upgrades in a dubious state.
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Offline FalseMyrmidon

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Re: AI War 2 v0.603 Released! "Banishment of the Bottom Bar"
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2017, 11:48:41 AM »
I only ever used the objectives window in AIWC as a new player so I do think it has it's place.


The upgrade rework you suggested is interesting.  Some thoughts:

It changes turret power increases to be more determined by conquering planets.  I think more mini-objectives like that for the player are a good thing.  However, it could also make random placement of the upgrades very frustrating.  The counterpoint would be that you can purchase increased turret numbers via research to compensate if you get screwed by RNG.  Mostly sounds like a good thing.  As BadgerBadger said it is indeed a drastic change.

Percentage based upgrades are boring.  The worst offender being things like '+10% health' followed by things like '+10% damage' (killing things faster is more interesting than living longer).  Supply cap increases are kind of 3rd most boring in that more things is indeed more funner.  The best kinds of upgrades are, in my opinion, things that give new functionality.  For example this could be something like your missile turrets having their missiles home when they didn't before or having their missiles do a small area of effect damage.  Those upgrades are exciting.  But harder to balance.  Not sure where the middle area is here but on some level I think it's okay to say screw balance if it's more fun.  Maybe give each upgrade +10% and a fun effect?  Shrug, I don't know.