Author Topic: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)  (Read 1169 times)

Offline x4000

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Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« on: September 19, 2016, 04:02:34 PM »
Hey folks,

So I know I promise screenshots and/or videos on this past Friday.  And I actually did take a video that was about 10 minutes long (way too long), despite Bandicam deciding that it no longer wishes to run on my machine.  That said, I didn't have time to upload the footage and longwinded discussion, and I wound up taking the whole weekend off, which was glorious.

Over the weekend I realized that I really wanted to talk about the nature of the tech demo I was showing off in a more concentrated fashion that wouldn't make the video so lengthy with me trying to cover all that there.  So today the design document has been updated in a few places of note:

2.j. Cross-Planet Unit Management
That one actually was unrelated to the video, but it came up with some questions from folks recently, and Keith and I finished our internal conversation about it today.

2.k. Completely Revised Controls
In my first take of the video, I spent way too long talking about this, because I knew some folks would comment on it.  So here that is, and thus my next try of the video won't have all that lengthy chatter in there about that.

2.l. Slightly Tilted Camera View
kasnavada had me really paranoid about this particular thing, though it works well in practice, so I spent too long talking about this one, too.  Now the document does it better, and I can skim over that in the next video.

2.m. Smaller Gravity Wells And Ship Ranges
I spent some time talking about this in the video, but the main issue was that... well, you need something for scale to figure out how big the gravity well is compared to your ships, and right now the video was ship-less (just showing the planet and other related things).  So... with that in mind, that's the primary driver behind the new take I want to do for the video, because I need some freaking ships in there or it's just no good showing you the rest. ;)

2.n. Sensible Directional Indicators For Wormholes
People requested this and I showed it in the video, and I just remembered to get it into the design document as well, is all.  I can spend less time discussing the nuances of the reasoning behind this now that it's written down.  It looks really cool and works great with the slightly tilted camera view, too.

Appendix 1: About The Tech Demo
This is where I spent yet more wasted time during the video that is better linked in the description.  I also really wanted to have the asset usage recognized and discussed in there (which I forgot to do in that 10-minute spiel), but discussing that at length in the document instead is better.  I had considered going back and making an addendum to the already-overlong video, but this is much better for anyone who cares about that sort of thing.

---

I technically didn't take the WHOLE weekend off.  I couldn't help researching more methods for doing what I want with painting the ships, and thinking about different approaches there.  I still don't have anything I'm 100% happy with, but that's my job for today and tomorrow, and I should be able to put out a new video tomorrow that is shorter and which shows that as well as the other things that the other one was already showing.

That said, just because I love you folks...



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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 04:25:32 PM »
yes Yes YES! Those screenshots!  :o Get Dominus to put them online.

I'm reading the rationale for the small grav wells and I'm really struck by the point that long range ships encourage you to play zoomed out. Of COURSE that's true and I've never once thought about it, but I do play zoomed out all the way back. Anything else is inefficient or dangerous.

Offline Wingflier

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 04:39:19 PM »
The large grav wells were also tedious. They definitely added to the length of the game, simply because of the large amount of time (probably hours in total) that you would spend just moving your units from one end of the well to the other.

It didn't seem like they added much to the game either, except forcing you to play zoomed out as the document mentioned. For me that's a huge change.
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Offline kasnavada

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 04:41:57 PM »
Quote
2.l. Slightly Tilted Camera View
kasnavada had me really paranoid about this particular thing, though it works well in practice, so I spent too long talking about this one, too.  Now the document does it better, and I can skim over that in the next video.

Haha... Sorry about that... the "slightly tilted" reminds me of all those space games where I'm unable to see what's in front of what and to gauge the distances correctly. Hence why I asked for "flatten option", if possible.

Slighted view "inside" what's you're calling gravity well... I don't have issues with that in particular, but the top-down view is good to place stuff, gauge ranges and so on. Generally games whose camera I like have top down view as "completely zoomed out" (and / or building mode) and more and more tilt as the zoom goes in. Possibly it doesn't fit here though.

Waiting for the video :D

Offline x4000

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 04:51:19 PM »
Thanks guys! :)  And makes sense, kas. ;)

I'm not wanting these to go out on social media just yet.  Tomorrow with the ships will be the thing, so that we'll capture a lot more attention that way.  Can't get that kind of visibility two days in a row.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 04:53:12 PM »
The large grav wells were also tedious. They definitely added to the length of the game, simply because of the large amount of time (probably hours in total) that you would spend just moving your units from one end of the well to the other.

It didn't seem like they added much to the game either, except forcing you to play zoomed out as the document mentioned. For me that's a huge change.

Awesome.  This totally sums up my feelings too, by the way.
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 04:57:57 PM »
Looking good.
And I'd totally take a mini-app that just generates galaxies.  I'd set it up as a screen saver.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2016, 05:06:53 PM »
The large grav wells were also tedious. They definitely added to the length of the game, simply because of the large amount of time (probably hours in total) that you would spend just moving your units from one end of the well to the other.

It didn't seem like they added much to the game either, except forcing you to play zoomed out as the document mentioned. For me that's a huge change.

Awesome.  This totally sums up my feelings too, by the way.

Also given how the planets look like (of course, subject to change ?), and given the smaller size of the "ring", this could open for a whole new way of defending your planets. From what's seen above, if you set-up your defenses as "rays" from the planet... it could be possible to defend multiple wormholes on the same gravity well. Also directional wormholes make a lot of sense "tactically" given the size of the planet itself.

Whereas in AI War I it could be difficult to prevent passage to 2 wormholes in a single planet, solely depending on where they were randomly placed.

Offline Lord Of Nothing

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 06:13:04 PM »
Cross planet unit management?  YAY!  :)

Offline Orelius

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 06:14:55 PM »
Sweet.  Do we get a hotkey to select all your mobile military ships?  I'd love to be able to easily marshall all my troops with an F2 or something, like in SC2.

Offline x4000

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2016, 07:20:08 PM »
Cheers!

Quote
Also given how the planets look like (of course, subject to change ?), and given the smaller size of the "ring", this could open for a whole new way of defending your planets. From what's seen above, if you set-up your defenses as "rays" from the planet... it could be possible to defend multiple wormholes on the same gravity well. Also directional wormholes make a lot of sense "tactically" given the size of the planet itself.

In terms of the visual of the planet itself in the center of the ring, bear in mind that it's still (at the time of this writing, anyway), a "background object" and something your ships move in front of.  It's basically set right below the plane where the ships themselves go, so that they'll pass a bit over it without ever touching it.  That may not be what you actually meant, though, in terms of "planet defense," but I just wanted to have that clear.

There's nothing to say that the planet couldn't be shifted up into the ring so that your ships have to go around it, but I feel like that would restrict the amount of available space in the planet gravity well for no reason, as well as just generally causing extra CPU overhead for pathing around it, etc.

Bear in mind that this sort of side-on view is not what you'd normally be using to look at things, but it's the best way to see the z height of the planet relative to the ring in this case.  It also gives you the closest view of this particular planet.  By the way, the planet rotates, the clouds move, and so on. :)



Quote
Whereas in AI War I it could be difficult to prevent passage to 2 wormholes in a single planet, solely depending on where they were randomly placed.

Based on that comment, you probably didn't mean what I assumed above, but it was worth clarifying anyway.  At any rate, yes, agreed with you on the greater ease of having wormholes defensible as clockwork spokes.

Quote
Do we get a hotkey to select all your mobile military ships?  I'd love to be able to easily marshall all my troops with an F2 or something, like in SC2.

It would be great to make a thread of hotkey requests for things like that, actually.  Generally speaking there's not a reason we can't do that sort of thing, although past a certain point we might leave them default-unbound.

Quote
And I'd totally take a mini-app that just generates galaxies.  I'd set it up as a screen saver.

That would be slick!  Screensavers have some strange requirements, so I'd have to look into that more.  I wrote a screensaver a loooooong time ago, something like 2000 or maybe 2001, but I've not touched that sort of thing since.  I think I did that other one in Visual Basic (shudders). ;)
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Offline Vyndicu

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 07:28:31 PM »
My only concern with the new "map view" is that while it certainly look nice with tilted camera and all.

Except for one thing. Would you consider making a system-wide mini-map in a corner or something?

Basically it would tell you if a certain planets have incoming threat (warp attack in AI classic) and among other things.

IE it doesn't have to be galaxy wide just localized on whichever solar system you are focusing on. No need for complex tracking galaxy map filter just a simple color indicator of what is generally happening.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2016, 07:46:31 PM »
I have some concerns about the new control scheme (even though I'm one of the people that asked for it).

In AIW1, I usually have one or more control groups making up my main battlegroup, and space docks in those groups set to automatically rebuild any fleet casualties.  It sounds like with the new control scheme the following might happen:
* I take two control groups into battle (1 and 2)
* Group 1 takes casualties
* My space dock for Group 1 builds new ships
* I switch to group 2 and give an order
* I switch back to group 1 and give an order

Result: all the rebuilt ships back on my homeworld fly out to the current battlefield... possibly directly into a fortress or other unpleasant AI defensive structure in the way.

That might not actually be a problem if there are changes to how refleeting works *cough mobile space dock flagship cough*.  Or maybe there can be some nuances to the controls such that you can give cross-system commands but not have this issue. Ideally, while still being able to grab the whole group across multiple planets when you want to do that.

Otherwise, sounds wonderful.  I use control groups a *lot*, so expect me to have a lot of opinions about how they work. =)

Offline x4000

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2016, 08:05:38 PM »
Quote
Would you consider making a system-wide mini-map in a corner or something?

Basically my concern with a minimap (which AI War Classic had in I think the pre-4.0 days) is that it takes up a fair bit of screen real estate in what can already be an egregiously cluttered interface.  I absolutely loath how many warnings and text messages are all over the place in AI War Classic, because it's information overload to new players, and for existing players it's a different kind of info overload in that important things can get lost among the clutter of all those messages.

That's a whole other conversation, in the main, and certainly the interface here is never going to be what anyone would call "minimalist." ;)  But I want it to do a better job of bubbling up important information to you when that exists, and otherwise getting out of your way -- with of course the option to dive into the important details if you actually have a given question ("what's in my local solar system right now?" etc).

That is ultimately going to be the largest portion of the work I am doing on AI War II, in terms of what likely consumes most of my time over the longest period of time.  Will a minimap fit into that?  Possibly.  It's not technically hard to create, and goodness knows we've done a bajillion minimaps in various games over the years at this point.  The "minimap" solution that we added post-4.0 in AI War Classic was made of suck, though, I'm very willing to admit at this point. ;)  I'm not sure if a true classic minimap is a better idea now or not, but with smaller planet wells a minimap for the local planet could be a lot more feasible to show actual useful information (things not so clumped up).

When it comes to a minimap, that's not something that I'm willing to commit to, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.  When it comes to the interface in general, I'm simply going to need to budget a certain amount of time for exploratory iterative work where we go through a lot of things together and see what people like and how things evolve.  That's not something I really want to try to design in the design document prior to the kickstarter, except for perhaps in the barest form.

Quote
IE it doesn't have to be galaxy wide just localized on whichever solar system you are focusing on. No need for complex tracking galaxy map filter just a simple color indicator of what is generally happening.

Out of curiosity, do you mean the local planet, or the solar system of the local planet?  In the screenshots there you're looking at one planet, and then its linkages to other planets and/or the sun (it might not directly link to the sun) and possible linkages via wormholes to other solar systems.  Were you thinking the solar system as a whole, or just the one planet?  The latter is much easier, but the former strikes me as a lot more useful... and somewhat less like a minimap, and a bit more like some sort of other indicator.  I'm not sure what to call that one.

Ultimately the simplest solution might be a secondary window that you can choose to open that would show the galaxy map in a smaller view and let you zoom and pan around it to the level you want to see, which I imagine would vary.  I have no idea at this point how much extra graphical load that would entail, as I haven't tested that out yet.  The closer in you were zoomed, the less, for sure.

This would be good as a separate topic just to see what people want, if you want to break it out.

Quote
I have some concerns about the new control scheme (even though I'm one of the people that asked for it).

In AIW1, I usually have one or more control groups making up my main battlegroup, and space docks in those groups set to automatically rebuild any fleet casualties.  It sounds like with the new control scheme the following might happen:
* I take two control groups into battle (1 and 2)
* Group 1 takes casualties
* My space dock for Group 1 builds new ships
* I switch to group 2 and give an order
* I switch back to group 1 and give an order

Result: all the rebuilt ships back on my homeworld fly out to the current battlefield... possibly directly into a fortress or other unpleasant AI defensive structure in the way.

Maybe there can be some nuances to the controls such that you can give cross-system commands but not have this issue. Ideally, while still being able to grab the whole group across multiple planets when you want to do that.

For purposes of this discussion I'm going to ignore the refleeting argument, because I don't like for these things to rely unduly on one another.  In other words, I don't want the design of refleeting to be partly based on the requirements for this while the design for this is designed around assumptions for refleeting.  You get into circular dependencies and corners wind up being cut because "eh it's good enough while that other thing is that other way," and then someday when the other thing evolves for some reason, suddenly the first thing sucks. ;)

Anyway, I agree that this is a problem, and probably only one of many.  One of the things we used to have in AI War Classic, as you're undoubtedly aware, were toggles through a bunch of different planets using hotkeys to activate things like "this control group on the 'next planet'," etc.  I don't see any reason that we can't either a) remove those things and reuse them in some other way, such as having them say things like "activate these only on this planet" or "activate these only on enemy planets" or "activate these only on allied planets" or something of that sort; or b) keeping that ability to just select them on the current planet and loop between planets that have them.

This would also be worth a separate discussion, because I'm sure there are some other edge cases and not-so-edge cases.  Ideally things like refleeting changes ease the need for this anyway, but let's assume the worst possible case on that front when designing flexibility for this one.  That way this one is ironclad regardless of what is going on over there, and the other one can evolve freely without having to think of this. :)

Cheers!
Chris
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Offline Vyndicu

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Re: Needs a banana for scale... (Design document update 9)
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2016, 10:19:40 PM »
Definitely a solar wide minimap. It was always weird that you could only spot where ever the incoming warp attack after the incident not before. Yes I know about the hotkey to display the wormhole exit in a different color. I usually forget about it and just put my defensive to cover ALL exit at once so it was of little consequence for me usually. Except for those map with exit that were fairly a short sprint apart. But I think a "red arrow" pointing to a planet will read MUCH better than how it works currently in AI War Classic.

If you want to implement a planet-wide (classic AI war solar system) minimap on top of that. You can switch between the two mode in the same screen space if screen space is a concern. You can give different minimap tab hotkey to switch between them.

For minimap position you could give us option to put in 4 corner of the screen.

I notice that you plan to allow camera rotation earlier in the document. You might want to let the planet minimap rotate with the camera that way what in front of you is also in "front" of your minimap. IE if your camera is pointing east then your up of minimap will also be pointing east etc... Let it be a toggle switch between rotating and traditional static north is up mode.

I am TRYING really hard to think of a good implement of minimap that is good fit for AI war 2 and there is not many of them. Those that comes close fall under the wrong kind of genre heh.