Author Topic: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"  (Read 1204 times)

Offline keith.lamothe

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AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« on: November 06, 2017, 08:11:27 PM »
Release notes here!

This one focuses on the UI, but there's a lot of other stuff too.

On the UI front:

1) The "Let's make a better sidebar" experiment has been abandoned, beaten unconscious, and fed to the Devourer Golem. In some order.
- Now we have a sidebar very much more like the original game's, though with the extra feature of using each team's color rather than a standard blue/orange/yellow for me/enemy/ally.

2) The main galaxy map display mode now shows way fewer units (just key units and sensor scramblers), since it was way too cluttered. You can use the other display modes to see the other categories, in turn.
- The planet names also no longer try to name the owner, and instead rely on text color to tell you that. Again, decluttering.

3) The game no longer automatically assigns a "Fighter, Bomber, Missile Corvette" build queue to your Ark. If you want that behavior, you can use the new "Build Policy" behavior menu to set your Ark to just build everything it can. The Build Policy framework is very powerful, and addresses one of the longer-standing UI requests from AIWC (build queue templates) but in a much more flexible way. This allows us or modders to write scripts that control what gets built and in what order, and can automatically adapt to changing conditions from battle losses, which builder is closest to the rally point, tech unlocks, etc.

On other fronts:

4) More updates to the Nanocaust faction from community member BadgerBadger. The very same Badger has also submitted a bunch of changes to the Zenith Dyson Sphere faction to bring its behavior more in line with AIWC. Thanks, Badger!

5) The ratio of ship-size to gravity-well-size has been altered so that more ships can fit into the same space. You can still zoom in to see them honkin' huge, but one of the biggest balance changes from AIWC to AIW2 was actually that ratio, to an unintentionally huge degree. Made things feel kind of cramped. So this is a step in the right direction, and there's now a handy lever to tweak it further (the "ship_size_scale" attribute in ExternalConstants, to be precise).

6) Several other things, including another huge chunk of AI code moved into moddable-territory, and fixes for a bunch of bugs, like the one from the last few versions that made the AI always start in "tutorial" mode unless you specifically selected an AI type.

Enjoy!
Keith
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Offline CodeMichael

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2017, 10:38:59 PM »
Still unable to click on any buttons on the main menu in Linux.

debug log doesn't have much:
Code: [Select]
11/6/2017 9:36:47 PM Calling RunInitialSetup for Arcen.AIW2.External.InitialSetupForDLL from AIWarExternalCode
11/6/2017 9:36:47 PM Finished calling RunInitialSetup for Arcen.AIW2.External.InitialSetupForDLL from AIWarExternalCode
11/6/2017 9:36:48 PM Harmless Info: dll AIWarExternalVisualizationCode does not contain a IInitialSetupForDLL type. This is fine, but if you're the author of that dll and want it to run init-code, it ain't happening right now.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 10:42:36 PM »
This release is awesome. I think the new colours/lighting are great. Shrinking the ships was a really good idea, the ark especially just felt too large. The new sidebar is also way better than the previous one.

I'm attaching a tweaked Nanocaust.cs that will set the Influence for the Nanocaust so those planets will be reflected on the galaxy map. It's a one line change and I tested it and it seems to work much better than my previous attempt (since you did all the heavy lifting)

Build Policy Comments

It feels really weird to have the Build Policy not accessible from within the Build Menu, but only from the Control Group interface. For example, if I wanted to click on a flagship and set it to "Build Everything" I'd have to put it in a Control Group first, then go find the Build Policy menu which seems a really roundabout method. Also, if I click on a constructor with the "Build Cheapest" set I'll think I have it only set to build (say) Bombers Mark II and panic without the knowledge that the build Q is going to switch to another ship afterwards. That said it is useful to have the Build Policy assignable from within a control group so I could set multiple things to build quickly. Practical upshot: lets add the Build Policy menu to the build Q as well in some fashion.

Also, I think Rally Points should also be part of the build Q itself. Otherwise it's a bunch of extra clicking/button pressing. I want a "One Stop Shop" for things associated with a given build Q.

I think there should be a build policy that says "reset all my current build Qs."

Galaxy Map Screen

A few XML entries are missing tags that should be there. For example, the Nanocaust Hive and sensor scramblers weren't being shown on Normal, and Flagships weren't listed as Capturable. I've attached a tarball with the most obvious changes added. Note that the KDL_Ships_AIStructures.xml and KDL_Ships_Golems I'm providing also includes Descriptions I added for my own benefit. Feel free to use them if you like, I tried to copy AIWC where appropriate.

From the Galaxy Screen, there's no immediate feedback for which Galaxy Display mode I'm in (I could memorize what each one looks like, but that sounds awful for a novice, especially since I assume we'll get more display modes). Also it seems really cumbersome to have to hit Esc -> 5 -> 1 each time I jump back to the galaxy screen. I think the Galaxy Display Modes should be always visible in the galaxy screen. Or at least, much more easily visible.

It feels strange to be able to have my galaxy map tell me things like "This planet has an ARS", but not to be able to go to the planet screen for that planet and see anything if my ark isn't next to that planet. I believe this is just the way it's "supposed" to work, but this either needs to be rethought or we need some sort of visual indicator for the galaxy screen for which planets you have knowledge of and which you don't.

It would be nice to have some reflection on the Galaxy Map of whether your planets are under attack. Spur of the moment idea: What if the planet name colour flashed to the colour of the attacking force every couple seconds (so you could tell if the AI was attacking you or the Nanocaust, for example).

We'll definitely want the ability to set a Priority tag on planets and to attach notes to them like in AIWC; I loved that feature and would often leave long notes to myself so I could keep track of my plans if it was a week between getting to play. I feel like I almost see how to do that (adding ExternalData to Planet objects). Definitely something we'll want for 1.0.

Miscellaneous

I like the new ship graphic for the game start screen, though I might turn the blur at the front and read of the ship down just a tad. It took me a few seconds to realize it was supposed to represent motion, so I worry someone's first though it "Wow, the graphics on that ship look weird", which isn't what you want for a first impression. Definitely a strong step in the right direction.

The "Quit button doesn't work" error continues, and it's still unpredictable. I've seen it on OSX as well as linux. I have seen this without any special factions in the game, and there are no errors in the ArcenDebugLog.txt.

Many Guardians seem to be very bright and shiny until you zoom in on them. I assume that's expected due to the WIP nature of the LOD stuff?

Can we move the Debug menu to the end of the menu list? It's going to vanish eventually and I'd prefer not to have to retrain my fingers for which numbers control what.

To jump back to the sidebar, one nitpick. it's really hard to tell the Mark Level of the units in it (the Mark icon is much too small and it's also partially covered by the number of units of that type).
« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 12:16:15 AM by BadgerBadger »

Offline FalseMyrmidon

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 10:52:17 PM »
The bottom bar where you build things and well... do everything:  I currently find it very confusingly laid out and organized and I'm really hoping that the whole thing is a low effort placeholder.  I've been holding off on commenting on it for a while since I figured it must be but we're getting to the point where a lot of other areas are getting better and I think it needs a big overhaul.

I don't understand how the patterns work in practice currently but I like the sound of them.


Removing the default looping build queue is a good thing since it's less overwhelming to new players when they start the game up.  I think that the game was, and still is, overwhelming when you start it up and are immediately thrown into a combat situation.  New players need a few minutes to familiarize themselves with the UI, get to know the ships, figure out what all those little icons mean, what all the resources at the top are, etc.  Doing this at the same time as having to deal with a battle is stressful, and not in a good way even if it is possible to pause the game and look everything over.  The first game had this issue as well with a ton of mechanics and UI functionality being thrown at you at once as opposed to the standard RTS convention of introducing elements a few at a time.  Conversely, I like the idea of liberating your starting planet thematically though and would be sad to see it go completely.  Maybe having the player start with the Ark in deep space, building up there forces undetected in peace then jumping to their soon-to-be home system to liberate it?  Or maybe that has too much overlap with a tutorial?  Or maybe I'm just rambling (no maybe there).

The ship at the main menu is a big improvement.   Not crazy about the glowy white AI War II logo though.

Edit: Starting up a single player game and immediately having a battle going reminds me of SC2 ladder gameplay and how I immediately need to know and do everything correctly.  I could be alone on that though.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2017, 10:54:51 PM by FalseMyrmidon »

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2017, 11:02:32 PM »
I always use the "Start with first planet already owned" game modifier myself. I really think that should just be the default

Offline FalseMyrmidon

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2017, 11:27:31 PM »
Apparently I should read the UI more because I didn't realize that was there.  Making that the default would fix it.

Offline Cyborg

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2017, 05:35:20 PM »
I can devote another couple hours this week. What would be the most productive thing you need right now?
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2017, 09:10:21 PM »
I can devote another couple hours this week. What would be the most productive thing you need right now?
Thanks very much.

I'm currently knee-deep in reorganizing the UI (moving the control group buttons into the sidebar, folding the other bottom-bars commands up into a more-normal UX pattern, making the build menu more prominent and AIWC-like, etc) and I don't know if that will be releasable tomorrow or later. Normally that would be the most useful front right now.

If you're interested, you could work with Badger on fleshing out the Wave options: https://forums.arcengames.com/private-alpha-discussion/improving-wave-options/ ; that will be very useful in the longer run.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2017, 09:55:11 PM »
You could consider working on adding more elements to the Tutorial; building Starships and defenses, explaining resource types....

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2017, 10:24:43 PM »
Also Keith, please consider how multiple build Qs in a control group will work. I was never very happy with how it functioned in AIWC.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2017, 11:00:40 PM »
Also Keith, please consider how multiple build Qs in a control group will work. I was never very happy with how it functioned in AIWC.

My best idea so far is being able to set up multiple build queues on a single space dock, each assigned to a different control group.  EG, I have one space dock, with one queue pumping triangle ships in control group 1, and another queue pumping scouts into control group 6. 

Pros: you only need one space dock rather than one per control group, and it means you can put your mobile space docks in their own groups. 



Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2017, 11:23:19 PM »
I've never actually used a space dock in this game. Why bother, the ark builds fast already.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2017, 09:02:10 AM »
Also Keith, please consider how multiple build Qs in a control group will work. I was never very happy with how it functioned in AIWC.
There was the case of multiple builders of multiple different types (like a space dock and a starship constructor together), which I don't think even gave you a build menu, or if it did it only gave you the menu for one type.

Then there was the case of multiple builders all of the same type. That would give you a menu, but the build queue display itself wouldn't show (iirc) unless the queues were identical.

Do you mean the first, second, both, or something else? There aren't really "good" solutions to either, as it involves either another tab row to switch between and/or taking up a potentially huge amount of screen space with multiple queue rows. That said, it may be better than the alternative.


My best idea so far is being able to set up multiple build queues on a single space dock, each assigned to a different control group.  EG, I have one space dock, with one queue pumping triangle ships in control group 1, and another queue pumping scouts into control group 6.
I don't think there's going to be multiple queues on a single unit, but it would be possible to have different items in a queue rally to different control groups. Especially with build policies.

And with the mobile producers (equivalent to AIWC's MSDs) that could be very useful, and remove one of the barriers to tactics that involve multiple control groups acting in concert in a battle. Part of the prevalence of the single-big-blob is it's just easier to control without pausing a ton.

My hope with the moddable targeting-modes, formations, build policies, and active-control-group selection (the logic that automatically selects newly arrived-or-built units in the same group) is to make it possible to efficiently fight a large battle without pausing to implement decisions (pausing because you need to think about something is fine).
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2017, 09:17:29 AM »
I'm thinking mostly of the case where I have multiple constructors of the same type in a control group. Lets imagine a battle where I have 3 flagships in a control group, each building different ships for me. One flagship dies. It would be nice to immediately see which ships I need, then be able to change the other flagships to update the build Qs to replace the lost flagship's units.

One mechanism that occurs to me is to show only the Build Q itself (ie the list of units being built) for each constructor in the group, with an icon next to it saying "I'm your Shield Flagship", "I'm your Assault Flagship", etc. Clicking on any of the "I'm your flagship" icons would bring up the fully featured build menu so I could update it appropriately. Then I could just hit "1" (or the right number for that control group) to bring up all the build Qs again.

Hopefully that description makes sense. The goal was to show exactly what each build Q contains for all my constructors quickly (without needing to see the full menu), with the ability to bring up the full build menu for any given constructor quickly.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 09:40:13 AM by BadgerBadger »

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.602 Released! "Nice Sidebar You've Got There"
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2017, 06:58:50 PM »
I'm attaching a tweaked Nanocaust.cs that will set the Influence for the Nanocaust so those planets will be reflected on the galaxy map. It's a one line change and I tested it and it seems to work much better than my previous attempt (since you did all the heavy lifting)
Sorry, meant to put this in 0.603 but was in a rush to get it out tonight and forgot. On the top of the list for 0.604. Any other changes you want me to incorporate?
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