Author Topic: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad  (Read 810 times)

Offline MaxAstro

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AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« on: April 23, 2018, 06:31:48 PM »
Starting a game in AIWC:
"Hmm, I don't like the shape of that map." *click* "Hmm... no. *click*  "Oooh, that looks like it has some fun chokepoints.  Let's go."

Starting a game in AIW2:
*scroll scroll scroll* "Hm, so this map is..."  *scroll scroll scroll* "It's kinda..."  *scroll scroll*  "There's a chokepoint there, and also..." *scroll scroll scroll scroll* "Ah screw it I'll just start here."

Switching to another planet in AIWC:
*tab* *click*

Switching to another planet in AIW2:
*tab* *scroll scroll scroll* "Aw crap, that planet is over... here?  No..." *scroll scroll* "Here?  Gah, the camera won't center where I..." *scroll scroll scroll...*


I'm sure this comes across as harsh, but I cannot overstate how much the galaxy map is the number one thing hindering my desire to play the game right now.  As the heart and soul of the game's strategic element, the galaxy map needs to be simple, legible, and instantly parseable.  I feel like the current map got carried away with how pretty it is and forgot to actually be functional.  I love that "only reveal nearby planets" is the default, and that definitely helps as you are learning the map.  But honestly at this point you could strip away all of the graphics and new features and give me the exact galaxy map from AIWC with all of it's non-ability to zoom and it would be an improvement.  And that's not really a good thing.

One thing that would massively help is click-and-drag scrolling of the map, which is a feature that feels so natural and intuitive I'm not sure why it isn't a thing.  But overall I feel like there needs to be shift away from "look how pretty this is" and towards "you can instantly tell where all the planets are and what is going on".  The blue text I think is part of the problem. At least for me it feels visually busy and hard to parse at a glance.

Anyway, again, sorry for the harsh criticism.  I just haven't felt as absorbed in the game as I expected, and I realized the frustration of fighting with the map is part of why.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 06:37:44 PM »
Sorry, I wasn't really aware it wasn't legible at a zoom level that let you see everything. You shouldn't be having to scroll at all. Which means:

1) The default zoom level needs to be far enough out that you can see the whole map.
2) The information shown by the lobby (and default in-game display mode) needs to be legible at that zoom level.

Does that sum it up?
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Offline etheric42

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 07:33:28 PM »
The galaxy map also has a UI update inbound that will change what information is presented at what levels of zoom.  The new design has been drawn up, but not implemented yet (and once it is implemented, there will probably be a few revisions to work out the kinks).  I'm not sure when before/after EA it is going to be implemented, but I agree and feel your pain.

(Also, I'm pretty sure click-and-drag scrolling was implemented, but maybe it just isn't in the galaxy map yet.  MMB was the button assigned to it if I remember right.)

Offline Cyborg

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 07:36:10 PM »
The GUI has a lot of these UI issues. I honestly don't know what the design is supposed to be with the UI, right now it's a mix of everything.
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Offline Sounds

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 08:24:19 PM »

...

... the galaxy map is the number one thing hindering my desire to play the game right now

... the heart and soul of the game's strategic element, the galaxy map needs to be simple, legible, and instantly parseable. 

... I feel like the current map got carried away with how pretty it is and forgot to actually be functional. 

... strip away all of the graphics and new features and give me the exact galaxy map from AIWC

... click-and-drag scrolling of the map, ... natural and intuitive

... shift away from "look how pretty this is" and towards "you can instantly tell where all the planets are and what is going on".  ... visually busy and hard to parse at a glance.

... frustration of fighting with the map

...

Apologies for stripping away your comments but this is the essence of the post and what I totally agree with. The map is a core component for this type of game - from start to finish. What we've got at the moment needs a look with fresh eyes in the context of strategy and intuitiveness. The current form is just getting in the way.


Offline x4000

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2018, 09:32:38 PM »
Lots of fair points here, and I don't take them personally at all.  We need harsh criticism of the GUI.  I will say a couple of things:

1. The GUI is partly all over the place because we had a temp GUI in there, and are switching to a new one, but are about 20% done with that process before we got distracted with something else.

2. Eric does have way more advanced designs, which I think are worth sharing publicly if he's up for it, because excoriating things sooner than later is good, implementation-timeline-wise.

3. If I'm understanding this correctly, one thing that seemed to get buried in here was the fact that the actual selection of maps was found to be lacking, as well?  Or was it just a pain scrolling through them?  It sounds like there was a general sentiment of too few choke points, etc.

4. If it helps you feel any better, I also hate the map, so there is some strong agreement here. ;)

5. Are you wanting the ability to zoom this map to be basically removed, and instead it's just a matter of panning where needed?  With the AIWC map, a gigantic limitation we had to deal with constantly was the restriction that the map had to fit on the screen in its entirety at all times.  We could go back to that if we absolutely had to -- I mean, the code is still there in the old game, including all the old map types for that matter.  I feel like we'd be losing something, but if people really prefer the original that much (and I do have to say, not having any concept of a "camera that you can move" on the original game's galaxy map was nice as a player), then maybe it's time to punt backwards on that one, too.
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2018, 09:51:04 PM »
Most of the new maps have a notion of "How large of a space should I put all my planets into", and that could easily be constrained. For example, Simple defaults to putting all its planets into a rectangle defined by the two corners 700,400  --> -700/-400. That's super easy to tweak. Or it "how tightly packed the planets should be" could be given as an option in the Game Lobby.

Offline MaxAstro

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2018, 12:48:40 AM »
I'm not talking about the physical layout of the maps at all - as far as the paths between planets or how many chokepoints there are or any of that.  Just the baseline readability of the map is sorely lacking.  I mention chokepoints because that's one thing you look at when you are considering a map, and right now the map is so cluttered and messy that you can't see chokepoints at a glance.

Basically what I mean is this.  Look at the attached images.  Quickly identify the important chokepoints in the AIWC map, including the ones in your start cluster.  Now try to do the same thing in the AIW2 map.  Not only will it take longer, but you'll have to zoom in to examine your starting cluster, which means fighting with the finicky zoom AND you can't compare your starting cluster to the rest of the map.

Offline Sounds

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2018, 03:09:41 AM »
I'm not talking about the physical layout of the maps at all - as far as the paths between planets or how many chokepoints there are or any of that.  Just the baseline readability of the map is sorely lacking.  I mention chokepoints because that's one thing you look at when you are considering a map, and right now the map is so cluttered and messy that you can't see chokepoints at a glance.

Basically what I mean is this.  Look at the attached images.  Quickly identify the important chokepoints in the AIWC map, including the ones in your start cluster.  Now try to do the same thing in the AIW2 map.  Not only will it take longer, but you'll have to zoom in to examine your starting cluster, which means fighting with the finicky zoom AND you can't compare your starting cluster to the rest of the map.

I'm sure you must be reading my mind. ;)

What you descibed and the images attached are way too painful to navigate, and very difficult to discern what's going on as to what to select.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2018, 09:03:49 AM »
So the two things that jump out first to me are A. disabling the planet names by default (with some sort of ability to turn them back on, like holding control down) B. limit the backgrounds on the galaxy map to those that provide strong contrast with the faction colours.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2018, 09:21:06 AM »
So the two things that jump out first to me are A. disabling the planet names by default (with some sort of ability to turn them back on, like holding control down) B. limit the backgrounds on the galaxy map to those that provide strong contrast with the faction colours.

I agree with A, but an alternative to B is to have the actual planets be a single solid contrasting color rather then a mix of different colors. The benefit of doing this is that if a planet's color can then be used to denote strategic things. For example all human planets can start as green. If a wave is incoming the planet turns yellow. If under attack the planet turns red. AI planets would have a different color. This allows the player at a glance to gather strategic information at a glance using the galaxy map which the current map sorely lacks.
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Offline x4000

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2018, 11:37:29 AM »
There are a lot of things planned for the galaxy map with a NSEW orientation of data around each planet.  It makes me... really unhappy, ultimately.  I do prefer the AIWC way of having things at a static zoom, with extra info shown in whatever the best possible orientation is.

I don't know of a super good way of positioning even an orthographic camera so that it fits exactly around a specific area of space given an arbitrary viewport aspect ratio, but I can probably figure it out.  Orthographic projection is at least rectangular, versus having a different size based on distance, so I can probably just use basic algebra and some logic.

Once we have that sort of view, and no more "mobile camera," which we all seem to hate, then let's talk more about other details.  Not showing a bunch of stuff like the planet names is definitely an obvious first thing that I'll also do in the first wave, and not showing stuff like the actual planet visuals but instead using the "planet spot" to convey information is a big deal, I agree.  I thought originally that the visuals of the planet would not just be pretty, but would also help people find planets, but that is not remotely true in practice.

I'll see what I can cook up over the course of this week, and then we can bring in Eric and also discuss this more.  Don't stop discussing on my account, but basically I think I have what I need for pass one.

Oh -- that said, Badger, I don't think I'd actually need to have your bounds placement information, the more I think about it.  I can translate planet positions to screen positions a couple of different ways, and actually using a new coordinate system as an intermediary would probably solve both my aspect ratio troubles as well as my orthographic camera changes.  Actually... yeah, it's coming together in my head right now, come to think of it.  It's a very similar process to what the first game did, and all it needs is the resultant data of where the planets are in the individual map -- not where the bounds were.

I can say that not every map will look super-duper grand in all cases there (some being overly crunched is always a chance), but that would be something that could be tuned on a per-map basis later, if needed.  I can probably rotate this so that the longest axis is always horizontal, if desired.
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Offline etheric42

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2018, 02:12:46 PM »
Well, it sounds like plans are changing, but I'll lay out what the previous plan was.  If you're familiar with the galaxy map from Stellaris, this should be familiar to you.  First, this is what it looks when you have a zoom level such that there won't be any overlapping.  (Of course, note that it's highly unlikely all these icons would show up at the same time



From this level on the north quadrant of the planet you'll see icons indicating presence of king units (not as important now since they are no longer mobile Arks) as well as icons indicating the presence of mobile military (imagine pretty icons instead of little circles).  Those icons are clickable to select that mobile military, allowing you to perform troop movements from the galaxy map in a gross way (click on a rebuilt fleet at home and right click on a planet near the front to move it up for example).  Enemy mobile military is shown, but it would likely be more useful to see "freed" enemy mobile military so you can more easily track down threat.  It also shows you the planet's aggregated strength value for your side and the any hostiles.  This means at a glance you'll be able to look across the map and assess relative defensive strength levels, engagements, ally positions (for multiplayer), and be able to round up all your straggling ships.  Since mobile kings were going away, that was likely to be replaced with engineer and scout icons on the left there.

In the west quadrant, you would find a variety of icons for why you would bother capturing this planet (or why this planet is valuable if it is already yours).  Capturable structures, bounties of science, etc.  These icons would also be clickable and would add the appropriate mission to your missions tab on your sidebar.  Click again on the icon and the mission would be removed.  If you already have the planet, then your structures would be there so you know you have to defend this one.

In the east quadrant, you would find a variety of icons for particularly nasty AI defenses.  Anything that would make you change your attack approach or reconsider what the AI strength actually means would be there.  Like the west quadrant, you could click on these to issue missions to your mission ledger.

In the west and east quadrants, the icons would likely be stacked three rows high and then start expanding outward, so they don't jut too far from the planet.

The south quadrant gives you the name of the planet and its Mk level (if AI controlled, owner's icon if player controlled, the planet itself wears the color of its controller is the current plan, but that's was subject to change).  There are also two important icons.  An ignore icon that de-emphasizes the planet and hides some things like the west and east quadrants, this would be great for a planet you've decided you aren't interested in taking.  The foot icon is the pathing command.  Click that to toggle on/off if your ships will path through that system without you explicitly telling them to.  Useful for making sure your ships take the route through neutered planets instead of through the Mk4 planet that is technically a shorter (but deadlier) route.

The wormhole lines coming into and out of the planet would be color coded (not red and green as pictured here to deal with color blindness) to show if the route led to an enemy or friendly planet.  There were some graphical plans to make sure those lines and the quadrants popped (such as background boxes or thicker borders for the wormhole lines.

Then, as you zoom out, this folds away to ensure that you don't have a jumble of overlaps.  At minimal zoom you likely will just see the planet, the wormhole lines and maybe the mobile military icons (depending on what it would have looked like when we tested it with a stupidly high number of planets).  (Oh, and don't think you'll have to be super-zoomed in to see all this information, just enough that it's clear what data goes where)

While you have this map open, you'll still have access to your sidebar, allowing you to click on a planet of yours and then being able to access the build menu (and all the other sidebar tabs) without having to switch to planet view

But!  It looks like the concerns with zooming in and out from this thread have added to concerns over the difficulty programming it so Chris will likely be moving to a more static map like AIWC.  I'm currently trying to figure out how much space we would even have to display info since the maximum number of planets cap has been taken off.  It would help me if people here could tell me what aspects of the plan I've outlined they would most like to see preserved in a static-map version.  I am personally not a fan of moving back to not having the ability to select/control ships and build queues from the galaxy map, or only having a tiny bit of information floating over each planet based on a couple of dropdown boxes (or having to mouse over each planet to find critical facts about it), so I will try to find a compromise between the AIWC vision and the Stellaris-like vision I've presented here.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 02:48:09 PM by etheric42 »

Offline x4000

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2018, 04:17:31 PM »
I'm all over the place and don't really know what I want.  I like the zooming and panning for a few reasons, but it does need to become more symbolic of a map and default to being able to see everything.  I'm going to take a bit more baby steps toward a better design, instead, of rushing into something that is more of a pain to come back from.  Please feel free to discuss with folks here, since my head is a bit... everywhere.  You guys having a meeting of the minds over this can only be a good thing. :)
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: AIW2's Galaxy Map is Bad, and That's Bad
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2018, 06:02:39 PM »
I don't know of a super good way of positioning even an orthographic camera so that it fits exactly around a specific area of space given an arbitrary viewport aspect ratio, but I can probably figure it out.  Orthographic projection is at least rectangular, versus having a different size based on distance, so I can probably just use basic algebra and some logic.

Oh, its not that hard. You just need to calculate the min/max x/y values of the points (in this case, the planet locations), treat that as a rectangle, and then fit that within the viewport. As we aren't allowed to rotate the galaxy map, these two rectangles will differ only by a scalar factor in both axis. Scaling by one of them will either fit the other in view or it wont (if not, use the other value).

:)

Also, https://gamedev.stackexchange.com/a/152977/75627 ;)