Author Topic: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.  (Read 5693 times)

Offline nas1m

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2017, 05:15:46 PM »
I prefer Mark indicator on the bottom, with action indicated by colored icon.
For health, I'm in favor of a single-color health bar that indicated the health of the entire squad, which also allows us to avoid listing the number of units in the squad on the icon - that just seems like too much extra info.

Cloaked and Shielded are the curious states.  I'm against using text to indicate the state - text takes up more space, yet at the same time gets more difficult to read as it gets smaller.  A single icon I think would work much better.  Personally, I liked the Classic version of putting a shield bubble around the unit - a similar shading effect, or maybe a transparency one for cloaking, would also make it obvious.

Must say, I like the top row of icons - pretty!  Not sure how player colors would work for those, but they're very nice.

This pretty much sums up my own thoughts on the matter. Seconded!
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2017, 05:17:31 PM »
- Regarding things being under forcefields, that's not at all obvious thanks to the many perspectives you might have on the view.  That said, I could make that a part of the  "plate" under the squad, or something like that, rather than it being part of the central icon.  Heck, maybe just having a blue forcefield-like glowing bar around the health bar would be fine for this.  And for cloaking status... that's just shown elsewhere, and we don't worry about that here.

Putting a halo around the health bar would work too, yes. :)

Offline latisansklay

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2017, 05:26:44 PM »
Those are some cool designs already! I like the variety and art style; it will be nice to see ships with that style in the game someday soon. I'm also a big fan of the colors --there's nothing wrong with bright colored hulls or bright colored lights on ships to stand out against the darker backdrop of space (even if that backdrop has been brightened up a bit in AI War II). Neinzul green, Spire white, Laser Gatling icon purple, those made the ships iconic and pleasant to look at, imo.

That said, I wanted to agree with some of the critical sentiments already expressed, though it may not be anything original:
- I think that icon design for ships should keep in mind two things
  • The icons need to be recognizable at a glance. I felt like this was true for the ships in AI War OG, whether I was zoomed all the way in (viewing the detailed art) or all the way out (viewing the icon). I think it's important to know which ships I'm moving or fighting at a glance, without having to mouse over.
  • The icons need to look good en masse.
- I prefer the gradient health bars changing from green to red, rather than of a static color.
- For the FRD/defender/attack-move ships, I'm not particularly partial to the corner icons. I feel like essentially doubling the number of points to look at when zoomed out (the ship and the cloak/stealth icon over the ship) will make for a very busy UI. I do like the gradient colored arc or "half-bubble" over the ship as a nice alternative to the ships being outlined with a color. Chris mentioned the limited attractiveness and clarity of the color-outlined ships from AI War OG, but I always thought that they were quite clear (once you learned the color system) and not unattractive, since the ship icon still shone through.
- I much prefer the Mark icon to be under the ship than by the health bar.

Lastly, a suggestion for the "Is the ship shielded?" design question: could you make it so that the health bar gains a purple/silver/force-field-colored outline, or even replace the health bar border color (blue, in the case of the Blue's design) with a different "shield-y" color? Or if that's too much, even replacing the health bar color itself (the green-to-red gradient) with an all "shield-y" color could be thematic and also quite clear, I think.

Offline Squashyhex

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2017, 05:27:48 PM »
Rough list of planned ship types:

I might be wrong, but certainly when I play, I don't have all the icons memorised, but it is always nice to be able to distinguish between them to a certain degree so that you as a player can be like "Oh, that's a different ship. I will pause for a moment to hover over the icon and check what ship type it is" and then the name gives it away. This especially works when you consider that there won't necessarily be that many ship types in one particular game, presuming a similar style to AI Wars, where any given game will have a selection of the total ships available.

Having some kind of distinction between building, turret and ship icons would be nice, whether by size or similar would be nice too, so its obvious at a glance that you're looking at a building, or a turret, or a ship.

In terms of cloaked and shielded, I would be fine with just a symbol in top left and right, one being an eye for cloaked or similar, and a shield in the other for shielded, but definitely not words as that just clutters.
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Offline rkfg

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Re: Ship Icons.
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2017, 05:29:51 PM »
I'm glad this has come up, because I find it hard to tell what's going on with the current icons. Even with one system, with just whatever you build initially. The icons kind of blend together into an unintelligable mass of stuff.
BUT! There's always a but. You know, one of the strongest points of AIWC is that feel of an epic battle with tons of units destroying each other. I think if they're reduced to mere decrementing numbers near an icon that would be a letdown. So while clarity is important that, err, ship-play (? like gunplay or swordplay in other games) should not be lost. Well, I'm contradicting myself here but yeah, there should be the balance between epicness of the battle and clearness of the UI to manage that battle. For me AIWC did it right except that it starts to lag like hell on large fights. I doubt many people would zoom in just to enjoy the ships more (I almost never did that playing AIWC) so that feel of grand combat should persist even if zoomed out. Well, just my  2 cents.

Offline coldrage101

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2017, 05:46:16 PM »
I suggest having the shape of the icon's boundary portray the action of a unit. This should make it clear at a glance to the task the unit has.
I find the text for the shield and cloak is not suitable. I would use the colour of the outline to show this.
I think any text should be as minimal as possible. For example, rather than 'M II', just having 'II' would be better to show the ship's level.
A selected unit could have a more vibrant outline, and the graphic to show what ship it is should be nice and simple, defining the ship as one of a type.

Offline treyra

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2017, 06:08:36 PM »
Quote from: Tridus on Today at 05:15:24 PM

    I'm glad this has come up, because I find it hard to tell what's going on with the current icons. Even with one system, with just whatever you build initially. The icons kind of blend together into an unintelligable mass of stuff.

BUT! There's always a but. You know, one of the strongest points of AIWC is that feel of an epic battle with tons of units destroying each other. I think if they're reduced to mere decrementing numbers near an icon that would be a letdown. So while clarity is important that, err, ship-play (? like gunplay or swordplay in other games) should not be lost. Well, I'm contradicting myself here but yeah, there should be the balance between epicness of the battle and clearness of the UI to manage that battle. For me AIWC did it right except that it starts to lag like hell on large fights. I doubt many people would zoom in just to enjoy the ships more (I almost never did that playing AIWC) so that feel of grand combat should persist even if zoomed out. Well, just my  2 cents.

To add to this, two thoughts. There could probably be a hotkey to turn off the icons and just enjoy the pretty lights of the ships annihilating each other (that might be fun, although the distraction might get you killed...)

Probably more importantly is that the icons should not simplify to the point that you can't tell at a glance what your opponents (or your own) strength is. You can get all of that info from the panels on the side or ship counts, but I know that I personally based a lot of my "can I take them?" questions off of whether or not my ship blob was bigger and meaner looking that the AI. Obviously a ship blob doesn't convey any other useful information, but it did give a good rough indicator of strength that even the newest player understood. 

To summarize I think there should still be some rough correlation between number/size of icons and strength.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 06:11:58 PM by treyra »

Offline Tridus

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Re: Ship Icons.
« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2017, 06:41:08 PM »
I'm glad this has come up, because I find it hard to tell what's going on with the current icons. Even with one system, with just whatever you build initially. The icons kind of blend together into an unintelligable mass of stuff.
BUT! There's always a but. You know, one of the strongest points of AIWC is that feel of an epic battle with tons of units destroying each other. I think if they're reduced to mere decrementing numbers near an icon that would be a letdown. So while clarity is important that, err, ship-play (? like gunplay or swordplay in other games) should not be lost. Well, I'm contradicting myself here but yeah, there should be the balance between epicness of the battle and clearness of the UI to manage that battle. For me AIWC did it right except that it starts to lag like hell on large fights. I doubt many people would zoom in just to enjoy the ships more (I almost never did that playing AIWC) so that feel of grand combat should persist even if zoomed out. Well, just my  2 cents.

That's true. Since AIW 1 does that, I feel like it can be done. The current icons just aren't doing it for me, so I'm glad that they're looking at changing it. :)

Offline Aotrs Commander

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2017, 06:53:37 PM »
- Regarding things being under forcefields, that's not at all obvious thanks to the many perspectives you might have on the view.  That said, I could make that a part of the  "plate" under the squad, or something like that, rather than it being part of the central icon.  Heck, maybe just having a blue forcefield-like glowing bar around the health bar would be fine for this.  And for cloaking status... that's just shown elsewhere, and we don't worry about that here.

Putting a halo around the health bar would work too, yes. :)

I concur.


As I think someone said before, maybe cloaking could be shown by (slightly, but visibly) recuding the opacity of the icon?


In both cases, definitely not text.



Maybe consider if y want to have things like shielded and claoked and what the sip is currently doing, maybe steal an idea from RPGs and have basically a status icon (which would include stuff like FRD) colum down the side. This would ahve the advantahe of future-proofing you on any fancy new gubbins you add with later expansions.



Actually, that might not be a bad idea to consider for the expanded information (like when you mouse over stuff), rather than for just viewing a ship /squad.



You could maye do the mark and number as somethig like I (3) indicating a Mark 1 squad of three vessels?


Beyond that, I'm struggling a bit. I think the icons provided might be a bit to active (as most folk have said), but beyond that, I'm not sure what else I can suggest. I'm a CAD modeller, nor a graphical designer Jim!



Offline Zogheen

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2017, 07:04:09 PM »
In my opinion, the simplest solution to the problem would be having sets of icons based on type of ship. For example:
I don't need to know the health of every fighter, bomber, and missile frigate in my fleet, so these could have small, simple, recognizable icons (that possibly merge slightly with an indicator of how many there are when zooming out).
The same (roughly) goes for my regular turrets. They're there to do damage in a battle, but I wouldn't need specifics on each separate turret installment during a battle.
However, for larger ships (ark, guardians, fortresses if those are still around, etc.), I need the play-by-play of what's going on, whether I have to move things around or retreat. These larger ships should have more information like the health indicator, a noticeable icon, and all of the other things, and this icon wouldn't really merge, or would merge rarely if there were very many nearby. However, because there aren't typically going to be hundreds of these in one place, you can make the icon larger and use more space.

Of course, then you get into the problem of which should go where. To that, I reply: build que. If it's significant enough to have its own constructor, it's notable enough for an icon (things like the minor faction ships in classic would be another story though, those are more fleet than special, IMO).

Offline Drjones013

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2017, 07:29:01 PM »
I think I'd rather see clusters of ships represented by a single 'fleet' icon if zoomed all the way out (two or more fleet icons if they're separated by x distance)-- a cluster of fighters, bombers, and such I really don't need to distinguish between unless I've chosen to break them up into discreet groups (separate icon for control group, for example). What I really need out of the interface is how to quickly identify threats and the icons have to reflect that. A simple icon for a group of turrets with an idea of their range is key, a single simple icon for 'air superiority' vs 'anti-shield' is important, and the individual numbers don't matter until I zoom in. I like the idea of icons that drain of color to indicate damage-- that's a down and dirty way to tell at a distance how quickly attrition is occurring.

Zooming in a certain distance could change that 'fleet' icon into separate icons to assist me in selecting specific ships at which case the screen clutter becomes less problematic.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 07:37:02 PM by Drjones013 »

Offline Blue

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #41 on: March 02, 2017, 08:40:24 PM »
Hey guys.

Thanks for all the feed back. :)

I plan to respond to all this tomorrow with visual mocks!

Offline MaxAstro

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2017, 09:13:08 PM »
My main concern is that, as in classic, icons should have borders sharp enough that they don't get lost in a mess, and not be so neon bright that they blur into each other.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2017, 10:50:29 PM »
Hello, this is BadgerBader's SO, WombatWombat. I have opinions regarding icons, some of which echo those already expressed here. Hopefully they will be helpful!

1. Color: Keep it solid, no outline, no shadow. Minimize detail wherever possible.
2. Shape: Instead of using a literal silhouette of the ship, create a simplified sillhouette icon. These shapes should be easy to distinguish from one another. Shapes still inspired by the original ship, but abstracted just enough to be easily comprehended at a glance.
3. Action Style: Right now there are three, but they consist of a combination of two concepts: attack and move. FRDs are attack only and can be symbolized by a crosshair. Group moves are just moving and can be symbolized by an arrow. Attack moves are both attacking and moving, so they can be symbolized by a crosshair merged with an arrow (see bottom-most example in attachment). Again, this is about creating logic in the symbolism and helping minimize visual noise.
4. Marks: Stick with the roman numerals, but use a font easy to read when small (pick something with wider kerning).
5. Health: Single color, no segmentation (to minimize visual noise). Also consider having the bar look more like a gauge that encircles the ship icon like the protective barrier it is. As health diminishes from left to right, it exposes the ship icon to attack. Symbolism in two dimensions at once! Also, see my notes on shields below.
6. Selection: BadgerBadger likes my idea of placing an arrow or indicator over selected fleets (see attachment), but there's another option. Picture the right-most illustration in the attached and imagine it as a circular icon instead of an inverted teardrop. When deselected, it is a circle; when selected, it morphs into an inverted teardrop or drop pin shape to show selection. Badger thought that might perhaps not be obvious enough in game, but I wanted to suggest it here just as a thought.
7. Shield: If a fleet is shielded, its health bar is a different color to represent the shield's health. When that bar diminishes, it is replaced by the normal health bar (in whatever color you decide that will be). Since shielded fleets don't take damage, it makes sense that the shield would "die" to expose the fleet's true health.
8. Cloaking: Yay for transparency!
9. Pictured small: No detail when zoomed out.
10. Pictured big: Some detail can be added, but not much. Keep abstracted. Ship icon should not morph into actual ship but remain an icon.
11. Number of ships: In the attached, you'll see all illustrations have the number of ships in the fleet as the far-right number. There's room for it!

BadgerBadger and I both like the right-most illustration the best because it emphasizes the ship type and action style using the same color. (Keeping the number of colors to a minimum is also a great way to minimize visual confusion.) Hope this helps!

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2017, 11:35:28 PM »
I'm going to just note that for Stealth, transparent icons sound good in practice, but it becomes a right mess trying to figure out how trasparent to make them. To much and they get lost in the visual noise, too little and you can't distinguish them from things that aren't stealthed.

And what works in one situation/zoom level won't necessarily work in anther situation/zoom level.