Author Topic: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.  (Read 3933 times)

Offline Blue

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Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« on: March 02, 2017, 01:16:33 PM »
Hey Guys!

It's that time again.

We discussed this once before, and now we're back at it!

So the icons for the ships when in zoomed out view are been up for discussion lately.

Originally we were going to do it with 3D models, but that's turning out to look unattractive, and there are technical issues with it too.

Anyway, we've opted to go back to something 2D.

Here are some options.



I'm not the most fluent in the intricacies of this game, so your opinions on this matters!

What do you all think?
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 01:31:52 PM by x4000 »

Offline x4000

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Re: Ship Icons.
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2017, 01:31:36 PM »
Bear in mind, the things we NEED to convey:

1. Team color (icon color, typically)

2. What is this ship? (icon shape, typically -- and maybe shading?)

3. What is its action style?  (FRD, attack-move, group move, and maybe a few others)
--That's the little icon in the upper left of these examples.
--In the first game, it was a border color, but that has limited attractiveness and clarity.

4. What is the mark level of this ship?
--Here it has two examples, one with it under them (as with the first game), and one at the right of the health bar.

5. What is the health of the squad?
--The health bar is shown here in kind of a rainbow gradient, but really it would be all one color that changes to those colors as it ticks down from full to almost-dead.

6. Is this squad selected?
--That's not really represented here.  I was thinking that this could be done in a fashion where there is a white outline stroke around them to denote that.

7. Is this under a shield?
-- I've suggested the little "shield" words above the health bar, for this one, but not sure if that's the best.
-- In Classic, that worked as a bubble around the icon.  It was clear, but not my favorite thing.

8. Is this cloaked?
-- Again, the small text above the health bar here.
-- That was a purple bubble in Classic IIRC.
-- If something is shielded and cloaked, then just stacking the text vertically would be the idea here.

9. This needs to show well at very small scale.
-- So that you can see the icon in the right-hand side of the screen (the ship list GUI, like in the first side of the game).
-- And so that we don't take up so much screen space as we presently do with these in the game.

10. But showing up with a nice smooth vector outline or similar when large would also be nice.
-- Because the icons being TOO small when you're zoomed way in but still seeing the icons is probably not going to feel right.
-- And the little markers showing "this icon refers to the squad under it" is not a bad idea here, as you notice in the first row.
-- But at the same time, whether these should hover over the action or simply be closer down as little icons (almost like targeting brackets) more directly centered on the squads is a question.

11. OPTIONAL: Since icons now represent squads with multiple ships, we COULD have it show the ship count in there.
-- In the first row, that's what the little number in the bottom right of the icons is meant to be.
-- I think that gets too cluttered fast, though.


---

So, right, this is easy! ...  :o

If we just want to fall back on exactly what the first game did, then sure, it's pretty easy.  But I don't think that was all that attractive, and both Blue and I think something better can be done here.  So let's take some time to consider a few alternative ways to organize information.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Poko

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2017, 01:56:01 PM »
I greatly prefer the lower right health style - otherwise healthy ships show red, orange, yellow, and green pips, where the color-by-total-health is a lot clearer.

I don't love the SHIELD and CLOAK above the ships, that's hard to read compared to the blue or purple bubble of the original.  The blue / purple line is a little clearer, but too thin to do it on its own maybe?

The fonts and icons and ships are really cool :)

Offline Admiral Obvious

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2017, 02:07:24 PM »
I'm thinking that shielded and cloaked can be placed next to the action the ship is performing. You've already got a sheild icon. I think the most generic, and instantly readable icon for such a thing would be a blue shield either to the right of the HP bar, or above the ship icon.

Cloak can be done with the "Overwatch" eye, that you see in games like Xcom. Again either next to the HP bar, or above the ship icon. Again, at least for me, that's what I'd assume if I'd never played the game before.

Hp, as suggested before is best handled with a "whole color" basis. Possibly if the ship HP hits "critical" it could flash? Might be too flashy, but it would help show how dangerously low HP the ship/squad is, instead of an empty bar other games use.

I like the action style shown as it is above the ship icon, pretty clear for me (though I don't know what the shield, and bunch of what I assume are stars actually mean).

I'm ok with what's in place for quantity of ships in the squad. You could possibly move it over above the HP bars, and make the font smaller, but I'm not sure how that would affect readability.

Offline Dar SelLa

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2017, 02:17:45 PM »
Things that need conveyed. 1 and 2 are pretty straightforward as x4000 said. I like the icon flag for 3, and for 4, I would say on the side, as in the right and center columns and leave the M off, just leaving the I, II, III, ect. It is still very clear, and a bit less space. 5 and 6 are fine. For 7 and 8, I agree with Poko, and I was thinking that maybe a blue and a purple block above the health bar, or perhaps a background to the health bar, one half lit for a shield, the other half if cloaked. Or somthing like that. As for number of ships in the squad, put it on the side, where the mark numbers are on the left column.

The thought of only having most of this info only pop up on selected ships is one that just came to me. Like the health bar and the info associated around it could be shown if the unit or units are selected.
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Offline Toranth

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2017, 02:19:02 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.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2017, 02:25:37 PM »
I prefer the left row for the FRD icons, the middle row they're too small. Similarly for the Mark level.  That middle row is really hard to read.

I greatly prefer the lower right health style - otherwise healthy ships show red, orange, yellow, and green pips, where the color-by-total-health is a lot clearer.

I don't love the SHIELD and CLOAK above the ships, that's hard to read compared to the blue or purple bubble of the original.  The blue / purple line is a little clearer, but too thin to do it on its own maybe?

Ditto those things.

In terms of iconography for the unit, far right row 3.  Moderate size (doesn't occlude a lot) but retains visibility (not too small) shows team color well, and identifies the unit by silhouette.

Offline stryder2384

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2017, 02:39:05 PM »
I think something that is important and that Arcen games past have had trouble with is simplicity. I'm thinking not only of AIWC but also Bionic Dues & The Last Federation. For things like ship icons, I think they need to be dead simple.

I think even #2 (what is this ship) is possibly not needed.  If I can find the squad in the system (right side of screen AIWC), do I REALLY need to know what it is with an icon over where it is? I can see the argument for "yes, we really do" but remember we might be looking at hundreds of these Icons on one screen.

for #3, I think the outlines worked well. They were subtle, and I think another Icon above the ship icon will get messy.

#4 : Mark level I do think would be useful, although again, when looking at a whole system or fleet of ships (besides scouts..) do I REALLY need to know which of my fighter squads is mark III when I have 10 of them?

#5 : Health I do think is important, but how will I be able to distinguish the bars when I have 20 squads?  Would one rectangle  or indicator that changes color green->red be simpler?

skipping a few...

#8 : Cloaking, could the squad or the icon just become transparent?

#9 : maybe the side panel can be collapsable, or have items within the tiles? ie all fighter squads are represented as one tile on the sidebar, but clicking on that pulls up a dropdown menu for different marks. Or even simpler, small ships-big ships-econ, or attack-defend-support?

#10 : maybe beyond a certain zoom level, the icons only appear when you hover over a squad?

#11 : I could see how ship count could be important if it effects attack power or something, but maybe a % of full is better than a ship count?

Sorry if this is a re-tread of others' ideas, didn't have time to read through all of it. Exciting though!

Offline Xeorm

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2017, 02:40:23 PM »
I really don't like the shield and cloak as words. They're hard to read, and distracting. Plus it seems like you spend a lot more space to stack. Going off the first the small cloak symbol was very easy to notice and tell something was cloaked. Doing something similar here seems like it'd be a good idea, perhaps more stylized image to say "cloaked" more obviously. The shield bubble worked originally as well, but i think a second bubble like the cloak one would work best. Can stack them in a line horizontally to save space, and leave room open for other, similar status effects in the future.

The action style icons do look better than the old color outline does, though not sure how well it looks all stacked up with other hordes of icons.

Similarly the colored ship icons look great and more modern here. Would be curious to see how they looked in a mishmash of such icons. The entire icon uses color a lot to denote what's happening. More unnecessary color in the icon itself makes me worry that the important bits gets lost in the chaos.

Offline Kaldris Relm

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2017, 02:40:37 PM »
While the look of the Icons that Blue posted look good, and while I'm normally a supporter of displaying as much data as possible to a player I think the Icons have too much information immediately visible. Considering it's common during games of AI War to have extremely large amounts of ships on screen at one time I think a lot of this information would become unreadable.

I'd suggest keeping the Icons over each ship, but have them only show four things:

Team Colour
Ship Type
Ship Health
Ship Selected

I'd consider the above critical information, lacking any of the above four at any one situation would have a drastic impact on the game.

The problem with this though is if you wanted to quickly reference any of the other fields you'd need to look at the right side of the panel. Checking something like the action style on a group of ships you've just selected would be sending the player all over the UI.

I think this gets too far into personal preference, but what about having some of the other fields anchored to the players cursor? For example say I've selected a group of Bombers and Fighters, anchored to my cursor would be indicators showing things like number of units under Shield, Cloaked, what their Action Style is, etc of the Ships I have selected:



Please forgive my horrible programmer artist skills.

EDIT: Grammar
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 02:42:21 PM by Kaldris Relm »

Offline rkfg

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2017, 02:44:45 PM »
Hmm, definitely reading this little text would be troublesome in the game. Also, it would look clogged if there are many units on the screen at the same time (and it's usually like this).

I guess shields are mostly blue or white in sci-fi setting. Sometimes they have hexagonal pattern on them like on this crude sample:

It shouldn't be that outstanding of course and just give a hint that this unit is shielded leaving the actual icon clearly visible.

Cloaking is also better expressed via transparency or/and glass-like refraction. Or you can make the icon "empty" inside with fill removed and only the outline shown.

Offline dfinlay

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2017, 02:46:08 PM »
As with everyone so far, one colour for health rather than rainbow - it's more clear when there are many and they are small scale.

I think the icons being pretty small is important for when you have a whole bunch of ships, which suggests something simple like right second row. The bars need to be similarly small, though. There's no point in miniaturizing the icons so that more ships fit well if they have huge health bars cluttering space anyway.

Ultimately that means that text doesn't work. You need icons to be able to be very small when zoomed out and you don't really want 3 pt font in the game.

For movement commands, I actually like the outline. It doesn't look as good if you have 1 big ship icon as the mini corner icons, I agree, but that's generally not the case in game. When we have hundreds of squads flying in formation, double that many icons (one for the ship, one for the move command) doesn't seem great. If there was some way of having that at the corner of the whole cluster of ships when a whole bunch of ships were flying under the same move order, I would probably be a fan, but if that isn't possible, I'd go with either an outline (as in Classic) or a coloured bar above the HP bar (like you have here with Shield/Cloaked but without the text) over hundreds of FRD icons over your cluster of FRD squads.

As for shielded, I'm not honestly certain if there needs to be an icon change since it should be visible that they are inside of a forcefield, but I am fine with something like the bubble of classic. A blue shield bar over the HP bar also makes a lot of sense but only if you aren't using that for move orders.

Finally cloaked. Cloaked is tricky. I'm not sure how well transparancy would work, but it might be an option. Otherwise, not sure. I don't have any real great ideas for this one.

Offline stryder2384

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2017, 02:46:57 PM »
Oh, also, maybe this is just me, or maybe it's WAY too hard to adjust now, but can the font be changed? The sharp edginess of the gothic fonts feels outdated, and seems to drive the overall GUI aesthetic into a very dated-looking direction.

Again, if the answer is 'no' that's cool, just thought I'd throw it out there.

Offline MHB

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2017, 02:54:27 PM »
i just want to add to this that not everyone sees colour in the same ways as everyone else, having bars for health needs to clearly show the amount of health left without needing the use of colour, single or vastly differing block colours would be best for this sort of thing.
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Offline Lakshata

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2017, 02:56:29 PM »
Have you seen Eve Onlines HP bars? I'll take a screenshot when I get home but I feel like you could take inspiration for that. Maybe even have a blue outline on the ships Icon for shielding.

As for cloak, I think taking the icon and just making it appear transparent with an outline would work, since there's only a few ships I assume would cloak. Even then I think the silhouette of a ships icon would be recognizable right?