Author Topic: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.  (Read 17596 times)

Offline quasiChaos

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #45 on: March 03, 2017, 12:19:18 AM »
My quick 2 cents: The icon direction with a symbol on the left reminds me of the health bars I've recently seen in the Dawn of War III gameplay footage. The bars and symbols there seem to convey info well. (I know not as much as you need) (Eldar Gameplay Walkthrough w/ iNcontroL)

The layout in the lower right doesn't feel too bad. Jump around the video just to see how they are currently handling the health bars and see if there is any inspiration for you there.

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #46 on: March 03, 2017, 01:40:20 AM »
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.
I'm with the admiral on this. Having text will make things cluttered in a hurry. Just add icons for those things such as shield/cloak.

Other than that I'm more for a flat type of icon than a textured one. Textured ones are cool and all, but again, risk getting cluttery.
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Offline Dragondraikk

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #47 on: March 03, 2017, 03:15:22 AM »
To add my own two cents:

I'm definitely in favor of having fully colored icons as opposed to just silhouettes, since that makes things much easier to distinguish at a glance. Perhaps even fixed icons similar to the models and then have teamcolors in the background.

Offline Aotrs Commander

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #48 on: March 03, 2017, 05:31:24 AM »
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.

Mmhmm. That was why I was not definitive with my suggestion on that. It seems to me that would be very much one of those things you'd have actually do a first-principles test-run on to see if would be viable with whatever actual design is finally decided upon.

Offline Blue

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #49 on: March 03, 2017, 01:14:56 PM »
Hey Guys!

So reading through all the comments, my next build tries to build on these opinions.

Basically, the resounding feeling I got from everyone was the ability to keep it simple, or toggle on information as needed.

So these work to implement information that can be toggled without being disruptive.


Basically, to be tailored to the individual.

So here's what you're looking at.

First image:

1.) Shield
2.) Health Bar
3.) Cloak
4.) Team Color (outline.)
5.) Either permanent or mouse-over information. This is where the Mark Level and Ship Type could go.
6.) Action type. (Set to defend.)

Second Image:

Marked with column and numbers, these are the same concept with different levels of information.

A:1 would be the most info including mark and type.
B-C:1-3 Show the different team color lines.
D:1-3 shows minimal info. Shield and Health.
E: Color silhouette. The Silhouette would be the team color.

Or potentially you could just turn it all off and run with the icon and team color.



Offline Lakshata

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2017, 01:25:25 PM »
I'd basically want to see how they look in a massive pile of fleet.

Offline Stoh

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #51 on: March 03, 2017, 01:28:37 PM »
I'm definitively for clarity. What I need to see at a glance is :
 - what kind of units I have
 - how powerful the unit group is
 - what the unit group is doing (+ cloaking / shield)

But I don't really care that much about each unit individually, it really gets messy fast. So... no health bar unless it's some kind of unique or massive unit.

So why not use a lot the scale of the unit's icon ? Like scales it to show the unit's marks (if mark A is 2x stronger than mark B, then mark A icon should be 2x bigger than mark B icon).
And yes definitively merge icons ! Maybe merge icons grouped by unit type ? (And similarly scale them based on their power/health ?)
I.e if I can see my group is composed of one big bomber, one small fighter, etc. I know instantly both my group's power and composition.

EDIT : Having some toggleable stuff sounds good too ^^

Offline x4000

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #52 on: March 03, 2017, 01:33:38 PM »
Awesome progression!

Some thoughts:

- E1 is basically the only one I can tell what team it belongs to, without being told specifically where to look.  And at a glance, it's the only one I can tell in general.

- I quite like the way the health bars change in color, etc, but I think that there needs to be a consistent size to the health bar with the non-healthy parts just being black or very dark the color of whatever the current bar is.  So it's like it's getting less full, not a smaller bar itself.

- I quite like the way the shielded and cloaked bits show for them.  It's subtle, and not going to be there all the time, but clear enough.

- I do think that the ratio of the health bar, shields, and cloaked indicators needs to be smaller relative to the overall icon itself.

- I'd prefer to keep seeing the mark level -- no M in front of it -- down at the bottom center of the icon.  Or at the bottom left of the health bar where the action icon shows right now might also work.

- The action icons work well, I think, but keeping them small and not having the little wings that hang out is I think important.

- I don't think we'd ever show the literal "type" on there, although we certainly could if we need to with fewer specific icons, which I'm guessing is the goal of that.  So having those only show type names when it's holding down shift or you've configured it on, etc.

- Drawing these icons in perspective seems dangerous to me.  These are not going to be rendering in perspective in the game, but rather as floating overlays that move around to show where squads are.  I think that going with things that are shape-oriented, like the classic fighter shape in your 3D icon, or the bomber one from the same, would be good.

- Having some shading added to the icons of the E1 type (changes in value in there) might be nice.

- As noted by Lakshata, as we get closer to a final style we'll need to start seeing jumbles of dozens of these partly on top of one another to really evaluate them fully.

This is coming right along.
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Offline MHB

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #53 on: March 03, 2017, 01:34:59 PM »
To me it seems like way too much detail is going into small icons that will more often than not just be a blob of colour and nonsense, not to say i don't like the ideas thus far (as i think they're very pretty), it's just that appear TOO pretty to me to be blobbed up in their hundreds where clarity will be vastly reduced.

Equally i could just be looking at the raw simplicity of the AIWC icons and not seeing these as they are. I'm sure seeing an example of these "blobbed together" would help everyone make their minds up on this particular conundrum.
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Offline daktaklakpak

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #54 on: March 03, 2017, 02:46:13 PM »
I think they are starting to look awesome, but there is something that worries me:

Right now, they are being modeled over a flat gray background.  However, the game has lots of pretty stuff on the screen (planet, skybox, explosions), and the colors and intensities of those seem to vary quite a bit.  What is this going to do to the contrast levels for the icons?  I've already had an occasion where I accidentally invaded a mark IV system because the 'I' was visible on the galaxy map, but the 'V' blended with the color behind it.

They might need some kind of a box (or other shape) behind them, so that contrast can be guaranteed.  There could be a slider somewhere maybe to allow adjustments to the opacity of that background.  Possibly use that background for team color, provided the other information can be set up so contrast is guaranteed against whatever background is chosen.

Online Draco18s

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #55 on: March 03, 2017, 03:03:42 PM »
I think I'm spot on with Chris:

E, all the way.  Team color information is one of the things I want to know now and fast.

The shield and stealth markers are fantastic and I'd keep the "Mark" level notation as just the roman numeral in the bottom center.
The "TYPE" info might be useful but only on mouse-over.

I'd probably drop the gray circle bits (like row D) just to reduce visual noise.  They don't indicate anything and can easily clutter the UI when dozens of these are on screen at once.

Perspective view I could probably get used to, but agreed that it's going to look a little funny.

I'll also pipe up and agree that health bars are only going to be useful in the general sense for starships and larger as well as structures (other than things with like 200 hp, e.g. resource nodes: those pop instantly so there's no need).  The other units can have it on mouse-over, rather than all-the-time.  Could make it an option "Display health bars [AI Always | Player Always | Both Always | Large Units Only | Never]"

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #56 on: March 03, 2017, 06:14:46 PM »
Wait a second, why ship icons to begin with? What is the point of ship icons? Did Homeworld have ship icons???? Did Homeworld NEED ship icons? ;P Did SOaSE have fancy ship icons? (I don't rightly remember.. I don't think it did?)

When I am in combat, I have control groups, I want to see (on the left) a (CONDENSED) list of my control grouped ships and a short-form of ships in them, I want to see (and be able to) click on "same type" ships in that window, I want to see low HP squads and maybe have them retreat, I want to see how many ships are left at a glance). If I have a control group I want to see whether it is cloaked or not, but if mixed, then I don't care about that.

Right below that, I want to see the allied and enemy ships in a same-scale comparison. if there are 500 of mine and 500 enemy and 600 allied (things) then I want a relative scale comparison that allows me to see, at a glance, how my forces fare in combat. I should be able to hide all INFO tabs in the sidebar, especially ALLY ships if that leads to too much clutter.

Additionally, I want to see a condensed (abstracted) list of all ships of mine and of the enemy in a planetary gravity well. I want to know what they are when I hover over them, and I want to see whether they are detectors. Since I don't see cloaked ships, I thus don't care whether ships are cloaked, when I see them they aren't cloaked after all (heh!). Simple (type) shapes is all I need there for icons. If something is a bomber type then it does bomber things, and I really don't care about specifics then ;P I probably planned something when making control group 5 cloaked only and whatever it is, the game doesn't need to tell me what it is unless I look specifically for that information or more specifically, hold a modifier key.

Things I want to see on the actual gameplay window when zoomed "kinda" out to give orders
What is a detector (I don't care what of me is cloaked, I care what can detect me if I were caring about cloaking)
What is that things detection range (see above) (+ALT)
What is a super scary AI thing I should NOT be overlooking
What is scary thing X's weapon range (+ALT)
Where is my control grouped fleet at (condensed Icon) (singular, per control group 1 icon, if fancy, selection drawn around it)

When holding ALT, I want to see my selection fire range (among other things) and HP of all squads/ships in the game window IF they are damaged (please do not have 1dmg dealing AOE or gradual slow-down effects thank you).

As you can tell, the less icons you clutter in-game window the better for my perception of what is going on. In battle I will only look at the "sidebar" anyway, if I have 800 ships of a type, I seriously do not care if I lose 10 or 12, but if I lose 400 when the enemy only loses 20 I should be able to see the condensed sidebar give me that info instantly, it should have memory of how many ships I had in this control group to give me tactical feedback and maybe allow automated resupply via production straight back into that control group to the old historical limits.

Sending ships without control group into anything shouldn't be a thing that is advisable in AI War in my view ;P And game should promote higher level management of control groups (by giving control group info with priority in a sidebar) and there only thing that matters is whether thing is alive, what type it is)

Now why did I write all that? Look at the icons so far, explain to me how they will help me tell what I have selected in a control group of 800 ships.... mixed types, mixed abilities and mixed capitals. The thing I worry is that you put icons in the game-view, forgetting that nobody cares about singular squads in battle, in battle you are supposed to have your control groups set up. And the game should give me info related to my control groups, not about some single squad (unless I have it selected as only thing). Hover should tell me in all instances what it is specifically when I hover over it. But at a glance? I really don't care if something has 5, 6 tentacles or 12, as long as it got tentacles and knows how to use them to harass the AI (ie. if it can shoot, I want to know that, if not I don't have it in my combat control groups). This also means a civilian ship selection filter... etc.

Anyway, lots of text, my point is.. this approaches GUI with the "clutter" approach. If you are serious about AI War 2 having 2000+ ships in a battle, you should already see why icons for each squad and ship are NOT a good idea for overview reasons.

But as it is, this is my view on RTS GUI and it could be something no other person ever would find agreeable. I am just going to throw this point in because I think it is a wrong direction to give every little ship a unique icon in the *GAME* window and having such fancy icons in the (hopefully considered yet) sidebar would be impossible, you can't condense any of that info down with fancy icons.

If you are curious how this works in practice, play Sins of a Solar Empire or look at gameplay vid on youtube of that, it is basically the thing I described. Only I'd want it even fancier.

Anyhow, if we are not doing a sidebar that has awareness of control groups then I don't think how well icons work is really relevant. Because you are not going to see much of value in a giant fight (Already a big problem in AI War 1 and the reason it has a sidebar, even though that thing is seriously on the wrong side of the screen ;P)
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Offline Astilious

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #57 on: March 03, 2017, 08:11:48 PM »
My thoughts:

Health bars:
I agree that I often only care about HP on big ships. However I also want an impression of how well the fleet as a whole is holding up. Something like the average/lowest health percentages of your selection found in AIWC, but displayed more prominently, would be my preference.

In addition to separate HP bars for anything "valuable", perhaps judged based on zoom. So golem size superweapons show separate HP at all times, starships show when somewhat zoomed in and fleet ships never show HP, aside from as a fleet wide average/minimum.

More generally:

I like the above by eRe4s3r in some ways but not others.

It's always a bit of a shame when games with nice visuals have an interface such that any decent player will be looking at the dullest part of the screen (i.e. the sidebar), or can only see icons due to zoom level (a problem in AIWC). So I'd still like to have some form of information on the fleet, and ideally only <10 icons summarising the critical information. That way you could actually look at the battle as you played, AND it wouldn't be covered in a sea of icons (which probably don't look as good as the underlying ships, shots and explosions).

I like the idea of control groups that refil automatically as you build new ships, that might actually get me to use them in AIWC. Usually I just can't be bothered, so end up boxing everything all the time. However I do worry about how well newer players will deal with a system that assumes you're making good use of control groups. I'm not sure how much of an issue that would be in practice.


One icon each summarising each player's fleet. These give average health, minimum health and % strength relative to something like start of engagement, maximum ships (firepower?) from that side that have been in system for the last 10m, or maximum ships in the vicinity in the last 2-5 min. They also indicate whether all ships are cloaked or shielded, and FRD, group move, etc status. If there are control groups they get there own separate icons, which indicate which control group they are prominently. Big things (as mentioned above) get there own icons, obviously with only a normal absolute health bar rather than average/minimum and % strength.

This gives a summary of all the useful information, and lets us look at the shiny explosions. Icons can also be complex without too much trouble, as there wont be that many of them.
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Offline Blue

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #58 on: March 03, 2017, 08:20:00 PM »
"To me it seems like way too much detail is going into small icons that will more often than not just be a blob of colour and nonsense, not to say i don't like the ideas thus far (as i think they're very pretty), it's just that appear TOO pretty to me to be blobbed up in their hundreds where clarity will be vastly reduced."

You're 100% not wrong and that's something I'm struggling with. There's really no way about it. Lots of information is going to get cluttery.

Even if we stripped it to the barest of bare bones, unless we're speaking just of the ships icon itself in its entirety, it'll always be visually noisey.

No matter how simple this gets, it's going to be noisey if we're displaying all that information.

Either way.

This is it at it's bare minimal.

And even so, with tons of these, it's going to get visually cluttered. 

What you're looking at:

1. Stances. (Defense, Attach, Patrol.)
2. Cloak
3. Shield
4. Health
5. Mark Level.



Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: Developer feedback requested: Ship Icons.
« Reply #59 on: March 03, 2017, 08:30:18 PM »
I think this minimalism is heading in the right direction. I played a few games of AI War 2 today with some enormous fleets (thousand on my side, 5K on the enemy side), and the sheer number of icons was just overwhelming, and I think even with this more minimalist approach it would still be overwhelming. What if we had the ability to combine the icons of multiple squads of (say) fighters into a single icon for larger battles like that?

If we go this way then we would want to allow more icons to appear as you zoomed in on the fleet.