Not finished yet…but getting there…
Ooh, very nice.
I take it this is one of the animated gui’s you have been talking about.
As you say, its not finished yet, is there going to be a “Scenario Description” or button so the Modders can place some free form text in there (ie story / explanation / etc )
Graphically-speaking, that’s a very attractive-looking screen. The quality of the planet images is off-the-scale amazing. My compliments to the artist! Will high-res, official “wallpaper” versions of each planet image be available in the future?
But functionally-speaking, the apparently random placement of the images, and the indirect/mysterious zig-zagging path which links them, is somewhat confusing and it’s unnecessarily eating up time spent in trying to parse it. Yes, I do know that this is only an early version of the screen, and I’m taking that into consideration. However, the lack of a quickly-comprehensible progression in the style of GSB1’s missions is, to me, a weakness. In the original game that progression was unmistakably linear and so was the way it was shown to the player; you can hardly beat that for an example of “fast and simple to use”.
I also admit that the original game’s mission list was a very simple mechanism whose appearance ranged between “humble” and “mildly ugly”. No one was expecting a Monet or a Picasso. But it had the great virtue of being extremely well-ordered & uncomplicated, and its usefulness & speed in making those goals happen also made it basically transparent to the player. That’s a good thing. Its ease-of-use was high; it quickly allowed the player to scroll, then select, then get busy deploying. That provides a positive user experience. Considering how important mission selection is to the game, to sacrifice function for form is a mistake. Cliff, if there are some extenuating circumstances here that would help us understand what your intentions actually are, now would be a good time to share them. Right now, it’s hard for me to shake the sensation that the screen capture you showed is only indicating a part of the whole story to us.
But this current revision of the screen? Really, I do want to like it, but as of yet I cannot. Absent any other helpful data, I have little idea what the hell the mission progression is and where I should be clicking first. That kind of confusion is definitely not something to afflict your players with. If i were a completely new player to GSB2, I’d be wondering where to find what’s intended to be the very first mission/training exersise/tutorial, and why the line connecting all of the world images is so oddly indirect. I would feel that my time is being deliberately wasted in solving a mystery that rightfully should not exist here.
“Info. Sidebar” and planet/mission names:
I’m assuming that the information sidebar – which looks nice and straightforward – does not appear to the player until a planet image is clicked on. OK, no objection to that. But how does a player know which planet image to click? I see only one planet with a name on it, which strongly makes me think that world names are shown only with a mouse hover or mouse click event. As the default, the names of all planets should be displayed at the same time. To do otherwise is another way of wasting the player’s time in finding what they need. I am no friend of needless click-throughs. At present, I would have no clue of the individual mission maps’ names, let alone the numeric sequence they are intended to be played in. Will the missions be placed on a sequential-access path, or a random-access path??? The screen capture refuses to definitively say which. And when you add in the number of in-game scenarios that are added to GSB by player mods, this information shortage becomes even more troublesome.
Please understand that I’m not a brutal, no-imagination hard-ass when it comes to critique. I adore this game and want its sequel to transcend the limits & obstacles of the original. Of course you wish to make the Choose Mission screen more attractive; that’s natural, and I agree with the feeling. Yes, showing all of the mission maps’ names/titles/numbers simultaneously would cause the artwork to take a minor hit in the aesthetics department. But that’s less important than providing a good user experience, and in this part of the game that trumps the value of the graphical “wow” factor.
BTW, how many characters long can a mission map’s name be?
Is there a maximum string length? If so, I hope it’s a generous one. GSB1’s max value was frustratingly short; a quick review of the original game shows it’s approx. 27-29 characters (incl. spaces). Any longer than that, and the GUI column width would truncate the name and stick an ellipsis on the end of what’s actually able to fit in the window. Not very fun, when the column for mission names was already so narrow in the first place. For the sequel, 40 to 45 characters should be the very least that’s possible here. Your thoughts?
I’ll second that request. Such a feature will allow for story-based mission arcs, which makes a much more immersive experience for the player. Just because the game claims to be gratuitous doesn’t mean it should be miserly with how much data modders can show to the players: their audience. GSB1 was, unfortunately, user-hostile in that regard.
We modders (myself included) would love to make use of this proposed feature. Here’s why:
- It allows the modding community to create fundamentally more interesting missions, keeping the game fresh.
- It allows modders to provide mod-specific lore and short fiction; all the better to insure player immersion.
- Modders can also provide useful pre-battle advice and insight concerning mod-specific tactical subtleties that will let the player get the most enjoyment out of a mod-based mission.
- It eliminates the need for inefficient shifting back and forth between the game program and a web browser with a given mod’s forum thread on display.
At present, there’s no other way to effectively make use of the data which a mod’s creator carefully posted to the forum for the benefit of everyone interested in getting the most value out of his creation. I’m not saying that a “Scenario Description” sub-window would have to be able to handle 2 megabytes of text. But something that can easily hold, say, 6 to 8 KB of unformatted plaintext, and smoothly display it in-game with the click of a button should not be tough to achieve.
A “Scenario Description” nested sub-window that appears when an appropriate control is clicked should be fully scrollable as well as scalable. That allows the displayed quantity of mission text to be widely variable and still be easily readable, regardless of the physical screen dimensions of the computer that GSB2 is being played on. It should be just as helpful at 1280x960 screensize as it is at 1650x1080 or 1900x1200.
How about it, Cliff? We would greatly value and appreciate this being added to GSB2. The beauty of it is that the feature would exist as a new tool in the modders’ toobox. Once you provide it, we will do the rest of the work – to the benefit of GSB2 as a whole.
Last but not least:
The same functionality that a “Scenario Description” sub-window provides on the Choose Mission screen should also be available and readable on the Deploy Ships screen, too. This is especially important if the mod’s author is using the feature not for fiction or backstory, but instead for giving a pre-battle tactical briefing to educate the player via hints and cautionary notes.
Quite a bit of modder-made content is, frankly, more varied and complex than the official game. This really is a major advantage over vanilla GSB, but some special handling as I’ve described would be useful. For such situations, being able to consult the author-provided “tech support” from the same game screen which handles deployment & orders (as well as a link back to the Ship Design screen, too!) would be highly desirable as well as helpful. Please implement this additional aspect of the suggested new “Scenario Description” field, Cliff – thank you.
Thanks for the feedback everyone, I’ll try to address all points.
As you may imagine, that screenshot is what happens when I tell the artist ‘make the most awesome choose battle screen ever’, and he does it, and then i implement it. It was entirely aesthetics driven until now. It looks really cool in-use
I totally agree that it looks random with no case of progression. I was thinking about fading out to a hex-grid pattern all of the worlds that are locked, and then unlock them on a path (hence the lines) as they become available. In other words, progression will be much more obvious at the start.
One thing I should point out is that this is designed to auto-scale. So for example if you wanted to add (by mods) a whole cluster of new missions to the right of the existing map, the map will simply scale down to fit in the extra missions. That is untested, and probably buggy for now
I have long heard demands for text-descriptions of missions! I agree this would be a cool optional feature, loved by modders and will definitely try to get that put in. It’s simply a matter of picking a spot on the gui to add it. I suspect a pop-up window to the side of the selected world is the best option, only showing if a description is present. I shall try to put this in and provide a screenshot for everyones feedback once it’s done.
Ok hopefully these are better? the text supports <BR.
as a line or paragraph break in the scenario description.
In many ways, this new format reminds me of the campaign layout. (This one is a little more 3D)
While the worlds that are locked are just the hex pattern, maybe the worlds that have been unlocked are semi transparent ?
(For example looking at the screen shot I did not know that the next world was on the other side of the map - mind you this is a static screenshot and the game might already have some form of indication)
If the game does not have the indications as mentioned earlier, would it be worth to show the paths to the next worlds when you highlight a world. (Similar to the campaign of GSB I when your about to move a fleet)
And a Question:
In the image the worlds are on a single path, am I correct in assuming that worlds can have multiple paths ?
Now this will be interesting later on when the Modding Community is in full swing. What happens when 2 mods try and use the same area of space. Will the worlds cluster over each other or is there a “sector level” where the game will group them and place them in the next sector over.
Yay - thankyou
This looks very nice, but perhaps there could be arrows or something to make it more clear the order of which the missions take place in.
Looks awesome Sir!
This looks awesome, but the main thing I’m worried about is the way that all the planets take up a lot of space on the screen. Is it possible to scroll through the menu to to select other planets/missions that are off screen? I’m worried that the selection of single player missions will be a bit limited, something that GSB1 had difficulties with, especially since the single player missions were the only way to unlock new ships, races and modules.
I’m more concerned about how mod scenarios will be added to this. In the previous game, all that would happen is the missions would be stuck in somewhere below the official missions. This time it seems the process will probably be a lot more involved.
No don’t worry, this screen is going to scale to ensure all extra missions get slotted in ok…
as for the lines I think there’s a few different things that we could do
we could only show the lines that go to the next locked plants that can be unlocked
we change the color of the line between locked and unlocked planets (i was thinking cyan), fade all the other lines and make lines connecting two or more unlocked planets the same color as those between locked and unlocked
all lines are faded and unfaded ones appear when you click on a planet, lines that connect to an already unlocked planet are a different color
Maybe only show the line to the very next locked planet instead of them all?
Perhaps something similar to the galaxy map used in battlefront two would be visually less overwhelming, and easier for the user to navigate/read.
Kind of like this(though with your amazing looking graphics and sprites):
Personally, while the screen with all the planets that you can click on for your missions is pretty, I would much rather have a list of missions to select from. Perhaps you could sacrifice some portion of the edge of the screen to have a scrollable list of missions?
I’m also curious how you’d handle, using this UI, a series of battles over the same planet. Would you use multiple planets to represent this, or would there be some way to allow me to pick between the First and Second Battle of Edyai IX when I select the planet Edyai IX (using Edyai IX as a hypothetical example)?
i don’t think thats what cliffski is aiming for. i think hes trying to make a system similar to GTB
[size=20]also i know own this page all shall bow before me[/size]
I’ve never played GTB and do not know what that system looks like. Moreover, my question was how you’d do it, not whether it was something being done in the base-game scenarios. You can always add extra planets with the appropriate anomalies in the right region of the map and set appropriate unlock triggers to represent a First and a Second Battle of Edyai IX; I was just wondering if the system would support having a single Edyai IX where you can have two different scenarios, which would be a visually cleaner way to represent this than a stack of planets with the same (or very similar) name(s) and different unlock conditions. If it’s not something that Cliffski wants to do with the base game, that’s fine; it’s something that can be worked around.
[size=25]Also, “I know. Own this, page: all shall bow before me?” It’s certainly amusing, but perhaps you meant “now” instead of “know,” and meant for the inserted punctuation to look more like “I now own this page. All shall bow before me.” Especially since not everyone would be amused to be addressed as a servant.[/size]
here you go
lets try this again
this is what i meant by it, you can see how they are similar
in this respect that is only relevant for mods with more… serious stories, heck forget the seriousness, its for mods that have any form of organized story. That is something that the “Gratuitous” series does not have
as for the rest, i should have to tell you i’m not qualified to answer it
[size=10]“Also, “I know. Own this, page: all shall bow before me?” It’s certainly amusing, but perhaps you meant “now” instead of “know,” and meant for the inserted punctuation to look more like “I now own this page. All shall bow before me.” Especially since not everyone would be amused to be addressed as a servant.”[/size]
[size=30]GUARDS! SILENSE THIS USURPER![/size]