Giving orders to units is very click/window heavy at the moment. This gives flexibility (to the player and the developer) but I believe the existing functionality can be more efficiently laid out. The entire idea of choosing orders from a window when there are so few of them in total only makes sense because the ‘list’ is a list of ‘activated orders’; if you remove this concept, by saying that the list of orders is there you turn them on or off instead of adding them, flow is easier.
Here are all the orders in the game currently (unless I missed one, which would be pretty embarrassing). As you can see, not only do they all fit, but there is space to spare to make the sliders more useful with actual numbers. If you can envisage this list being dark and allowing the player to activate chosen orders (and prohibiting the impossible combinations) you can see that the ‘add orders’ window is now redundant. Right clicking on any order can still pop up the actual window, and for orders with targets this is necessary on activation and makes setting ranges to weapons easier. No functionality is lost, and changes to orders are now faster. There is also space to add a button for ‘make default orders’, to make this function more obvious (perhaps with a light to demonstrate the ‘current’ orders are the default).
I would suggest a few renames, as well, to make functions clearer without the explanatory text (‘cautious’, for example, could be renamed ‘fall back’ or something so the percentile obviously shows the damage level they retreat at, and not some percentage of ‘caution’). While the logic is different, I would also suggest combining ‘escort’ and ‘formation’ into a single order. They cannot be chosen at the same time, so no functionality is lost, but setting ‘escort’ to distance zero should do what ‘formation’ does now (even though this isn’t really what ‘escort at distance zero’ would mean, it saves on space).
Obviously this is not what I would expect a new orders window to look like; but it is an effective ‘proof of concept’ that without losing functionality or demanding a great deal of effort the orders sequence can be improved. I think it is similarly possible to streamline the design window and the deployment list. What do people think?
EDIT - I forgot to add, that with regard to orders and clarity, I’d like to see some kind of ‘orders AI feedback’ in the game. Whether it’s a ticker or a speech bubble or whatever, I think it would make the working and interaction of order clearer if the player recieved ‘communication’ from his ships about why they are doing certain things. For instance, if a frigate switches targets or moves away, it’s useful to know why, and a ticker saying ‘Morning Glory is assisting Nuclear Kitten’ or ‘Morning Glory is moving to maintain formation’ or ‘Morning Glory is finishing off an enemy’ would allow players to judge how his orders shape the battle without infodumping.