GrogHeads Forum

Digital Gaming => Computer Gaming => Topic started by: Redwolf on May 11, 2016, 04:19:07 AM

Title: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Redwolf on May 11, 2016, 04:19:07 AM
Are there any wargames that you consider "efficient", where efficient means how they use the player's time?

What I am aiming at is how much time do you spend actually planning, and then how much time does it take to tell the UI about the plan? How much time do you need to spend noodling around in the UI to gather the information that you need to plan the next move in the first place?

I could break it down a bit more if you want.

The games that I have seen that are efficient in this sense are:

One thing I suffer from in the efficiency department is iconities, using too many randomly picked icons in the UI. I have enough screen space to put text. There is no way that I can keep a large number of icons in my head for several games.

Clunky step-by-step LOS determination, and one-by-one unit status inquiry also hurt badly?

Any input?

Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: jomni on May 11, 2016, 06:01:13 AM
Ultimate General. Just draw lines.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: ArizonaTank on May 11, 2016, 07:31:58 AM
Combat Mission x1 series.  Somehow CMx2 managed to make the UI less efficient.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Rayfer on May 11, 2016, 10:26:35 AM
Ultimate General. Just draw lines.

Agreed. It doesn't get any more efficient than that.  On the opposite end of the spectrum in War in the Pacific: AE.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: MengJiao on May 11, 2016, 11:19:10 AM
Are there any wargames that you consider "efficient", where efficient means how they use the player's time?

What I am aiming at is how much time do you spend actually planning, and then how much time does it take to tell the UI about the plan? How much time do you need to spend noodling around in the UI to gather the information that you need to plan the next move in the first place?

I could break it down a bit more if you want.

The games that I have seen that are efficient in this sense are:
  • TacOps (clear leader)
  • CMx1 (not quite as good with some weaknesses, but very efficient terrain and LOS discovery and quick straight-line commands)

One thing I suffer from in the efficiency department is iconities, using too many randomly picked icons in the UI. I have enough screen space to put text. There is no way that I can keep a large number of icons in my head for several games.

Clunky step-by-step LOS determination, and one-by-one unit status inquiry also hurt badly?

Any input?

total war seems to go okay for me-- but I've played it for years and years.  I do recall during my 2 weeks of online war in Rome II using a heavy cavalry DLC that nobody else bothered to buy, that simplifying an army into heavy archers (which could also attack) and super-heavy horsemen (who could be brought in against anything) made it a lot easier than having an army with skirmishing infantry and artillery and pikemen and horsemen etc..
There was one battle where the heavy archers killed about half the opposing force of light skirmishers in the first couple of minutes leading to that player quiting and everything on that side collapsing in record time.  Though, I usually found it was a lot easier to fight players than the Ai that replaced them in an online game.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: James Sterrett on May 11, 2016, 04:58:12 PM
Twilight Struggle impressed me as brilliant work in crunching a sprawling boardgame into a single screen without losing any vital information.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Hofstadter on May 11, 2016, 06:35:19 PM
I enjoy war in the wests style. Movement and combat value on your counter. Hover over an enemy counter to see their combat value. Rough "how much combat power do i need here" mental calculation. Simple stuff for the beginning scenarios.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Boggit on May 11, 2016, 09:15:06 PM
AGEOD games are very "efficient". A huge amount of variables are taken into account within the game engine. All you really have to do is consider you supply lines and where you want to take your forces. The game engine does the rest for you.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: FarAway Sooner on May 12, 2016, 04:27:53 PM
It's a 4X game and not a wargame, but I really like the interface for Endless Legend.  Nothing is more than 2 or 3 clicks to accomplish and you can get to where you want to go very easily and intuitively.  They also have abundant and detailed tooltips.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Nefaro on May 12, 2016, 04:36:49 PM
I LOL'd when I saw the terms "Wargame UIs" and "Efficient" in the same topic title.  ;D

Probably one of the worst genres for user-friendly UIs.  There have been recent improvements in some newer ones, but I don't think they'll ever be near the tip of the spear on that.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Redwolf on May 12, 2016, 06:42:36 PM
I LOL'd when I saw the terms "Wargame UIs" and "Efficient" in the same topic title.  ;D

Probably one of the worst genres for user-friendly UIs.  There have been recent improvements in some newer ones, but I don't think they'll ever be near the tip of the spear on that.

Yeah. This.

I think this has a lot to do with how wargames have effectively declined in the last 12 or so years. Not only have there be no improvements in UIs as executed by wargame developers, the games got more complex and more featureful. Put that into the same clunky UI technology and it is a major turnoff.

To be fair, I really dislike some mainstream game UI changes, too. The console-like interfaces put on many games that also have a console version drive me nuts.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Capn Darwin on May 12, 2016, 07:36:15 PM
One of the main reasons we kept our interface very windows application-like was the general understanding of menus, right click popup menus and alike. I've seen too many super fancy icon centric or minimalistic GUIs where you have no idea what you are doing without reading a 50+ page guide to understand the correct gesture and head tilt to invoke some function. Wargames (not RTS war-like game) need to display or provide access to a ton of information in order to keep the player up to speed on what a staff would normally handle. The next great battle as a developer are the folks that go the UI sucks and then fail to state what or how to make is suck less. Layer onto that fine mess the now vast range of monitor types and sizes and numbers that having a nice interface at one end totally collapse at the other end of those spectrums. Plus let's add the boot to the taint of the OS. Transitions from Win7 to now Win10 have come pre-packaged with a train wreck of display problems based on how Microsoft decided to short cut resolutions and supported codices. I'm all for some magic formula that get's us to the perfect UI/UX. Our team has been very open to suggestions and ideas to improve the flow of information in our game engine and many of those ideas will find their way into our next game/engine system. So fire away with this ideas. We are listening.  O0
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: RyanE on May 12, 2016, 07:59:55 PM
If wargame developers could just stick to Windows conventions for Windows games.  How long did it take BFC to just put scroll whell support in their games?
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Strela on May 12, 2016, 08:36:45 PM
One of the main reasons we kept our interface very windows application-like was the general understanding of menus, right click popup menus and alike. I've seen too many super fancy icon centric or minimalistic GUIs where you have no idea what you are doing without reading a 50+ page guide to understand the correct gesture and head tilt to invoke some function. Wargames (not RTS war-like game) need to display or provide access to a ton of information in order to keep the player up to speed on what a staff would normally handle. The next great battle as a developer are the folks that go the UI sucks and then fail to state what or how to make is suck less. Layer onto that fine mess the now vast range of monitor types and sizes and numbers that having a nice interface at one end totally collapse at the other end of those spectrums. Plus let's add the boot to the taint of the OS. Transitions from Win7 to now Win10 have come pre-packaged with a train wreck of display problems based on how Microsoft decided to short cut resolutions and supported codices. I'm all for some magic formula that get's us to the perfect UI/UX. Our team has been very open to suggestions and ideas to improve the flow of information in our game engine and many of those ideas will find their way into our next game/engine system. So fire away with this ideas. We are listening.  O0

Working with John Tiller, we constantly hear that our UI is 'too Windows' etc but like Capn Darwin and team we're finding the need to keep the games both accessible for old and new hands as well as compatible with the changes coming with each version of Windows etc creates a brake on what can be achieved.

We're about to embark on a big UI review and have lots of ideas but the points the good Capn makes are things that developers worry about and the average consumer never sees.

People forget that Wargames are usually more complex that the average WASD game and presenting that information in an appropriate way while maintaining focus on game play is a balancing act.

David
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Nefaro on May 12, 2016, 10:45:57 PM


To be fair, I really dislike some mainstream game UI changes, too. The console-like interfaces put on many games that also have a console version drive me nuts.

Agreed.  But that's just lazy console-to-PC ports.  Doesn't excuse the bad interface, but it was originally made for another platform.  Being PC-only and still having bad UI.. is just bad.  :D

I realize that for most developers, doing a lot of UI work seems more like a chore that pulls them away from the programming they really want to do.  Unfortunately, bad UIs also detract from the user's experience, so they ignore at their own peril.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: ArizonaTank on May 13, 2016, 06:56:47 AM
"Efficient" without "intuitive," does not necessarily help a game, and in fact could hurt it. 

The example I have in mind is the original UI for Histwar Les Grognards.  It was very efficient from the point of view that a low number of clicks let you do a lot.  But it did not follow the usual conventions we all are used to.  So for many it was not intuitive.  Feedback from users was scathing.  Personally, once I learned it, I liked it.  Anyway, it was probably one of the biggest reasons the game floundered. 
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Capn Darwin on May 13, 2016, 07:48:47 AM
I also think most gamers today (and the past decade for that matter) don't fully understand what it takes to code a game or the impact of cross platform coding on what you can do for a single title. Nor do they understand the interactions of hardware and code. But that's a thread and rant of its own. The point that needs to be understood is when you develope for cross platform, everything in the UI and UX has to sink to the lowest common denominator (if you don't know what that is, blame common core math and do a google search). Xboxes and tablets don't use mouse and keyboard. A PC can use a controller or mouse and buttons. So you end up with a restricted control set because as a developer you can only really afford to code the game once these days. Coding a game version to be PC only can force a massive rewrite of code to support those much broader capabilities of the PC. You really have to have a big enough team with some deep pockets to do that sort of thing. So the point of this mornings ramble, if there is one,  is a UI can may get sub par treatment in some games if it was designed to go cross platform or evolve to a cross platform. So layer in a wargame's need for more info and control and it becomes a huge mess to deal with. I think that's why most if not all "serious" Wargames end up on a PC (sorry MACs you are another issue as well for most small shops).  :coolsmiley:
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Redwolf on May 13, 2016, 12:10:37 PM
One of the main reasons we kept our interface very windows application-like was the general understanding of menus, right click popup menus and alike. I've seen too many super fancy icon centric or minimalistic GUIs where you have no idea what you are doing without reading a 50+ page guide to understand the correct gesture and head tilt to invoke some function. Wargames (not RTS war-like game) need to display or provide access to a ton of information in order to keep the player up to speed on what a staff would normally handle. The next great battle as a developer are the folks that go the UI sucks and then fail to state what or how to make is suck less. Layer onto that fine mess the now vast range of monitor types and sizes and numbers that having a nice interface at one end totally collapse at the other end of those spectrums. Plus let's add the boot to the taint of the OS. Transitions from Win7 to now Win10 have come pre-packaged with a train wreck of display problems based on how Microsoft decided to short cut resolutions and supported codices. I'm all for some magic formula that get's us to the perfect UI/UX. Our team has been very open to suggestions and ideas to improve the flow of information in our game engine and many of those ideas will find their way into our next game/engine system. So fire away with this ideas. We are listening.  O0

Yeah. For games that are suitable for it a plain interface with windows pulldown menus and right-click menus is a great improvement over e.g. hordes of icons, the choice of pictures on the icons only making sense to the person who picked them.

I also strongly feel that OpenGL is the only API I would use to draw anything, even 2D. Those API changes from version to version of the GUI toolkit (which in windows is couple to OS updates) are really annoying.
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: Apocalypse 31 on May 13, 2016, 05:32:50 PM
Unity of Command
Title: Re: "Efficient" wargames, wargame UIs
Post by: FarAway Sooner on May 15, 2016, 09:47:23 PM
Thanks to all of you gentlemen.  This has been a very educational thread for me!

 O0