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Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest...

 
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Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 2:35:47 PM   
squatter

 

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Okay, some of this is going to be controversial, but I have some strong feelings of disapointment with WitE. Enough eulegising has been written, and we can all agree how amazingly detailed it is. But for me the game falls short, primarily in the UI department. A game like this is meant to allow you to simulate the entire campaign in the East, but currently its unmanagable. I mean, as far as I am aware it is so cumbersome and time consuming that no human has yet completed a full campaign in PBEM, including the test team! And I wonder how long it will be until that landmark is passed. Two years?

There’s been some huge exaggeration the ‘beer and pretzels’ aspects of the UI. I think that anyone who thinks this is in fact an intuitive UI has most likely been playing WitP too long. For me, my first 48hrs play have been characterised by exasperation at how badly some elements of the game and its information are presented. Yes, it’s easy enough to click units across the map against the AI and get score decisive victory in Road To Minsk on first effort (a little dispiriting given the way the AI is being talked up here), but doing so with understanding and control over what is really going on under the hood, the things that would be needed against a human, is a different matter.

It’s one thing having a monster game where every tiny detail is modelled, its another making it an enjoyable experience trying to manage all of this. Currently, micromanagement is a headache, when (for those thusly inclined) it should be a pleasure. In its UI, I would say this game feels old fashioned.

For me, a game of this enormous scale and detail absolutely requires a sophisticated UI to match, or it becomes a mess. I would like to see more resources put into the interface as a priority for future development.

These are some of my early frustrations. In some cases, maybe these are because I have missed something in the manual. If so, I apologise, and would be gladly corrected.

Support Units: this is written about at length elsewhere. Big dissapointment. Should there not be a master ‘tree’ screen for support units where you can see on one screen all HQ units, all support units, and be able to reassign support units from here? I was really looking forward to this part of the game, only to find it irritating and infuriating to grapple with.

Air War: Again, this is already well documented. Essentially, it’s baffling. Again, I was really looking forward to taking charge of this aspect of play, only to find it best left to the AI out of sheer exhaustion attempting to understand the UI. There is no control over which units are assigned to which battles in close support. The first ground attacks you make suck up all the support, even if they are minor hasty attacks against isolated enemy formations. There should clearly be a means to prioritise close support to the battles you want to. Plus, the sheer amount of airbase and air hq counters is needless and confusing. Lose the air HQs, I would say.

Rail repair: Again, well documented. Completely baffling as to how the HQs use their construction assets to repair rail as far as I can make out. Pointless to see the AI rail repair units on the map as they ‘backfill’ (read: obey a terribly written AI routine) the most useless parts of the network. The map is too cluttered as it is, why not lose these unit counters, just let the work happen without having to watch these idiots blunder around? I would actually be in favour of a total abstraction of rail repair – every turn each player is given a set amount of rail hexes that he can convert. Leave it at that.

Some more specifics of lackings within the UI and information presentation (again, where I’m wrong, I’m happy to be corrected)
When I execute a supply air drop, where is my information on which air drop units can reach the drop zone? I right click, and either a bunch of planes turn up, or I’m told none are in range. No more assistance than that. No chance to select which formations fly from those in range, just a bunch of planes turning up, or not.

Where are on-map radiuses when I click on an air base to show its fighter and bomber ranges? In every other game I’ve played involved air power, this is considered a basic and primary function of the UI.

Why cant I select an HQ and click a button to show its supply net? A line from the HQ to its supply source, showing how strong the flow is, and also showing the flow out to subordinates? The same applies to units – when my unit is low on supplies, how can I check why supplies are not reaching it, other than pouring through the manual and trying to tally what I read with what I see on the screen? How about a supply net button for units, with one click I can see where the flow of supply is breaking down, and why.

Where are the functions to cycle through units in the same formation? I select one unit, and I immediately want to cycle though its peer units within the same corps. I want to move one division from within the corps, then cycle to the next and move it too. This would help massively with keeping formations together in huge battles.

Why don’t we see the mp cost for prepared attack before it is launched?

The unit selection process is terrible. I mean, the most basic thing of all, and it is incredibly clunky. Why on earth is the default single click on a stack a ‘select all’ command? Why does not a further click at least cycle through units in the stack? This is an industry standard function for decades!! Instead I have to deselect manually by clicking on the unit panel to the right. This was a crazy design decision, and in a game of hundreds of, its stunningly laborious.

Worse, why when I move a unit to a hex with another friendly unit, the units in the destination hex are automatically selected? I have no comprehension of why this would be considered useful.

When I click on a unit from the OOB it takes me to that unit. But in this situation, and many others when you navigate to an HQ by clicking on its name on a unit detal, where is the button to click to take me back to the unit I navigated from, or back up the OOB tree? It’s the equivalent of having an internet browser without a ‘back’ button.

And to really start nit-picking: why is the ‘break down units’ button part of the Map Information button array? This is a function, and action, not a piece of map information.

In summation, I think Gary Grigsby is a peerless simulation designer, and obviously the detail, the combat formulas et al in here are amazing. But I wonder if he has enough support from someone whose expertise is UI design?

Post #: 1
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:03:04 PM   
Timmeh


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Shift and right click target to control your supply drops for teh air war, not that cumbersome to do really. Ranges from the target are diplayed this way.

The Support stuff I agree, took me a bit to overcome the UI. And the right click to deselect isnt coming easy either, but I will adapt to that.

But to be honest, some of the elements you complain about are the reasons this game will stay on the CPU a long , long time. The support elements, for example, when left to teh AI and employed with a little common sence really allow a deep level of immersion for me when considering the weekly turn cycle. I love it.

Perhaps you would benifit from a fresh look at the CR screen would help , mastering that puppy will increase your enjoyment of this game muchly. Most of us dont have the ' Tom Cruise set up in Minority report yet" so simple databases have to do.



< Message edited by Timmeh -- 12/19/2010 3:07:03 PM >

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Post #: 2
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:10:34 PM   
Tzar007


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The map is superb, and the unit graphics are clear enough, and the zoom function is well integrated.

But I will agree with you that the interface isn't the best around. The text links you need to click on these multiple windows aren't always obvious at first. The usage of the F keys to switch modes get some time to get used to. Some screens - such as the Commander's Report - are incredibly crowded and packed with data. Ultimately for me, such details are minor gripes as what's important (realistic complexity, historical truthness and details, and a worthy AI) is there and is successful.

However, after some time with the game, I can find my way around the game pretty good. And I have to tell you that the interface is still much better than the one in WITP which was pretty awkward.
But it takes hours to get at ease, and it shouldn't be that long so yes, the friendliness of the user interface could be improved...



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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:11:01 PM   
comsolut

 

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Actually, I believe these are some very good observations. Many of the issues I have just accepted and work around because of the enjoyment factor.

Possibly some of your ideas can still be worked into the game, but I, for one, appreciate the comments you have posted.

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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:15:08 PM   
ComradeP

 

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quote:

I mean, as far as I am aware it is so cumbersome and time consuming that no human has yet completed a full campaign in PBEM, including the test team! And I wonder how long it will be until that landmark is passed. Two years?


The sole reason for the lack of a completed full campaign by the test team is that versions were released quickly after eachother that included some critical bug fix or were very different than earlier versions.

No PBEM campaigns were completed for WitP prior to release, and I have some really serious doubts whether any were completed for WitP:AE.

Also: the amount of turns the full WitE 1941-1945 campaign takes will get you through slightly over half of 1942 in WitP/WitP:AE at 1 day/turn, so I'm not sure what the problem is.

quote:

Support Units: this is written about at length elsewhere. Big dissapointment. Should there not be a master ‘tree’ screen for support units where you can see on one screen all HQ units, all support units, and be able to reassign support units from here? I was really looking forward to this part of the game, only to find it irritating and infuriating to grapple with.


You can see all support units through filtering the commander's report screen, but I agree that support unit movement between HQ's could be more convenient, especially as currently there are sometimes too many HQ's in an area that clutter the list so the one you want to assign them to doesn't appear. This has been reported as a problem and is being worked on.

quote:

Air War: Again, this is already well documented. Essentially, it’s baffling. Again, I was really looking forward to taking charge of this aspect of play, only to find it best left to the AI out of sheer exhaustion attempting to understand the UI. There is no control over which units are assigned to which battles in close support. The first ground attacks you make suck up all the support, even if they are minor hasty attacks against isolated enemy formations. There should clearly be a means to prioritise close support to the battles you want to. Plus, the sheer amount of airbase and air hq counters is needless and confusing. Lose the air HQs, I would say.


From what I understand, most of the air war was set in stone several years ago, and the focus has been on the rest of the game and less on the air war. The air war can use serious improvement, no denying that, and it will be improved in the future.

The lack of control over ground support and the sometimes quite wild variation in the number of planes flying missions is also something I don't like, so I'm hoping perhaps some additional screen could be added in future versions where we can select air units for a battle.

Would you rather have all the air groups on the map, or just air bases and air HQ's? I don't have any problem with the air bases and air HQ's. If anything, they remove rather than add clutter to the map (the alternative being air units as on-map units).

quote:

Rail repair: Again, well documented. Completely baffling as to how the HQs use their construction assets to repair rail as far as I can make out. Pointless to see the AI rail repair units on the map as they ‘backfill’ (read: obey a terribly written AI routine) the most useless parts of the network. The map is too cluttered as it is, why not lose these unit counters, just let the work happen without having to watch these idiots blunder around? I would actually be in favour of a total abstraction of rail repair – every turn each player is given a set amount of rail hexes that he can convert. Leave it at that.


Why does clutter in areas way removed from the front matter? There's no "traffic jam" penalty like in TOAW, so moving through a full stack doesn't have any effect on MP's. Rail repair units can become annoying when they're closer to the front, agreed.

As aid for fort construction happens automatically without a visible on-map counter, maybe the automated rail repair can also happen without on-map counters at one point.

I also disagree in general that the map is too cluttered, there are not too many units. I have little interest in HPS games because battalion level combat is a unit size level too low for my liking, the standard is divisional and regimental level units/counters, which this game has too, so I'm not really sure why you somehow feel it's that different from the competition.

quote:

When I execute a supply air drop, where is my information on which air drop units can reach the drop zone? I right click, and either a bunch of planes turn up, or I’m told none are in range. No more assistance than that. No chance to select which formations fly from those in range, just a bunch of planes turning up, or not.


Shift right click.

quote:

Where are on-map radiuses when I click on an air base to show its fighter and bomber ranges? In every other game I’ve played involved air power, this is considered a basic and primary function of the UI.


That's a good point. The only overlays are actually on the map, there are no visible range overlays aside from coloured or non-coloured hexes when in some air mission mode. No range circles like in WitP. I'm not sure whether it would require significant code changes, considering that there are none of any kind at this point.

quote:

Why cant I select an HQ and click a button to show its supply net? A line from the HQ to its supply source, showing how strong the flow is, and also showing the flow out to subordinates? The same applies to units – when my unit is low on supplies, how can I check why supplies are not reaching it, other than pouring through the manual and trying to tally what I read with what I see on the screen? How about a supply net button for units, with one click I can see where the flow of supply is breaking down, and why.


Supply information is available, as well as information on the maximum supply distance. It's questionable how historical it would be to know precisely where the supply problem is in the non-logistics phase, as after unit movement the supply situation of a unit as well as that unit's link to the grid will be changed.

quote:

Where are the functions to cycle through units in the same formation? I select one unit, and I immediately want to cycle though its peer units within the same corps. I want to move one division from within the corps, then cycle to the next and move it too. This would help massively with keeping formations together in huge battles.


Disagree with you on how necessary such a feature is. Colour coding of units and counter edges makes it easy to identify units belonging to the same formation. I rarely use the cycle feature in games that do have them, such as SSG games, as where the units of the same formation are is mostly pretty clear.

quote:

Why don’t we see the mp cost for prepared attack before it is launched?


I don't see the need for an in-game calculator to tell you what number of MP's you're going to use in a system where the main variables are river crossings. It's not like you have to be a master of science to figure it out.

quote:

The unit selection process is terrible. I mean, the most basic thing of all, and it is incredibly clunky. Why on earth is the default single click on a stack a ‘select all’ command? Why does not a further click at least cycle through units in the stack? This is an industry standard function for decades!! Instead I have to deselect manually by clicking on the unit panel to the right. This was a crazy design decision, and in a game of hundreds of, its stunningly laborious.


Matter of preference whether you prefer selecting an entire stack and then deselecting units, or a single unit and then possibly selecting other units. I don't really see it as a problem, personally. I'm a big fan of SSG's stack selection system that memorizes the previous selection, but this system works too.

quote:

Worse, why when I move a unit to a hex with another friendly unit, the units in the destination hex are automatically selected? I have no comprehension of why this would be considered useful.


I don't really see the problem here either. Matter of preference.

quote:

When I click on a unit from the OOB it takes me to that unit. But in this situation, and many others when you navigate to an HQ by clicking on its name on a unit detal, where is the button to click to take me back to the unit I navigated from, or back up the OOB tree? It’s the equivalent of having an internet browser without a ‘back’ button.


When in the HQ unit information screen, you can make all assigned units appear. I, again, don't see the problem.

I think your criticism of the UI completely ignores the strengths of the UI, especially compared to many other wargames. Take a look at the amount of buttons and screens in HPS games, or WitP/WitP:AE. Then take a look at the screens and buttons in this game. If your conclusion is that this UI is cluttered and poorly thought out, there isn't much the developers can do for you.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 12/19/2010 3:16:36 PM >


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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:19:37 PM   
dannyk77

 

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I certainly agree with the OP's comments about the UI. Moving units, as mentioned above, is unnecessarily cumbersome and slow. I am constantly having to deselect units I don't want to use in a stack - one more click or double click on the stack to deselect the non-original unit would be nice.
I too, have difficultly in knowing how far up to move my air units, since the UI does not help you see the range of the units.
I think if the UI things mentioned above were addressed we could get through game turns much quicker.

Otherwise the detail and breadth of this game is just wonderful!

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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:21:50 PM   
Templer


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When I saw first screens a few months ago of Gary Grigsby's War in the East I was immediately in love. Especially with the UI!
For me, the UI is clear, concise and visually structured. Perhaps a bit cold and impersonal - but I like it that way (so I also like the UI of Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge).

In another great game I really like: Kharkov: Disaster on the Donets, I need almost 30 minutes to me of the colorful, playful UI to get used to,every time I start playing (Well this is obsolet now. At least for a few month).
No, I prefer, which is, in my opinion, very successful and useful UI of Gary Grigsby's War in the East!

For the rest of your post.
Gary Grigsby's War in the East is not even a week on the market.
I am sure the designers and other leaders will make changes and improvements to the game in the near future.
If not, then this would be the first time since I have known Matrix, that Matrix is neglected a game and/or members are ignored.
That will not happen!

Anyway: You can not please everyone.
You know that, right?

< Message edited by Templer -- 12/19/2010 3:45:58 PM >

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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:23:19 PM   
BigAnorak


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For the first 48 hours of play, I probably felt the same as you did on many of the points you have highlighted - it took me 2 days to figure out I had to click on the letters "RRC" to repair rail lines! And I was displacing my HQs 5 or 6 times a turn.

I brought to the game all the habits and pre-conceptions I had from playing TOAW, Panzer Campaigns, SSG etc, so WITE was a real culture shock to me.

After 2 weeks I had got into the WITE habit, and finding and sorting through the mass of information was starting to become second nature.

Stuff like the radii for aircraft was the subject of huge discussions in the development forums, and has not been totally discounted, but was described as being very difficult to do from a coding point of view.

Now I am in the WITE habit, I think I am going to find it very hard going back to the previously mentioned games.

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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:27:08 PM   
ComradeP

 

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To second Templer's post, the tone of the OP's post that this is more or less the end of the world, two weeks after release, is a bit beyond me. The current UI and some game components certainly have flaws, but it's not like most of the points address anything that's new to the developers. There's no "woohoo! the game is finished, we're awesome and now we can all take a long break" thread on the tester forum. We and the developers are constantly trying to improve the game. A diamond is rough when you find it, the game is now released but it won't be finished for a long while, if ever, just like a game like WitP:AE.

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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:30:42 PM   
redmarkus4


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A sane voice cries out in the wilderness :)

I am with you 100% - stir up the nest all you want!

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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 3:54:11 PM   
bwheatley

 

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I started reading your post thinking it would piss me off and make me annoyed. Another hater i though!! But after reading it about halfway through as much as i tried to disagree i think you're right. The interface for this and Witp:ae are no UI designers dream. There are some things i think they will get to eventually. Though in the end i think we'll all figure out how the system works and learn to master it. I totally agree with airpower though i hardly use it since it's not so simple as here are a list of the groups in range select who you want in your strike package. Now you have to go all the map to highlight the units you want to take part in the battle. The lack of the air range circles is another thing that i was baffled by as well. i'd figure they did such a nice job with ranges in WitP they would have taken the code for use in wite.

But have faith i'm sure they will work on these things for years to come. That's a big reason why i don't mind the investment in time. They always stand by their games.

(in reply to Timmeh)
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RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:09:58 PM   
jjdenver

 

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Good post. The UI I think also can use some work. I'll mainly comment on areas where agree. If I don't comment then I don't agree w/ the comment you made. ComradeP already responded w/ some counterpoints/thoughts on those. So some I won't respond to even if I agree.

I am not posting here to gripe because I love the game - but to try to help improve the game in the long run.
quote:

Support Units: this is written about at length elsewhere. Big dissapointment. Should there not be a master ‘tree’ screen for support units where you can see on one screen all HQ units, all support units, and be able to reassign support units from here? I was really looking forward to this part of the game, only to find it irritating and infuriating to grapple with.

Agree and ComradeP mentioned this is being worked on, but for benefit of devs if they read this I want to describe what I find the current process to be and why it's cumbersome. One of the frustrating things I think is the delay in the CR screen functionality. So let's say I want to clear support units out of all rear area Army HQ. Assume I have CR set to show armies on the HQ page.

First I have to click on each army to see where it is on the map and whether it's a rear area army. When I click on it I go to the units tab of CR and have to click again on its location to bring it up on map. I still can't see where it is very well so I have to now click X to close the army pop up window to see the actual map. Now after 3 clicks - each with a pause (biggest switching tabs on CR) I can see the army on the map. Now I know I need to remove 2 support units from that army because it is actually too far from the front to need those units.

Second I have to re-open the CR and click on HQ tab. Then I have to click on the army again to move to units tab with this army's units shown. Then I have to click on the first support unit I want to remove. This brings me out of CR and to the support unit. Then I have to click HQ button on the support unit. Then I have to click to pick an HQ to assign it to. Then I have to click X to close out.

Third I have to go back to CR and click on HQ tab (I want to remove the 2nd support unit). Then I have to do everything mentioned in second step to remove that 2nd support unit.

Add to this the fact that if I want to check on all my armies I have to remember my place in the HQ tab of CR - by remembering the name of the last army I checked. If this is corps - well the list for SU is very long and I have to constantly note down which corp I checked last, then scan through the list to locate that corp and pick the next one.

And add that there is quite a pause in CR screen when switching tabs - even on my very fast brand new PC.

All of this = ouch.

quote:

Rail repair: Again, well documented. Completely baffling as to how the HQs use their construction assets to repair rail as far as I can make out. Pointless to see the AI rail repair units on the map as they ‘backfill’ (read: obey a terribly written AI routine) the most useless parts of the network. The map is too cluttered as it is, why not lose these unit counters, just let the work happen without having to watch these idiots blunder around? I would actually be in favour of a total abstraction of rail repair – every turn each player is given a set amount of rail hexes that he can convert. Leave it at that.

Completely agree - no reason for the auto-rail-repair units to be on the map. That's just adding complexity to something that should happen w/o player seeing it other than maybe some shading on the rail overlay when you view it.

quote:

Where are on-map radiuses when I click on an air base to show its fighter and bomber ranges? In every other game I’ve played involved air power, this is considered a basic and primary function of the UI.

AGREE!!

quote:

Where are the functions to cycle through units in the same formation? I select one unit, and I immediately want to cycle though its peer units within the same corps. I want to move one division from within the corps, then cycle to the next and move it too. This would help massively with keeping formations together in huge battles.

Yes I like this idea. The problem I have is let's say that I want to move a corp and its HQ that is widely separated. Once I deselect a division after moving it, it's hard to find the other units in the corp to move them.

quote:

Why don’t we see the mp cost for prepared attack before it is launched?

I think it'd be helpful but it's on bottom of my wish list. Mainly a suggestion like this would be one more bit to lower the barrier of entry to the game for newbies I think.

quote:

The unit selection process is terrible. I mean, the most basic thing of all, and it is incredibly clunky. Why on earth is the default single click on a stack a ‘select all’ command? Why does not a further click at least cycle through units in the stack? This is an industry standard function for decades!! Instead I have to deselect manually by clicking on the unit panel to the right. This was a crazy design decision, and in a game of hundreds of, its stunningly laborious.

Agree, SSG's system for stack selection is far easier to use. Their whole interface is easier to use, but they've had many games and years to really refine it - this game is fresh out of the box. So it's understandable. Still, I think this is a good suggestion.

quote:

Worse, why when I move a unit to a hex with another friendly unit, the units in the destination hex are automatically selected? I have no comprehension of why this would be considered useful.

Completely agree.

quote:

When I click on a unit from the OOB it takes me to that unit. But in this situation, and many others when you navigate to an HQ by clicking on its name on a unit detal, where is the button to click to take me back to the unit I navigated from, or back up the OOB tree? It’s the equivalent of having an internet browser without a ‘back’ button.

Agree - currently if I have a division selected and want to see its Army HQ, I click on the HQ link. If I then want to go back to the division I have to click on show subordinates - which incurs a delay - then I have to remember which division I came from in the list and click back on it. And if I'm not mistaken when I click back on it, all units in its hex will be selected and have to be deselected to get back to the division. This brings up again I think the need to have only 1 unit in a hex selected when a hex is first selected.

Anyway I'll repeat again - I'm not trying to just criticize the UI - I'm trying to make suggestions to improve it in the long run which will make the game more enjoyable to play, and I think easier for new players to pick up and play.

Love the game.

Cheers


< Message edited by jjdenver -- 12/19/2010 4:11:40 PM >


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(in reply to squatter)
Post #: 12
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:11:42 PM   
squatter

 

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Slightly less hostile responses than I expected so far!

I accept that much depends on familiarity, and to a degree I am playing devils advocate. But I do think that this AI is not intuitive. By which I mean, behaves in ways that dont require you to scrabble round manuals and forums before you can achieve what you want, and at the same time minimises the amounts of clicks to achieve these things.

ComradeP: Firstly, I'd like to say you've been absolutely exemplary in your forum support of this game. Your posts in particular have been really helpful in getting to grips with the game (ironically, however, helping demonstrate the lack of intuitiveness in the game design! By which I mean the necessity of so much forum support to get the game to do what one would like it to do!)

I'd like to address some of your points:

My comments about the length it would take to complete a campaign PBEM are meant to illustrate that for me the mechanics of this game defeat its scope. This game is designed to simulate the entire campaing, yet I cant ever see myself doing so, short of literally playing for a year or more on one campaign. Others may be happy with this, for me this is an unrealistic goal, sadly.

Air HQs: sorry, I meant keep airbases, lose air HQs to minimise clutter. I would absolutely NOT want to see each airgroup represented on map!

Stack select: for me this is a classic example of bad design, nothing to do with taste. The question is, 90% of the time when you click a hex, what is your likely desired outcome? That all units be selected, or just one? With air bases, hqs, armour, infantry, units of different MPs all occupying the same hexes, the answer is the latter. The other point is, which system can lead to mistakes? If all units are selected, I might accidentally move my HQ together with my combat units if I forget to deselect. If I am only selecting one unit, this is impossible. There is no room for taste in this case IMO, it is simply a bad design choice. Same applies in the auto-selection of units in the destination hex. I find it hard to think of a single situation where this would be desirable, let alone that it be applied to 100% of situations.

Comparisons to HPS/WitP: my point exactly - to my mind a gamer could only think that WitE is a modern and intuitive UI if they were comparing to these other games, which are lets face it stone age in their UI design. Compared to software from any other walk of life - gaming, social networking, wordprocessing, business, etc - I feel that games like these rely heavily on goodwill from the user to ignore/come to terms with huge shortcomings in their UI design. UI is everything in today's world, and the better that UI gets in the rest of our lives - pervading our mobiles, ipods, tv menus, dvd players, internet browsers, etc - the harder it is to bring yourself to step back in time and adapt to something as cumbersome as this. I think this is a serious point for the future of grog gaming, actually, as I wonder where the future market for this kind of product is? Will kids brought up on truly intuitive UI have any time for something as obdurate as this? Would be interesting to see the demographic spread of plays of WiTE.

Supply information: I am talking about seeing a supply net relating to the turn that has just passed. It would be entirely historical for a division commander to telephone his hq and ask what happened to last week's supplies, and for him to tell him, well, the trucks got bogged down in the swamp, or encountered enemy patrols, or whatever. As the player, you would see a graphical representation of the route the supplies took in trying to reach the unit, which would probably change from green to red to show the degredation of the link, etc etc. The kind of thing we've seen in many other titles, but again here seems like a step backwards to be ommitted.

What this all adds up to for me is a feeling of: "sheesh, after a day's play I'm pretty sure I'll never get to play an entire campaign from 41 to 45, which is after all what I bought this game for." In that sense, in the sense of being a game simulating the eastern campaign, to be really harsh, the game is not fit for purpose.

(in reply to BigAnorak)
Post #: 13
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:12:43 PM   
dlazov66


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Hopefully when I post my operational boot camp in PDF format it will clear up some of these misconceptions.

I must admit I find it surprising that some think the interface is not intuitive. After the first week (granted on was on vacation) when I was testing I was pulling about 8 hours a day in the game. I probably have put in close to a thousand hours so far into the game and it feels almost like my mistress.

For me the UI is very intuitive and the game play supports the level of detail I want from an east front game.


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(in reply to bwheatley)
Post #: 14
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:25:38 PM   
Treale


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Well, all I know is that I was able to jump right in moving and attacking without reading the manual. Of course I used a lot of the information gleaned from this forum. I do think that the game is surprisingly user friendly for such a monster that it can be.

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(in reply to dlazov66)
Post #: 15
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:41:53 PM   
alfonso

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: squatter


Same applies in the auto-selection of units in the destination hex. I find it hard to think of a single situation where this would be desirable,



While advancing with one division, you find an enemy unit and you make a hasty attack. It fails. You send a couple of additional divisions as reinforcements before launching another hasty attack. When the last one arrives, you have all 3 selected: i'm doing that many times each turn. Not so hard to think...

(in reply to squatter)
Post #: 16
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:49:29 PM   
ComradeP

 

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quote:

ComradeP: Firstly, I'd like to say you've been absolutely exemplary in your forum support of this game. Your posts in particular have been really helpful in getting to grips with the game (ironically, however, helping demonstrate the lack of intuitiveness in the game design! By which I mean the necessity of so much forum support to get the game to do what one would like it to do!)


Thanks for the kind words.

The majority of the questions I've answered were about things that were either not clearly documented in the manual or which people missed in the manual. There have been fairly few questions about the interface, possibly because people are familiar with it through AAR's and because the interface is fairly well documented. Personally, I don't think the number of questions I initially answered last week (50-100 each day) was very high for a monster game like WitE.

Although I don't own WitP or WitP:AE, I do read the WitP:AE forum and the number of questions over there around the release seems comparable to those over here. SSG games, which I also test (although I was not officially a tester prior to the release of ATD2), usually don't attract too many questions as the interface doesn't change much between games and the changes that are made are clearly documented.

All in all, the release was more smooth than I had expected in terms of the storm of questions that would pop up, believe it or not.

quote:

My comments about the length it would take to complete a campaign PBEM are meant to illustrate that for me the mechanics of this game defeat its scope. This game is designed to simulate the entire campaing, yet I cant ever see myself doing so, short of literally playing for a year or more on one campaign. Others may be happy with this, for me this is an unrealistic goal, sadly.


The length of the full campaign and the scale is is why this is a monster game. I can perfectly understand it if you prefer games with a smaller scope or with a more limited number of turns, but weekly turns for a game like this are already an abstraction level higher than the turns in most wargames (which tend to be per day or per part of a day).

quote:

Stack select: for me this is a classic example of bad design, nothing to do with taste. The question is, 90% of the time when you click a hex, what is your likely desired outcome? That all units be selected, or just one? With air bases, hqs, armour, infantry, units of different MPs all occupying the same hexes, the answer is the latter. The other point is, which system can lead to mistakes? If all units are selected, I might accidentally move my HQ together with my combat units if I forget to deselect. If I am only selecting one unit, this is impossible. There is no room for taste in this case IMO, it is simply a bad design choice. Same applies in the auto-selection of units in the destination hex. I find it hard to think of a single situation where this would be desirable, let alone that it be applied to 100% of situations.


I agree that it can be cumbersome, no argument there, but whether it actually bothers you is what I'd call a matter of taste or preference. Aside from this, I mostly play SSG games, so it takes me a few moments to go from single unit selection/last selection reappearing to full stack selection, but you can avoid a lot of what you would call frustration by the way you place your counters.

For me, the cases where I need one unit after moving it into a stack are few, as I usually want at least two, so both for single unit selection and full stack selection it takes me one click to get what I want. I can understand that if you only want a single unit, two additional clicks will feel like a tiresome process after a while, but it doesn't really bother me, nor did it ever really do. That might be because SSG games remembering the last stack selection also often means I don't end up with the stack I want the next turn.

quote:

Comparisons to HPS/WitP: my point exactly - to my mind a gamer could only think that WitE is a modern and intuitive UI if they were comparing to these other games, which are lets face it stone age in their UI design. Compared to software from any other walk of life - gaming, social networking, wordprocessing, business, etc - I feel that games like these rely heavily on goodwill from the user to ignore/come to terms with huge shortcomings in their UI design. UI is everything in today's world, and the better that UI gets in the rest of our lives - pervading our mobiles, ipods, tv menus, dvd players, internet browsers, etc - the harder it is to bring yourself to step back in time and adapt to something as cumbersome as this. I think this is a serious point for the future of grog gaming, actually, as I wonder where the future market for this kind of product is? Will kids brought up on truly intuitive UI have any time for something as obdurate as this? Would be interesting to see the demographic spread of plays of WiTE.


Again no argument that many wargames use an extremely primitive user interface, as if the designers just wanted to copy a boardgame and suddenly thought "oh, wait, this is on the PC, so we need a UI too". To me, WitE is a fairly big step in the right direction, but I see your point if you're saying that, to you, the step isn't big enough. I might just've be too accustomed to less than stellar interfaces that I can appreciate the UI of WitE (and SSG games, for that matter) like I do.

quote:

Supply information: I am talking about seeing a supply net relating to the turn that has just passed. It would be entirely historical for a division commander to telephone his hq and ask what happened to last week's supplies, and for him to tell him, well, the trucks got bogged down in the swamp, or encountered enemy patrols, or whatever. As the player, you would see a graphical representation of the route the supplies took in trying to reach the unit, which would probably change from green to red to show the degredation of the link, etc etc. The kind of thing we've seen in many other titles, but again here seems like a step backwards to be ommitted.


What I meant with the it not being historical comment is that it would not be historical, or perhaps even possible in the game, to see the supply situation after a move, as the supply situation at the end of your turn essentially only comes in play in your next turn, as during a turn there's no additional logistics phase. SSG uses supply units with a certain range, so you can check whether a unit is in supply at the end of your turn, but a single hostile unit movement can mess it up, so it's a guestimate at best. The way WitE handles logistics represents the other side of the spectrum.

quote:

What this all adds up to for me is a feeling of: "sheesh, after a day's play I'm pretty sure I'll never get to play an entire campaign from 41 to 45, which is after all what I bought this game for." In that sense, in the sense of being a game simulating the eastern campaign, to be really harsh, the game is not fit for purpose.


On this scale, this is the first PC wargame that really does modelling the Eastern Front mostly right, in my opinion. I have serious objections to the TOAW game system, WiR is seriously outdated by now and there are more or less no other contenders.

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(in reply to dlazov66)
Post #: 17
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:52:08 PM   
Crimguy


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Squatter - even though I'm not having too much trouble with the UI, I see many of the same problems you do. C&C is somewhat difficult.

I made a post about a year or two ago in the CotA forum regarding application of their UI to a hex-based game. I still think they are the best when it comes to UI and hope that some others in the business take the time to look at their methods, and seek to emulate some of their innovations. Command heirarchy is terrific, and the interface and hotkeys are the best.

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(in reply to alfonso)
Post #: 18
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:53:12 PM   
blastpop


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First off, I think there is room for improvement in just about any product. There is also the fact that some folks like different things and that is why several boardgames and computer games can be published on any given subject and be successful if aimed with different presentations.

I would imagine a "Euro" type boardgamer or a "Casual Computer Gamer" would consider any game over 60-90 minutes would be to long in any circumstance. So you will not please every gamer, period.

This game is advertised as a big complex game. I think the interface works reasonably well for a first release, tho there is a lack of "easy to use" documentation, i.e. not having a 3-400 page rules documentation, which can put off some.

Some might want all this detail in a less demanding package. Russia by SSG comes to mind or even War in Russia to a much lesser extent for games based on this subject matter. War in the East gives you it all, yet it is to an extent inelegant. If you are looking for a slick easy to use interface, that on the backside is VERY complex is World of Warcraft. Yet something like that may not be appropriate to this style game. I love elegant designs regardless of genre, yet WitE does work however inelegant.

But still I am liking this game if I'm not exactly loving it. Who knows if it had a slicker interface I might like it some more. But it does work for me.

< Message edited by blastpop -- 12/19/2010 4:54:39 PM >

(in reply to Treale)
Post #: 19
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:55:46 PM   
redmarkus4


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COTA UI is outstanding. I thought the UI system in Decisive Campaigns Warsaw to Paris was very well designed and implemented as well.

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(in reply to Crimguy)
Post #: 20
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:58:57 PM   
redmarkus4


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I have gotten used to most of the UI design issues in WiTE and I find it all workable. There are examples of other complex and detailed games out there though, that have addressed several of the points raised in this thread. Even WiTP AE, hardly perfect, has some advantages over WiTE in this regard.

I also love the game and look forward to future enhancements.

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(in reply to blastpop)
Post #: 21
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 4:59:39 PM   
Flaviusx


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Once you throw in keybindings and macros, the WoW interface becomes increasingly burdensome, actually. Particularly if you are into pvp in that game. I must have had 60ish keybindings before quitting that sucker for good, and would have more now in the new expansion.

That's not including addons, which are almost required to play the game at any kind of competitive level. Most of which are designed to overcome the limitations of the UI and simplify gameplay.

To me, WitE feels like a holiday from that kind of MMO hell. Mileage may vary.

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(in reply to blastpop)
Post #: 22
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 5:04:32 PM   
demjansk

 

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I have played a few times and also commented on a post and asked if HQ's could be switched to full computer control and then set objectives for them.  I would have liked that so I could play a full campaign and perhaps leave army group south and north to the computer and then control center.  In my mind this would be like real time historical and just making believe hitler was controlling the other two groups and I was Manstein or Guderian, lol.  If this game last a few years like the 50 bucks I spent on Battlefield 2 its well worth it.  maybe a few changes and tweaks will be made and lets see what happens.

I would like the HQ's to have the ability to be switched to computer control.

(in reply to redmarkus4)
Post #: 23
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 5:50:05 PM   
bwheatley

 

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+1 having the option to automate certain top level hq's would be nice. I'd probably do the same and make AGS be AI controlled. :)


quote:

ORIGINAL: demjansk

I have played a few times and also commented on a post and asked if HQ's could be switched to full computer control and then set objectives for them.  I would have liked that so I could play a full campaign and perhaps leave army group south and north to the computer and then control center.  In my mind this would be like real time historical and just making believe hitler was controlling the other two groups and I was Manstein or Guderian, lol.  If this game last a few years like the 50 bucks I spent on Battlefield 2 its well worth it.  maybe a few changes and tweaks will be made and lets see what happens.

I would like the HQ's to have the ability to be switched to computer control.



(in reply to demjansk)
Post #: 24
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 6:50:59 PM   
LiquidSky


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Clicking a stack of units should select NO units. Double clicking a stack should select ALL. That way everyone is happy. If you happen to know what unit the user wants, then select it for him (directed from CR perhaps?)

Any UI that requires a User response of somekind, like a button, or drop down menu, brings that item to attention some how. Drawing a raised box around it (like a button), or highlighting the text when it has focus. It allows the eye to quickly spot the target as you move your mouse towards it, and saves a bit of thought. You could make an exception in the CR I suppose, since practically all text is 'clickable' but highlighting it with focus is the norm.

Another thing a good UI should do is minimize the number of clicks to do anything. Clicking causes stress (or fatigue) on your wrist and finger, and people will always try to find the path of least clicks to accomplish something. Simple tasks in this game seem to require an awful lot of clicks to get them done.

(in reply to bwheatley)
Post #: 25
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 6:59:59 PM   
redmarkus4


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I would rather see the air component and rail components become somewhat more abstracted before getting an automate option at Army Group level. The AI may not maintain the tempo of the attack at a rate that corresponds with a human player, even if it does 'get there in the end'. Also, what would happen when you opt to, say, send Guderian south to link up with AGS around Kiev?

At the most, the only automation I would ask for at AG level would be to set objectives, posture and doctrine (like COTA and the Talonsoft series) at various HQ levels.

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(in reply to bwheatley)
Post #: 26
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 7:10:46 PM   
Sgt Barker


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

Once you throw in keybindings and macros, the WoW interface becomes increasingly burdensome, actually. Particularly if you are into pvp in that game.


My son is heavy into arena and other pvp in game and at events (Pax, Blizzcon, etc) and he and his mates spend *hours* debating configurations of half a dozen mouse buttons based on class, spec, equipment, team (3x3, 5x5, whatever...) and myriad other arcana. Then they move to the number keys...

Re WitE the UI is different but only a few hours has made it completely second nature for me. The planning functions (supply, production, attachments etc) perhaps could be changed (the Overview of Support Units idea, with the ability to swap attachments from one interface all at once sounds nice), but as it is is not onerous IMO. The tactical functions are fine for me.

(in reply to Flaviusx)
Post #: 27
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 7:11:09 PM   
vils

 

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I have but brushed the surface of this great game, but i too, find the GUI abit awkward.. for example, by clicking on a hex with stacked units, its centres there on screen and auto selects all units automatically, that is great. BUT the problem is to select just 1 unit... then i have to 'unselect' the other units by clicking on them, when i instead should just have to single click on the particulair unit i want selected... now holding shift in conjunction with this should add units but dont..

More over the graphics sometimes faulters here so you can't see what units are selected or not, thus, i have to re-click hex and unclick the units i don't wanna move again... this feels totally opposite from most all other games i have ever played...

This simple game function should be reversed completely, so i just have to single click a unit to get it selected, instead of unselect it... go away toggle function say hi to click and mark function hehe


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(in reply to redmarkus4)
Post #: 28
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 7:35:31 PM   
redmarkus4


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1. Single click should select the top unit in a stack.

2. Next single click rotates the stack to the next unit.

3. Double click selects the whole stack.

This is quite a well tried UI mechanism in games of this type over many years (decades even), is it not?

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(in reply to vils)
Post #: 29
RE: Probably gonna stir up a hornets nest... - 12/19/2010 7:49:46 PM   
LiquidSky


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quote:

ORIGINAL: redmarkus4

1. Single click should select the top unit in a stack.

2. Next single click rotates the stack to the next unit.

3. Double click selects the whole stack.

This is quite a well tried UI mechanism in games of this type over many years (decades even), is it not?



This is a good example of how UI's are difficult to make. This sounds like a good idea but has several flaws.

One...while I may want the top unit in the hex, there will be times I dont. A possible time savings.
Two...What if I want to move two units out of three as a stack?
Three...If I want the bottom unit of three, it is actually more clicks, then to just click once to select the hex, and one click to select the unit to move.

As well...the difference between a single click and a double click is can be very annoying. Instead of cycling, you end up selecting the whole stack.

Simplicity is best. But you also have to keep the click count down.

(in reply to redmarkus4)
Post #: 30
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