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Game lacks polish - 9/7/2012 11:52:11 AM   
gravyface_

 

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I'm really trying to like it, but just feels so... Alpha. I'm only on turn 9 and already I'm finding this game annoyingly rough around the edges and severely lacking in beta testing (or perhaps the feedback was ignored?). For a follow-up game (and there's obviously code reuse) to ToW, not to mention version 1.02, these UI/usability issues should've been sorted out a long time ago.

Fleet movement: really lacking in visual feedback on movement for starters: you choose a fleet, click Move Fleet, and then assume that the purple (in the skin I'm using anyways) is the overlay that indicates possible movement... except that you can only move to certain markers on the map. And why there's a separate sub-menu for movement? No clue. Why aren't the fleets treated like any other unit? When you finally figure that part out (I gave up looking in the manual after not finding basic information on several occasions), the action is instantaneous: there's no on-screen visual clues that the move actually happened; I had to do a double-take to see if it actually occurred. Convoys is similarly bad: you create a New Convoy, the hover text says to click on yellow circles, but the screen itself gives no audio or visual feedback when you're clicking on incorrect locations like ports.

AI combat sequence: it's very difficult to tell (especially when the pop-up combat dialog takes up most of the screen) what's actually happening: yes, there's a faint red outline/overlay on the unit that's being attacked by the AI, but the screen should be centered/focused on the unit and the dialog shouldn't be in the way. Long story short, I should know immediately what unit has been attacked the moment it happens during the AI's turn. What's even worse are the AI turns against Italy: I lost a unit in Yugoslavia and the only way I found out was the "boom" audio cue followed by looking through the reports on my next turn. I had ended Italy's turn with the map focus on North Africa and it never budged during the entire combat sequence (two units were attacked).

There's also questionable text snippets throughout the game like the air superiority overlay tooltip text has underscores; there's the "this is very bad news" button; the "Quick Start" that's really not quick, and the only way to load a saved game.

And this is just the low-hanging fruit; I haven't really had a chance to analyze the AI yet.

And then the manual... sigh. Don't even get me started on that.
Post #: 1
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/7/2012 8:32:37 PM   
shermanwar

 

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I agree with gravy face. Especially on the naval stuff. Its almost to the point ID say remover all of it. Its more of a distraction that a real part of the game. Too bad as it could be so cool. But I have played Germany (in Easy mode) and had enough U boats to walk to the U.S. from Deck to Deck and not one instance of visible effect on Britain. The Germans almost starved them with a 10th of what I had deployed. Other sea actions are cryptic and illogical.

And convoys....that's my "don't get me started"!


(in reply to gravyface_)
Post #: 2
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/7/2012 10:15:26 PM   
gwgardner

 

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Convoys work fine. Easy to setup. click on starting port, click on terminating port.

The sub war is fun too. Just have to read the weekly reports, determine which sea zones to target based upon enemy convoy runs. ASW is a constant battle, seeking out the subs.

(in reply to shermanwar)
Post #: 3
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/8/2012 10:03:15 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1614
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: gravyface_
AI combat sequence: it's very difficult to tell (especially when the pop-up combat dialog takes up most of the screen) what's actually happening: yes, there's a faint red outline/overlay on the unit that's being attacked by the AI, but the screen should be centered/focused on the unit and the dialog shouldn't be in the way. Long story short, I should know immediately what unit has been attacked the moment it happens during the AI's turn. What's even worse are the AI turns against Italy: I lost a unit in Yugoslavia and the only way I found out was the "boom" audio cue followed by looking through the reports on my next turn. I had ended Italy's turn with the map focus on North Africa and it never budged during the entire combat sequence (two units were attacked).


I think many parts of the game shine brilliantly, but agree that there is a certain lack of polish and an unfinished look about other aspects. I have begun to look on this game almost as a WW2 European theatre wargame toolbox, but the problem with toolboxes is that they may not be much fun, until you can use the tools. Maybe the brief information in the manual could partially be the problem, as there is much more to do than you may think.

Almost everything in the game can be modded, the combat info box blanks the action as it happens, so a mod, which was produced for SoP, can also be applied to ToF, to make the combat results box transparent. You can then see the action hex through the box, with only the report text showing.

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3006547

It requires the change of a few numbers in some lines of text in an excel file, you can change the look of other game boxes which makes the game easier to work with.

I set the combat info box delay at 4 secs in 'preferences', so that as combats are being resolved, it gives me time to decide whether I will let the combat results boxes cycle through and the boxes self cancel, or whether I hit the in-box 'pause' button and check out a combat that interests me (mainly keeping the game flowing). If the transparent combat results box is still not letting me see the action hex clearly, then you can slide the map out from under the box by holding down the mouse right button and shift the map (you can do this anyway with unmodified boxes). I also know that if I miss anything I can go to the reports section and check all the combat results at the end of the turn, which I think is a very good combination off seeing what goes on in a game.

Many of the main info boxes, like unit management, etc., have large borders which block much of the screen, these borders can be removed for a cleaner look.

I appreciate the way the game can be moulded to personal taste, but the other view could be - why should I have to do this - the answer lies with the player, how much do you want to tailor the game to your choices, or how much do you expect it to meet your needs 'out of the box'.

I hate forum comment like, if you only do things my way it's great, so I make no recommendations, except to say that there is a lot that can be done under the hood and my skills are limited, as I am mainly walking in the footsteps of other, more capable modders.




< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 9/8/2012 10:31:28 PM >


_____________________________

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Post #: 4
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/8/2012 11:40:22 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1614
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: gravyface_
Fleet movement: really lacking in visual feedback on movement for starters: you choose a fleet, click Move Fleet, and then assume that the purple (in the skin I'm using anyways) is the overlay that indicates possible movement... except that you can only move to certain markers on the map. And why there's a separate sub-menu for movement? No clue. Why aren't the fleets treated like any other unit? When you finally figure that part out (I gave up looking in the manual after not finding basic information on several occasions), the action is instantaneous: there's no on-screen visual clues that the move actually happened; I had to do a double-take to see if it actually occurred. Convoys is similarly bad: you create a New Convoy, the hover text says to click on yellow circles, but the screen itself gives no audio or visual feedback when you're clicking on incorrect locations like ports.


Fleet movement, I find is quite straight forward, there is no direct feedback, but it all works OK. The purple hex highlight, when you select a sea zone, is just a diversion to the actual fleet move. You are simply moving fleets into one of the sea zone markers, which are highlighted as in range. There is only ever one unit icon for all the fleets in any one sea area and the unit icon does not always show the most important fleets, so it is of little value when more the one fleet is there, it's gets even more complicated when fleets of other allied nations are in the same sea zone. The one unit icon does not necessarily even indicate the colour of the fleet you are looking for (a French fleet may be in a sea zone where a British unit icon shows), so hovering the mouse over the sea zone marker brings up the info box showing how may of each type of fleets for each faction is in the sea zone, you can then click the sea zone marker for a closer look, if necessary.

I am using the original ocean graphics from SoP (not the SoP map preference now in ToF), which I find are easier to work with, for fleets and convoys and I see that they have been chosen for 'Strategic War in Europe', so it would seem a good map option to add to the standard preferences in ToF. On the Agent S Retro Map preference, the ports and sea zones become very clear, using the SoP ocean graphics.

To modify graphic ToF files yourself requires 'Gimp 2', a drawing tools to change the require game files, available as a free download on the net, or copy the work already done.

I am making a lot of use of the unit management window, rather than always cycling through units on the map, with the ability to list different classes of unit, from ground, naval and air, you can quickly check unit status on supply, commanders, etc., and using select, 'goto' any unit you need to deal with. Clicking on the top 'Name' box you can reshuffle the order of the list, using the unit rename feature your can choose names which will be easier to spot in the list (e.g. setting up sequential sub fleets - XXX01, XXX02, XXX03, etc., although it doesn't always hold the order in the list, they are easier to pick out), or rename/renumber units for the area, or tasks, you will have for them, add notes into the name as a reminder (Group name- HMS Rodney-in dock Gib).

There is a lot you can do to put information, or organisation, into the unit management lists, which you can then quickly scan through turn by turn).

The manual can be sparse on these issues, which makes it into a voyage of discovery, which has some perverse enjoyment. There are some games which have huge detail and information, but that is not how it was, Patton and Guderian where not good generals because they had complete information on the status, position and movement capabilities of all of their units, they had to cope with much uncertainty, so I find that some of the mystery in the game adds to the realism. Well that's my POV anyway.




Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 9/8/2012 3:04:55 PM >


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RE: Game lacks polish - 9/8/2012 11:59:01 AM   
Rasputitsa


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Here's the unit management box, with the box border removed (see more of the map, slide map with mouse RB), you could make the whole box transparent, except for the text, so you can see all the map below, as it centres on each unit you select, but I haven't found the need to go that far. I have also changed the game text to a dark blue colour, which shows better on the map with transparent boxes, but still works well with the game's generally blue tinge boxes and yellow text highlights.

I have done the same with the 'reports window', which I find a useful tool and in the end this is how most commanders got their information, from reports after the events. These are not my ideas, but have come from the contributors to the SoP and ToF forums. I am no expert on game mods, I have just learnt enough to be able to change the files I need, to get the effects that make the game work better for me.

I'm not sure if this was intended, but this is not an 'everything up front' game, there's a lot going on under the hood (but you can get under the hood to tweak it) and it has some uncertainty and frustrations, but doesn't that add to the realism. This is not to gloss over the problems that are in the game, but no title is perfect and I feel that the users have the opportunity to adjust this game (either with stock preferences on-screen, or the huge possibilities for player mods), more than most other games.

The devs have done a lot to make the game very flexible and the game already contains many features initiated by user mods, but maybe they could look at making more of these user mods into selectable preferences, for those who don't want to tinker with the game files.






Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 9/8/2012 3:03:03 PM >


_____________________________

"We have to go from where we are, not from where we would like to be" - me

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Post #: 6
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/8/2012 12:12:16 PM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1614
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From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: gravyface_
the "Quick Start" that's really not quick, and the only way to load a saved game.


I start saved games from 'Custom Game' then the 'Load Game' choice, works OK, takes you through the preferences (which you might want to change), otherwise you just click through the screens quite quickly. Can't compare with 'Quick Start' never used it.

I save each game turn, so you can end up with big list in 'Load Game', you either slide through them (they are in date order), or go to the Windows folder (Users/Computer name/My Documents/My Games/Time of Fury/Saves) holding the game saves, make a new file (e.g. 'ToF Saves Archive') as storage and move out the game saves you don't immediately need (you can move them back later if you want any of them), reducing the list that shows in the game screen.


< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 9/8/2012 2:45:31 PM >


_____________________________

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RE: Game lacks polish - 9/9/2012 11:56:22 PM   
Razz


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The reason for a player to click move is quite simple.

A Sea zone is treated as one hex. Hence you can stack several ships and fleets in one hex. Even Allies can be in one hex.

I suggest you re-read the manual. At least three times is needed as you will pick up more information each time.

As in all other war games with multiple stacking hexes, you have to sift through each unit until you get to the one you want. Then you can decide what to do.

This is the same in TOF. It is not more difficult than other games. In fact it is simpler when multiple units are in the same sea zone.

Another reason why you you have to click move: You may not want to perform that action, but yet another action.

Open your eyes.. step back... and look at the bigger picture.

It all makes sense.



(in reply to Rasputitsa)
Post #: 8
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/10/2012 2:04:23 AM   
gravyface_

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Razz

The reason for a player to click move is quite simple.

A Sea zone is treated as one hex. Hence you can stack several ships and fleets in one hex. Even Allies can be in one hex.

I suggest you re-read the manual. At least three times is needed as you will pick up more information each time.

As in all other war games with multiple stacking hexes, you have to sift through each unit until you get to the one you want. Then you can decide what to do.

This is the same in TOF. It is not more difficult than other games. In fact it is simpler when multiple units are in the same sea zone.

Another reason why you you have to click move: You may not want to perform that action, but yet another action.

Open your eyes.. step back... and look at the bigger picture.

It all makes sense.





"open my eyes..."

Deny it all you want, but a spades a spade: game lacks polish.

Plain and simple.

< Message edited by gravyface_ -- 9/10/2012 2:06:51 AM >

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RE: Game lacks polish - 9/10/2012 1:07:41 PM   
Meteor2

 

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Unfortunately I have to agree, gravyface.
Not understandable for me, that they had added a new game, while the "old" one is not finished.
Understandable money-wise, but if this behaviour is good for the reputation, is questionable.
The release of patched is far to slow.



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RE: Game lacks polish - 9/11/2012 10:54:06 AM   
doomtrader


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Honestly the only accusation I see in gravyface post is the one concerning underscores.
The rest is a matter of the design decision (maintaining fleets) and the personal setup made in preferences screen (battle results).

I do agree that the patches might be released quicker, but if you would take a look at the scale of implemented improvements then you can understood why does it takes so long.

On the side, a game development is at least one (usually more) year process, so we can wait with releasing new games only because the previous ones are going to be patched.

(in reply to Meteor2)
Post #: 11
RE: Game lacks polish - 9/11/2012 10:16:00 PM   
gravyface_

 

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Joined: 4/21/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: doomtrader

Honestly the only accusation I see in gravyface post is the one concerning underscores.
The rest is a matter of the design decision (maintaining fleets) and the personal setup made in preferences screen (battle results).

I do agree that the patches might be released quicker, but if you would take a look at the scale of implemented improvements then you can understood why does it takes so long.

On the side, a game development is at least one (usually more) year process, so we can wait with releasing new games only because the previous ones are going to be patched.


Oh I see: the old "that's not a bug it's a feature" response. Call it a design decision (or better yet, a flaw) if you want, but at the end of the day, you're not really doing anything that requires any UI innovation. Why not just stick with conventions that make sense? At what's your response to the completely inadequate manual? Here's a tip: if you stick with tried-and-true UI conventions and your game is intuitive, the manual almost becomes unnecessary for basic game mechanics and dialog explanations.

< Message edited by gravyface_ -- 9/11/2012 10:22:43 PM >

(in reply to doomtrader)
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RE: Game lacks polish - 9/12/2012 8:13:00 AM   
doomtrader


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Not, I'm not saying this is a feature, it is either not a bug. This is a desgin decision. This means that at some development point we have decided this is going to be like that. Not much can be changed at this point.

(in reply to gravyface_)
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RE: Game lacks polish - 9/12/2012 11:18:40 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1614
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From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: gravyface_
quote:

ORIGINAL: doomtrader
Honestly the only accusation I see in gravyface post is the one concerning underscores.
The rest is a matter of the design decision (maintaining fleets) and the personal setup made in preferences screen (battle results).

I do agree that the patches might be released quicker, but if you would take a look at the scale of implemented improvements then you can understood why does it takes so long.

On the side, a game development is at least one (usually more) year process, so we can wait with releasing new games only because the previous ones are going to be patched.

Oh I see: the old "that's not a bug it's a feature" response. Call it a design decision (or better yet, a flaw) if you want, but at the end of the day, you're not really doing anything that requires any UI innovation. Why not just stick with conventions that make sense? At what's your response to the completely inadequate manual? Here's a tip: if you stick with tried-and-true UI conventions and your game is intuitive, the manual almost becomes unnecessary for basic game mechanics and dialog explanations.


The naval part of the game is not using the same conventions as the ground part of the game, it operates differently and the GUI is different. Accepted that the manual may not give enough information, when you find out how it works, the movement of fleets and setting up of convoys is quite straight forward, it may not beep and whistle at you, but it creates what you select. I have not found the organisation of the naval part of the game a problem (not perfect, but usable), fleets may not succeed in my grand strategy, but that's another matter.

What happens at sea is a bit of a mystery, it was even more so in ToW, you allocate fleets and transports into sea zones, with basic orders, and have to leave it up to the commanders sea, as to what happens next. It's messy and uncertain, but you don't have direct control and whether, or not, this was by design, it is quite realistic.

The next question is how much can it be tweaked to make combat outcomes more accurate, as well as realistic.


_____________________________

"We have to go from where we are, not from where we would like to be" - me

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