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MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/2/2005 11:11:33 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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The following post is available from me as a PDF file. Simply email me at Steve@PatternDiscovery.us and ask.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Game Interface Design
(as of August 2, 2005)

I. Introduction

One of the most crucial aspects of making MWIF a great game is going to be the game interface. We already have a good start on the visuals: the map, the units, and window frames. Despite that, the range of things a player can do when playing MWIF and how easy it is to do them can determine whether he plays for 5 minutes or 5 years. Of course there are other aspects of the game that contribute to whether a player loves or hates it, but here I am concerned with the game interface.

By game interface I mean: the display of the map and units, the forms (a.k.a windows) that pop up during play so the player can make decisions, the forms that the player can call up to review status, the control the player has over how the forms look and what they contain, and lastly the keystrokes, mouse movements, and mouse clicks the player uses to control the game. Besides playing World in Flames itself, there are other aspects to the interface: loading/saving games, options, and other settings, communicating with other players either over the Internet or via email, and controlling the AI Assistant (AIA).

So, what I hope we can accomplish with this thread is design the game interface. You have all played computer war games before and have strong opinions on what is good and bad about their game interfaces. Most of you have played WIF as a board game and know what is required to move units and make decisions. If we combine our expertise, we should be able to come up with an excellent game interface design. I will accept nothing less.

As always, I will have the final say and do my best to make everybody happy. The hardest decisions will be deciding whether to include features that would enhance the game or exclude them because they will take too long to implement. To a very real degree, my call on each feature will depend on how many of you like it / want it / need it / can’t live without it versus how much effort it will take to code it. Let me know what you think.


II. Background

Instead of starting from scratch, we have the beta version of CWIF as a reference point. I could just go with its game interface and do no additional coding. That might be missing an opportunity for vastly improving MWIF. When Chris started writing CWIF 9 years ago, the state-of-the-art in computer wargames was much different from what it is today. Given all that has changed in terms of screen size, CPU speed, and available memory, we can be more ambitious in designing the interface.

Be that as it may, we should first start by looking at what CWIF contains. The following list is of the forms (windows) used in CWIF. Each one is accompanied by a short explanation of its purpose. Grouped below by game function, there are over 100 forms. I have omitted a dozen or so that are only used by the program internally. The notation “(map)” at the end of the purpose description indicates that the form includes a snap shot of the map area of interest.

Start of Game
Choose Scenarios...................choose scenarios, remote, watchers, free set up, extended game
Choose Options......................set optional rules on/off
Add Players............................add players to game
Bid..........................................current bids, bidding, countries available
Choose Sides..........................set who plays what
Password................................request player’s password
Setup......................................primary screen for setting up units

Declare War, Make Trade Pacts, and Lend Units and Resources
Declare War...........................declare war, align neutrals
Loan.......................................loan a unit to another player
New Trade.............................create trade agreement: resources, oil, build points
Pact Marker Move.................effects of moving a marker between offense and defense
Pact OD.................................choose offensive or defensive for a new marker

Initiative, Weather, Action Choice, and Switch Players
Init..........................................roll for initiative
Move First..............................choose whether or not to be 1st phasing player
Action ...................................choose action
Switch Player.........................change which player is active player

Entering Unit Orders
Main........................................master screen display
Game Map..............................detailed game map for moving all units and attacking
Globe......................................global map

Air Units
Setup Scrap............................scrap units
Air Resources.........................assign pilots
Air Transport Land.................put land units on a plane
Plane Role..............................choose fighter or bomber for a fighter/bomber
Air Attack...............................assign units to air attack, (map)
Air Combat.............................arrange fighters and bombers, results, (map)
Anti-Air..................................# of shots, (map)
Anti-Air Combat....................results, (map)

Land Units
Pick HQ.................................select HQ to use with Offensive Chit
Ignore Notional......................calculate attack odds with/without notional unit
Land Combat.........................choose table for land combat & resolve, (map)
Destroy Units.........................land combat results allocation
Overstacked...........................fix overstacked hex by destroying units, (map)
Breakdown.............................breakdown units, before and after
Reform...................................reform broken down units into a corps unit

Naval Units
CVP Classes...........................CVP classes by year for air units
Choose Carrier.......................place planes on carriers
Drop Off.................................embark and disembark units
Section....................................displays units in sea areas for moving a stack & dropping off units
Naval Interception..................choose to intercept naval units that are moving through
Naval Combat.........................overview of naval units in a sea area before combat
US Naval Combat..................US selects which units participate in naval combat
WIF Surprise..........................spend surprise points
Naval Combat Include Type...choose whether to include subs
Commit Subs..........................choose whether to commit subs
Naval Combat Results............affect results of naval combat: damage, destroy, abort
Convoy Info............................convoys by sea areas, and resources moving through
Split........................................split convoy points

Production, Reinforcement, Reserves, Reorganization, and Other End of Turn Stuff
Reserves.................................select reserves to activate
Add Minor Units....................add minor units to force pool
Fort Hexside...........................select on which hexside to build a fort
Reorganize.............................reorganize units using HQ
US Entry Pool........................overview and draw chits for Germany/Italy/Japan entry and tension
WIF US Entry.........................choose US Entry options, with overview
Production..............................review and set production
Production Undo....................cancel production and recover build points
Save Build..............................save build points, (map)
Save Oil..................................save oil points
Use Oil...................................use oil to reorganize units
Vichy......................................setup Vichy France
Destroy Factory......................select which factory type to destroy
Victory....................................display the final victory standings

Information and Overviews
Weather Report......................display current weather by weather zone
Weather Chances....................probabilities for each weather type by weather zone on next roll
Pool........................................overview of all the pools: production, force, etc.
Global Legend........................legend for global map
Action Limits.........................currently available actions
Note........................................attach a note to a unit
Distance..................................calculate air distance between points
Chart Land Combat................2D10 table
Pact.........................................overview of non-aggression pacts: garrisons and dates
Pact Markers...........................current offensive and defensive markers
Partisans.................................partisan overview
Relations................................overview of relations with other major powers
Trade.......................................overview of who is lending what to whom
Lending...................................review trade agreements
SB Losses...............................overview of strategic bombing losses
Resource Production..............overview of resources => factories => build points
Captured.................................list of factories and resources captured
Game About............................about MWIF

Player Interface Aids
Cnt List...................................jump to capitals on map
Dice........................................roll dice and see results
Game Options........................game interface options
CAP........................................set when to ask about using CAP
Select Units............................create filter for displaying units
Load Filter..............................load existing filter for viewing units
Save Filter..............................save a filter for viewing units to disk for future use
Load Options..........................load existing optional rule set
Save Options..........................save an optional rule set to disk for future use
Load Setup..............................load existing setup
Save Setup..............................save current setup to disk for future use

Communication with Other Players
Chat........................................messages to/from another player receive/send, reply/new
New Message.........................send a new message to another player
Send To..................................define a group to receive a message


III. Redesign

Yeah, I know, it’s a lot. To help you get started on your critique you might select one area, (say, Air Units), and think through what you will want to do with them when you play MWIF. How will you select targets for ground strikes? How will you check for enemy interceptors? How will you move the planes you are sending on a mission? Are there any helpful hints that you would like the program to tell you about your own units or the enemy’s?

You can choose an area that you have seen done really well in another game and tell us what was so good about it. Or choose an area of another game that you thought had a terrible interface, and tell us what to avoid.

Of special interest to me are your thoughts about the interface for playing over the Internet, playing by email, and working with an AI Assistant. The last two were not in CWIF so we are truly starting with a blank page for their interface design.

As some of you have probably figured out by now, I am very greedy in taking good ideas where ever I find them and building them into MWIF. The fact I never thought of an idea makes it even more attractive to me. Often I will take several ideas from different people and weave them together into one great idea. Even solutions that don’t work at all are of interest, because they usually identify a problem that needs to be solved.

This should keep us busy for a while.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.
Post #: 1
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:42:23 AM   
Greyshaft


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Time to dig out the CWIF files again. What about your eager readers that don't have CWiF? I understand the quite valid reasons for not distributing that code but maybe that policy needs revision if anyone doesn't have it.What am I worried about? Let them take that point up with you! I'm all right Jack

I love:
* the tabbed scenario selection box in CWiF
* the combat view in SSG Ardennes Offensive. When attacking a single hex it's great to get a close up of the contents of the surrounding hexes. You can download the game for free from SSG.
* the Task Force pane from Grigsby's Pacific War (downloadable for free from Matrix). The graphics are early 90's but the layout is good.


_____________________________

/Greyshaft

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 2
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 6:12:12 AM   
Neilster


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From: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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I liked CWiF's interface but it had a steep learning curve.

There are a couple of things I'd like that I can think of off hand.

1. Watchable computer vs computer games. Love 'em. They should be interesting in WiF and would be a good learning aid for new players.

2. A DVD style interface to watch saved games, with heaps of options for controlling time, location, scale, unit filters etc. Games between master players could be downloaded and studied, as in chess.

Cheers, Neilster


(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 3
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 10:58:50 AM   
Smiffus64

 

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Keep buttons large enough and their position logical, if I take WitP as an example, it has 'exit' buttons ('close the current window') which are very small and placed in a seemingly random way (ie. top left of the window, bottom right, etc.). It kept me searching for the right button and caused me to misclick several times.

(in reply to Neilster)
Post #: 4
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:00:55 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Smiffus64
Keep buttons large enough and their position logical, if I take WitP as an example, it has 'exit' buttons ('close the current window') which are very small and placed in a seemingly random way (ie. top left of the window, bottom right, etc.). It kept me searching for the right button and caused me to misclick several times.


There are standard window controls that I was thinking of using. They appear in the upper right corner of a window and let you minimize, maximize, and close the window. They are present on almost every window in CWIF that I can think of; but they are kind of small. On the plus side, their location is always the same. On important actions (e.g., end of phase) I intend to ask the player to confirm yes/no and in those cases I would use a larger button.

As an example of what I am talking about, the window that pops up when you post a message to this forum has the standard window controls in the upper right corner and also larger buttons at the bottom center (ok/preview/cancel). Do you want more than that? If so, now is the time to tell me, for everything is under review. This is simple stuff to program, so I would like it to be perfect.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Smiffus64)
Post #: 5
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:10:11 PM   
Froonp


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quote:

The following list is of the forms (windows) used in CWIF. Each one is accompanied by a short explanation of its purpose. Grouped below by game function, there are over 100 forms. I have omitted a dozen or so that are only used by the program internally. The notation “(map)” at the end of the purpose description indicates that the form includes a snap shot of the map area of interest.

It would be interesting to create a PDF showing all the present dialog boxes used in CWiF (all those you listed in your post) and make it available to everyone interested. Review of the existing program's interface would be easier, and it would allow even the persons who do not have CWiF to review the interface.
I'll try to make it if I get some time.

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 6
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:14:52 PM   
Froonp


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quote:

There are standard window controls that I was thinking of using. They appear in the upper right corner of a window and let you minimize, maximize, and close the window. They are present on almost every window in CWIF that I can think of; but they are kind of small. On the plus side, their location is always the same. On important actions (e.g., end of phase) I intend to ask the player to confirm yes/no and in those cases I would use a larger button.

Don't forget to use the keyboard shortcuts. "Enter" should always validate the dialog, and "Escape" should always cancel it. "TAB" should allow to go from field to field in the dialog too, and "ALT" + "down arrow" should allow to open pull down lists.
The CWiF experience was GREATLY enhanced by the keyboard shorcuts that were existing in the game and made it play really faster.

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 7
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:15:09 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Neilster
I liked CWiF's interface but it had a steep learning curve.

There are a couple of things I'd like that I can think of off hand.

1. Watchable computer vs computer games. Love 'em. They should be interesting in WiF and would be a good learning aid for new players.

2. A DVD style interface to watch saved games, with heaps of options for controlling time, location, scale, unit filters etc. Games between master players could be downloaded and studied, as in chess.

Cheers, Neilster


AI versus AI should be doable but I don't know what the role of the human 'player' would be. I guess he would be a 'watcher'. As such, he would need the authority to control what is displayed on the screen as per your second point.

I intend to maintain a detailed record of what happens in every game - a history file. What it will contain is the players' moves/actions/decisions that affect play. For example it would include the movement of a land unit from hex to hex. It would not include that the player wandered around the map looking at this and that before deciding on a move. During play it serves many purposes: undo moves, log the moves for transmission in a PBEM game, let a player who has fallen behind in an Internet game bring his copy of the game up-to-date incrementally instead of all at once. Of course it serves the purpose of replaying the game in a post-mortem session too.

The controls you describe would require some work but if we deny the player to ability to change orders during a replay it shouldn't be too hard. If the player really wants to pick up the game at a certain point and try something different, he could always just stop the game in the middle of a replay session and save the current position to disk.


_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Neilster)
Post #: 8
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:18:34 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
It would be interesting to create a PDF showing all the present dialog boxes used in CWiF (all those you listed in your post) and make it available to everyone interested. Review of the existing program's interface would be easier, and it would allow even the persons who do not have CWiF to review the interface.
I'll try to make it if I get some time.

If you can do so, that would be great. If you can work out the procedure for doing 1 of them, and then tell me how, that would let me do any changes/improvements too.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 9
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:20:46 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
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From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
Don't forget to use the keyboard shortcuts. "Enter" should always validate the dialog, and "Escape" should always cancel it. "TAB" should allow to go from field to field in the dialog too, and "ALT" + "down arrow" should allow to open pull down lists.
The CWiF experience was GREATLY enhanced by the keyboard shorcuts that were existing in the game and made it play really faster.

Yes. There are a lot of drop down menus that should be reviewed by everyone too. I'll see if I can present them all in some reasonable layout.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 10
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:23:00 PM   
Froonp


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quote:

For example it would include the movement of a land unit from hex to hex

I LOVE this log-thing.
Maybe it could also be queried to show results such as which air units had the most kills, which land unit was destroyed / Shattered / retreated the most, the list of cities taken by each unit, etc...
Just would like to add to this that I would like for this log to contain names instead of hexes numbers anywhere possible. Would be cool if the log also listed the hexsides crossed when the hexside is important, such as rivers or fortifications (ie. XL ARM corps crossed Dniepr River).

< Message edited by Froonp -- 8/3/2005 12:35:25 PM >

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Post #: 11
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:28:27 PM   
Froonp


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quote:

If you can work out the procedure for doing 1 of them

It is quite simple :
Start CWiF, and when an interesting dialog shows up, press "ALT" + "PRINT SCREEN" keys.
Then, open your favorite word processing program (mine is MS Word), and then PASTE.
Then change the size of the Dialog picture (keeping proportions by only handling it by its corners) crop it if needed, add any needed comment, and you're done.
Just convert it to PDF if possible to make it viewable by anyone.

To make changes to the PDF you'd just have to have the original DOC document, make the change, and convert it to PDF again.

< Message edited by Froonp -- 8/3/2005 12:36:55 PM >

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 12
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 12:53:26 PM   
Greyshaft


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
Then, open your favorite word processing program (mine is MS Word)...
uh oh... you shouldn't have said that.
<don't mention MS Word>


_____________________________

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Post #: 13
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 5:33:41 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
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From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
quote:

For example it would include the movement of a land unit from hex to hex

I LOVE this log-thing.
Maybe it could also be queried to show results such as which air units had the most kills, which land unit was destroyed / Shattered / retreated the most, the list of cities taken by each unit, etc...
Just would like to add to this that I would like for this log to contain names instead of hexes numbers anywhere possible. Would be cool if the log also listed the hexsides crossed when the hexside is important, such as rivers or fortifications (ie. XL ARM corps crossed Dniepr River).

Just for the sake of my sensitive nature, let's call it the 'record log' rather than log-thing. The names we choose usually matter when we get farther down the road.

I will want the record log as terse (encoded) as possible so it can be stored and transmitted efficiently. What you are discussing can be handled by a separate routine that reads the log and translates hex numbers into city, port, country, and sea area names. The same applies for crossing fortifications, rivers, canals, or straits. It will include when units are removed from the game, shattered, or retreated. I will have to think about how to capture which units are involved in attacks, invasions, air combat, etc., but I can make sure that is there too.

Thanks for the how-to on capturing screen images.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

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Post #: 14
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 5:39:56 PM   
c92nichj


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp

quote:

For example it would include the movement of a land unit from hex to hex

I LOVE this log-thing.
Maybe it could also be queried to show results such as which air units had the most kills, which land unit was destroyed / Shattered / retreated the most, the list of cities taken by each unit, etc...
Just would like to add to this that I would like for this log to contain names instead of hexes numbers anywhere possible. Would be cool if the log also listed the hexsides crossed when the hexside is important, such as rivers or fortifications (ie. XL ARM corps crossed Dniepr River).

As I'm also a sucker for statistics and graphs. It would be really great if you could see a log with a graph of stuff like:
- Number of BP lost each turn/impulse (Combination from combat losses/scrapping/strategic bombardment)
- Number of units gained each turn/impulse (Combination from building/aligning minors/getting partisans)
- Number of Victory Cities hold each turn.
- Unit who have participated in killing/shattering most opponents
- Unit who have been killed/shattered most.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 15
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 5:46:23 PM   
c92nichj


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One thing that I would like to keep from CWIF is "place unit".
This allows you to place a unit anywhere on the map at any point in time, when you really shouldn't be abel to do that.
When playing CWIF we used that a lot especially to allow for mulligans, for example. where you forgot to railmove a piece at the rail step and then done all your landmoves. Instead of redoing all your landmoves you would then just place the unit.


(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 16
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 6:13:52 PM   
c92nichj


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Some nice to have features

- On map filters would be neat. For example; show all unflipped Figheters, Show all CV's etc. if you then also could do next unit for each of them to focus on the next FTR that also would be nice.

-Undo capabilities for moves you do not want to make.

- A feature in Korsun pocket that I liked was that the computer calculated what odds you could get at opponent hexes if commiting all available resources. (if difficult to implement I would skip this one but maybe you will do this work for the ai anyhow)

- When you hover your mouse over a stack in Vassal the contents of the stack pops up. A nice feature I think.

- In cyber board your moves can be plotted with a marker when replaying another players PBEM move.









Attachment (1)

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 17
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 6:21:38 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: c92nichj
As I'm also a sucker for statistics and graphs. It would be really great if you could see a log with a graph of stuff like:
- Number of BP lost each turn/impulse (Combination from combat losses/scrapping/strategic bombardment)
- Number of units gained each turn/impulse (Combination from building/aligning minors/getting partisans)
- Number of Victory Cities hold each turn.
- Unit who have participated in killing/shattering most opponents
- Unit who have been killed/shattered most.

Adding to this, when I play over the board, I always ran a count of strength of units on map by type by major power. That would let me compare the strength of the German army versus USSR turn by turn.

The graphs you mention seem to all have time as the x-axis with varying numerics on the y-axis.

The information about units seems more like a table with the individual units running down the left most column and other columns for kills, shatters, etc.. The player could also sort the table using any column or unit characteristic.



_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to c92nichj)
Post #: 18
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 6:24:48 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
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From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: c92nichj
One thing that I would like to keep from CWIF is "place unit".
This allows you to place a unit anywhere on the map at any point in time, when you really shouldn't be abel to do that.
When playing CWIF we used that a lot especially to allow for mulligans, for example. where you forgot to railmove a piece at the rail step and then done all your landmoves. Instead of redoing all your landmoves you would then just place the unit.

What you are referring to was a debugging aid that let players set up situations and then see if the program performed correctly. For example, setting up all the units needed for a complex air battle, sea battle, or invasion. I guess I could make it an option but you would have to really trust the opponent to not abuse the capability.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to c92nichj)
Post #: 19
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 6:39:31 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
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quote:

ORIGINAL: c92nichj

Some nice to have features

(1) On map filters would be neat. For example; show all unflipped Figheters, Show all CV's etc. if you then also could do next unit for each of them to focus on the next FTR that also would be nice.

(2) Undo capabilities for moves you do not want to make.

(3) A feature in Korsun pocket that I liked was that the computer calculated what odds you could get at opponent hexes if commiting all available resources. (if difficult to implement I would skip this one but maybe you will do this work for the ai anyhow)

(4) When you hover your mouse over a stack in Vassal the contents of the stack pops up. A nice feature I think.

(5) In cyber board your moves can be plotted with a marker when replaying another players PBEM move.



1 - CWIF had a lot of this. I need to review it to see if it does all that you are talking about.

2 - CWIF also had this. There is a problem with taking back moves after the opposing player has acted. For example, after trying to move a task force through a sea area and the opponent does a successful search, undo should not be allowed.

3 - Calculating odds, hmmm. I could see some problems with this. The AI could work it out but how to display the units involved could be difficult. It might involve invasions, paradrops, extended range bombers, ... There is also the issue of ground strikes not only on the target hex but also on enemy bombers that could otherwise be used for ground support. That's a lot of stuff to communicate to a player. The AI can do it as part of its calculations, but it doesn't have to 'see' what it is thinking about. If we just give the player the best odds achievable without explaining how we got them, we could drive him crazy trying to figure it out.

4 - CWIF does this but the units in the hex are at the bottom of the screen. Perhaps you mean a display of the units that is closer to the cursor position?

5 - Love it.

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Perfection is an elusive goal.

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Post #: 20
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 7:02:16 PM   
c92nichj


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets

1 - CWIF had a lot of this. I need to review it to see if it does all that you are talking about.


What CWIF had was excellent, but what I am talking about is that you can do thoose filters on map. instead of only in the unit screen. so I can look at part of the map and only show aircraft for example. if you also can step though them that's a bonus.

quote:


4 - CWIF does this but the units in the hex are at the bottom of the screen. Perhaps you mean a display of the units that is closer to the cursor position?

This is how it looked like in Vassal when I hoover over a unit stack. The view window in CWIF is a little bit to big I think.

When talking about the view pane, it was always difficult in CWIF to see where a militia unit came from, you had to look at it's name which where not displayed anywhere easily. I like to deploy the Chungking militia near the fron and take losses with as I know I can rebuild it. The Peking militia I rather keep guarding some remote area where it is not at risk since I can not rebuild it anyhow.





Attachment (1)

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Post #: 21
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/3/2005 11:06:42 PM   
Froonp


Posts: 7895
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From: Marseilles, France
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quote:

It would be interesting to create a PDF showing all the present dialog boxes used in CWiF (all those you listed in your post) and make it available to everyone interested.

If you're interested, I did make a PDF file containing most of the dialogs from Steve's post. It is here : http://perso.wanadoo.fr/froon/Transferts/CWiFDialogs.zip
Best Regards

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Post #: 22
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/4/2005 12:24:47 AM   
Greyshaft


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Mucho thankso
I reloaded CWiF last night between nappy changing but didn't get back to it afterwards. Your pdf will make life easier



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Post #: 23
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/4/2005 4:27:12 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp

quote:

It would be interesting to create a PDF showing all the present dialog boxes used in CWiF (all those you listed in your post) and make it available to everyone interested.

If you're interested, I did make a PDF file containing most of the dialogs from Steve's post. It is here : http://perso.wanadoo.fr/froon/Transferts/CWiFDialogs.zip
Best Regards

You sure do beautiful work. Thank you very much.

_____________________________

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Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 24
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/4/2005 11:17:00 PM   
stretch


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From: Kentucky, USA
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This is sort of an about face for the way this discussion was going but it seems to be the place to put it.

The one thing I really hated about the interface in CWiF was the representation of naval units. They were hard enough to keep track of in ports, and units at sea were darned near impossible to follow without clicking on every sea area and seeing what was in there. It felt like the naval side of the game, which is already abstracted quite a bit, had practically been buried.

It may not have felt that way to others, I only know how it felt to me. Please try and make the naval side of the game stand out more within the interface and be smoother to use, particularly with respect to units which remain at sea. Try to make it feel more like an integral part of the game, which it is.

my 2 cents.



(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 25
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/4/2005 11:36:10 PM   
Froonp


Posts: 7895
Joined: 10/21/2003
From: Marseilles, France
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quote:

It may not have felt that way to others, I only know how it felt to me. Please try and make the naval side of the game stand out more within the interface and be smoother to use, particularly with respect to units which remain at sea. Try to make it feel more like an integral part of the game, which it is.

my 2 cents.

I too found the Stay at Sea part of CWiF quite awkward.
Maybe for this phase (remain at sea) we could have a dialog popping-up, showing to the player the list of all ships at sea, sorted by sea area, sea-box section, ship type, etc... (at the layer's will), with only a checkbox to check to say that a unit will stay at sea. Maybe you could have also an option you could check in the same dialog to say that all the ships in a given sea area sea box section will remain at sea.
Also, there could be a warning given from the game to the player if CPs are programmed to not stay at sea, because it happened to me many times that after spliting convoys for example, they were not automatically sentried, and they would return to base at the end of the turn. The player would just have to confirm that it is normal that CPs are not staying at sea.

(in reply to stretch)
Post #: 26
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/4/2005 11:56:30 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: stretch
This is sort of an about face for the way this discussion was going but it seems to be the place to put it.

The one thing I really hated about the interface in CWiF was the representation of naval units. They were hard enough to keep track of in ports, and units at sea were darned near impossible to follow without clicking on every sea area and seeing what was in there. It felt like the naval side of the game, which is already abstracted quite a bit, had practically been buried.

It may not have felt that way to others, I only know how it felt to me. Please try and make the naval side of the game stand out more within the interface and be smoother to use, particularly with respect to units which remain at sea. Try to make it feel more like an integral part of the game, which it is.

my 2 cents.

This is why I asked. What 1 person mentions, there are many others who think the same but are hesitant to say it.

So, do you have any ideas about what you would like to see? Just being wild and crazy for a moment, how about each sea area displaying all the units in the sea area spread out? What I am picturing is more or less what I do when playing over the board. Rather than a stack of naval units, the navies are spread out so they do NOT overlap and you can see every unit. We keep them organized so you know what sea box they are in. Expanding on that a bit, we could spread out the naval units that are in a port too. Because there are often more than 10 naval units in a single port, they would have to occupy some of the land hexes around them. This is a somewhat disjointed presentation; I apologize. First we would remove from the screen all land units except those in a port that they could embark/disembark. Then we would remove all air units that have nothing to do with naval combat. That would give us room to spread out the navies for inspection/review.

Another way to try to acheive the same goal of seeing everything clearly might be to redraw the entire map removing all terrain except coastal hexes (because of invasions). The land hexes would just be shown as a bland tan or something. Any air units that have air-to-sea or air-to-air capabilities AND could reach a sea area would be shown (in their current hexes) but every thing else would 'disappear'. Then spreading out the navies that are in port over nearby land hexes wouldn't look so weird.

A third possibility would be to let the players create a separate (semi-permanent) window to display the naval units in a sea area or a port. There might be 4 or 5 sea areas and ports that are of interest and the player could create as many as he wanted. They could be positioned freely on top of the map and you could lay them out however you think best.

Other possibilities? Try not to feel restricted to working within the boundaries of what has gone before. What do you need to really enjoy playing the game? If you can visualize something that you would love to have be part of MWIF, describe it to me.


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Perfection is an elusive goal.

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Post #: 27
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/5/2005 12:17:56 AM   
SamuraiProgrammer

 

Posts: 338
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From: Paducah, Kentucky
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I have some ideas after glancing through this topic. I hope all of these are appropriate for this topic. I am a programmer and I realize I am asking for the moon on a silver platter with some of these, but if I don't ask.....

Oh Mighty Designer
Please Hear My Prayer
Even Though My Asking
Is Not Close To Fair

I like tabbed forms, but have noticed that users often don't notice there are tabs! (RTFM has become RTFS - read the fine screen!!!!) It might be nice to have a NEXT button between the OK and CANCEL button to advance the tabs.

Watchable computer vs computer games would be great to help newcomers get ideas on what to do with this monster game. I remember when I was trying to learn how to play (and trying to relearn after not playing for a few years) how difficult it was. One of the reasons involved not having a CLUE what to try or how to go about it.

Additionally, if the AI would create a diary of explainations as to why it was doing something, it could go a long way toward increasing playership. At first blush, this sounds hopelessly complex, but as the different routines are being coded, it should not be too hard to post an entry to the diary based on the ifs, loops, and cases being executed. Some rudimentary examples would be:

Moving units to XXXX because there needs to be a continuous line of ZOC on the border.

Moving units to XXXX to defend because there are enemies nearby and likely to attack.

Moving units from away from the front because the enemy is likely to break through and overrun them.

Strategic Move units in preparation for an attack against Yugoslavia.

And so on...

The catch is that anything that happens is happening for a reason. In addition to making it happen, it should not be hard for the code to give an inkling of why it is being done. (If this does not make sense, please ask questions.)

I think a DVD style interface is too cool for words. If would allow experts to post recordings of their monumental games, it would be even cooler!

Logical and consistent placement of controls (buttons, etc.) is crucial.

I think that having the ability to play the game with a keyboard (and not just the mouse) is also a good thing to try to accomplish. Once someone understands how the game works, there are many things that can be done MUCH quicker with the keyboard. It is clear that many functions will have to be accomplished with a mouse, but any that can be done with the keyboard should be enabled. This includes but is not limited to :


  • (already mentioned) Intelligent use of the standard Windows keyboard shortcuts.
  • Function Keys taking the user to certain functional areas of the screen.
  • User customizable map 'hot spots' - i.e. being able to assign and remember map view positions.
  • User customizable unit groups - i.e. being able to assign and remember unit groups that can be reselected with a keystroke.
  • I think this is very important, the ability to open multiple views of maps and hop between them using ctrl+tab.


Please make sure the user interface will work well on the 'wide-screen' resolutions available on many laptops.

Right Click context dependent menus are WONDERFUL. The first words in your manual should be 'When it doubt, right-click!'

It would be nice to be able to hit the print screen button and know that there is a file with a name resembling the name of this game that has a screen shot saved as a jpg or png.

It would also be nice to be able to hit ctrl+print screen and get a large jpg or png of the entire map with units. This would be great to clip and print for planning.

It would be nice to be able to have some keyboard commands that are screen filters and are not toggles. For example, if I am holding down the W key, the map will have an overlay that shows the weather. As soon as I release the W key, the overlay goes away.

Candidates for Overlays would be :

  • Weather
  • Political Control
  • Zone Of Control
  • Selected Unit Movement Range
  • In Supply
  • Selected Unit Supply Range
  • Highlight Resources
  • Highlight Factories
  • Highlight Armor, Infantry, FTR, NAV, etc.
  • Highlight Rail
  • Highlight Supply Sources
  • Highlight Ports


It is absolutely crucial that the moves in progress can be saved before finishing the impulse or turn.


This is all I can think of at this time. I promise not to spit and curse and villify you if you don't do all of them

Keep up the great work!!!!!



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Post #: 28
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/5/2005 12:32:23 AM   
Greyshaft


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From: Sydney, Australia
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quote:

It would also be nice to be able to hit ctrl+print screen and get a large jpg or png of the entire map with units. This would be great to clip and print for planning.
Except for the fact that a stack of units would only show the top unit :( Maybe need to replace multi-unit stacks with an ID Code (eg GER001) and allow a second printout of what is under each code.

I'm kinda stretched right now. My boss is on leave for three weeks and I'm doing her job and mine, and my bosses boss resigned two months ago and hasn't been replaced so I'm reporting directly to the IT Director with one hand and helping the troops with help desk calls with the other. And did I mention the new baby ???

I will be back

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Post #: 29
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/5/2005 2:00:39 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18181
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: SamuraiProgrammer
I have some ideas after glancing through this topic. I hope all of these are appropriate for this topic. I am a programmer and I realize I am asking for the moon on a silver platter with some of these, but if I don't ask.....
.
.
.
.
This is all I can think of at this time. I promise not to spit and curse and villify you if you don't do all of them

Good ideas. Of course I laughed and laughed.

Once I could dry my tears, I gave them another read. I guess my starting point will be to group these features. In some cases doing all of them would be no more difficult than doing one of them. I also need to understand what routines would be needed to make them happen. For example, I have already dumped bitmaps to JPEG files for my Impact! Analysis program but I haven't worked with PNG files.

Adding text comments to AI routines seems like just good documentation practice. Making them available to the players as explanations shouldn't be that hard. What would be missing are all the things the AI didn't do. For instance, why didn't the AI attack that hex?

Remappable keys for short cuts is not that hard to do. They would not be applicable all the time - when entering a file name is one place.

So how does one write to a DVD? I have tried magic markers but they don't seem magical enough.

If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you download the PDF file Patrice put together for all the current forms/windows. [ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/froon/Transferts/CWiFDialogs.zip ] You could pick one window and detail how you would like it improved. This is in response to your request for a NEXT button.

I intend MWIF to have a help capability that actually helps. It is another thread that I plan on starting either later this month or in September. What I will asking for is: What to say When. Essentally context sensitive help that actually is aware of the context (game turn, phase, subphase, unit selected, etc.). Like many computer terms the marketing types have so abused the phrase "context sensitive" that it has almost become a negative.

Some of the things you are asking for raise the issue of how does the player keep them all straight: multiple map views, function keys, shortcut keys, overlay keys, ... At some point it seems that the plyaer will have to have a window that lets him review all his current settings. Perhaps a more austere design would work better. Using every color of the rainbow doesn't mean that we produce a beautiful work of art. The design needs a structure that the player can learn easily and then rely on knowing how to do things whenever he needs something done. I recognize that this can drift into the realm of philosophy but I think it is important.

What that means is that I will take all the ideas generated in this forum over the next couple of weeks and organize them. It will require some thought but I should be able to develop a conceptual framework that encapsulates them all. After the conceptual design comes an intermediate structural level and finally the detailed design.

Meanwhile keep giving me ideas.



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