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RE: MWIF Game Interface Design

 
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RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/12/2005 6:06:27 AM   
VonLobo

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Greyshaft

PLANNING
I would be able to save and load my Scenario Start production sequence so after I built it I could use it in other games. I could swap my “perfect” plan with other players for them to laugh and offer suggestions. I could swap out plans halfway through the game so I can switch from the “Conquer the World” plan to the “Festung Europa” build plan whenever I wanted.

I could specify that I wanted a particular force (say 2 CV, 3 SCS, 2 AMPH, 1 MAR, 1 INF + 2 dive bombers + 2 pilot available) in a defined port by turn ‘x’ and the units would be built and deployed there by that time. They would be flagged in some way so I didn’t inadvertently move the early arrivers out for some other operation – I could if I wanted to but it shouldn’t happen by accident. I could also specify the force and ask the system to tell me the earliest date it could be produced.

This kind of production could be allocated a % or fixed amount of my production. Say in the last three turns I made 14,15 & 14 PP and I figure that number won’t change much for the foreseeable future. I could allocate 10 PP to this fixed production and I would use the rest of the PP on whatever seemed good at the time.

ADVISOR
If I didn’t have a fixed plan the system would look at my available PP and offer 3-4 alternative builds (carrier heavy v. air heavy v. land heavy v. sub heavy v. whatever) and I could select one of them for this turn and tweak it as desired.

GEARING
Production should advise re: gearing limits so that if I produce 2 SUBS this turn the system would advise that I can keep that production going for ‘y’ turns. System should auto-advise if there will be a production drop up to (say) 3 turns in future eg. “if you build 4 ARM this turn, then in two turns you will waste ‘z’ PP because you will only have 1 ARM left to build and no other unit type can pick up the production slack’. This logic obviously can’t account for future battle casualties so it would be merely advisory.

ANALYSIS
Even with FOW I could analyse the enemy production. Eg. as an allied player I would auto count his units in contact with allied forces (therefore visible to me) and realise that last turn I counted 8 ARM but this turn I can only count 3… better get ready to defend against his next offensive. Or maybe as the CW I encountered 4 subs this turn and I know I’ve sunk 6 since the war begun so if I add that to the other units I have encountered then I’m still missing 12 PP from his plans. Maybe he did lay down the other battleship?

Important to be able to map all unit categories with losses against launches so at any point I can compare my current total on-map forces with my forces at start of game/ 1 month ago/3 months ago and see trends (INF up 3, SUBs up 2, FTR down 2, CV up 1)

On the note of FOW (I know you won’t like this one) how about revealing units which have been overflown by my units on any air missions “Hey… is that a Panzer down there?”

I'm not looking to get into the movable toolbar debate in a big way but if you do decide to do it then have a look at the way Lotus implemented their Properties Box. It's movable around the screen and comes in two sizes for when you still want it there but want to shrink it. The tabbed interface allows a lot of information (and action buttons) within a small space. I think its overkill for MWiF but you may as well see it before you dicard the idea.





How about a Production Planning program outside the MWIF game itself that raeds the current Production from the game files and lets you play what if I do this..., and lets you preplan your production. It could do gearing forcast. Also let you post notes to yourself in the main MWIF program for your production phase as to what you would like to build and when.

Just a thought.

Vonlobo

(in reply to Greyshaft)
Post #: 91
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/14/2005 4:01:55 AM   
rtamesis

 

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Here's a little minor suggestion on the game interface. I'd like to see a little visual indicator that tells me at a glance which of my units have already been moved or initiated combat during my turn like a change in the tint or shading of the unit's counter, such as from dark gray to a lighter shade of gray or vice versa. That way, I won't forget to make it do something. When you're dealing with a lot of units, it's very easy to forget and not realize it until it's too late.

(in reply to VonLobo)
Post #: 92
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/14/2005 4:28:23 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis
Here's a little minor suggestion on the game interface. I'd like to see a little visual indicator that tells me at a glance which of my units have already been moved or initiated combat during my turn like a change in the tint or shading of the unit's counter, such as from dark gray to a lighter shade of gray or vice versa. That way, I won't forget to make it do something. When you're dealing with a lot of units, it's very easy to forget and not realize it until it's too late.


Yes, this is always a concern. The design of CWIF which I like and intend to keep (perhaps with some modification) is to have 6 small boxes above each unit. The boxes are 1/6 the width of the unit and half as high as they are wide - they are small! The colors of the 6 boxes indicate the unit's status. For instance, one box indicates when a unit is disrupted, others are for whether it has moved, has been committed to an attack, is out of supply, and so on. The boxes are maintain dynamically so if you move a HQ away from a unit such that the unit is out of supply, the unit's little box changes color. Move the HQ back and the unit's box for supply status changes color back again.

During each phase, the units that can do something in that phase are also given a light green frame. Those are the units you have left to move. If you have already moved a unit, then the color of its frame is changed. This not only lets you know which units you have moved, it also lets you know that you can undo those moves if you want to.

I intend to add the ability to filter which units are shown on the screen so that you only see those that can participate in the phase. For example, those that are capable of strategic bombing and can reach a viable enemy target. There are some details to this I have to think through. It isn't clear to me how best to display all the units you would want to see when you are planning ground support: your tactical bombers, enemy land unit targets, possible enemy interceptors, and your own fighters that can fly escort.

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Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to rtamesis)
Post #: 93
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/14/2005 4:07:19 PM   
Froonp


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quote:

Yes, this is always a concern. The design of CWIF which I like and intend to keep (perhaps with some modification) is to have 6 small boxes above each unit. The boxes are 1/6 the width of the unit and half as high as they are wide - they are small! The colors of the 6 boxes indicate the unit's status. For instance, one box indicates when a unit is disrupted, others are for whether it has moved, has been committed to an attack, is out of supply, and so on. The boxes are maintain dynamically so if you move a HQ away from a unit such that the unit is out of supply, the unit's little box changes color. Move the HQ back and the unit's box for supply status changes color back again.

Better a picture that a long speech.
Steve, if you feel it breaks the non disclosure agreement I signed on in 1998 for CWiF, tell me and I'll never do this again.
Cheers,

Patrice




Attachment (1)

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 94
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/14/2005 7:23:50 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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Patrice,

What you showed is fine. It is just a little out of date. CWIF now has 6 boxes at the top instead of 5. This makes it possible to reduce some of the potential confusion in the 4th and 5th rows of the layout you displayed.

I also want to review the choice of colors carefully. The statistics say that 10% of males are at least partially color blind and I don't want to cause them any difficulties understanding the colors in the boxes.

Ideally, each box will function as a binary (or at worst trinary) code for each unit type. The second row of the layout (disrupted/damaged) is the best example of what I mean:
Land units are either disrupted or not.
Air units either have pilots or not.
A naval unit on the production queue is either in its first cycle or its second.
A naval unit on map is either damaged or not.

These are nice and clean binary codes. When the second box from the left is colored in, the unit can not be used. I want to come as close to that with the other status flags. It shouldn't be too hard.

_____________________________

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Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 95
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/14/2005 8:58:17 PM   
Froonp


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quote:

What you showed is fine. It is just a little out of date. CWIF now has 6 boxes at the top instead of 5. This makes it possible to reduce some of the potential confusion in the 4th and 5th rows of the layout you displayed.

Yes, I noticed it was outdated. I couldn't find anything more current. I found this in the online help of the latest CWiF (0.7.71).

By the way, where will you resume the version number for MWiF ? 0.8.0 ? Or will you start from 0 ?

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 96
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/14/2005 10:15:15 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp

quote:

What you showed is fine. It is just a little out of date. CWIF now has 6 boxes at the top instead of 5. This makes it possible to reduce some of the potential confusion in the 4th and 5th rows of the layout you displayed.

Yes, I noticed it was outdated. I couldn't find anything more current. I found this in the online help of the latest CWiF (0.7.71).

By the way, where will you resume the version number for MWiF ? 0.8.0 ? Or will you start from 0 ?


Oh, I think I'll just pretend all the previous mileage never happened and reset the odometer to zero.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 97
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 12:36:43 AM   
Greyshaft


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Not sure what you've got planned for hover text over units, but a summary of the unit status graphic would be high on my list of suggestions "There's that light again but now its red !!! Does that mean that they need more Food in Flames or that they've just defected to the enemy... <checks manual yet again> "

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/Greyshaft

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Post #: 98
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 1:39:09 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Greyshaft
Not sure what you've got planned for hover text over units, but a summary of the unit status graphic would be high on my list of suggestions "There's that light again but now its red !!! Does that mean that they need more Food in Flames or that they've just defected to the enemy... <checks manual yet again> "


Good point.

CWIF dynamically maintains a large panel at the bottom of the screen that shows all the units in the hex and their total strength for attack and defense (among other things). I currently plan on doing away with that panel (or at least make it an optional part of the game interface). In its place I like the flyout display of the units in the hex that someone posted earlier in this thread. That needs to be supplemented with the total attack and defense factors for the hex.

What seems to me to be best for addressing your concern is to have a legend panel (not too large) that displays the meanings of the little colored boxes. It could be toggled on and off and repositioned by the players where ever they want on the screen. Indeed, this could be a standard solution to a bunch of questions. For instance, there could be a legend panel for hex and hexside terrain, and another for what the numbers mean. These would be of great help to players who are new to WIF. Are there others I haven't thought of? Oh yeah, movement costs by unit type and terrain and weather, and combat multipliers. I guess the list is long. If anyone can add others, here and now would be a good place and time.



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Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

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Post #: 99
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 8:42:56 AM   
rtamesis

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets

I also want to review the choice of colors carefully. The statistics say that 10% of males are at least partially color blind and I don't want to cause them any difficulties understanding the colors in the boxes.



Count me as one of those who are color blind. Actually, I am only partially color blind. I have difficulty distinguishing between lighter shades of green and red that have the same level of saturation, such as pale green and pale red.

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 100
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 8:47:59 AM   
rtamesis

 

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On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 101
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 9:31:30 AM   
Mziln


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quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis

On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.


2.4.3 Out of Supply

Land units

A land unit that is out of supply:
.....Cannot attack;
.....Must be turned face down if you move it (even by naval transport or air transport);
.....A face-up unit Defends with their normal strength.
.....A Face down non-white number units defends with 1 combat factor.
.....A Face down white number unit defends with 3 combat factors.
.....If you are using Option 2: Divisions
.....If you are using Option 13: Emergency HQ Supply

Out of supply land units still have their normal movement allowance and still exert a ZoC.



Some colors cant be changed

(in reply to rtamesis)
Post #: 102
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 10:06:54 AM   
Froonp


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quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis

On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.

There are example in paper WiF, of units wose background is so dark that black print is no longer possible. These are the non white print SS units. The black print SS units have their text written in Red.

MWiF could provide an option (to provide better visibility) :
(a) CW units "black text" displayed with another color. Example : Red, as for SS units.
(b) CW units displayed with another background color. For example, there is indeed lot of demand from players of WiF FE to have ADG making a print run of CW units in Khaki (Kaki). MWiF could provide this as an option.





Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Froonp -- 8/15/2005 11:09:15 AM >

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Post #: 103
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 10:53:14 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis
On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.


Well, I would appreciate it if you complained about any difficulties you encounter with reading the map, units, screens, whatever. If you like, you can consider yourself the representative for a group of players who have trouble differentiating colors.

I will pay more attention to contrast. However, I know I can't not see colors, so I need help identifying where my color choices make the game hard to play. Thanks.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to rtamesis)
Post #: 104
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 10:57:30 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mziln
quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis
On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.


2.4.3 Out of Supply

Land units

A land unit that is out of supply:
.....Cannot attack;
.....Must be turned face down if you move it (even by naval transport or air transport);
.....A face-up unit Defends with their normal strength.
.....A Face down non-white number units defends with 1 combat factor.
.....A Face down white number unit defends with 3 combat factors.
.....If you are using Option 2: Divisions
.....If you are using Option 13: Emergency HQ Supply

Out of supply land units still have their normal movement allowance and still exert a ZoC.

Some colors cant be changed


Ah, but they can. Of course, it shouldn't be done without good justification. But if the change is justified, then sticking to something that doesn't work would be a poor decision.


_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Mziln)
Post #: 105
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 11:08:05 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis
On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.

There are example in paper WiF, of units wose background is so dark that black print is no longer possible. These are the non white print SS units. The black print SS units have their text written in Red.

MWiF could provide an option (to provide better visibility) :
(a) CW units "black text" displayed with another color. Example : Red, as for SS units.
(b) CW units displayed with another background color. For example, there is indeed lot of demand from players of WiF FE to have ADG making a print run of CW units in Khaki (Kaki). MWiF could provide this as an option.


I don't want to get too carried away here with changing all the color backgrounds for units.

I am sure that selecting the colors for countries was a nightmare for ADG. There are a LOT of countries and ADG needed a unique color for each country's units. I own two sets of USSR units that have different shades of red/brown, which I always assumed was a problem with the printer. Now I am not so sure.

Anyway, revisiting all the unit colors seems like a headache I can live without. The simplest solution that makes the numbers clearly readable is my goal. One, not so pretty, answer could be to back light all the text (numbers) on a unit with color that is a strong contrast to the lettering. The unit overall might be dark blue but the background immediately behind the text would be white so the black print would be easy to read. I would prefer a more artistic answer, and Rob Armstrong (the graphics artist) probably can come up with one.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 106
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 6:15:34 PM   
SamuraiProgrammer

 

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A thought about determining which units have moved or not....

It would be nice to be able to open a dialog or window that listed units that still had movement points to use. In my imagination, this window/dialog would also allow us mark units that we do not want to move this turn so they will either sort differently or even remove themselves from that display. Double Clicking a unit would take you to it on the map (this is an argument for a window instead of a dialog).

The same could be accomplised by a 'filter' that highlights units that have movement.

Oh, I almost forgot....




Have a great day!

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(in reply to VonLobo)
Post #: 107
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 7:25:44 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: SamuraiProgrammer
A thought about determining which units have moved or not....

It would be nice to be able to open a dialog or window that listed units that still had movement points to use. In my imagination, this window/dialog would also allow us mark units that we do not want to move this turn so they will either sort differently or even remove themselves from that display. Double Clicking a unit would take you to it on the map (this is an argument for a window instead of a dialog).

The same could be accomplised by a 'filter' that highlights units that have movement.


I already am planning on having two columns down the left hand side of the screen. The first would contain a series of codes for different map views (POVs) that the player has created. Clicking on a POV changes the map to that point of view. So far I only had one use for the second column: to list units that are outside of the current POV that the player might want to consider. This idea arose from wanting to know about bombers that could be used in the current phase that were not on map (e.g., long range bombers).

Now you have got me thinking. The same column (not taking up too much of the screen - just a vertical list of unit counters placed tighlty together) could be used for other purposes. Your request for a list of units that can still move is one example. To show the remaining movement points wouldn't be hard. I would just replace the original movement number with the amount remaining. If you want to flag units as not moving, I could put an asterisk, or some such, in the location for movement points. For air units it would be range not used. For surface naval units, I could decrement both the movement points and the range.

Now these adjustments to how the unit looks would clearly be temporary and only be displayed for the unit depictions in the left hand column. The on map units counters would remain static throughout play (they would look like the paper counters). The column of units could be sorted from top to bottom by # of movement points remaining. It would be filtered to only contain units that can legally move during the phase. That means any disrupted units would not appear on the column. Nor would air units that lack the required capability (e.g., strategic bombing during the strategic bomnbing phase).

The player could click on any unit in the left hand column and the map would center on that unit. What I like about using the left hand column is that it becomes a way for the player to change his POV - just like the other left hand column containing the POV codes.

This leads me to thinking that maybe the first left hand column should be split into a top and a bottom. The codes in the bottom portion would be for changing just the detailed map. The codes in the top half would be for changing all the windows at once. In windows parlance, this would be equivalent to changing the desktop display.

Getting back to the second left hand column (containing a vertical list of units), I like the idea of using it for setting up units at the beginning of the game. The old CWIF design for setting up units is quite awkward in my opinion. The window containing the units is placed in the center of the screen, obscuring things. You then have to select one unit for placement and the window containing the remaining units disappears until you place the first unit. After which the window reappears for the next unit. Not very easy to see what you are doing and too much clicking of the mouse. The way I usually use it is to place all the units on the map, more or less randomly, just to get them out of the window. Once I have them all on the map, the window disappears for good and I can then start rearranging unit placements so every unit is where I want it. This can be difficult at times because you have to watch that you don't exceed stacking limits, that the naval units are all in ports, and so on. It can be very annoying for setting up the USA units when you want to reposition a unit from the east coast to the west.

Anyway, here is my thought for an improvement. Units to be set up are displayed in the left hand column, sorted howsoever the player wants (armor first? tactical air? HQs?). The player simply drags the unit from the left hand column to the map location he wants for the unit. A unit could be sent back to the left hand column if the player changes his mind. Note he still has the ability to reposition units on the map, just as before. What has changed is that the player has a list of about 16 units displayed on the left from which to choose. When he selects one, the list updates showing the units remaining to be positioned. This leaves the map empty at the beginning and it gradually fills up as the player adds units from the "remaining to be set up" list. What I have designed here matches pretty closely to what I do when playing over the board. I sort out all the units I have to set up and then start placing them by unit type depending on whether I am on the offense (Axis usually) or defense (Allied usually).

I think this design can also be used for placing reinforcements at the start of each turn.

Does any one see any problems with what I am proposing?


_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to SamuraiProgrammer)
Post #: 108
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 8:41:14 PM   
Mziln


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From: Tulsa Oklahoma
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets

quote:

ORIGINAL: Mziln
quote:

ORIGINAL: rtamesis
On the subject of colors in your attachment showing the counters, the black text on the dark blue counters and the dark green transports is difficult to see. They probably should be done in white instead to bring out more contrast. If it is possible to do them in bold too, then so much the better for greater visibility.


2.4.3 Out of Supply

Land units

A land unit that is out of supply:
.....Cannot attack;
.....Must be turned face down if you move it (even by naval transport or air transport);
.....A face-up unit Defends with their normal strength.
.....A Face down non-white number units defends with 1 combat factor.
.....A Face down white number unit defends with 3 combat factors.
.....If you are using Option 2: Divisions
.....If you are using Option 13: Emergency HQ Supply

Out of supply land units still have their normal movement allowance and still exert a ZoC.

Some colors cant be changed


Ah, but they can. Of course, it shouldn't be done without good justification. But if the change is justified, then sticking to something that doesn't work would be a poor decision.



Unit colors brings up the question "Will the game editor still be provided with the game ".

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 109
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/15/2005 9:20:04 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mziln

Unit colors brings up the question "Will the game editor still be provided with the game ".




I am not planning on it. Instead, MWIF will dump the units to a CSV file that can be read into a spreadsheet or database and modified there by the player. MWIF will accept similar CSV files as input, so the player can create his own set of units in the spreadsheet and then use them in a game. Any new units will have to be one of the existing types, though the numerical factors (and probably the unit name) will be available for editing by the players.

Changing the colors and other aspects of the unit graphics will be very limited, maybe even non-existant. The system for depicting the units on the screen so MWIF displays counters similar to those in WIF Final Edition requires some sophisticated coding. Making the internals accessible to the players for tweaking is not something I want to do for version 1.

My objectives, as set forth by Matrix, is a computer playable version of WIF. A MWIF where the players can change the graphics is not one of my objectives.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Mziln)
Post #: 110
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/16/2005 1:22:21 AM   
Greyshaft


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A variation on your list of friendly counters is to include a list of enemy counters that are of special interest and will need a response in my own turn. I may not yet have identified the unit(s) which will meet that threat (therefore I cannot tag it) but I do want the game to remind me of the following locations:

– the german sub that just moved onto my convoy routes in the mid–Atlantic
– the weakest stack in the Russian defensive line. Having countered all of the defense factors along the line I want to ensure that I remember EXACTLY which hex I was planning to attack.
– The stack of 3 unflipped FTR units which I want to Ground strike to force them to respond.

I tend to do a couple of passes over the map in my turn. First to identify problems and mentally tag them for later attention and after I know how many issues need addressing I can look at each problem/opportunity in detail with an understanding of how many resources I can spare for each of them.

quote:

Anyway, here is my thought for an improvement. Units to be set up are displayed in the left hand column, sorted howsoever the player wants (armor first? tactical air? HQs?). The player simply drags the unit from the left hand column to the map location he wants for the unit.
Sounds good in theory. I agree with the window setup problem in the CWIF but I’m having a bit of trouble visualising your answer. My issue – not yours.

EDIT: Quote marks must be entered in lower-case... d'oh!

_____________________________

/Greyshaft

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 111
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/16/2005 1:29:53 AM   
rtamesis

 

Posts: 76
Joined: 7/24/2004
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Back to the subject of color blindness, most color blindness occurs with trying to distinguish between red and green. Blue-yellow color blindness is extremely rare, so if you just try to avoid juxtaposing red and green together or trying to toggle between the two colors, you or your graphics artist should be alright with regards to making things easier for color blind players. I use Maxon's Cinema 4D for 3D modelling and rendering. Unfortunately, they use red and green buttons to toggle the visibility of the 3D models, and it is literally hell for me to try to figure out at a glance if the button is currently red or green.

(in reply to Greyshaft)
Post #: 112
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/16/2005 4:30:17 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18284
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Greyshaft
A variation on your list of friendly counters is to include a list of enemy counters that are of special interest and will need a response in my own turn. I may not yet have identified the unit(s) which will meet that threat (therefore I cannot tag it) but I do want the game to remind me of the following locations:

– the german sub that just moved onto my convoy routes in the mid–Atlantic
– the weakest stack in the Russian defensive line. Having countered all of the defense factors along the line I want to ensure that I remember EXACTLY which hex I was planning to attack.
– The stack of 3 unflipped FTR units which I want to Ground strike to force them to respond.

I tend to do a couple of passes over the map in my turn. First to identify problems and mentally tag them for later attention and after I know how many issues need addressing I can look at each problem/opportunity in detail with an understanding of how many resources I can spare for each of them.


I do not see handling this being a MWIF feature. There are several reasons for my opinion.
(1) You could just use a Windows notepad to write down hex numbers of interest and short notes about why it is of interest.
(2) There seem to be a lot of different possible things you might want to write a note about, and none of them would necessarily occur every turn. This means any notation placed on the map by MWIF would either be vague (1 of 20 possible meanings) or obscure (a unique icon for each meaning but the icons would be hard to remember).
(3) The action you are going to take in response to the marked hex does not involve you moving units in the hex. Indeed, these are enemy units and you are not allowed to move them.
(4) Marking enemy hexes (or even friendly hexes) for attention/processing adds clutter to the map display. The map is already very crowded with a half dozen toggle switches for weather, weather zones, map names, rail lines, major power controling each hex, and unit filters.

Overall, the benefit of integrating notations about enemy hexes/units into the game interface does not seem to me to be worth the cost. Taking notes using a standard editor seems like a better solution.

On the other hand, MWIF will provide (as did CWIF) the player with the capability of attaching notes to his own units. I see this as being much more useful because:
(5) You might assign a unit to a HQ, an army gourp, or a long range objective and have the unit carry that information around so any time you want to know, you can figure out what the unit is suppose to be doing.
(6) You can maintan a history of what tasks the unit was assigned during the game.
(7) You can keep track of what each convoy is suppose to be doing.
(8) You can mark TRS, AMPH, fighters, bombers, naval task forces, etc. with specific responsibilities (so you don't use them for something else but keep them available for, say, an invasion during the third impulse).

The uses for notes attached to your own units seem more enduring, carrying over from impulse to impulse. Note attached to enemy units/hexes are more transitory (reminders for what to do in the current impulse).

That's where I am now on this.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Greyshaft)
Post #: 113
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/18/2005 12:15:01 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18284
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Status: offline
Interface for Standing Orders
(as of August 17, 2005)

I have been thinking about how to present the Standing Orders as part of the interface. They would only be included in a PBEM game (I believe), though I guess the players could use them in an Internet game if they wanted. Including SOs in an Internet game could get around the ‘problem’ of needing everyone available at a moment’s notice to make decisions as the non-phasing player. Be that as it may, here is what I currently envision for the SO part of the interface.

At the top of the main screen are two bars: the menu bar and the MWIF common tool bar. I propose to add a SO bar below them as a third bar that runs across the full width of the screen. This bar would not be very high, but it would take up some room. The players could toggle its visibility on and off. For PBEM, I would recommend it be visible at all times.

What the bar would contain is the 24 SO locations. I might merge some of these locations and split others into 2 or 3 pieces. For now, let’s just go with the idea that each of the 24 SO locations has its own icon or button or something. The button would be labeled to indicate what the SO pertains to. I would group the buttons into: PreAction, Naval, Air, and Land.

The label PreAction refers to SOs 1- 3: Initiative, Controlling minors, Setting up reserves for minors, and Reacting to USSR claims to Finland and Bessarabia. Though technically only the first are performed before the action stage of the sequence of play, this is the best title for the group I have come up with so far.

The Air group would contain SOs 4 through 9. The Naval group would contain SOs 10 through 15. And the Land group would be for SOs 16 through 24. Again, I might move these around somewhat depending on which grouping seems most logical when playing the game.

When the player clicks on one of the SO buttons, the interface associated with that SO location will be activated. As a simple case, SO (Initiative) would bring up the window for setting the SO for initiative. I am thinking about maybe combining some of these so the player can review and/or set several SOs at once. For instance, Initiative, Controlling minors, and Reacting to USSR claims to Finland and Bessarabia might be one window with three sections. Note that “Reacting to USSR claims” would only be displayed for the German player, since it does not apply to anyone else.

I am also thinking of combining, or somehow linking, the SOs that send air units out on missions with the SO for Return to base. After all, any air unit that flies a mission needs to return to base (unless it gets shot down). Combining the SOs concerning Land combat also seems appropriate.

=================================
My more interesting idea is the interface for setting SOs for air unit missions. What I think might work well is to have all the air units that could be given SOs placed in a column running down the left hand side of the screen. I have written about this column before, using it for placing units on the map during the set up and reinforcement phases. Its original purpose was to identify off-map tactical air units that could fly missions to a specific on-map hex. Anyway, I now have a fourth use for the column of units running down the left hand side.

When the player clicks on SO 5 (on the SO location bar), he is saying he wants to either review or set SOs for “Defensive air support for land or naval units and factories”. At that time, the left hand column of units would be populated with the air units who are eligible to fly defensive air support. Now, next to each unit would be a set of 10 boxes. The boxes would correspond to the enemy air missions the unit might defend against:
(1) port attacks,
(2) naval air combat,

(3) strategic bombing,
(4) carpet bombing,

(5) air transported land units,
(6) paradrops,

(7) ground strikes,
(8) ground support,

(9) air resupply (ATR reorganization of land units), and one last box for
(10) fighters escorting bombers.

The above grouping into pairs is to show that there would be a grid two boxes wide by 5 boxes high. Each box would be 1/5 the height of a unit. Bombers would only be capable of flying missions #2 and #8. Fighters could fly all of the missions.

Each box would indicate whether the air unit has a standing order to defend against that enemy mission type. Indicators would be:
(A) Unit should not respond to the mission type,
(B) Unit has a SO for the mission type, but it is from a previous impulse or turn (it’s stale),
(C) Unit was given a SO for the mission type this impulse (it’s fresh).

Note that there are 10 different status flags for each fighter. This is part of the reason designing the interface for SO 5 is so difficult. The fighters have a lot of options.

By clicking on a box next to an air unit, the player activates the interface to set the SO for that air unit against the corresponding mission type. Several units could be selected simultaneously. This is to permit the player to give several units the same SO at the same time. In particular, this would be useful when having some fighters fly as escorts (#10) for bombers (#2 or #8).

Entering the standing order starts by clicking on one of the boxes next to an air unit. The program will immediately jump the cursor to the air unit on the map. If the air unit is not on the part of the map that is visible, then the map display will be redrawn so that the air unit is in the center of the screen. The player then ‘flies’ the air unit to the hex (or sea area) that he wants protected. What we have accomplished so far is set an unconditional SO for air units to defend hexes against each possible mission type.

Somehow I want to let the player review the SOs for each air unit. One way to do this would be to have the player click on the air unit in the left hand column (as opposed to one of the 10 boxes alongside it). Clicking on the air unit could light up each of the 10 little boxes in turn and draw a line from the unit’s position on the map to the target hex. While the first box was lit, the line would be shown for a few seconds and then the next box would light up and another line drawn. Lines would only need to be drawn for the mission types for which the air unit has a standing order. Alternatively, all the air units defending against port attacks (or whatever) could be shown in sequence. The goal here would be to visually show the player what the standing orders are with a minimal number of mouse clicks or key presses.

There are still several pieces missing from SOs for “Defensive air support for land or naval units and factories”. I would like the player to be able to control: how many air units are sent to a hex, which units are sent, and prioritize which hexes are protected. Something to think about.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 114
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/18/2005 1:16:33 PM   
Froonp


Posts: 7899
Joined: 10/21/2003
From: Marseilles, France
Status: offline
Hello,

Your presentation of SO as you envision it seems great to me.
I would like however to express one think that I'd like to be included as well in the interface.

I like the idea to have an SO tool bar with as many buttons in it as there are SOs.
However, I'd like to also have a submenu in the context menu for a unit labeled "Standing Orders" and containing all the 24 SO as well.

I say this because I think people are very used to the "right click" and "context menu" things. In one mouse operation the player would have chosen both the unit and the context menu he wants for the unit.

As usual, the toolbar would be useful for the new player, who would have displayed under his eyes all the SO (in the toolbar), but the context menu would be the most efficient way to give SOs to units.

One much more interesting feature would be to be able to select multiple units on the map (using a SHIFT+CLIC or CTRL+CLIC or else), to give them all the same SO using the context menu.

One last thing about that, one feature that may be cool would be that the buttons in the SO toolbar (and the Context Menu SO submenu items) could be :
- invisible when you click a unit unable to be given those SO,
- Greyed out when the SO is available for the selected unit, but no SO was defined (left to the defaults).
- Normal when the SO is available for the selected unit, and the SO was defined.

Do this show that I was, and still am, a great MS Excel user & fan ?

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 115
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/18/2005 1:16:54 PM   
Greyshaft


Posts: 2234
Joined: 10/27/2003
From: Sydney, Australia
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Shannon V. OKeets
The label PreAction refers to SOs 1- 3: Initiative, Controlling minors, Setting up reserves for minors, and Reacting to USSR claims to Finland and Bessarabia. Though technically only the first are performed before the action stage of the sequence of play, this is the best title for the group I have come up with so far.
"Political"?

quote:


Each box would indicate whether the air unit has a standing order to defend against that enemy mission type. Indicators would be:
(A) Unit should not respond to the mission type,
(B) Unit has a SO for the mission type, but it is from a previous impulse or turn (it’s stale),
(C) Unit was given a SO for the mission type this impulse (it’s fresh).

Sounds good. I think that I had not twigged that SO applies to each air unit individually. Very sad... call it a symptom of having a five week old baby and not much sleep

_____________________________

/Greyshaft

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 116
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/18/2005 7:00:15 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18284
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
I like the idea to have an SO tool bar with as many buttons in it as there are SOs.
However, I'd like to also have a submenu in the context menu for a unit labeled "Standing Orders" and containing all the 24 SO as well.

I say this because I think people are very used to the "right click" and "context menu" things. In one mouse operation the player would have chosen both the unit and the context menu he wants for the unit.

As usual, the toolbar would be useful for the new player, who would have displayed under his eyes all the SO (in the toolbar), but the context menu would be the most efficient way to give SOs to units.

One much more interesting feature would be to be able to select multiple units on the map (using a SHIFT+CLIC or CTRL+CLIC or else), to give them all the same SO using the context menu.

One last thing about that, one feature that may be cool would be that the buttons in the SO toolbar (and the Context Menu SO submenu items) could be :
- invisible when you click a unit unable to be given those SO,
- Greyed out when the SO is available for the selected unit, but no SO was defined (left to the defaults).
- Normal when the SO is available for the selected unit, and the SO was defined.


Having a pop up menu on right click is no problem. One difficulty with entering SOs is that there is no context. The player enters SOs while he is the phasing player (usually) and he sets SOs that will be executed when he is the non-phasing player. This means the player may be in the middle of resolving land combats and take a side journey to set SOs so his advancing land units have air support in case the enemy counterattacks. Context as to where in the sequence of play the player currently is versus where the SO is never match.

Another concern I have is that the player should review all his standing orders for defensive air missions (SO 5) when setting a new one. This drives me to wanting the left column to show up whenever an SO 5 is reviewed and/or set. With the left column visible, it will be much easier to select multiple units; compared to mousing around on the detailed map to find the units you want. I probably will use "click while holding down the shift key" for accumulating a set of units to receive the same SO.

One thought I have had is that the indicators should have a fourth setting: "Unit can not fly the mission because there are no viable target hexes within its range". The would apply to defending against: port attacks when no ports with naval units are within range, strategic bombing when no factories are within range, and so forth.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Froonp)
Post #: 117
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/21/2005 8:07:47 PM   
amwild

 

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Will there be any provision for multi-monitor PCs?

While I would keep the main map on one monitor, having the various status and information displays on dockable windows that can be undocked and shifted to the second monitor would reduce the clutter on the primary monitor and allow a wider view of the map at a given scale.

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 118
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/21/2005 8:37:40 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18284
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
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quote:

ORIGINAL: amwild
Will there be any provision for multi-monitor PCs?

While I would keep the main map on one monitor, having the various status and information displays on dockable windows that can be undocked and shifted to the second monitor would reduce the clutter on the primary monitor and allow a wider view of the map at a given scale.


Yes. I work with two monitors - it really helps debugging to have the game screen on one monitor and the source code (and friends) on the second. I don't see providing for more than 2 monitors though.

For those forum members who aren't familiar with this, Windows treats two monitors as one logical window and lets you configure them side by side or as top and bottom. When you scroll the mouse off the left hand monitor it appears on the right hand monitor - just as if there were all the same screen.

What I have already done for MWIF is make the screen resizeable. This gives you a little more flexibility in how you use MWIF in conjunction with other programs you have running. For example, Greyshaft would like to keep notes about games as they progress. To make this easy, he could shrink the MWIF screen just a 1/4 inch or so, so that the standard Windows menu bar is visible. That would let him click on a word processor icon to bring up his notes on the game in progress. There are other ways of accomplishing the same thing. The key is to not have MWIF demand the entire screen all the time. Of course you can always maximize the screen for MWIF, but this option to resize it gives the player more choices.

Another good reason for having two monitors is that you could run a copy of MWIF on each monitor and play two games at once! Even with the same person over the Internet! That way you don't have to argue about who plays the Axis side and who plays the Allied side.

Oh well, I have to get back to writing code.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to amwild)
Post #: 119
RE: MWIF Game Interface Design - 8/23/2005 7:52:02 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

Posts: 18284
Joined: 5/19/2005
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: Froonp
quote:

There are some additional factors which could be woven into the decision rules that the AI Assistant uses: impulse number, estimated number of impulses remaining, current weather, and expected weather next turn. Rather than clutter up the decision rules though, I propose to just assume these are part of the knowledge the player has when setting the SO. Therefore, they will not be taken into consideration by the AIA.

One thing that might help the player, would be some sort of "Air Threat Calculator".
That would be an interface that the player would be able to call at any times. In this interface, he specifies an hex (or a sea area) and an enemy air threat (ground strike, Port attack, Strategic bombing, Ground Support, Naval Air, Paradrop, have I forgotten any one ?), and the game tells him (better : shows him the actual units by shading them on the map) the total factors that can threaten the designated hex with the designated attack type.
The Calculator could also tell you on a given hex the maximum potential Air to Air Combat value that the enemy can have, and better yet, also tell you own maximum potential Air to Air Combat value.
I think that such a "Air Threat Calculator" can be a good addition to the game, both for assessing the SOs and also for regular play.
Regards


Yes. Indeed, like most good ideas, it is obvious now that you mention it. I need to code this for the AI Opponent anyway, so letting the player call it up doesn't require much more effort.

I will copy this post to the Game Interface thread, just so I don't lose the idea amongst all the SO discussion.

_____________________________

Steve

Perfection is an elusive goal.

(in reply to Shannon V. OKeets)
Post #: 120
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