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Playing on a laptop - 1/25/2021 9:56:09 AM   


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Joined: 12/22/2020
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I normally play Shadow Empire on a desktop PC with a 1080p monitor. However, I have discovered that my Dell XPS laptop can run Shadow Empire and I would enjoy playing it without needing a PC Mouse. I envision using it from the floor, with a keyboard + pillow on my lap and the laptop on a coffee table, able to share my game with friends and family and be able to get up during the later game turns and do things that need doing.

I would expect that a keyboard-only interface would take more time to get some tasks (like moving units) done. I also expect that such a control system could be less flexible. However, balanced against the added comfort of the living room and the increased social factor I think it would be worth it.

In terms of implementation, I have memories of using the numpad to move units around in Civilization II and I think I could get used to tabbing through my units one by one and using the arrow keys to select where I want to move a unit to. I also have gotten used to using the auto-generated menu shortcuts (hit alt then the appropriate letters in sequence) that some applications still maintain. If Shadow Empire had most functions available through such an auto-generated system based on the button's English label I could get used to that.

Obviously, some sliders would be easier to work with if they took numeric input and there would be a need to make each control on a given window or sub-window distinct for selection either by shortcut, a sequential iterator (like tab and shift-tab for browser controls) or a spatial selector (like Vivaldi browser's shift+arrow keys for finding controls and text on a webpage). This could constitute some effort to get done.

However, I would note that such a system would benefit many desktop PC players as well. When I played Starcraft 1 I found it really useful to navigate through the various main menus using the built-in shortcuts and in games that give full keyboard support I find many myself doing many repetitive or awkward mouse actions with shortcuts, lengthening how long I can play for quite dramatically.

I don't consider this a priority. I understand that there is real game content to get done and many bugs to fix. However, I am just flagging that there are players like myself who would appreciate this kind of infrastructure and will make use of it. I am trying to develop a workaround (tried one tonight using a combination of a TV keyboard, a wireless trackball and two tablet cushion stands) but I think in the end a mouse is intended for use when sitting on a chair.

With that being said, if it becomes feasible or inexpensive for some reason to implement, please consider adding full keyboard support to the game. I think it will polish the game for veterans, help new players find their way around and increase the game's value for those who can't always be in a study, at a desk with the door closed.


- Nicholas

< Message edited by beyondwudge -- 1/25/2021 10:39:07 AM >
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RE: Playing on a laptop - 1/25/2021 10:57:40 AM   


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Try getting a trackball instead of a mouse.

They take some getting used to, but in the area of "moving a cursor without moving your hand or needing much room" they are near unbeatable. Also way more comfortable then pure Keyboard control. I honestly want to get back to having one, having had to use a mouse for a while.

(in reply to beyondwudge)
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RE: Playing on a laptop - 1/25/2021 11:22:43 AM   


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Joined: 12/22/2020
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I'm using one right now. It's the only way I could make sitting on the carpet work. But, Shadow Empire is a game of a lot of clicks, constant edge-to-edge mouse movements and a great deal of scrolling. I don't find it feasible to use a trackball to handle that workload -- or more to point playing the game becomes work without the tools to actually get the job done. It might be my body proportions, length of my arm to the height of my torso and other considerations that only an ergonomics expert might have the technical language to convey over a forum post, but the bottom line is I can't play for long enough or with enough ease to really get into the 'game' emotion set. Instead, my 'work' emotion set comes out and I start wanting to do something else.

The reason I'm flagging this issue isn't so much about my personal preference. It is a social issue. Shadow Empire takes _a long time_ to play and is fairly isolating. Tonight I gave it a short spin and had good results with the people I'm living with. They could see what I was doing and interact with it, they found the premise of the game interesting, the music moving and the overall experience quite rewarding (we even ended up comparing the atmosphere of planet I rolled up against the Earth). However, it became a real chore to play and I had to stop.

A little bit later (just now), I tried out a Wacom tablet in pen-mode. It made a lot of actions possible -- I could move the pen from edge to edge with ease and after disabling windows ink could get a hover right click to handle moving units. I tried moving two units hex by hex, switching between them after each hex, and without too much practice I could get a rhythm going. If I invested as much time into using a pen as I did a mouse I bet I could handle a mouse heavy interface with ease.

But, I can't really have a keyboard and a pen tablet on my lap at the same time. I mean, its early days to rule out the possibility but, the tablet I'm using is A3 sized (that's half of an A4 page cut halfway down the middle) and I'm at a loss for how I'd physically get the two of them into any sort of reasonable position, even with a smaller TV keyboard (tenkeyless with a small builtin trackpad).

For the occasional hotkey press I do have the laptop's built-in keyboard but it is raised to about shoulder level to get the screen up high enough. Using a a keyboard with your arms above your shoulders isn't really feasible. As it is I have to hold my body pretty still to use the tablet but that may also be due to my inexperience with the input method.

< Message edited by beyondwudge -- 1/25/2021 12:51:53 PM >

(in reply to zgrssd)
Post #: 3
RE: Playing on a laptop - 1/27/2021 10:23:05 AM   

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Joined: 4/29/2010
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Yes, more keyboard shortcuts please !

Especially the 6 MaNaGement screens should have them. And thinking of it, instead of a single MaNaGement tab, those 6 tabs should be moved next to the MAP/HIS/VID tabs for faster mouse access too !

Also there's a lack of direct access to the key Leaders : we need a more direct access to all the Organization Overviews and the Empire Dashboard (and/or their leaders). OTOH we might be lacking screen space to add them, perhaps another tab top right ? In any case, shortcuts to them could be added without changing the GUI.


I see that you do not mention the trackpad, didn't you try using it ?

Though honestly, a complex game like this really needs the mouse (and especially keyboard), IMHO the UI issues is the main reason why Sword of the Stars : Ground Pounders flopped. (They tried do be compatible both with small touchscreens and big screen + mouse & keyboard on a very complex game.)

Otherwise, for social settings, have you tried a bigger screen, like a television ?
It seems that Wine has some Shadow Empire support, so maybe something like a Raspberry Pi could be possible ?

(in reply to beyondwudge)
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