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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Personal Contacts (08/13/20)

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Author Topic: Interface woes and space marines!  (Read 1741 times)

javamava

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Interface woes and space marines!
« on: July 29, 2019, 03:25:07 PM »

Hello all.  First off, having tons of fun.  Second, some gripes I have accumulated after playing for too many hours.  Just so no one gets any or too many feelings hurt, this comes from a place of love for the game and total ignorance for what it takes make these changes - or I would do it myself!

This is almost all interface level stuff that should be ironed out as 1.0 approaches.

#1.  Awkward salvage screen Let's walk through this work flow:
Binary choices, 1 to assess, 2 to leave.  This is fine.  Keep this.
Next we have 1 to consider ship recovery...
Now we have a popup with no shortcuts  :-\ .  At least escape works to cancel.  Consider incorporating that menu into the first "You decide to..." menu.  Show me how many D-mods are present from the very beginning and let me scuttle it quickly. 
Now I have massive issues with the salvage screen: Abor(t) Take All (R) Confirm (G).  My finger was on 1, why change a good thing?  Keep those buttons in the same place so I can mouse click through, and keep the shortcuts the same.
These should still be 1,2 and escape.  1 take all (followed by 1 again to confirm and continue would be excellent), 2/ESC leave screen.  A standard battle salvage operation can happen in much less time than it currently is.  Push 2 to scuttle ships, 1 to risk my salvage equipment, 1 to take my loot and 1 again to confirm.

The problem here is that we go from a dialogue menu to an inventory menu when all of this should happen within one menu.  Buttons streamlined, shortcuts streamlined.  I have been testing with some small resolutions and there is plenty of space to show the possibly salvaged ships after a battle.   There is also plenty of room to show the battlefield results without having to scroll through the list. 

#2 Exploration, colonization. All of the same from #1 applies to these menus.  I go from making binary 1,2 decisions to making slightly more complicated decisions that involve letter keys removed from my sweet number keys.  Keep it all the same.  Don't jump between menus.  If I can't colonize because there are ruins, then let me explore the ruins in the same menu.  Then have the choice to colonize appear as a binary choice.  Make it one direct flow from start to finish with the buttons in the same place if I want to use a mouse and the keyboard shortcuts the same if I use a keyboard.  Don't jump between the two menus.  Chose 1 and stick with it.

#3  Intel and Map could/should be collated.
Have intel work as a layer over the map.  Have the distance/field summary from intel appear in maps.  Use the best of both worlds and make one screen out of it.  There are countless examples of games that are map/quest/intel heavy that combine both. When I get a simple delivery request I have to push e, sometimes click on the mission, push s, left click and hold to chose lay in course.  How about simply push tab, have my accepted missions highlighted and push S to lay in course to the first one. Tab brings me back to the game.  3 buttons pressed compared 5ish.  Better yet, from the helm, retain a key (how about Z?) to enter course to new mission.   It can go alongside resume course and cancel in the course summary on the right.  This would be the natural command.  I receive a mission, I order my helmsman to go.

#4 Left click, right click.  Which issues a move order?  Make up your mind.

At the helm, left click issues a move order.
Right click switches to free move. 
On maps, right click issues a move order    :-[
Right click and drag moves the map.  Left click jumps into another menu that has some fiddly bits and usually brings me somewhere else.

Why do these flip?  ??? Chose one and stick with it  ;)
Left click to move.  Right click to change camera free look/drag the map.  That works.  Hold right click for a context menu.  Don't shuffle mouse click actions from menu to menu.   :P


#5 Combat map.

Can we remove/downsize the grid?  Why is the grid basically the same color as the "current screen area shown" guides?  They disappear into the grid.  The grid is functionally pointless compared to the information of "where am I?".  Can we remove the grid?  It shouts "tactical!" like a dude wearing camouflage flip flops to a Wal-mart.  Most battles are mayhem and I shouldn't have to pause for a second to find my flagship or when viewing another ship to see where my screen is in relation to the action.  An instant quality of life improvement would be centering the map on the current view when pushing tab.  All to often I am chasing the last enemies down and want to check map status, and it assumes I am at the bottom of the map.
Also, in terms of clutter...  the ship markers on the side of the screen blend into the ship information, weapon information in the bottom left.  The radar mod should probably become official/pretty.  Or a little space around the edges could be reserved for the ship type/distance information.  I shouldn't have to wonder if my missiles are ready if there are enemies below me on the map.


#6 Claim victory.
A very small issue, but something to learn from.  If I am pushing escape to Claim victory instead of waiting for that last ship to retreat, then make it easier to do so.  The confirmation is fine, but why is the button placement suddenly moved from vertical (claim victory above dismiss) to horizontal (yes next to no).  Keep it the same.  I claim victory many times an hour.  Have the yes appear in the same place as the claim.  This is an intentional action from the start so don't give me the runaround.  Also, it would be nice to make this a 1,2 keyboard shortcut.  1 for victory 2 for dismiss.  1 for confirm 2 for return to combat.  Then I just tap ESP, 1,1 and I'm salvaging. The concept above can be applied to many more menus.  Keep 1 for yes, 2/ESC for no.

#7. The tattoed rough.
  This whole encounter needs to be reworked or scuttled.

"A table of tattoed roughs who bear - to your discerning eye, mil-grade cybermods - are drinking alarming amounts of liquor."

 :P :-[ :'( First of all, it is spelled tattooed.  Rough as a noun to describe a person is an awkward Britishism to show up in space.  I suppose you can't tell the gender/it doesn't matter.  The important part is tattooed, tough/rough/dangerous/cybernetically enhanced/space marines. 

They are called marines in game.  For the love of Ludd call them marines.  From personal experience, modern marines don't mind being called marines.  It would not be surprising to find space marines maintaining that attitude. 

I get that it's flavor text.  I really don't like the flavor.  Or the grammar/spelling mistakes.  And I know this would be a very easy fix.  Your commander is not a wide eyed rookie for long/ever.  Neither is the player for very long. 

It would cut to the chase and show how awesome the commander is ::) if you changed the available response to something like:
 You decide to...
1.Hire the marines. 

or at least: 1. Buy the marines a round and see if their contract is up.

Of course, I always ignore them because you always need more than 10 for any real work... and you can hire them by the hundred at any decent planet.  So... tl;dr the whole encounter needs work.  Maybe those 10 could be super marines, better than the vanilla marines?


Well, I'm probably due to shelve this until another update.  I'm sure there is all kinds of under the hood fine tuning/economic/balance stuff that is being worked on.  But it would be so nice to fine tune the interface!

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Megas

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2019, 03:32:18 PM »

Those bar marines are very cheap.  If you need marines and find some in the bar, buy them!  Even if ten are not enough, that means ten less marines you need to buy elsewhere at higher prices (even at black markets of enemy pirate bases where they are about as cheap as you can buy them).
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SafariJohn

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2019, 06:15:59 PM »


#4 Left click, right click.  Which issues a move order?  Make up your mind.

At the helm, left click issues a move order.
Right click switches to free move. 
On maps, right click issues a move order    :-[
Right click and drag moves the map.  Left click jumps into another menu that has some fiddly bits and usually brings me somewhere else.

Why do these flip?  ??? Chose one and stick with it  ;)
Left click to move.  Right click to change camera free look/drag the map.  That works.  Hold right click for a context menu.  Don't shuffle mouse click actions from menu to menu.   :P

I've said this before and I still stand by it. It's ridiculous.


Good feedback; welcome to the forums!
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Alex

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2019, 06:48:33 PM »

Welcome to the forum, and thank you for your feedback :) Fixed up the "tattooed" spelling, btw.

(Left click in the campaign is "interact with <thing>", though of course it covers moving as well. Likewise on the campaign map. Right-click generally has to do with moving the view around. So it's mostly consistent that way.

The one exception here is that you can also lay in a course using right-click in the campaign, but it's... basically a shortcut to something you can also do with left-click. Except for the case where you're laying in a course to empty space. Could do that through left-click as well, but it's a bit of an edge case.

Not a huge deal either way, imo; I personally prefer keeping the intuitiveness of "left-click on thing to interact with something" both in the campaign and on the map, and it's also nice to keep "moving" and "interacting with something" to the same type of click. If e.g. right-click on the map was "interact with something", then you'd either have to do that in the campaign as well (awkward), or you'd have a similar kind of inconsistency.

My larger point, I suppose, is that no matter how you slice it, there'll probably be small inconsistencies from *some* perspective. It just depends on how you look at it.)


Re: claim victory etc - in general, for most dialogs you can press spacebar to dismiss them with the "confirm" option. I also happened to add the "G" shortcut to the confirm option in the ship recovery dialog the other day...
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SCC

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019, 10:52:06 AM »

In salvaging screen, the issue is that it jumps to inventory screen, which follows its own shortcuts. I don't know if it's possible to have more than one shortcut in such case, but it's a break from numerical options for a reason. Sometimes...
I agree with the remark about the surveying, though — I search ruins way, way more often than I colonise. It's annoying to have to go back to do that.
Wasn't Alex supposed to merge intel and sector map?
Combat map grid is made so that each square's side is 1000 units long, so it is useful... If you know the fact that grid represents something. I'm not sure if it's ever spelt out anywhere in the game.
Rough as a noun to describe a person is an awkward Britishism to show up in space.
To my knowledge, Alex is Russian (thus likely have been taught British English) that has moved to America, so I don't think it's possible to avoid these. I also don't really mind it, either. Another thing is that marines you refer to are soldiers, while in SS they might be soldiers, but also mercenaries and possibly criminals. It's a bit weird this bar interaction exists at all, since 10 is a pitiful number in the long run.

xenoargh

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2019, 11:04:45 AM »

While we're talking about Interface Flow:

The current flow at Stations is a mess.  How to buy a new ship?  Click on Trade... and, uh, figure out you're supposed to hit the Fleet button.  Things like that should get addressed; I honestly think the Station Dialog will need a revamp at some point before 1.0, to make it easier to understand / navigate.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2019, 02:59:52 PM »

(Left click in the campaign is "interact with <thing>"

I, for one, always think of it as "move to place (and, if applicable, bring up dialog)". Because that's what it does.

Spit-balling here: What if right click was "move to place", and left click was "move if needed, then interact with <thing>"? That would allow interacting with things at a distance. Maybe hold-right could be "allow camera pan"; with a settings option to invert it to "center on fleet".
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Midnight Kitsune

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2019, 03:54:46 PM »

To my knowledge, Alex is Russian (thus likely have been taught British English) that has moved to America, so I don't think it's possible to avoid these.
Pretty sure he is 1st generation American born actually
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David

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2019, 04:38:44 PM »

Rough as a noun to describe a person is an awkward Britishism to show up in space.
To my knowledge, Alex is Russian (thus likely have been taught British English) that has moved to America, so I don't think it's possible to avoid these. I also don't really mind it, either. Another thing is that marines you refer to are soldiers, while in SS they might be soldiers, but also mercenaries and possibly criminals. It's a bit weird this bar interaction exists at all, since 10 is a pitiful number in the long run.

In any event, I wrote the line ;)  and shall continue to plunder the rich wordhordes of the inner and outer anglospheres!

There is an argument to be made that hitting the game keyword of "marine" is important to convey what's going on quickly, though ultimately it's a flavour interaction given at a non-essential moment, so, I don't have a strong feeling that it needs to be supremely clear.
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tanith

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2019, 01:37:38 PM »

A few interface thoughts that culminate in something:
I would really like a toggle in the codex to view a ship's turrets and arcs. I would also like to zoom in and out of the pictures in the codex. There is no place to click to take you to a ship's codex entry from the refit screen, or something to mouse over that gives you the codex details in a convenient pocket-sized popup. Thumbnail ship images in the codex listings would be a nice option (like a file manager viewing as a list or icons).

What if you merged the codex into the refit screen? They're both lists of ships on the left, with an image of the selected ship and performance numbers (sector map- or combat-related, below or above). I'd like to be able to see all the details about one ship on one screen, and it's silly that I have to use the mission interface refit screen to get a look at the turret arcs/mount type location of ships I don't own in the campaign.

Other codex interface thoughts:

Given the profusion of modded everything: seeing the codex get a search string, or adding blueprint-style categories (high-tech, {REDACTED}, midline, etc) would also be nice.
.
With upcoming changes to {REDACTED} salvage, could ships that are otherwise hidden in the codex when you start get entries after you own them, pokedex-style, if only to save me the trouble of popping back to the fleet screen to click the codex link from the ship itself?

While we're talking about Interface Flow:

The current flow at Stations is a mess.  How to buy a new ship?  Click on Trade... and, uh, figure out you're supposed to hit the Fleet button.  Things like that should get addressed; I honestly think the Station Dialog will need a revamp at some point before 1.0, to make it easier to understand / navigate.

Speaking of stations: I would love hotkeys to cycle left/right between open, military and black markets. A and S aren't doing anything in the inventory or fleet screens right now, so you could use them for it.

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Monochrome

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2019, 10:20:08 AM »

As there's already a thread for this, I have some more UX-friendliness suggestions. I hadn't realised this list would be so big, I hope it's OK!

My context : I'm a relatively novice player who's reached the $1M, 10+ ship fleet part of the game 2-3 times. Invariably, I stop playing because it's somehow become less fun, and the main culprets for that (for me) are the many small areas where the UX needs improvement and polish. For a pre-v1.0 game it's in great shape and I'm very impressed with it, and sincerely hope that the UI/UX receives a lot of polish before it hits v1.0.

It's definitely possible that some of my suggestions are already in the game but that I've somehow missed them - my apologies if that's the case!


1) Problem : some things in the game happen so quickly, you are barely given any time to respond. E.g. a superior hostile fleet has just been spotted. If you emergency-burn and/or change course to evade in the split-second their hostile nature is reported, you'll escape them. If you wait even one second, they'll get you and destroy your whole fleet.

Suggested solution : auto-pause.

A list of possible auto-pause conditions (preferably all individually toggleable, as some people will want an auto-pause for X whereas others won't) :
  • On detection of new hostile fleet
  • On detection of new hostile fleet significantly stronger than you (150%+ OP maybe?) (this one's a nice-to-have)
  • When you're about to have less fuel / fewer supplies than it takes to immediately go to the nearest known non-hostile planet/station
  • When you're about to have less fuel / fewer supplies than it takes to immediately go to system X to fulfil a mission you've accepted
  • When you're about to run out of time to journey to system X to fulfil a mission you've accepted

2) Problem : when hovering over a fleet (e.g. while they're still chasing you), it is often very difficult to estimate how strong it is compared to yours. You're told the max. burn, the number of ships (if you count them all up) and each ship's hull type (barely). From this you can work out various stats, but it's very tedious (and borderline impossible for new players).

Suggested solution : present some more summary information :
  • an estimate of that fleet's total OP
  • a percentage estimate of that fleet's total OP compared with yours
  • an estimate of that fleet's total cargo space
  • an estimate of that fleet's total fuel space
  • the name of each hull type (this one might clutter up the UI for a big fleet?)

All of this information is already present, because you can get it all from the hull types, which the game already shows. Currently you need to have encyclopedic knowledge of what each one looks like in order to deduce the above information. Right now, novices are being penalised because of this. Even if it didn't, it's still bad UI design - this information should be presented and immediately accessible.

If the fleet contains a hull type your character hasn't encountered before, then it could be omitted from these stats, with a note saying such (though expert players on a new playthrough would still know what they are anyway, so this would be penalising novice players again).


3) Problem : numerous times I've visited an unexplored system, explored it but found things I couldn't/didn't want to fight or salvage then, e.g. domain probes. I wanted to leave them and come back later when I had more firepower and/or more cargo space. But the game doesn't easily report to the player "hey, this system you've explored still has a probe to fight, there's still a reason to visit this system again."

Suggested solutions :
A) Allow the player to make notes on the map, at both system and sector/galaxy level
B) The game should report a summary of the known interactable entities still in that system, e.g. probes, research stations, equipment caches, planets not yet fully surveyed, etc.

(A and B here are not either/or suggestions; the game should allow players to make notes on the map anyway, regardless of other issues)


4) Problem : when on the deployment screen, it's often difficult to know how much more OP you're about to deploy than the enemy has.
Suggested solution : present (an estimate of) the total OP of the enemy fleet in the deployment screen.

5) Problem : when outfitting ships, finding specific weapon roles (e.g PD weapons) can be tedious.
Suggested solution : in addition to the Owned/Legal/Illegal filters, there should be filters for specific weapon roles, e.g. PD, Assault, etc.

6) Problem : when outfitting ships, finding the best weapon for your purpose for a slot can be tedious. E.g. finding the weapon with range greater than X (or equal to Y) that does most damage to shields/armour/hull/overall. Yes, you can hover over each weapon, but that and comparing the weapons manually can take a lot of time when there're 8+ different options.

Suggested solution : the weapon list should be able to be sorted by various stats, not just OP. E.g. range, DPS, DPS per OP, damage to shields/armour/hull/overall (with overall taking a 1:1:1 ratio for each of the three types), etc.


7) Problem : whenever I open the refit screen, the selected ship is too small/zoomed out to see what weapons it has, and I always end up zooming in. This might not be such a problem for Capital ships, but it's pretty annoying for smaller ones. This screen otherwise has loads of space left unused.

Suggested solution : default zoom level in the refit screen should be set to the current max zoomed-in level.


8 ) Two small keyboard improvements : the numberpad doesn't work for choosing options 1, 2, etc., and some keyboard shortcuts are hardcoded, e.g R and G in the salvage/loot screen - it would be nice to be able to rebind these.


Combat

9) Problem : combat can often take *forever*, with ships just putzing about a lot of the time.
Suggested solution : allow combat to be sped up, just as you can when outside combat (maybe just build the SpeedUp mod into the base game?)

10) Problem : combat can often take *forever* to finally take out that last ship.
Suggested solution : allow combat to have an option to auto-resolve, once the main part of a combat is more-or-less done.

11) Problem : numerous times I've entered combat and discovered that I've deployed the wrong combination of my ships for the situation, e.g. I've deployed a ship with an Aggressive officer when I shouldn't (and now they've been overwhelmed and blown up), or I've deployed a Cautious officer without sufficient other firepower. The end result of this is very unnecessary ship losses and/or "combat" whose only outcome is my ships burning all their CR.

Suggested solution : on the deployment screen, in addition to showing which ships have officers, tell the player that officer's personality.

12) Problem : I've been on the end of quite a few battles against very superior fleets that have pounced on me, where my best option is to retreat right from the start. My slower non-military ships need escorts to keep them safe; the Escort orders seem to work decently. But once the escorted ship has retreated, the escorting ships still hang around, and separate orders need to be issued. This is a little tedious and, if you're not paying enough attention, can lead to your escorting ships engaging the enemy and being swatted.

Suggested solution : have an "automatically retreat once all to-be-escorted ships have retreated" order.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2019, 11:55:19 AM »

IIRC, in the next version of Starsector, you will be able to spend a "Story point" to auto-escape a battle you don't want to fight, which should solve the "got ganked by a mega-fleet" that occasionally occurs.

9) Problem : combat can often take *forever*, with ships just putzing about a lot of the time.
Suggested solution : allow combat to be sped up, just as you can when outside combat (maybe just build the SpeedUp mod into the base game?)

10) Problem : combat can often take *forever* to finally take out that last ship.
Suggested solution : allow combat to have an option to auto-resolve, once the main part of a combat is more-or-less done.

I've tried increasing the 0-flux speed boost to 200, and it has eliminated these problems for me. It does make Safety Override ships silly-fast, but if the 0-flux boost was increased in vanilla then SO could be modified to compensate.
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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2019, 12:01:24 PM »

I was on my way to suggest a UI change/option and noticed this post is similar so I will post it my suggestion here.

I would like an option to hide/minimize the GUI while flying around in space.

Very often a fleet will come rushing up to me from behind it and I do not know if they are an enemy hunting me or a friend passing by.
Other times I will be looking to not drop down into the sun and instead drop down into a small portal but I can't see it as it is hidden behind the GUI.

In short, it would be great to hide the games user interface so I can actually see what is going on behind it.
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Alex

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2019, 12:04:18 PM »

@Monochrome: thank you for your feedback! Made a couple of notes.

@Zalpha: F11 will do the job :)
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xenoargh

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Re: Interface woes and space marines!
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2019, 12:17:33 PM »

The GUI can be hidden; check the hotkeys in the options menu.

As for Monochrome's suggestions:

1.  I totally 100% think that auto-pause would be a good idea.
2.  The game already has little star-symbols that are supposed to give you an idea of how powerful the enemy fleet is.  Obviously, that detail is being lost on new players and should go into the mouse-over view and be larger / obvious.
3.  We've asked multiple times for Exploration stuff to be better-noted on the Hyperspace / Intel map areas.  Totally agreed, it's annoying to literally have to write stuff down in Notepad.
4.  I think that gives the player too much information, honestly.  Part of the fun in this game is correctly deciding what strength to deploy, or deciding that they need to deploy more when combat is joined.
5 / 6.  I totally agree that the weapon lists should be sortable by more things than OP.
7.  There are two big problems with the Refit Screen, actually:

A.  What you've described, where you can hardly see what you're doing.
B.  With really big ships, it's the inverse; you can have ships where you literally cannot outfit them because a bit of the ship clips the edge of the UI, and there is no way to zoom out further than 100%.  Nor can you pan the view with right-click.

Both things should get fixed, imo.

8.  Yes.
9 / 10.  I think the problems with "combat taking forever" are best-fixed by other means.  The biggest issues are, "enemy Admirals don't retreat when it's obvious they're beaten" and "corner-cheese is about the only reliable way to catch enemy ships that are faster than Fighters". 

The first bit is pretty easily fixed; when the Admiral doesn't have new ships to Deploy and has < 50% of the player's DP on the field, it's time to leave.  They don't.  It's annoying.

The second bit is fixable in various ways.  I don't have problems with corner-cheese and endless running-away over here.

11.  I agree, although in practice, I memorize which Officers have what.

12.  Agreed, this is probably easy-enough to fix.  Frankly, the zone where ships get to auto-retreat probably needs to be a bit bigger, too.
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