Interface Improvements

Konrad_Novak

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So, as I promised somewhere on the board, I've collected and systematized my thoughts re new interface and possible improvements. People with two or more monitors shouldn't read on and must be happy (even REALLY happy :woot:) with the current state of affairs - my concern is with "have-nots" such as myself :) If any of the following suggestions will be confusing - just ask and I'll try to provide screenshots with examples.

1. Dialogs.​

1.1. Clicks on the Main Toolbar must turn on and off the corresponding dialogs. Currently you have to hunt for the "Dismiss" button of each dialog which is inconvenient. It's better to have turning on/off centralized.

1.2. Main Toolbar must always be on top of the other dialogs.

1.3. Hotkeys to turn on/off each dialog. Preferably, these hotkeys should be next to each other on the keyboard (I think it's achievable with the use of CTRL and SHIFT or even both of them).

1.4. Button to turn the whole interface (especially - all the dialogs) on/off. I think it would look great on a small panel at the lower edge of the screen (the one where you can turn on/off KM grid among other things).

2. Templates for the dialog layout.​

2.1. User must be able to create templates for dialog layout and save/load them with hotkeys. Ideally the game must always remember these templates, so you can play every scenario with the same ones but this sub-suggestion is low-priority.

2.2. User should be able to create templates for each zoom level. I think it's a low-priority but it would be great.

2.3. User must be able to scroll the map to the edge of the screen regardless of the map size. Currently it stays in the center if it's not zoomed in sufficiently. It leads to a lot of wasted space on all edges of the screen (too small to place a dialog there and too large to go unnoticed) and inability to place all the dialogs on one side of screen and the map on the other. This can be a poor man's substitute for multiply monitors (or dare I say, for the old CO1 interface). The improved scrolling would work wonderfully with templates.

3. Dialogs and data in them.​

3.1 Dialogs should be resizable. Preferably without resizing of the fonts - scrolling bars would do well.

3.1. Optimize the default layout of the dialogs. Currently they don't use their space efficiently. For example, SUP and REINF dialogs have a lot of completely wasted space and OBJ and FS use their space unefficiently. I think it's due to the fact that they were designed to work with the vertical disposition of the subdialogs and now the subdialogs are located horizontally. It is especially evident in the FS and OBJ dialogs.

3.2. Dockable dialogs would be good too. IIRC Dave has already promised them, but I don't trust my memory :)

4. Task (Order) Edit​

4.1. Task Edit (where you change aggro and formations) must be opened automatically at the moment of issuing an order. I've hardly ever given an order without fiddling with the options. Currently I always have to right-click it and choose "Edit Task" which is highly inconvenient.

5. (Possibly a bug) Currently you can't right-click on the "Overlays" filter (you know, the one which graphically shows things such as "Control" and "Movement possibility" on the map) to select previous filter whereas such right-clicking is possible in all the other filters.

P.S. BTW, if any of these suggestions are already implemented (for example, hotkeys for the dialogs) - please tell me. I could easily miss some functions of the CO2.
 
Last edited:

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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4.1. Task Edit dialog (again, where you chose formations, routes and aggro/supply settings of the order) must be updateable. Current state is probably a bug and I think Dave has already told that it'll be corrected soon.
.
Konraqd,

Great stuff. Thanks. I regard all of these as "nice to have's." It's good to heave them documented but I don't plan to be implementing these as bug fixes. They will have to fight for priority in a new update with other features. I am happy to hear other people's opinions on whether they think these are a priority above say sequential tasking and mounted ops.

The only think I don't understand is the above item. Please elaborate on what you mean by "must be updateable".
 

Konrad_Novak

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Hmmm, strange. A couple of days ago that dialog didn't update when I selected another order to change its settings. So, it had all the "Move" options when I selected "Attack" order. I had to manually close ("Dismiss") the old "Edit Task" dialog and open a new one. Now it works completely fine and I can't reproduce that "bug". So, that can be scratched out.
 

Konrad_Novak

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It's good to heave them documented but I don't plan to be implementing these as bug fixes. They will have to fight for priority in a new update with other features. I am happy to hear other people's opinions on whether they think these are a priority above say sequential tasking and mounted ops.

Then the interface will stay unimproved forever, because there will always be a "bigger fish to catch" :( Too bad CO2 doesn't have an option to "return to the old interface". The new one is in beta status at best.
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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The first Edit Task dialog that you open updates with each selection. Additional Edit Task dialogs don't. So you may have closed the first one and left an additional one open and hence that would explain why you came to that conclusion.
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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Then the interface will stay unimproved forever, because there will always be a "bigger fish to catch" :(
Not necessarily. As I said I'm open to hear what others think.

Too bad CO2 doesn't have an option to "return to the old interface". The new one is in beta status at best.
Well I dispute that assertion. The UI as it stands has certain functionality. For you that obviously fall short of what you would want while for others they couldn't care less and would rather I concentrate on some other aspect. Both views are valid. It's purely subjective. The yardstick I will use to judge whether something gets a Guernsey or not is the number of voices advocating it and whether in my opinion something is deemed important. I deemed it important this time around to focus on the UI above the AI and that was in spite of the clamour for more AI changes. So that should give you some heart. Never say die Konrad. :)
 

Iconoclast

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While collecting interface suggestions, something that just came to my mind:

Maybe it would be a 'nice to have', if the units that are about to make an entry, turn, let's say yellow, in the reinforcement tab an hour before they are scheduled for arrival, and turn red when they are about to arrive every second.

Since people start to have several tabs open, on several screens (which I think is a super cool feature), a little 'visual hint' might be good to have. just something for the record.

Regards,

A
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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While collecting interface suggestions, something that just came to my mind:

Maybe it would be a 'nice to have', if the units that are about to make an entry, turn, let's say yellow, in the reinforcement tab an hour before they are scheduled for arrival, and turn red when they are about to arrive every second.

Since people start to have several tabs open, on several screens (which I think is a super cool feature), a little 'visual hint' might be good to have. just something for the record.

Regards,

A
So a bit like 'traffic light' going through a progression of colour before they arrive! OK.
 

Rob

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So a bit like 'traffic light' going through a progression of colour before they arrive! OK.

Hi all,

This is a nice feature (and I'll happily take it!!), but I still think that a player selected option to auto-pause the game when reinforcements arrive and / or when airstrikes become available is the way to go. Just my 2 cents..........:)

Rob.
 

goodpoints

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I'll just add a few suggestions, some previously made, that are significant for me.

Edit Task: the is my biggest problem with the interface right now, I concur that the edit window should be automatically opened or at the least linked to a simple hotkey like alt + T

hotkeys for other menus: Orders, Tools, Fire Support, etc.

I do prefer some aspects of the new repositional windows but I'd like to have the OoB and Force Detail consolidated into one window with tabs to switch, I have these open most of the time and they take up a lost of space.

hotkey to view terrain without the context menu, e.g. ctrl + right click or similar

These next 2 aren't as immediately doable but in the long-term I'd like to see:

artillery ammunition percentage represented as a meter in Force Detail as in the FS window

clearer and more degrees of contour lines with elevation labels every 50 meters or so, or at least hilltop labels
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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Welcome goodpoints. I like the positiveness implied in your NIC.

Re hotkeys. Every straight key is used at the moment for either a task or a tool. The Function keys are used for the Unit Info Boxes. The number keys and brackets et al are used for the unit filters. We use the Shift for adding waypoints and we use the control for adding and subtracting selections. I'm loathe to give up this functionality just to open a dialog. That leaves the Alt key. Currently we use that for an alternative method for zooming. This is handy of you are playing on a laptop without a mouse. I'd be interested to know how many people actually use this. We could reassign the Z key. Currently it is assigned to the Rest order. We could make it the alternate zoom tool and assign Rest to / or ? key, which is the only one not currently allocated to anything.

This would then free up the Alt key to be used as a modifier key in conjunction with the number keys as follows:
  1. Briefing
  2. Objectives
  3. Reinforcements
  4. Order of Battle
  5. Orders
  6. Plans
  7. Fire Support
  8. Tools
  9. Supply
  10. Message (sub 0 for '10')
What do you all think of this?
 

Ripppe

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My five cents to this discussion:

Konrad does have some good improvement suggestions that I could also vouch for, especially these ones: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.1 (this I'm almost anxious for as I want to see would this fix the problem with custom font settings), 3.2 and 4.1. Dialog templates is other thing that could be nice to have.

A suggestion in a suggestion for Dave, if I may? Would it possible to get a single post recap about what kind of features/improvements (at least in general) people have suggested and you are considering to implement? This way it would be easier to "make noise" for the ones each of us see important and would probably give you more consistent feedback.

Overall I believe that there should be some kind of balance between brand new features and (smaller) improvements. I have no idea about the acrhitecture behing CO, so I'm not eligble to say what kind of work processes and how much time it takes to implement say 1.1 or 3.1 bullets?

Cheers,

Ripppe
 

Konrad_Novak

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Another thing. There are no "Force Info" and "Edit Task" dialogs in the main toolbar. It would be nice to have them there, especially with assigned hotkeys (for example, ALT-- and ALT-+).
 

Iconoclast

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Good points, I like the 'hilltop lables' idea.

I was just playing a bit and cycled through the new overlays when I realized, that it might be more advantageous to have a drop-down menu instead of the 'cycling through the selection'navigation that we have atm. I think the number of overlays available justifies a drop-down menu.

Btw, in 2/3rds of the game, the overlays don't work. Has this bug already been reported?

Regards,

A
 

Captiva

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So, as I promised somewhere on the board, I've collected and systematized my thoughts re new interface and possible improvements. People with two or more monitors shouldn't read on and must be happy (even REALLY happy :woot:) with the current state of affairs - my concern is with "have-nots" such as myself :) If any of the following suggestions will be confusing - just ask and I'll try to provide screenshots with examples.

1. Dialogs.​

1.1. Clicks on the Main Toolbar must turn on and off the corresponding dialogs. Currently you have to hunt for the "Dismiss" button of each dialog which is inconvenient. It's better to have turning on/off centralized.

1.2. Main Toolbar must always be on top of the other dialogs.

1.3. Hotkeys to turn on/off each dialog. Preferably, these hotkeys should be next to each other on the keyboard (I think it's achievable with the use of CTRL and SHIFT or even both of them).

1.4. Button to turn the whole interface (especially - all the dialogs) on/off. I think it would look great on a small panel at the lower edge of the screen (the one where you can turn on/off KM grid among other things).

2. Templates for the dialog layout.​

2.1. User must be able to create templates for dialog layout and save/load them with hotkeys. Ideally the game must always remember these templates, so you can play every scenario with the same ones but this sub-suggestion is low-priority.

2.2. User should be able to create templates for each zoom level. I think it's a low-priority but it would be great.

2.3. User must be able to scroll the map to the edge of the screen regardless of the map size. Currently it stays in the center if it's not zoomed in sufficiently. It leads to a lot of wasted space on all edges of the screen (too small to place a dialog there and too large to go unnoticed) and inability to place all the dialogs on one side of screen and the map on the other. This can be a poor man's substitute for multiply monitors (or dare I say, for the old CO1 interface). The improved scrolling would work wonderfully with templates.

3. Dialogs and data in them.​

3.1 Dialogs should be resizable. Preferably without resizing of the fonts - scrolling bars would do well.

3.1. Optimize the default layout of the dialogs. Currently they don't use their space efficiently. For example, SUP and REINF dialogs have a lot of completely wasted space and OBJ and FS use their space unefficiently. I think it's due to the fact that they were designed to work with the vertical disposition of the subdialogs and now the subdialogs are located horizontally. It is especially evident in the FS and OBJ dialogs.

3.2. Dockable dialogs would be good too. IIRC Dave has already promised them, but I don't trust my memory :)

4. Task (Order) Edit​

4.1. Task Edit (where you change aggro and formations) must be opened automatically at the moment of issuing an order. I've hardly ever given an order without fiddling with the options. Currently I always have to right-click it and choose "Edit Task" which is highly inconvenient.

4.1. Task Edit dialog (again, where you chose formations, routes and aggro/supply settings of the order) must be updateable. Current state is probably a bug and I think Dave has already told that it'll be corrected soon.

5. (Possibly a bug) Currently you can't right-click on the "Overlays" filter (you know, the one which graphically shows things such as "Control" and "Movement possibility" on the map) to select previous filter whereas such right-clicking is possible in all the other filters.

P.S. BTW, if any of these suggestions are already implemented (for example, hotkeys for the dialogs) - please tell me. I could easily miss some functions of the CO2.
 

Captiva

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Agree that task edit must open when giving order. Agree also about the seeming wasted space in some of the window overlays.
 

Bullman

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I can only hope that Dave sees the wisdom in actually investing resources in improving the playability of the game he has created and reconsiders the importance/value of a good interface design and it's importance and affect on players especially in a real time "blink an you will miss it" strategy game like this.

This game has a wonderful complex engine under the hood. Lots of data, stats and numbers and all sorts of things going on. Great, but players can only interface with all these things and receive and send information to it via the GUI that is in the game. If the GUI is poor, it doesn't matter how good the game may be on the inside or if game engine tweaks are made, the players experience will always be limited by the quality of the GUI.

Think of the game as a "library" of books (or data in general terms), full of all kinds of information intended for the player to access and interact with. Without an efficient system for allowing the player to access and interact with the data they need (the GUI), the content in that library (the game that is there to be played and enjoyed) is worthless. It doesn't matter if they add more material to the collection (adding more game features) and tell us "But look at how awesome our collection of books are". If a player can't efficiently find, send and receive the data/information they need to play the game, then the game becomes more of a frustrating battle with the interface rather than an enjoyable gaming experience.

This game must be even more vigilant that other games in having an amazing GUI simply because of the nature of the game having so much data in it and the game being real time. The issue of data overload for the player is very real. There is just so much of it.

I mean just look at the information belonging to just one of scores/hundreds of other units a player has to contend with in a typical scenario:

1zo9q93.jpg
1zo9q93.jpg


There is at least 38 bits of information here alone for a player to process/consider and make sense of during a game. Multiply that by the hundreds of other units in the game and you can't get any more player information overload. By just glancing at these stats it is not even apparent which might even be the most important ones.

Some of these are graphically represented which typically assist in interpreting values quickly, but many are numbers, compounding the data procesing overload.

I know that you don't need to know every single stat of a unit, but if it's there, then it must make a difference and players who want more depth from the game will try to make sense of it. The sheer volume of information to process and evaluate as a player for a real time game is simply enormous.

Add whatever other features you want but it is the quality of the GUI and the demands it places on players that will determine if the game is enjoyable to interact with.

1. Dialogs.​

1.1. Clicks on the Main Toolbar must turn on and off the corresponding dialogs. Currently you have to hunt for the "Dismiss" button of each dialog which is inconvenient. It's better to have turning on/off centralized.

1.2. Main Toolbar must always be on top of the other dialogs.

1.3. Hotkeys to turn on/off each dialog. Preferably, these hotkeys should be next to each other on the keyboard (I think it's achievable with the use of CTRL and SHIFT or even both of them).

1.4. Button to turn the whole interface (especially - all the dialogs) on/off. I think it would look great on a small panel at the lower edge of the screen (the one where you can turn on/off KM grid among other things).
100% totally agree with all these...This really seems like basic simple 101 GUI design fundamentals.
2. Templates for the dialog layout.​

2.1. User must be able to create templates for dialog layout and save/load them with hotkeys. Ideally the game must always remember these templates, so you can play every scenario with the same ones but this sub-suggestion is low-priority.

I would be happy if the game just remembers where I place all my windows so that they always open up in the same place.

4. Task (Order) Edit​

4.1. Task Edit (where you change aggro and formations) must be opened automatically at the moment of issuing an order. I've hardly ever given an order without fiddling with the options. Currently I always have to right-click it and choose "Edit Task" which is highly inconvenient.

I just don't understand why the Edit Task dialog doesn't just open automatically either. Did it not work like that in the past? Why change it?

4.1. Task Edit dialog (again, where you chose formations, routes and aggro/supply settings of the order) must be updateable. Current state is probably a bug and I think Dave has already told that it'll be corrected soon.

Not sure I fully understand either.
[qoute]
5. (Possibly a bug) Currently you can't right-click on the "Overlays" filter (you know, the one which graphically shows things such as "Control" and "Movement possibility" on the map) to select previous filter whereas such right-clicking is possible in all the other filters.[/quote]

Absolutely the Overlays button/control is a pain to use and a classic example of how omitting "minimal user click" GUI functionality can render otherwise useful information for the player a frustration to access. If it's just going to be one button, then at least have it cycle forward through the options on a left click and cycle backwards on a right click like the way some other buttons work.

Personally, I think some of this Overlay information is very important and needs constant access. There is so much space along the bottom task bar of the game I think it would be better if each overlay type was given a button of it's own. Clicking on one will deactivate the one currently selected. At least the player would always be able to access the overlay they want with ONE click and not up to 9!!! A step down from that is to perhaps have similar multiple overlay buttons but perhaps group the overlays eg. the Enemy APer, AArm, Armour on one button, Friendly APer, AArm, Armour on another.

Please don't take GUI design and functionality for a game like this lightly. It can make this game unpleasant to try and play intelligently.
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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Thanks for your post Bullman. Rest assured I am not taking this lightly. The fact is that the GUI has been the main focus of this significant update. Yes there are still things to do. But that will always be the case. Even the big production houses with their 100+ staff don't address everything on their first beta release. At the moment I'm it here when it comes to programming. So it's going to take a bit of time. I can only do so much. Please be patient. We'll get there.:)
 

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