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Improve unit stat visualization

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Starting a discussion on how we could improve 0 A.D.'s interface for visualizing unit stats at a glance. AOE2 had a simple system that did this very well, 0 A.D. doesn't.

I'm waiting on your thoughts on this subject.

I have on idea in particular, though, that I really think we should implement: remove HP count, and replace it by an "HP-armour equivalent" that would simply display how much HP this unit has against a particular attack type.

This is because our armor stats make HP mostly irrelevant to actual strength, the real question is "how much of a beating can they take".

For example a structure of 2000HP is very resistant against pierce (let's say 80%). Currently you can see that. But it's not obvious that this makes it as strong than a 4000HP structure with a 40% resistance.

If we had a representation that was "HP against hack: 3000HP, HP against pierce: 10 000HP, HP against crush: 2000HP", it would make comparing units much, much easier.

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I think there major problem is that you have to hover over a tooltip before actually knowing the stats. I think we should display it directly on the unit panel, rather than hiding it in a tooltip.

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No matter how clear the figures are, these are still abstract figures. From my point of view throwing a lot of them is not usefull in game, you'll lose the player as it was with 4 to 6 hard counter scheme informations (just adding icons to be more identifiable may do the trick), and a kind of counter scheme to display somewhere. Either in game, in game tutorials or even a learn to play document.

There is no point of putting a house to be used as a wall, or build a temple because it is more resillient. For buildings you should build them because you need them. If you want HP, use defensive buildings and there is no comparison to do.

For units it is rather the same. You won't choose a unit because it has a lot of HP against pierce, you will use them because it counters archers. If unit roles are clear, you don't have to rely on in game figures (you can still do some maths outside a game to know if 10 against 15 is sufficient or you need to be 12). In fact because HP and armors are doing approximatively the same thing, I greatly simplified HP variation in my mod to have one thing less to compare.

To conclude, I think the way to make HP and armor more clear is not about improving their display, but make the concept that lead to use them clearer.

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That might work if we didn't have unit counters. That kind of skews the health to damage type ratio. If a player can understand that a unit does extra damage to another unit that same player should have no trouble figuring out how armor works with health. I feel if we inch into making the interface more complicated then we're never going to get rid of the hover feature.

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@Karamel we need more visual Manual and have PDF version( printable)

When I was buy EE in 2004, the game have a lot visual info, and had a visual and unit counter scheme.

LRt7pCB.pngthis one is very similar.

The other proposition is have integrated manual with links, where the detailed info are avaible through links, like AOM, you have to do double click in unit icon and this display very detailed info, even some about history or mythology.

Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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I am with karamel.

Unit role should be the point. Unit roles are way way way more important than the stats. In fact, I think it better to rewrite tech tooltips to better reflect this point of view (Instead "+2 pierce armor to spearman", say "Spearman +2 resistance against ranged attacks").

Make the unit roles more clear.

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At present a lot of units have a standard 70 crush resistance (something like that). Why not make this the standard at 0? It would make it clear which units have an advantage or disadvantage. Take the mode of all units hack, pierce and crush damage and make it = 0. That way you end up withunits that have something like -30, 20, 0 and you can instantly tell how weak/strong they are.

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I think hack 41% pierce 41% crush 71% should just be 0%, 0%, 0% because lots of units have it and understanding which units were strong/weak against something is easier when you have a simple base platform to compare to.

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In my opinion this only will make coding and the interpretation of the values more difficult. The percentages are the percentage of the strenght of an attack of that type what will be deducted from in hp. Also comparing can be done with the percentages too and you even have more information than.

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But it is impossible or at the very least annoying to memorise every units 5-6 different traits (attack damage, rate or fire and all the armour resistance stuff). There needs to be some way to eliminate some stuff in order to convey a units strengths and weaknesses easily. My proposal means the user can see clearly where a unit is advantaged or disadvantaged.

Another option is to make the combat stats as realist as possible so that the user can easily work out what counters what. E.g pikemen really should beat swordmen, because they have huge melee range, but should lose to skirmisher cavlry because they are faster. It just has to be completely realistic so that the user can figure out what beats what without needing stats.

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@Karamel we need more visual Manual and have PDF version( printable)

When I was buy EE in 2004, the game have a lot visual info, and had a visual and unit counter scheme.

LRt7pCB.pngthis one is very similar.

The other proposition is have integrated manual with links, where the detailed info are avaible through links, like AOM, you have to do double click in unit icon and this display very detailed info, even some about history or mythology.

Even if I like a good old printed manual, the fact is nobody reads it anymore. I also like the one picture counter scheme but in fact, with the removal of hard counters, it is a bit more complicated.

If I compare to Starcraft (well I don't often do it to tell something that could work to 0 A.D. :) ) they have included the strategy guide on the website and a summary in game almost like it is done for the tech tree in 0 A.D. It doesn't tell much, it just tells which unit is good against which one and weak against which other one. Kind of an hardcoded document, without even telling in which proportion.

For it to be successfull, I think it must have a kind of in game tutorial for the basics (even being very bold like using melee to shield ranged units and cav to run for unguarded ones) and leave the rest to players, guides on the forum, videos, learning the hard way… Or even use the design concepts to explain unit roles in a few lines. Being logical also helps a lot.

So regarding stats UI, keeping a popup may be nice because these are advanced things, a reminder that make sense for the most mathematical spirits or just see a weakness (or strength) to toy with but without comparing to an other unit. You still want to have HP and stamina visible at a glance because it varies a lot during the game. The rest may be only a hint to understand how things work and try new things.

For damage and rate of fire, you can group them under a dps stat. There are already some hidden or not implemented yet stats (prepare time, accuracy, melee range, charge range, charge bonus, stamina consumption) that makes this figure not reliable by itself anyway :D

Edited by Karamel

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Even if I like a good old printed manual, the fact is nobody reads it anymore. I also like the one picture counter scheme but in fact, with the removal of hard counters, it is a bit more complicated.

more Visual, you know how teach people even don't know read?, using images, iconography, semiotic

old printed only if the player want print a PDF in my case to memorize hotkeys (that is other matter)

If I compare to Starcraft (well I don't often do it to tell something that could work to 0 A.D. :) ) they have included the strategy guide on the website and a summary in game almost like it is done for the tech tree in 0 A.D. It doesn't tell much, it just tells which unit is good against which one and weak against which other one. Kind of an hardcoded document, without even telling in which proportion.

link with our wikis and try to have updates even in main languages.

So regarding stats UI, keeping a popup may be nice because these are advanced things, a reminder that make sense for the most mathematical spirits or just see a weakness (or strength) to toy with but without comparing to an other unit. You still want to have HP and stamina visible at a glance because it varies a lot during the game. The rest may be only a hint to understand how things work and try new things.

For damage and rate of fire, you can group them under a dps stat. There are already some hidden or not implemented yet stats (prepare time, accuracy, melee range, charge range, charge bonus, stamina consumption) that makes this figure not reliable by itself anyway

I try to record others GUI (from others RTS) to shows some extra info we can include into the engine.

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for me add tabs can let us save space

SIpqW9F.png

I recorded some gameplay to show how works in AoE 3

Later we see other RTS like SC2 or Rise of Nations (But this last is more simple)

Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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I see SC2 as star control 2 (a game from 1994 which is getting a reboot right now) which is definitely not a RTS game. Out of interest what is SC2 to you?

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I see SC2 as star control 2 (a game from 1994 which is getting a reboot right now) which is definitely not a RTS game. Out of interest what is SC2 to you?

condiderate for many the other side, some time ago or you playing AOE or you playing Starcraft. My interest with Starcraft they use abilities, but later was implement in Aoe3.

if you see AOE 3 was trying to be more like Blizzard's Franchices. Implements a lot of stuff from Warcraft and Starcfrat that was my impression about.

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Some tips to keep in mind , if we will change the GUI

http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/tutorials/game-ui-by-example-a-crash-course-in-the-good-and-the-bad--gamedev-3943

Does this interface tell me what I need to know right now?

Is it easy to find the information I'm looking for, or do I have to look around for it? (Are the menus nested so deep that they hide information from the player?)

Can I use this interface without having to read instructions elsewhere?

Are the things I can do on this screen obvious?

Do I ever need to wait for the interface to load or play an animation?

Are there any tedious or repetitive tasks that I can shorten (with a shortcut key, for example) or remove entirely?

http://waywardstrategist.com/2015/05/04/lets-talk-rts-user-interface-part-1-interview-with-dave-pottinger/

There as an other, ( was hard find because , the original source RTS guru disappears, now you now why I'm obsessed to save or take info from other sites, instead only linking)

Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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Any attempt to make things clearer by dragging the explanation further away from how the game's ruleset actually is will not work well.

Selected unit's basic stats should be directly shown in a manner that fits the games ruleset as well as being easy to grasp. A tooltip can be used for more details like derivated values (e.g. damage reduction in 1/100th - also known as percentage - derived by the armor rating - likely just 1 to 9 - for each damage type and the formula which is of little importance within a game - besides of cause a short but descriptive name for that stat like "Health" or "Armor").

For stats anhanced by upgrades the tooltip could show the calculation rather than the final value (that's shown in the info GUI allready) like:

GUI (The icon could actually be behind the value if made simple, clean andclear enough):

[Armor Icon]: 3/4/2

Tooltip of the armor area:

Armor:

Pierce: 2+1 (27% damage reduction)

Slash: 3+1 (34% damage reduction)

Hack: 1+1 (19% damage reduction)

Hovering above a units icon should show a table of all the unit's stats to get an overview.

For the production queue icons a tooltip should state the units more general capabilities (e.g. "fast" for cavalery and or it's general purpose like it's role) in a wordy manner.

The detailed information about units including historical descriptions and their ingame stats as well as the game's ruleset should go to a "enceclopedia" or something that can be accessed from the main menu as well as from the matchsetup screen and ingame (similar to Age of Empires II).

There the purpose of the units should also be described thoroughly including what stats makes the unit fit for this role.

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Any attempt to make things clearer by dragging the explanation further away from how the game's ruleset actually is will not work well.

Selected unit's basic stats should be directly shown in a manner that fits the games ruleset as well as being easy to grasp. A tooltip can be used for more details like derivated values (e.g. damage reduction in 1/100th - also known as percentage - derived by the armor rating - likely just 1 to 9 - for each damage type and the formula which is of little importance within a game - besides of cause a short but descriptive name for that stat like "Health" or "Armor").

For stats anhanced by upgrades the tooltip could show the calculation rather than the final value (that's shown in the info GUI allready) like:

GUI (The icon could actually be behind the value if made simple, clean andclear enough):

[Armor Icon]: 3/4/2

Tooltip of the armor area:

Armor:

Pierce: 2+1 (27% damage reduction)

Slash: 3+1 (34% damage reduction)

Hack: 1+1 (19% damage reduction)

Good post FleXoR. Question, why does player need to know the bold part? I am curious why you think the armor value need to be broken down like this into a calculation. I mean what good is it for the player to be shown what the original armor valye was when immediate concerns are more immediate (the current value is what is important to the success of the unit, not what its armor value was 5 minute ago). If armor values were more fluid I can understand showing the calculation (example: if the player could debuff the armor at-will to reduce cost temporarily).

I think in your post you are talking about hierarchies of information right? Up-front, you want the most basic of information to make a quick inform decision to use or train this troop over that other troop. If you want to delve into more detail (if you have time to do it in a match), then you can do that in a deeper UI layer. Is this what you are getting at? If so, I can agree.

I think a tab, like Lion show, can be nice and player can then see the stats. Or like you said, a tooltip over the unit icon or click icon to see the eoncyclopedia entry with all the information a fanatic wants to know.

But upfront in the main UI, only the very basic is need to be show to make a quick decision.

I think there major problem is that you have to hover over a tooltip before actually knowing the stats. I think we should display it directly on the unit panel, rather than hiding it in a tooltip.

I don't think this is major problem at all. Whether my cavlary has 3 hack armor or 4 hack armror means nothing to me in the middle of a battle. I'm going to care what I should use it for, which is to attack ranged unit. Cavalry should not be used in stand-up fight against melee infantry, so this is what need to be conveyed. Using abstract armor and attack number in the main ui does not convey this as directly as can be done in other ways.

Stabby Cavalry

Bonuses: Speed, Charge

Good Against: Archer Infantry, Javelin Infantry, Siege Engines

Bad Against: Pike Infantry, Spear Infantry, Elephants, Camels

In heat of battle this^ is what need to be known by most player. I think in deeper UI layer can go all the stat the mathematicians want to crunch.

Techs woould be like this (this is a +2 hack armor levels tech for Stabby Cavalry):

Cavalry Cuirass

Stabby Cavalry +2 armor against melee attacks such as swords and spears.

This helps Stabby Cavalry stick around longer when caught in a melee fight.

Obviously, some will agree with this and others in this thread will not. UI design is always controversial. Opinions evolve and ideas get honed. I think the toggle option for 'Detailed Tooltip' was a very brilliant compromise.

Edited by wowgetoffyourcellphone

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wowgetoffyourcellphone:

Yes, I am in favor of a hierarchic information structure:

Show basic information any time a specific unit/building (type) is selected

Show more information in a tooltip when hovering (or maybe only when clicking) over stuff (those should not be to big in general to not obscure oversight of the world view area).

Show detailed information within an enceclopedia (so useng them within the heat of the battle is not really bossible but if you value this information over marco in calmer times of the game you don't have to tab out and open a .pdf or something).

Yes, an option to disable the tooltips should be easy and thus be added.

The part you marked bold is the shortest way I can think of to not confuse anyone after multiple games about the units base stats. This way it's easier to memorize the unit's stats and you could actually tell if an armor upgrade is missing for that phase you are in without going into your base and check at the smith.

Note that this is in the tooltip, in the fixed GUI section it only sais 3/4/2.

BTW: I like clean, seenthrough designs that show the values in the corners/above simple stylized icons. I have no problems with GUI elements changing entirely dependent on e.g. selection (so some GUI elements are there sometimes and sometimes not like in warzone 2100 - though it should only show things of that specific thing selected not all of that type).

Actually I love Zero K's GUI (Sadly all things deal so much damage that anything feels like paper).

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Have a encyclopedia to show advanced stats have their inconveniences.

-the game need stay on pause.

- the screen with this info need a lot of visual space( that is because need pause)

May be that why th differences between AOE 3 and Age of Mythology

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I agree with the 3 level of information from FeXoR. It is for me a matter of being familiar with the data.

At start you will need the encyclopedia to understand most of the things. It's not a problem it takes the entire screen: you are still not effective anyway and if it is a solo game, no problem for auto-pausing the game. Your first games should anyway be rather slow paced like a tutorial scenario (even Easy Petra is slow to develop) or something like that to be able to get the game mechanics.

Once you get the basics, the small tooltips are there to help you remember the whole scheme. Then you don't need them anymore and want just changing values (for the stats, the bonus may be more usefull than the basic value at that point).

Adding a tab may add useless click for going back and forth (well you get it too with an encyclopedia page but not a popup. Or would it replace the unit portrait?). That is if when you are in the stat tab, other commands are hidden, that stat tab should be playable enough to keep looking at it (instead of switching back to an other one to be able to actually do things). I'm not sure about it, it may be a matter of UI nature, being passive (informations) or active (used to control the game). Mixing them may not result in an intuitive thing.

Edited by Karamel

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I'd like to add that in multiplayer games pausing the game is inconvinient for all other players so in that case the game should not pause when entering the enceclopedia.

(Multiplayer was what I was referring to in my previous post)

For me personally in a multiplayer game no single player should have the ability to disrupt the game for the other players in any way.

Nor should there be the ability for many players to interupt a single players game.

At least not supported by 0 A.D. main branch.

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I think a big part of the problem is that we have too much information to show it all at any time. But I disagree that the proper choice is to hide it away and just show an arbitrary subset of "basic" information.

We should have a simple, small button (a question mark?) on the unit that immediately opens an overlay (somewhere on the screen) which shows most/all stats in a clear, simple presentation. This is doable. You could use in-game to get all information you want, and you could also pause the game to get more information by scrolling (works as an encyclopedia like in AoM).

However the information that we need to show to the user at any given time are highly dependent on context. I think this is what we need to work on to make a GUI that makes sense in context: if we are selecting a citizen soldier, and we are moving our cursor over a resource, the GUI should display pertinent, easy to read data on resource gathering: the rate for this resource, how useful it is compared to other units of the same civ, other unit's auras that could affect this. We could show something like this:

Gathering
Food Icon 4 Wood Icon 8 Stone Icon 8 Metal Icon 8 (no need to specify the unit of time; we could highlight the resource currently on screen.)

Capacity: XX

Effiency: x% (show as a bar, comparing to other units we can train, based on gather rate and speed for example).

Affected by Auras:

[icon of affecting unit with +/- on it]


We may not even need the capture and health bar in the unit GUI (though it needs to be on-screen) unless the unit is being attacked/there is an enemy nearby. It's useless info.

In a context where a unit is being attacked, we need a simple way to show Health, capture if needed, then attack and armor stat.

The important thing is that the rules are consistent and easy to understand.

In my opinion, if you have to get a tooltip, we have already hidden information too far away. Tooltips should be helpers for things that are never actually needed/you can figure out yourself easily (for example the tooltip on foundations that tells you how much it would help to add a new builder. You can usually deduce this yourself by the number of workers: it's mostly useless info but you may want to access it sometimes)

We can put non-contextual info such as whether a unit is carrying a resource somewhere with a rather small icon; it's not generally the information you're most looking for.

This may however require us to reduce the space dedicated to unit name.

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