Author Topic: Ideas for improving geoscape usability  (Read 2321 times)

Offline bramcor

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Ideas for improving geoscape usability
« on: September 01, 2010, 01:57:56 am »
In continuation of my post with ideas for improving on UFO's usability-issues, here are my thoughts about the functionality of geoscape features - from the same point of view that is. I still try to keep new features to a minimum, and work with what is already there to help the player be better at playing. Feel free to comment and add your own ideas!

GEOSCAPE:

# Would be nice if earth rotation after RMB click in geoscape happened over several frames with a bit of a "rubber band effect".
* More "organic" movement often makes it easier to perceive the relation between two different states (such as the transition between two different view points in the geoscape).

# Would also nice if earth rotation followed mouse movement when RMB is pressed - sort of a drag-rotation movement.
* It would give a more direct sense of control over what part of the globe shows.

# When pressing LMB on globe near several objects, but don't want to select either on list in dialog, put in a "cancel" button.
* Much more effective for the player!

# When in geoscape and clicking on base the "launch interception" dialog that pops up, could also offer an "enter base view" button next to the "cancel" button.
* Cheap way to ease access and put more control in the hands of the player. A more thorough review of the interception dialog might differentiate between global access from the menu button (all crafts from all bases) and local access from the base icon on the globe. The global interception dialog could function the way it does in UFO, whereas the local one could be transformed to a base information view (with similarities to the alien base view) with more specific confirmation of base name, location (continent), radar range, etc. combined with a list of local crafts (which would omit the base name indication that shows in the global list)...

# Notification dialog when crafts are ready to launch after refueling/rearming. Could probably also be done by adding fx a dot next to base icons that indicate each craft in base and change color according to craft status.
* Good to have direct feedback loop in situation where you are waiting for the next craft to become available for a pursuit. Helps the player rather than forcing him to re-check the intercept-list over and over.

# When having selected a craft from geoscape or interception list and is about to pick its target it would be very nice to have more text in dialog in top of screen, confirming craft name and possibly also current craft position (or home base name). It would also be helpful to visually point out the craft if it is not in a base when the order is given.
* All a matter of giving the player more feedback to make sure the game is doing what he expects it to.

# When human crafts are moving around in the geoscape it would be great with a graphic indication of the orders of each craft. This could be as a line between each craft and the associated target point. Different line colors could indicate different mission types such as "attacking craft", "flying to point", "going on tactical mission" etc. It would be good with an indicator of which end of the line is craft and target fx by having a dot on the line that repeatedly moves from the human craft to its target.
* Pixel-wide lines may with loads of aliasing may be so horrible to look at, at the limited resolution, that it will be more annoying than helpful.

# It would be neat if crafts shared waypoints in geoscape - that is target waypoints that have already been created by other crafts.
* I have not had the need too often, but when banding a few interceptors against a battleship is is nice to avoid the clutter of many waypoints while planning. Would actually be neat to be able to multi-select or group several crafts, but I don't see how the user interface / interaction modus would support that effectively at the moment.

# In the detailed UFO description given by the hyper wave decoder, after mission type description you could add a pair of brackets with a number in them to indicate how many crafts that the aliens have assigned to the mission are left to deal with.
* That would make it easier for the player to know whether he detected them all and attacked/boarded them in time.

# When clicking alien bases it would be good with some more information in the dialog. Fx they could have an indication of area so that it could easier be correlated with UFO supply activities. Also when a hyperwave decoder has been built they could provide more detailed information along the lines of what you get from UFOs.
* Much of the info can be deduced by paying attention to UFOs, but the player shouldn't be punished for forgetting 5 mins later.

# In the geoscape, radar type and range could be shown as colored rings around bases. This would give a much better indication of in which areas the player should not expect to detect UFOs.



GEOSCAPE EVENTS:

# When showing "research completed" dialog in geoscape, it could easily show which research project has been completed and what the result is.
* Would give the player an informed background on which to choose whether to "view report" or say "OK".

# When clicking the "view report" button in the "research completed" dialog in UFO, sometimes the UFOpaedia entry is not shown. In some cases UFOpaedia is also "missing" an entry, such as "Laser Weapons" technology - in such cases, the "view report" button does not make sense, as it does the same thing as pressing "OK". Nonsensical choices confuse players ;)
* It is nice to players when buttons does what they expect them to...

# After responding to the "research completed" dialog in UFO, another dialog is shown where the player decides whether he wants to allocate his researchers to a new project. If new venues of research has opened up from the project just finished this screen will tell. There is enough room to describe what project has just been completed, so players can tell the origin of new options and be reminded what they have been researching up until this point. It does not make much sense to put in an "OK" button that passes on allocating researchers to new projects - everybody wants to optimise their resource use, and idle researchers does not contribute to that goal! It could be argued that the player should be left with a choice to pass, but as it is really a non-choice, there does not seem to be much reason to have more than one button that leads the player to the "current research" screen.

# After going through the dialogs and screens related to a completed research project, geoscape time remains at the same pace as prior to the event. As some time has passed and the player has been occupied with other tasks, he may not be ready to handle upcoming geoscape events at accelerated time rates. When the "production complete" dialog appears time is reset to =5secs - the same thing could be done with research.
* It is not nice to move the player's attention between different contexts with the risk of rapidly bringing him back to the geoscape running at full time acceleration, when his attention and goals are no longer oriented towards that situation.

# When showing the player a "production completed" dialog, it would be beneficial to present an "allocate manufacture" button as in the "research completed" dialogs, next to the "OK" button that is there in UFO. The functionality of the "OK" button is to reset time to =5secs and return to geoscape.
* This is also sort of a non-choice situation, since I can't think of a scenario, where the player would rather let the game go on than allocating his expensive engineers to a new project. Optimally there should only be 1 button to "allocate manufacture", but just in case, the "OK" button should probably be kept around.

# When showing the "production of facility completed" dialog, an "enter base view" button could be included alongside the "OK" button, as there is a good chance the player wants to construct new facilities at that point. The text would probably come across more correctly if it read "construction" rather than "production" as the activity is not related to manufacturing. The functionality of the "OK" button is to reset time to =5secs and return to geoscape.
* This would mostly be a helpful feature that would enable the player to perform the actions he wants to as easily as possible - no reason to have him click several time, confuse one base for another and end up building the wrong facility in the wrong base, when a simple extra button would enable him to get the job done.