Author Topic: Ideas for improving research & development usability  (Read 1790 times)

Offline bramcor

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Ideas for improving research & development usability
« on: September 01, 2010, 02:03:26 am »
In continuation of my post with ideas for improving on UFO's usability-issues, here are my thoughts about the functionality of research & development 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!

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT:

# When clicking a project in the "new research projects" dialog, the whole "start project"/"cancel" screen could be removed if the "scientist allocation screen" had a "cancel" button next to the "OK" button! This would also enable the player to remove research projects from the "current research" list, which is not possible in UFO.
* Fewer screens would simplify the process of researching projects for the player.

# State difficulty level (easy/hard/very difficult/etc.) for completing research of a project based on average hours for completion, to ensure initial alignment of player expectation for actual research time. This could be done by showing difficulty in brackets after research project name in the "new research projects" dialog. Also the information could be communicated nicely by adding a "difficulty" column in the "current research" screen and a difficulty assessment line between title line and "scientists available" line in the "research project scientist allocation" dialog.
* This would much better enable the player to evaluate which types of projects he is willing to commit to. Decisions without information become meaningless!

# Modify "research progress" descriptions (unknown/poor/average/good/excellent based on calculations related to unknown difficulty) to better communicate how far along a research project is. This could be done instead by showing an approximate completion percentage or another well thought out scale that is less specific.
* It is important to use description that can be related to a scale in which the player intuitively understands its meaning. UFO use 5 arbitrarily chosen words - it can be made better for the players!

# Show completion date/time of manufacturing projects in "current production" screen rather than "days/hours left"
* It is difficult to interpret how soon/when 15 days and 9 hours is when current time is not visible - better to show finishing date/time instead

# Don't remove item from production planning list even though it is being produced already
* I should damn well be able to set up 2 productions of the same item type if I want to - and be able to check out resource use/cost of an item type even though I am already producing it (resource use/cost/manufacture time/etc. info really ought to be part of the UFOpaedia also, but I think it would be too difficult to make room for it there unless a new category of "blueprints" or something similar was created)

# In the "new production" dialog, change button text from "OK" to "NO PRODUCTION" or simply "CANCEL".
* As-is "OK" seem to indicate a confirmation of item choice rather than its true function, which is to close the dialog!

# In the "engineers allocated / units to produce" dialog, show production hours, cost per unit in resources / funding and work space required (basically all info from the previous dialog - just made contextual in response to how many units the player wants to manufacture), when deciding how many units of an item to produce. Realistically, making room for the additional info, the dialog would probably need to be redesigned, using smaller text. It might even benefit from the smaller arrows of the type used in buy/sell/transfer lists.
* The required information shows fine in the dialog just prior to assigning engineers and numbers to produce, but is not visible when the player is making his decisions. At the very least there should be developed an item number cap, so accepted production is dependent on current stock of resources / funding.

# Make a button in manufacturing order to "sell off directly" and "set number of units to produce to infinite", so you don't have to start new orders over and over and constantly keep track of room in stores to produce items that would be sold off anyways.
* This would essentially turn the workshop into a money press, but it is better than forcing the player to repeat tedious tasks.