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Topic: Reworking the economic options window

kraileth
Joined: 2010-03-14, 16:34
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Posted at: 2010-05-22, 07:04

In the atlantean story thread I presented a few ideas that also included possible new tribes. And while I still hope that more tribes will be added in the future, it is probably not something that should or will happen anytime soon. And I agree with what ixprefect said:

ixprefect wrote: I believe we should strive to make every aspect of the game interesting and count for something. Simply adding more tribes is just adding more of the same, but the thing that really counts is the ratio of interesting stuff per content. So less content can actually be better, if it means more interesting stuff is happening per content.

So I returned to the field of balancing the tribes and that meant to make up several tactics for each tribe and trying them out to see if any tribe was too strong or too weak.

When thinking about tactics, I came upon the huge role that the right economic setting plays in most tactics. So I took a closer look at it and came up with a few suggestions on how it could be improved. I also noticed that scrolling by mouse wheel is broken for that window and filed a bug report. I did not want to flood the forums with my posts, but Nicolai Hähnle commented the bug report with this:

Nicolai Hähnle wrote: The entire UI of that window is somewhat unsatisfactory. Ideally, we wouldn't need any scrolling at all and could just fit everything into a size that fits on all screens, even 640x480 like the Stock and Warehouse windows.

And I agree with that. Now that the issue is raised, I'd like to post my suggestions here before they become obsolete by reworking the window a completely different way. But let's come to the point(s):

The problem with the economic options window is that it is huge, confusing and lags for a second or two when opening. I suggest using tabs, just like the training camp has "wares", "worker" and "soldiers in training", so that all information is well arranged. The new window could have: "general", "raw material", "processed wares", "tools", "military", "other". Perhaps even another tab for food stuff.

  • "Raw material" would include trunks, wheat, gold ore, ...

  • "Processed wares" would be blackwood, marble columns, spider cloth, ...

  • "Tools" are everything a basic smith creates: hammers, shouvels,simple axes, ...

  • "Military" would list all higher weapons and armor that are needed for soldiers to train

  • "Other" reserved for carrier animals and perhaps other things that will be included later (boats?)

A "reset category" button in each tab, resetting every value of its tab, could also be added.

I also suggest to display the value of any ware that was changed from the default in another color so that it can be recognized quickly and easily. Perhaps in blue? Another good thing would be to display the default value in brackets behind the current value of a modified ware. Probably in the same second color (blue?) so that it doesn't get all too colorful. This way you can see which wares are changed and decide to reset the whole category, reset a single ware or change it yourself if you find that the default value is not what you wanted.

Another thing I was thinking about, is arranging the wares by name in alphabetic order - and (if possible!) to do so in their localized forms... But I guess that would be too much work and if the wares are split into categories, everybody should find quickly what he searches for. Only for the tools it could be helpful.

In the "general" tab, there could be a "reset all" button. And then, there's something I'd ask for that might be a bit more complicated than the rest...

The economic options are a very interesting and powerful feature of widelands that gives the player deep control over his production. However it is time consuming to change much of it so that it fits the tactic you want to use in your game. In most games you will be busy doing many things and won't have time to mess with these settings. But it would be a shame not to fine-tune your tactic in multiplayer games!

So what I suggest in the "general" tab, too, is a function to save (and load!) up to three custom states of settings. This should not be for the current game only, but instead be saved somewhere so that it will work in every game.

An example: At the beginning of the game I go to the economic options and activate custom state I. I have balanced that in lots of previous games so that it reflects what I think matches my economy best. It's a few clicks and everything is like I want it. Now I take a look at the map, expand a little and see that I can reach both coal and iron quite early. I start mining. Now I go to the economig options and activate setting two. They have increased stocks of axes, beer and grout because I want to have a solid reserve of soldiers already when I have to fight, and I plan to build like three fortresses, so that having a lot more grout than usual will speed things up. Now everything goes well, and after a while I reach a mountain where I can mine gold. I switch to setting 3: Having enough potential soldiers and gold in reach now, I have to think about training. So pita bread and strong beer are more important now than ordinary beer so that is where my weat will have to go. And while I begin to mine gold and finally build an arena and training camp, my busy workers create a nice stock of the wares that I'll soon need to train my soldiers...

I'm sure that fine-tuning like that in the right moment can severely change the outcome of the game. It also gives expert players advanced means of working out their strategy and tactics.

I'm curious for feedback. So please feel free to comment on the whole post or on single subtopics.


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ixprefect
Joined: 2009-02-27, 14:28
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Posted at: 2010-05-22, 10:52

As for all the categories you suggest, I'd like to point you towards this: http://wl.widelands.org/wiki/UsabilityWareSorting/

I personally believe that wares shouldn't be arranged in alphabetic order; the names are pretty arbitrary, after all. Instead, they should be arranged according to some intuitively logical patterns. For example, it would appear most naturally to me if all different weapons were together and sorted by "strength".

Going back to the actual topic - the target quantities window - I believe that its layout should reflect the layout of the warehouse and stock windows. This way, any window that has to do with all the different kind of wares has the same layout, and the player has to learn only one of those layouts.


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LennStar
Joined: 2010-04-27, 20:00
Posts: 23
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2010-05-23, 09:53

Where to find the target quantities window?


"Scratch any cynic and you’ll find a disappointed idealist."

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kraileth
Joined: 2010-03-14, 16:34
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Posted at: 2010-05-23, 11:49

!LennStar: Just click on any flag; it's the third button from left then.

Edited: 2010-05-23, 11:50

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Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 10:08
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Posted at: 2010-05-25, 18:28

I have also tried to put all Widelands items (houses, workers, tools, products) into a logical order. This is a byproduct from a inter-tribe comparison. My concept is different from Kraileth's. This is not exactly what you would want if it is just about sorting wares, but if you simply leave out the rest, you got a wares sorting. You can find the file here.

Edited: 2010-05-31, 10:21

Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).

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Kristin
Joined: 2009-04-05, 19:28
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Posted at: 2010-07-12, 22:03

Hello,
I made a blueprint for a new sorting and illustration of the menus (wares, workers and buildings):
http://wl.widelands.org/wiki/BlueprintMenus/
Included are proposals for the item's sorting with concrete lists for all tribes, proposals for the illustration for the different menus and considerations of alternative sortings and future implication of traded wares. The discussion can take place here in the forum.
Greetings,
Kristin

Edited: 2010-07-12, 22:09

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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
Posts: 1439
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Location: Germany - Munich
Posted at: 2010-07-13, 14:38

I very much like your suggestions Kristin and I know that you put a lot of work in it. The only thing that I dislike is keeping the building statistics menu as is - my suggestion is to also use the small, medium big tabs as in the field action box. It seems to be more consistent this way.

Nicolai, as you didn't go forward with your poll afaik, I suggest you take a look at Kristins proposal; maybe it is to your liking.

Cheers, !SirVer


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DJL
Joined: 2010-06-26, 17:44
Posts: 8
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2010-07-13, 19:56

I like the ideas expressed here - it would certainly make things easier

ixprefect wrote: I personally believe that wares shouldn't be arranged in alphabetic order; the names are pretty arbitrary, after all. Instead, they should be arranged according to some intuitively logical patterns. For example, it would appear most naturally to me if all different weapons were together and sorted by "strength". Going back to the actual topic - the target quantities window - I believe that its layout should reflect the layout of the warehouse and stock windows. This way, any window that has to do with all the different kind of wares has the same layout, and the player has to learn only one of those layouts.

I'm not sure how that would work in this context - having to click on each icon to be able to adjust the quantities would be a major inconvenience!

On a slightly unrelated note - I've noticed when playing with all tribes in one game that the building window lists buildings from ALL tribes - wouldn't be be better to only list ones for your tribe + any captured buildings?

Edited: 2010-07-13, 19:56

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Kristin
Joined: 2009-04-05, 19:28
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Posted at: 2010-07-15, 20:34

@ Sirver's idea: I like the proposition of tabs for small, medium and big buildings in the buildings statistics. The enhanced buildings should be listed after their precursor building. For the captured buildings, there are two possibilities: a new tab or listing in the small/medium/big-tabs (perhaps optically seperated of the original own buildings). I prefer the latter, because the captured buildings ARE small/medium/big and it would be confusing to not sort them there but in a seperate tab.

@ ixprefect's idea:

-The sorting by thematical categories (and then complexitiy e.g. strength of the weapons) is done in my proposition.

-I forgot the economy options window. Did you mean this window with target quantities window? (Because also in warehouses, one can adjust a quantity, at least in my version) I have two propositions for a new economy window:

  1. The same window as for warehouses/stock with possibility to click on the icon to increase and strg-click (for example) on it to decrease. It would require a little display for the current quantity. And it would lack of the option to regulate the target quantity in the two different modes (permanent and temporary). I do not use it. Do you?

  2. The same window as now but with another sorting of the icons in the list. Preferably we should use the same sorting as in the other menus.

-I like the idea to just show the really existing captured buildings in the building statistics. It's not logic (because also own, not yet existing buildings are shown), but makes it more clearly arranged.

Greetings, Kristin

Edited: 2010-07-16, 07:27

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Nasenbaer
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Joined: 2009-02-21, 18:17
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Posted at: 2010-07-16, 11:19

Kristin wrote: For the captured buildings, there are two possibilities: a new tab or listing in the small/medium/big-tabs (perhaps optically seperated of the original own buildings). I prefer the latter, because the captured buildings ARE small/medium/big and it would be confusing to not sort them there but in a seperate tab.

no I think it's quite logical. All "special" type buildings = buildings, that the user can not build him-/herself should be listed on an extra tab an in that case the should only appear in list, if the player owns one of these buildings.

The other way round, I find it quite usefull to always show all building types that are buildable, even if the player has not yet build one of these - simply because I often look into the list to see, which building I haven't built yet. If they were not shown in the list, I possibly would forget about one building, which can break the whole economy.

-I forgot the economy options window. Did you mean this window with target quantities window? (Because also in warehouses, one can adjust a quantity, at least in my version)

That's something different. You can just adjust there, whether a ware should prefareably be stored in this warehouse, if one is available and nowhere else needed, or whether storing of that ware in that warehouse should be stopped or even all stored wares of that tye should be outsourced to other warehouses. It does not change the target quantity.

The target quantity window is for a global (per economy) setting.

Hope I was able to clear things up face-smile.png - and well, I would like to keep that two different options as they are! face-smile.png

Cheers

Peter


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