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Topic: Suggestion about Soldiers Part2

Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 10:08
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Posted at: 2011-03-26, 12:15

The information about soldiers' properties (AT, HP, DE, EV) is of no particular use to the player.

A player, can not address any soldiers according to their properties and make them perform certain tasks.
Given the widespread notion that the military side of the game should not become too prominent, this probably will never happen.
At best we may see an option to send soldiers with different properties to certain military sites or warehouses.
For doing so, the above suggested categorization in ranks should be sufficient.

From a player's perspective each trained levels serve but one purpose:
It raises the soldier's chances to survive as an individual, and to successfully defend or conquer land for the player.
Whether this is done by killing enemy soldiers sooner (high AT) or themselves surviving more damage (HP) does not really matter much.

In order not to be misunderstood: The soldiers' properties (AT, HP, DE, EV) remain essential for determining the winner of a fight,
and I am happy WL has such an elaborate system for different tribes and their soldiers' qualities.

As a consequence, the display of the soldier's trainings levels is unnecessairy.

I would keep them for the individual display of soldiers inside the military sites, but get rid of the signes above the soldiers' heads inside the main window
(but of course keep the health bar).
I have always thought these signs to be distracting and an alien element in the WL world.

Instead, I would assign clear characteristics for the above mentioned ranks including weapon, armor, helm, even soldier’s size maybe, so that the categories can be clearly identified by their appearance.

I admit it’s again a lot of artwork to perform, but I hope it will be worth it.


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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ixprefect
Joined: 2009-02-27, 14:28
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Posted at: 2011-03-27, 14:09

I like the idea of getting rid of the level display within MapViews (i.e. within the visible game world), and replacing it by different graphical styles for the soldier levels. I'm curious what Chuck and others think about the artwork aspect of such a change. Again, doing a version for every possible combination of levels would probably be too much, but a level-based upgrading could be very satisfying.


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Venatrix
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Joined: 2010-10-05, 20:31
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Posted at: 2011-03-27, 18:19

Well, I don’t see it this way. Yes, the level display is a bit alien in the map, but on the other hand you can quickly see where your soldiers are. And you see also very quickly whether the level of the soldier is the wanted one. I think that especially on high resolutions a difference only in the armour and weapons is too small and can be overseen too often.


Two is the oddest prime.

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Astuur
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Posted at: 2011-03-28, 09:07

It will indeed mainly depend on the look of the soldiers and how easily they can be identified.
So Chuck's assessment will be paramount.

Even if I cannot do much with the soldier.blends, I have at least looked at them face-smile.png
I would indeed all size them up a little proportionally and let the higher ranks appear a little bit bigger with all tribes. There is nothing wrong with choosing the big guys for soldiers, right?
Areas to modify according to ranks could be the shape of the shield for Empire and Atlanteans
The shoulder parts of Empire and Barbarian (epaulettes, fur?, bones?)
The weapon size and color for all tribes (more reflective for higher ranks?)
Boots and shoes (all tribes)
and most important the helmets. We could have player-colored plumes of different shape and size here for all tibes.
These are only my humble suggestion, of course.
...and still I fear 11 categories is too much. The Atlanteans are giving me a bit of trouble in this respect. They are going through such a different training sequence that a more detailed level by level display, would only make thing more confusing. I wonder why it was not designed in a more compatible way to the two other tribes; but it's exactly that which makes playing (or fighting) the Atlanteans interesting.

@ Venatrix: There will still be the lifebar, and hopefully the plumes could show well enough what kind of soldiers they are.
There is one point, that I cordially dislike about the level signs in the MapView (although I did them myself) and that is that they are all red-dotted and uniform. Having just the health bar displayed may make it easier to see where your soldiers are.


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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chuckw
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Posted at: 2011-03-29, 19:17

Let me preface my remarks with saying that I understand the principle focus in Widelands is economic viability. The player's attention is intended to be foremost on economic strategy. The element of warlike activity is an unfortunate necessity in the game's design for expansion of a tribe's economic influence into areas contested by another tribe. We aim to minimize the militaristic aspects of Widelands as much as possible to first: keep the play centered on economic strategy, and second, but more importantly: to keep any semblance of violence out of the game or reduced to "cartoonish" proportions. We do not wish to glorify conflict, least of all armed conflict.

I grant that there is merit from an economic standpoint in categorizing the soldiers in order to better manage that "resource". The effectiveness of a soldier's training has a very real impact on the outcome whenever that "resource" is used. So, in consideration of improving the management such a categorization offers, I agree it would be beneficial to find a graphic distinction between units in different categories.

Assuming soldiers of different categories will be distinguished by their physical appearance, we are faced with rendering a complete model for each category of each tribe. For 4 categories (I won't consider 11! face-smile.png ), we are looking at 3 more soldier characters for each tribe (9 additional models), each requiring a unique look that is easily identifiable in the scale of the game engine. The models will require animation for walking, attacking successfully, attacking unsuccessfully, defending successfully, defending unsuccessfully, and "dieing". (There also exist bug reports requesting the consideration of additional animations to distinguish between walking on the road, attacking fully armed, and retreating.)

Physical Appearance Here, as Astuur points out,

I would indeed all size them up a little proportionally and let the higher ranks appear a little bit bigger with all tribes. There is nothing wrong with choosing the big guys for soldiers, right?

I agree the soldiers could be "slightly" larger and definitely "bulked up" in the higher categories.

Areas to modify according to ranks could be the shape of the shield for Empire and Atlanteans

The shoulder parts of Empire and Barbarian (epaulettes, fur?, bones?)

The weapon size and color for all tribes (more reflective for higher ranks?)

This is a perfect opportunity to put those advanced weapons like battleaxes and double tridents into play.

Boots and shoes (all tribes)

and most important the helmets. We could have player-colored plumes of different shape and size here for all tibes.

Because of scale, we will likely have to rely on the larger elements of the soldier's "kit", i.e helmet, plume, weapon, shield, etc. to distinguish one from another. In the action of gameplay, you'd likely not be able to even SEE the epaulettes. face-wink.png

Animation Fortunately, in Blender, we have the option to utilize animations from one model in another, and that may very well be the method we'd use for the walking and battle animations. Some may think soldiers of different categories should differ in their attacks and defense. If we pursued that, we'd have to have different attack and defend animations for every soldier depending on the weapon and opposition they encounter. Regardless, care would have to be taken to ensure that any new battle animation will mesh well with the existing stuff and with each other. Currently soldiers use one defense regardless of weapon of attack. That is why spears and tridents are wielded like clubs, because you can't stab with an axe. I don't want to spend unwarranted effort on a facet of the game we wish to sublimate.

In a nut shell, I feel there is merit to categorizing soldiers to enhance their management. Different appearances will entail a lot of work. While it would definitely be fun to work on new soldier characters, I don't see this happening until we get seafaring/water transport and inter-tribal trade bedded down.

Ultimately, though, I defer prioritization to SirVer. He's the "man with the plan." face-grin.png

Edited for clarity

Edited: 2011-03-29, 19:29

I see little people.

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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 11:23

I do not think I can prioritize Graphic priorities any better than you, chuck. I follow this thread closely and I want to throw in my 2c:

I think the exact levels are interesting for the player, be it not for my own soldiers, but for the enemy's. I might deduce some of his economical problems from the training levels of his soldiers. I therefore also like the status emblems of the soldier as they carry all information on one glance. I agree that they are alien in the widelands worlds, as no other worker has status information over their head. Maybe they could be connected to the status text of buildings, which have the same functionality for me.

I feel that different graphics for soldiers would help as well, but they would not carry all the information as we have now; nevertheless a total level based appearance would make the game prettier at the very least.


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Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 10:08
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 13:13

Are you willing to disclose some of the conclusions you draw from the status emblems ?
Or is this asking too much face-smile.png
(anyhow I am no match for you guys - I'm too slow with the mouse ;))
You got me sitting here trying to figure out how much one can really read out the enemies training levels.
There is the obvious info of course:
Are both training sites working, or just one of them - and if so, which one.
And then there is an additional info, that your opponent has called on soldiers in training to help out. This you would not do, unless bare need drives you.

Except for that last part, this would still be possible. I cannot think of antyhing else, unless you want to compare the ratio from both trainingsites' graduates and deduct the numbers of each sort of camp he might have, but therefore an overview would be needed.
Did I miss on anything?


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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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 17:41

Astuur wrote: Are you willing to disclose some of the conclusions you draw from the status emblems ? Or is this asking too much

No, of course not. For example when I see level one evade soldiers from the empire, I conclude that his gold production has not been started yet or that he has problems with marble. That gold is missing can also be concluded when you see many level 1-2 attack soldiers from the barbarians. One might also read that an Armorsmithy has not been build when only attack was trained. The player must manually throw out soldiers from the trainingsites for this to happen, but I've seen it done before.


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fuchur
Joined: 2009-10-07, 14:01
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 20:37

Considering the fog of war: is it wanted to have detailed information on the enemies soldiers and therefore information about the economy otherwise not visible?

Besides that I like the idea of a diffent look of the levels. I think in settlers 1 it was basically done by the helmets.


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