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Topic: Just in case... alternative Soldiers' skill icons for true inter-tribe comparison.

hjd
Joined: 2011-06-12, 20:24
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Location: bugs.launchpad.net/widelands
Posted at: 2011-11-29, 19:59

Blue/yellow might not help unfortunately (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorblind#Blue.E2.80.93yellow_color_blindness)

Have you experimented with having the initial background simply very transparent gray or something? So that it is possible to see that the icons are grouped together, not floating in thin air, but the actual color is "not really there" (hard to put into words face-confused.png ). Then the skill gained would be displayed with some solid color which separates it from the background. In other words, try to find one color to mark the skill level, rather than two colors to mark both skill gained and skill remaining, if that makes sense...

And again, the comparison of skill with all tribes. I get the idea, but it doesn't really make sense to have an unfilled section when the soldier cannot advance anymore. The soldier has been through both arena and training camp, but it doesn't seem to improve anymore, but there will be a remaining gap. Since I am aware of no other games which does this, people's initial interpretation will likely be wrong. People will be confused at this, and we will get questions about it. It should be possible to tell what the skill icons do at a glance. (No offense face-smile.png )


Ships!

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Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 10:08
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Location: Frankfurt / Germany
Posted at: 2011-11-30, 09:20

Let me start from the back, HJD:
No offense taken :). I am happy someone else offers his views on such small details, and it seems just natural that they differ.

We currently have a display in place for the soldier properties that seems easy to understand. The one with the red dots. (http://wl.widelands.org/wiki/SoldierLevels/)
More dots mean higher skills - and a reversed background signifies, the soldier has reached the maximum for his tribe. There is nothing wrong with this if you accept 2 restrictions:

  • it groups the soldiers' abilities for each skill in "levels" that are not meaningful outside of his own tribe.
    In this way it only allows a comparison of skills within the same tribe, but in itsself does not make this fact clear.
    Any unsuspicious user will think that a HP-level of 3 dots for Barbarians equals 3 dots for Empire, but in fact it equals exactly level 4.
    Additionally it misleadingly lures the player into thinking that 0 dots (skill level=0) means "no skill" in this property. All told, this system rather camouflages the differences, instead of making them visible.
    The fact that we need a look-up table like the one referenced above, in my mind shows this clearly.
    I suspect we do not get many questions about that system, simply because most players don't bother to delve into it deep enough to realize.

  • the granularity is quite coarse. From 0 to 5.

If these disadvantages do not matter, we don't have any reason at all to change away from what we use now.

However, we may get into a situation where we may want to drop the concept of levels for soldiers in favour of showing
the real properties graphically, and we will then want a finer resolution for the (probably unsigned byte) values range.

For this case I am trying to develop an acceptable graphic solution here, to have it ready if the need arises. No more and no less.
We could go for the exact number, but we don't have enough space to display them above the soldiers (like "AT=42"; "DE=3" ; "HP=186"; "EV=44").
Doing them as bubble help when mousing over is also not a good solution as it prevents an overview.
So we must look for a graphical solution.
My proposed graphical solution is area based; other ways are possible, like drawing arrows at an angle that corresponds to the numercal values,
but you'll find that many things fail because of space (i.e. resolution) problems. Go ahead and try, if you have a mind.
Area based inevitably means filled, and non filled areas (gaps).
So it does make sense indeed to have gaps, although your soldier has been through all training levels, and can never fill them.
Without gaps, you cannot show graphically that you will never ever reach an Atlanteans Defense skill level, being a Barbarian.
And it is not true either, that other games don't have this: Take any MMORPG where you can play different races (corresponding to our tribes) and you
will stumble across values for strength, hitpoints, magic, stamina etc. already in the initial character creation, that are linked to the race you choose.
The difference is, that as a rule, they will be displayed numerical, not graphical in such games.
So the end of the line is simple: If you want inter-tribe comparison displayed grapically, accept the gaps.
If you can't accept the gaps, stick with the old display and say good-bye to inter tribe comparison. face-smile.png

One final word to the blue/yellow colourblindness.
Yes, it does exist. But did you look at the number, too?
0,01% of individuals have it. This is a small number (there are about 0,2% totally blind people in Germany).
As long as I don't have any better ideas, I must accept that I have no suitable solution for them.


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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Solstice
Joined: 2011-11-24, 00:22
Posts: 15
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2011-11-30, 19:33

I would like to see the soldier skill info as micro -sized as possible, because for my tastes it blocks most of players viewport to the battle. Alternate solution would be to toggle the huge box info off with a shortcut command key. The health bar could also be something alternate or maybe not visible at all like in The Settlers. These changes would make battle situations visually more appealing to watch. One possibility (if it is codeable) that comes to my mind is to make the whole info-health -thing vertical and place it so that it is always on the back side of soldier. Vertical micro size presentation and the latter way to present soldier's increased skill level would be just perfect. Now the latter version looks disturbing to me and the first version very chaotic. If one of these should be selected, then I would choose the first one though, but with inverted red and gray.


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Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 10:08
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Posted at: 2011-11-30, 21:34

Always very interesting how different people think!
What you call a "huge box" (20x20 pixels not counting the health bar), is pretty damn small for me.
I wonder at what resolution and screen size you are playing.
For me, (1920x1080 @24") it's just barely readable.
Also, the thing most worthy looking at, when watching a battle is the health bar and that skill info box, that you want to toggle off face-grin.png
Sure, the animations are nice, but invariable ....
As for the rest, I'm still experimenting, but haven't come to anything ideal color scheme so far...


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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Solstice
Joined: 2011-11-24, 00:22
Posts: 15
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2011-12-02, 21:53

I use 1680x1050 @22". Yes, it seems that I think it a bit differently. But for me, as the game doesn't offer any control options for soldiers during a battle, the most pleasant way to look how the battle unfolds is to maximize visual aspect. Besides, without possibility to control the situation, players role is just to watch and if it seems that his/her soldiers are losing, sending some more randomly from his/her buildings. So I think that all the necessary information (after a player has seen what kind of soldiers went to the battle) is to see when a soldier dies and also possibility to count how many soldiers player still has in a battle (to send more if necessary). That's why I suggest having a key command to switch the info and health bar off (and possibly removing the health bar completely?). In The Settlers II at least I liked that I did not have an exact information about my soldiers' condition, having only the soldier types visually presented. But ofcourse this is just my opinion how I would like to have my Widelands.


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Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 10:08
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Posted at: 2011-12-03, 13:34

You got sharp eyes, obviously, Solstice face-smile.png
Well, it is not like I cannot follow your argumentation. In fact, I can sympathize with it.
I too have never quite got accustomed to those boxes hovering over the soldiers' heads. For me these are "alien" elements, that should not be cluttering up the landscape.
And like all the rest of comparable information, it should

  • either be togglable on and off (like the build help)
  • or embedded into the gameplay (like the display of mining resources by the geologists)

There is an older thread that I had started under the not so smart title of "suggestions about soldiers" (parts 1 to 3) a while ago.
They belong together as common parts of a concept, but the most relevant for our topic here, is the second one.

Suggestion about Soldiers Part1
Suggestion about Soldiers Part2
Suggestion about Soldiers Part3

The discussion there was quite interesting IMO.
The conclusions that I kept from these threads include the following:

  • With a military system that distinquishes 4 properties and up to 6 levels each, (where the 6 levels really camouflage the underlying 0-255 levels)
    it is not possible to find an "in-game" representation (like S2) by a ranking system and altering armour attributes (like plumes, shields etc).

    • nothing will work without a major simplification of either this system itsself (no need, since it's in place and working well) or at least the graphical representation of this system.
    • even a reduction to 4 "ranks" is hard to represent by equipment in a way that can be clearly distinquished on screen -- hard, I think, but not hopeless!
    • a highly desirable visually different, animated fighting style according to weapon (axes, spears, tridents) and rank (rookie, soldier, warrior, hero) would be a task for a score of 3D blender artists,
      and we don't have them ... not even close.
    • even if we succeeded in showing 4 ranks/tribe with equipment, we would still be facing the problem of displaying the health status without an "alien element".
  • For most players, displaying their own soldiers' training levels and healthbar is important when watching battles.
    It is also important to have this information visible for enemy soldiers, as it allows conclusions as to the progress of the enemy's economy.

You see, that, as far as an "ideal solution" goes, we are not so far apart.
But with a situation where we have but one active Blender artist atm, burdened with a lot of other work, too, I cannot see much chances to get rid of the soldiers' boxes for the near future.
Especially, and in contrast to some other players, I am with you on the question of making the box and/or healthbar togglable.
Unfortunatly no coder could be persuaded to work on this feature. face-smile.png
This, however, seems like the most likely of all the mentioned changes, and in my (non-coder) mind, perfectly doable. And this is where the change in our thinking becomes obvious:
If this box can be made invisible, I would want it to be

  • containing all relevant information
  • easy to read at all resolutions and screen size
  • valid also for inter-tribe comparison
    This might include even and "upsizing" of that box!
    I would also want the health bar to be proportional in length to the individual soldiers maximum hitpoints, so that a blow from an enemy soldier deducting 30 hps would have the same graphical effect for all victims. But that is a bit off topic here. From my experience, I'd like to add that your idea of a mini-status (possibly behind the soldiers' backs) seems impossible. Without additional agreements that a player would have to remember, I can see no way. What we have is the smallest possible already.
    If, however, such agreements were possible (like PC=HP; magenta=DE; cyan=EV; green=AT) it may well work and be an interesting concept. You may combine the health bar and the HP gauge then.

like here

Edited: 2011-12-03, 13:45

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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Joined: 2010-03-15, 16:23
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Posted at: 2012-01-14, 18:24

I favor the use of white on black to indicate unachieved skills and the use of the skill border to indicate highest possible level.
While I am fortunate not to be colorblind, I can greatly sympathize with those who are. The goal here, of course, is to settle on colors that contrast sufficiently to convey the information but do not detract from the overall visual experience in the game. Perhaps a combination of white, black and only one other color might be sufficient to our needs.


I see little people.

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Alazair
Joined: 2012-10-10, 14:22
Posts: 12
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2012-10-13, 23:05

I truly like the first example in most respects. I find the diagram to be much more easily readable than the flat lines in your second example. Also, for displaying fully upgraded skills, changing the border color is probably best even if it shaves off a couple pixels on the sides making the diagram not as accurate. I believe the only real jarring part is the red. Too much of the color can even give me a mild headache, though these skill boxes are nowhere near the amount required for that haha. If another, less aggressive color were used for filling in the diamond, it would be awesome. Blues tend to be pretty easy on the eyes and, depending on the shade, are also well distinguishible, especially when one considers the ground that the skill box will be floating over... Which will most often be green, grey, white, or brown/tan. As was suggested before, if the empty space that is to be filled were mostly (or partly) transparent, that would be awesome and could make the diagram easier to see in most situations. As for the border color, it should probably be bright, but not light... Something bold maybe like a gold or darker yellow or, depending on other colors, maybe even white. Another option would be to reverse it making the border very dark. With white, black, grey, blue, dark yellow, and (small amounts of) red, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a mix of colors that both contrasts well and is easy on the eyes.


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