View Full Version : Special actions and the user's interface

Dagobahn Eagle
07-25-2005, 05:56 AM
In Empires: Dawn of the Modern World by Stainless Steel Studios, one of the great "innovations" (in quotation marks because it's likely another game has done it before Empires;)) was that if you had several units with special abilities selected, you'd see all the buttons for their special abilities, instead of just for one of them.

For example, let's say you have a squad of four Army Rangers and a Medic. Selecting the medic only, you see the "Heal" and "Revive" buttons. Selecting the Army Rangers only, you see the "Artillery Barrage" button.

Now here's the pincher: Selecting both the Medic and your little band of Rustic Rangers, you have access to both the Medic's and the Army Rangers' ability buttons!

So unlike other games like Warcraft III and Force Commander (at the completely opposite end of the scale:p), where you had to select one unit type at a time to use their abilities (or worse, in FC's case, select one individual unit at a time:eek:), in Empires they're right there for you, regardless.

So my question is: How will this work in Empire at War? From the Interface, it appears they've already made one big mistake: The icons in the UI are too darn big. This suggests that you can only have a small number of units or squads (plus/minus a dozen units) selected at any given time. This is bad in itself, as it leads to management problems when fielding your attack force of more than 12 units.

But if it holds true, and you can only access the special abilities of one unit type at a time, we've got a problem on our hands. Using special abilities will deteriorate into a frantic click-fest game of "enemy sighted! Deselect all units but the stormie squad carrying the E-Web, deploy E-Web, quickly select the AT-STs, use their grenade ability, oh no, tanks coming in, hurry and select the AT-ATs and tell them to change to their heavy guns... Oh darn, my enemy's a bigger clickomaniac than me, I'm dead:(".

Of course, we don't know how dominant special abilities are in Empire At War. If only 1/1000 of the units have a key-triggered special ability, fine by me. But if the game developers are pulling an Empires, they need a good User Interface to match, not the current model that does not look too promising.

Your thoughts?

Darth Alec
07-25-2005, 07:32 AM
Not really sure about this, but in Empires is the best solution.

Cpt. Bannon
07-25-2005, 08:44 AM
I dont know the game Empires, but The Moon Project did the same thing, and allowed you to control as many things as you wanted at once. I think the only catch was that you couldn't build while you had anything besides a construction vehicle selected. But that's no biggie. And yes, I do hope very much so that we'll be able to control as many as we like and not have to select/deselect groups over and over.

07-25-2005, 09:37 AM
I guess it would be good but not anything really worth mentioning. Thats to say it units have abilities otherwise its useless and you can just hotkey your hero specials.

07-25-2005, 10:51 AM
Yeah I think Frozticles is right, most games with special abilities have an abundance of hotkeys which still work for me. (And while by only a few months, Homeworld2 did what you described before Empires (never heard of that game), however, I found it easier to just use hotkeys there as well.)

If there is one thing that I have noticed with RTS games, is that no matter what they show in screens, the UI tends to go through a fair amount of changes up until the last two or three months prior to the games release. I have a feeling that the UI for EAW will be changed at some point before it's release.

Really, while I would like plenty of other changes, the thing I really want them to do is make the console out of the way, whether by decreasing its size, or making it translucent, preferably both.