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Community Discussion - Dropship / Soldier Management Workflow


Chris
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The soldier management interface in Xenonauts 2 is currently somewhat different to what it was in the first Xenonauts, but we're in the process of making some further updates as a result of the change to multiple bases and multiple dropships. However there are a few changes currently in X2 that could probably be retained if people like them - it's just a question of whether these changes are an improvement over what existed in X1 or not.

Let's start by listing out the main changes. They are:

  • The Soldier Equip / Dropship Arrangement screens have been combined into a single screen. Clicking the Armory screen brings up your dropship, showing you all soldiers assigned to the dropship and their primary weapon and position in the dropship. Clicking their weapon takes you through to the Soldier Equip screen where you can edit their equipment.
  • When you launch a dropship onto the Geoscape, the screen mentioned above is brought up showing you the contents of the dropship. You have the option to update the equipment of your troops and then either launch the dropship or cancel the dropship launch.
  • On the Soldier Equip screen, there's currently no soldier browser that allows you to view all the soldiers in other dropships / unassigned soldiers. There's also no assignment dropdown that allows you to unassign soldiers, or move them to new assignments.

My current plan is to revert the Soldier Equip screen to essentially what it was in the first Xenonauts, where it is seperated from the dropship arrangement screen and has the soldier browser UI element that allows you to easily navigate between your different soldiers without leaving the screen. My guess is that this change isn't going to be particularly controversial as the current X2 system is already a bit clunky and is likely to fall apart totally once we add support for multiple dropships. The two areas of discussion then really become:

Do we want to maintain support for the extra screen that appears when you launch a dropship, showing the contents of that dropship?
I'm somewhat ambivalent on this. On one hand I think it's worthwhile showing the player the contents of the dropship before they launch it onto the Geoscape, because that's the final point when they are able to change the troop and equipment assignments. On the other hand, the screen just feels like it gets in the way and slows things down. This probably pop-up wouldn't be as bad if it happened just before the dropship reached the mission site, but for obvious reasons it happens much earlier and it feels to me too much like it is interrupting the action.

My current thinking is that it would be better to have a button on the Launch Aircraft screen that took you to the Dropship Arrangement for that specific dropship, but it wasn't something you were forced to click. Or perhaps we could even design a unique Geoscape pop-up that listed all the soldiers and their armour / primary weapon / secondary weapon so you didn't have to leave the Geoscape?

What does everyone else think? Do you find the current screen an annoyance, or is it something you're glad we implemented in X2?

Linking the Soldier Equip / Dropship Arrangement screen?
I don't really see a practical way to keep the current split level Armory (soldier equip / dropship arrangement) screen even if I wanted to keep it, because there's just not enough room on either screen to display all the necessary information. That means the dropship arrangement screen will become part of the Aircraft screen like it was in X1.

There's probably some space to improve the link between a soldier in the Soldier Equip screen and their position in the dropship, though. But I guess the first question to ask is how often people actually use the Dropship Arrangement screen to move their troops around, and whether it serves any secondary purposes. I'm guessing it doesn't really get used that often, because I assume most people's squad composition remains relatively static and the soldier browser on the Soldier Equip screen already shows the equipped weapon / role of the soldiers in a dropship (so it's not necessary to leave the screen to get an overview of your squad).

I think it's probably a good idea to add a button somewhere linking the Soldier Equip screen and the Aircraft screen with the appropriate dropship selected, so you can easily switch back and forth between the screens ... but is anything more than that going to be worthwhile? Do people mostly use the soldier browser on the Soldier Equip screen to view their team, and therefore should we be spending more time on getting that working as well as possible?

 

Ultimately the UI with regards to soldier / dropship management is always going to be a bit awkward, simply because in an ideal situation we'd display the soldier name, portrait, role, armour and primary and secondary weapons for each of the soldiers in a dropship, as well as their position in the dropship. When a dropship can contain up to 16 soldiers there's just far too much information to put on a single screen (which has to use a font size big enough to support a small 16:10 720p resolution), so it's just a case of doing the best we can with the space available.

If you guys could let us know how you use the various screens that would be great, because I'm well aware that the way I use the UI is definitely not the only way to play the game! :)

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12 hours ago, Chris said:

in an ideal situation we'd display the soldier name, portrait, role, armour and primary and secondary weapons for each of the soldiers in a dropship, as well as their position in the dropship

There's certainly not enough room for all of those in text without it becoming a spreadsheet. But it could probably be shown- how easy/hard would it be to display armor and weapons in a 3d model along with name on half the screen with name, portrait, and the role symbol displayed on a schematic of the dropship? Also show the soldier number for that mission.

 

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The lay out of the soldiers back pack and webbing is to small, it should have other pockets and pouches, as modern clothing has many places for all manner of objects.

The utility belts should have other pouches, scabbards, holsters, for secondary weapons, like grenades, and medical kits.

Also as new amour is researched  and manufactured, they should have better placements for weapons and equipment.

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I actually spend quite a bit of time in the equipment screen. Firstly, there's usually some nifty bit of gear that's either researched or produced in between fights that I want to use, secondly I have quite a few soliders either going out or coming back from a strategic assignment and thirdly I don't like taking injured soliders into a fight. I take full advantage of the fact that soliders are classless: a solider that had an infantryman loadout last time might have that stripped out for an assault loadout because the last guy who had a shotgun is now healing his third-degree burns in the infirmary. Loadouts, for me are not static - they tend to evolve to match my tastes and whatever is the new hotness.

The proposed design of the Skyhawk means there are far fewer ways to exit the dropship. It's now important what order to you put soliders in on the dropship, because whatever order they go in is what order they come out. I now spend a lot of time on the aircraft screen tweaking the setup. As fights start almost immediately around a dropship, if the wrong person comes out first that could be fatal in the ensuing firefight. As a consequence, I don't find the screen popping up before launchig an annoyance, because I do forget sometimes what order I have put troops in, so I find it helpful to have one last reminder. Perhaps make it an option on the options screen to pop-up, so people have some flexibility in this? 

 

My current "workflow" starts on the dropship screen. I choose a solider, flick to the equipment screen to tweak loadouts, then because I can't figure out on the equipment screen who is also on the dropship, I then have to flick back to the dropship screen, before going back to the equipment screen. This is, to my mind, is an inefficent use of my time. I'd like to really and truly to know on the equipment screen if a soldier is assigned to a dropship, and which one if they are. I'd like to know on the equipment screen if there are any multiples of the loadout I have equipped for the current soldier on the dropship they are on. Then when I've done fiddling about with the equipment screen, I'd like to move to the dropship screen and tweak the setup there so I have the soldiers placed as I like them. Knowing the ladout of each soldier would be very helpful. 

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On 9/15/2019 at 8:07 PM, Max_Caine said:

*snip*

Thanks for the thoughts here, it's useful stuff. So what I'm thinking we'll go for on the aircraft launch screen is a button you can click that will allow you to view the selected dropship, but the dropship arrangement screen wouldn't be brought up automatically when you launch a dropship. I think that's probably the best of both worlds.

I think the thing I want to analyse in a bit more detail is how much convenience you would lose if we switched to the X1 system where there's no formal link between the dropship arrangement screen and the soldier equip screen. Did you find equipping soldiers in X1 a hassle because of that? I'm guessing you instead just equipped all your soldiers in the Soldier Equip screen and then went to the dropship screen afterwards to place them where you wanted them?

As X2 will have all the UI elements that the X1 dropship / soldier equip screens had (specifically the soldier browser that shows who is assigned where and with what role), I guess the key thing is just to consider what we can add in order to improve things. In X1 you couldn't really interact with your soldiers on the dropship arrangement screen, but in X2 we could probably add support for either reassigning soldiers (i.e. assigning a new soldier in the place of the existing soldier) or just adding a button / click functionality that would take you to the Soldier Equip screen with the appropriate soldier selected when you click on a soldier portrait.

I suspect the second option would work best. Basically just buttons on each screen that easily allow you to flick back and forth between the two screens, and the ability to easily view the dropship contents before you launch it.

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I keep meaning to respond to this, but I haven't found the time. You guessed correctly that in X1 I mass-equipped soldiers in the equip screen, then assigned them. What annoys me specifically in X2 about the current system is needing to flick back and forth - on the dropship screen I can see who is there, what primary weapon they have and what armour their wearing (because the portrait includes the armour), but secondaries, belt, backpack - anything else I need to customise in the equip screen and in the equip screen I don't know which soldiers are on the dropship, so I must flick back to the dropship to see who's next. If I knew on the equip screen who was in the dropship, then my workflow would likely be the following:

1) Start on dropship screen. Roughly assemble a crew with potential placements. 

2) Move to equip screen. Refine/alter equipment with whatever I have at the moment for all members of squad on dropship. 

3) Move back to dropship, alter placements as necessary. Possibly flick back and forth between dropship/equip screen on an individual basis as is necessary.

4) Thunderbirds are go!

 

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Is it? There's exactly one person who has given their experience of the dropship/equip screens - me. Chris should of course treat my subjective experience of those screens with the pinch of salt it deserves, but he isn't a mind reader. If he doesn't ask, how does he know that the UI is all it could be?

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4 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

Is it? There's exactly one person who has given their experience of the dropship/equip screens - me. Chris should of course treat my subjective experience of those screens with the pinch of salt it deserves, but he isn't a mind reader. If he doesn't ask, how does he know that the UI is all it could be?

Omniscience! Also, me want code now. 

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Sorry Max_Caine. I don´t wanted to blame you or the others. But I´m still angry about the Base-Downgrade to old Standard, which leads the Storyline down. It has exactly happend what the Backers said, which looked and financed a new and Full Game Concept. Now it dosen´t matter anymore if you play X1 or X2 now, because it will be the same Procedure like in X1 again (esp. in that Case).

About the Dropship / Workshop Management you don´t need so much changes. An Andvance for the other Baseuses are only needed. A big Change or Downgrade (like the Downgrades from the Bases to X1-Standard) isn´t nessecary. The system now is nice and something new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

Sorry Max_Caine. I don´t wanted to blame you or the others. But I´m still angry about the Base-Downgrade to old Standard, which leads the Storyline down. It has exactly happend what the Backers said, which looked and financed a new and Full Game Concept. Now it dosen´t matter anymore if you play X1 or X2 now, because it will be the same Procedure like in X1 again (esp. in that Case).

About the Dropship / Workshop Management you don´t need so much changes. An Andvance for the other Baseuses are only needed. A big Change or Downgrade (like the Downgrades from the Bases to X1-Standard) isn´t nessecary. The system now is nice and something new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time will tell. It seems like most of the new stuff stayed, it's just the base map that got flipped sideways and un-hand-waved, unless I missed something. Honestly if the original mechanics are back, I'd like to be able to make more use of them. Deciding on where the sandbags in the base go, for instance. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Since this is about the dropship management I suppose this goes here?

With the latest update which happened on Monday 10/7 for me since I was gone all weekend, I see we have an increase in squad size to 10. Don't mind the extra troops at all, although the increased number could have been made part of an upgrade in the dropship, I'm not going to complain about having extra guns along.

Organization is what I wanted to bring up. Across the top and bottom the troops are laid out in two ranks. I think it would be easier to work with if the soldier pictured lined up with position placement in the dropship. As is is now, with even/odd split every other person is on the other side of the ship. Having 1 - 5 on one side and 6 - 10 on the other (Left/right) would make it easier to both layout and move your weapon teams. The odd/even split we use now means you're bouncing back and forth trying to keep up.

It's a minor point, but one I think would make navigation through the squad less confusing, simpler.

Edited by Challenge
typos
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