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Beagle

Improving the graphical representation of Soldier Stats

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I've been playing with the latest Xenonauts build a bit and while it's still got a long way to go to be really playable, in most cases I'm pretty confident that missing/bad stuff has already been considered and is in progress. However, I'm not sure whether the way stats are represented now are a placeholder or actually the real intended deal, so here's a thread about it.

One of the things X-Com did really well was showing Soldier Stats. The stats viewer, showing one soldier at a time, made really good use of colour and graphical representation over plain text to differentiate the different fields well and look pretty to boot.

c8Dr6.png

It's a delicious rainbow of information

With stats, for the full picture of a trooper, you're not just looking at a single stat, you're trying to see all of them at once, comparing one to another rapidly (he has good strength, but how is his accuracy, because if he has both I could make him a heavy weapon gunner). Having things represented so clearly and in such a well-defined manner allows quick comprehension of not only single stats, but also of multiple stats as once as we quickly remember which bar means what thanks to colour/average size/position so we can comprehend multiple things at once. With the above picture, you can look at the trooper's stats and work out what kind of skillset he has in seconds. You'll also notice that at the end of the bar, different shades are implemented to further differentiate parts of the bar, letting you see how much of that trooper's stat was with him at his recruitment and how much of that is his progress throughout missions, which is a touch I love and something very central to the fun in keeping your soldiers alive and seeing them improve.

I feel this is something really lacking in the current stats representation in Xenonauts. I understand the decision for a low-key, uniform visual style that depends on official looking font and a very unified colour-scheme, but when it comes to Stats, I really suffer for it. Everything being the same colour and only represented by a number makes it next to impossible to comprehend more than one stat at once, and even that single-element comprehension is harder; its more of a strain to focus your eyes in to seperate the particular stat you want out of the same-coloured muddiness.

lEbOS.png

LOST: MY STATS - $500 REWARD

When I look at the picture above, I can't understand the trooper's stats quickly at all. There is no way to see his stats at a glance because everything is represented only in absolute numbers, not graphically. I have to constantly dart my eyes left and right - left to see the stat I want, then right to see the number of that stat. I have to then keep that number firmly in my mind for any kind of comparison: there's no easy way to glance back at that number that I need for the comparison I'm making, because it all blends in again as soon as you stop focusing and it takes you a second or two to narrow in on what you need again. This ends up in a train of thought for me that goes something like "okay, he has 56 strength... accuracyyyy.... uh.. there, 59... where's AP... damnit, I forgot his strength, I need to find that again".

Additionally, on a purely visual level, I personally feel its a lot less fun to look at than the multi-coloured prettiness that is the X-Com graph, but that's just my opinion.

Y4iZl.png

My eyes hurt

There was no multi-soldier stat screen in X-Com so I can't really make a direct comparison here, but I don't really need to; it suffers from the same problems as the single-soldier stat page - everything is the same colour, it's all plain numbers, it feels like I have to play Magic Letter Puzzle to hunt down a single stat let alone compare them to each other in short order.

8-letter-authors.gif

Find Strength, Accuracy, AP, and Bravery, then find each of them again for comparison to each other, and you're not allowed to mark them when you find them either so I hope you like finding them again

The multi-soldier one is naturally going to be harder to find things in than the single-soldier view because there's more information, but I still believe the stuff that can be used to fix the single-view will also do wonders for the multi-view.

I really like where Xenonauts is going, I just want to make sure that things like this will be up to scratch, so this thread is my bit for making sure that happens. Of course having a poor representation of the stats will not ruin the whole game, but understanding the skills and capabilities of your troops and using that information to equip them as well as possible is a huge part of this kind of game, and increasing the time and effort it takes to do that is going to take a lot of the fun out of that, not to mention making it a big time sink.

Edited by Beagle

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Why in the world did no-one bring this up before? Actually, someone might have but it probably got ignored due to an already running discussion.

Its a very good point, always thought something was missing in the stat lists. For the multi-viewer could have coloured bars behind the numbers, with how full the bars are being the % of max stat or something. Very pale colours of course, its only for general comparison. Detailed stuff (like how much a stat has changed) can be done in the equip screen due to the extra room.

As an aside: Does the crossword have any of those words in it?

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Definitely agree with this. There is also something about the font size that makes my eyes start to hurt when I look at things too long. A couple points in size would make a world of difference.

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Agree. You could also display the troupe's average, median and/or percentile, max stat in the Bill Clinton's "rainbow of information" to have an instant comparison to the other soldiers.

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Good post. You get bonus marks for adding captioned images as well too. More feature suggestions should be written like proper blog articles.

I'll post up these images, as they're relevant to the discussion:

http://www.xenonauts.com/images/se1.jpg

http://www.xenonauts.com/images/se2.jpg

These are the basic concepts for how the new Soldier Equip screen would look if we adopted the new GUI across the board. Basically the soldier equip screen works pretty well as is so this is one of the hardest ones to copy across, but the concept is that it's in a folder on a desk.

Basically it means that we're working with a white background rather than a black one, which gives us a bit more leeway. I might also see if we can expand the element to the size that it used to be too. I guess it'd be good to add some bars between the text and the number (and have both of those in black) which would both make the screen a bit prettier and easier to read too.

Thoughts, anyone?

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Rather than a dotted line from each of the stat names to the score, you could have the bars ala X-Com?

Also for the personnel screen with multiple numbers from multiple soldiers you could have either small pie charts behind each number (probably hard to see), or a circle/square that changes colour the higher the value the number in front has (1-30 = red, 31-50 = orange, 51-75 = yellow, 76-100 = green)?

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I seem to be the only one (or at least in a small minority) who doesn't seem to suffer from these visual clarity issues.

I do agree with the OP in essence, it just doesn't bother me that much.

I really liked the initial grim appearance of Xenonauts' UI elements and art in general, it was a big part of what drew me in and I'm kinda sad to see it chipped away bit by bit, but the wip UI is pretty good as well. Do what you think is best.

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I agree, while i don't mind the current system i would prefer something more easy to read.

I like the idea of different colour numbers but i like the idea more of different colour bars and numbers next to the bar. so say have a green bar for 1 - 20 and then a red bar that overlaps the green bar slowly for 21 - 40 with the numbers next to the bar maybe in matching colour.

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For some reason I like the idea of the numbers on top of the bars. Compactness maybe?

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You'd get more compactness with "Stat Name: <stat bar> <stat number>" rather than the number being on top of the bar.

I think in terms of colour, it'd be better if each bar had its own distinct colour rather than each one being a mishmash. More like the X-Com version really. I'll concept something up later.

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http://www.xenonauts.com/images/se1.jpg

http://www.xenonauts.com/images/se2.jpg

These are the basic concepts for how the new Soldier Equip screen would look if we adopted the new GUI across the board. Basically the soldier equip screen works pretty well as is so this is one of the hardest ones to copy across, but the concept is that it's in a folder on a desk.

Basically it means that we're working with a white background rather than a black one, which gives us a bit more leeway. I might also see if we can expand the element to the size that it used to be too. I guess it'd be good to add some bars between the text and the number (and have both of those in black) which would both make the screen a bit prettier and easier to read too.

Thoughts, anyone?

I have thoughts. The main problem is making the various stats distinguishable from one another, correct? With that new style, you're begging for it to be highlighted/differentiated as if someone had actually taken a highlighter to each line of text. There should be enough highlighter colours for each major stat. That way, it keeps the feel of a document, and makes it feel as if it's an actual thing performed on the documents that allows someone quickly skimming through the personnel files to jump to the soldiers scores in a certain thing/attribute.

It should be noted, however, that I don't think it's really necessary with that new screen. It's clear, concise and utterly beautiful.

When I get money/find a new job, I'm definitely splashing out on a pre-order. This game looks, frankly, amazing.

Edited by Ravenholme

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this may be silly but that just me thinking, perhaps you could have the highlighter be the bar!

So accuracy is say blue, and the word is highlighted in blue, but then the streak of highlighter not only highlights the word, but spreads out past it forming the bar. The higher the skill, the longer this tail of the streak spreads.

Not having photoshop on this computer I unfortunately can't knock up a copy yet, but I will try to do so a bit later

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this may be silly but that just me thinking, perhaps you could have the highlighter be the bar!

So accuracy is say blue, and the word is highlighted in blue, but then the streak of highlighter not only highlights the word, but spreads out past it forming the bar. The higher the skill, the longer this tail of the streak spreads.

Not having photoshop on this computer I unfortunately can't knock up a copy yet, but I will try to do so a bit later

That's slightly better than my idea, but makes less sense in the document format, I think

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Yeah I realise it might looks silly (you'd think people in the army would be able to highlight properly after all!), but if could work with the document theme etc.

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I have thoughts. The main problem is making the various stats distinguishable from one another, correct?

I think the problem is making an instantly clear representation of the ability of the soldier - at the moment it's hard to see if the soldier is good or bad because everything is represented numerically at the moment.

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perhaps rather than a graphical representation to show how LARGE the number is, maybe a written one? So for instance if they have 80 accuracy, you could have this next to it: 'qualified marksman level 8'. A 60 in strength could be: 'strength 6 training regime complete'.

This is not the best idea, I'll admit, but perhaps it'll spark someone else to think outside the box a bit and come up with something better =]

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OK I've attached a quick preview of how the updated Soldier Equip screen could look with the bars. It's probably an improvement, I think. I imagine we'll add a photo outline around the soldier portait in the top left and display it a bit bigger too.

soldierequip_update.jpg

soldierequip_update.jpg

soldierequip_update.thumb.jpg.8410d190a1

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Very nice.

Not sure about the dropship section though. Looks a bit bland. Dot points for the troops, and the categories underlined manybe?

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That bit's not finished. There'll be the existing person graphics for the dropship bit in there, except they'll be black rather than white.

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Fair enough. Was wondering if that was going to get a change too, to get more of the 'folder' feeling.

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Oooh looks Nice! i really like it.

deficiently 100% easier to read.

Also, am i the only one thinking;

Jeremy, You been on 24 missions yet you only have 9 kills?

I suspect he killed all 9 on his first mission, became in charge of the unit, and since then he sits back and sends his men into hell. (While he has some lovely cake)

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Since You talking about soldier screen, I may have two small sugestions:

1. Callsign change. For now If I try to change callsign I allows me to do it but it clears current name and even if I just want to add a tag (Just like We all did on xcom to categorise soldiers) I have to type whole callsign again. Wouldnt it be better if We could edit the current callsign ? On other hand there could be some mechanism to categorise soldiers but the name trick is probably easier to do.

2. Sorting soldiers. Well basically sorting them so I have snipers next to eachother and so on...

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On other hand there could be some mechanism to categorise soldiers but the name trick is probably easier to do.

This one's an oft-requested feature. Two threads on that here and here.

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