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Ground Combat UI improvements


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Now that we are in beta, it's time to drag up all those suggestions you guys have made over the years on minor improvements for the ground combat interface which Chris replied to with "Remind me again in beta" :)

Obviously, no balance change suggestions here, there's already a thread for that. What I'm looking for is the kind of small tweaks or new features that would make the ground combat interface more powerful to use and/or would make it easier for the player to engage with the game; these could be things only a crazy pro would use, or stuff to nudge new players in the right direction.

A couple of mine to get started:

Reserved AP bar shading - this would make it so that when you reserved some AP for a soldier, a portion of their AP bar would be coloured differently (gold perhaps?) to indicate this. This would occur both on the "big" AP bar visible when the soldier is selected, but also on the small quick select soldier portraits just above the UI. This will make it clear at the end of a turn if a soldier has AP left because you just forgot about him, or because you reserved it for reactions.

Display explosives radius - as it sounds, just show the blast radius of explosive weapons as some shaded tiles when you are aiming them.

So let the ideas flow! Really simple changes can often make a huge usability improvement so don't be afraid to suggest things that sound trivial.

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Some quick ideas.

Grenade Arc Trajectory - Make it so when you are aiming a grenade you can see the trajectory it will take assuming it is an accurate throw, will allow a player to decide the risk in throwing form that range and if it might hit anything.

Better Cover Protection Indication - I suggested this earlier, but I feel having a sort of whiteish circle surrounding a soldier to show what directions the soldier will be protected from incoming fire.

Universal Reserved AP - Have it so I can set a certain reserved AP setting as a universal one to all of my soldiers, so I don't have to go through each solider individually. This can be a separate button or function so you can still set individual soldiers reserved AP.

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I second everything said so far.

Been playing on Steam (hurray!) and I've noticed a couple of things that are already frustrating me.

Make (seen) aliens behind terrain more obvious -- An alien was behind a rock and I couldn't see him at all (my troopers had such problems). I knew he was there, and I could hover over him to target him.. but it usually involved hunting around until the icon changed; I spent some time hunting for a way to rotate the map, but didn't find one. Some way of clearly indicating there's an alien there you can see. A clear silhouette or outline, or maybe fade the terrain.

Add a Next & Next (Ignore) button (and shortcut keys) - Just like the original XCOM had. I discovered by accident that the mouse wheel sort of does that. I really like the Next (Ignore) button; it suits my play style. When there's action in one location I tend to move the troopers closest to it first (regardless of their order/number) then I move the rest. The Next (Ignore) button would allow me to be sure I'd moved every trooper I wanted to.

Option to show movement zones & available cover - When selecting a trooper it would be great if movement possibilities & possible cover were shown. E.g. outline all tiles with green/yellow/red to indicate where the trooper can move. If a terrain feature provides cover if the player is behind it, maybe indicate that. I'd have this as an option as I can see that some players might not like these extra cues, wanting to figure this out itself. You could tie the option to difficulty level, so it's on by default on lower difficulty and off by default at the harder levels.

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Option to show movement zones & available cover - When selecting a trooper it would be great if movement possibilities & possible cover were shown. E.g. outline all tiles with green/yellow/red to indicate where the trooper can move. If a terrain feature provides cover if the player is behind it, maybe indicate that. I'd have this as an option as I can see that some players might not like these extra cues, wanting to figure this out itself. You could tie the option to difficulty level, so it's on by default on lower difficulty and off by default at the harder levels.

That would be really useful.

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A few ideas,

1) Have a belt space quick function icon, like if you have a med pack in your belt, you can just click it to get out the med pack without fishing in the inventory twice to heal someone and put it back in.

2) show the effects of stun damage overlaid in the health bar, gold, gray overlay? whatever

3) like the grenade RL blast radius with a thin circle, ideally with a thin line showing the arc. Furthermore a simple accuracy system for grenades, either two extra lines diverging from center at the thrower to the target, or thin concentric circles at the target?

4) a softer less jagged view of FoW

5) a FoW that is dark but not pitch black which shows the lay of the land, ideally for urban maps, less so for deserts

6) Moral bar icon, what is that supposed to be btw :P and I guess the morale should go down under stress, i've never seen it drop

7) like MartinSGill ideas of showing available cover and movement zones, XCOM 2012 had that nailed

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My two cents:

#1 - Have a button that shades the map to show every tile the currently selected soldier has LOS to.

#2 - Change the FOW to show terrain, but not unspotted aliens. Perhaps a more transparent grey color for the LONG FOW to show you can't find aliens, but can make out terrain.

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I too want to throw in my vote for some sort of display of the movent area available... either as suggested, or if you hover the mouse over the soldier (so you don't have the display on all the time)

...OR (ideally, in my opinion) have a path/trajectory continually drawn between your mouse and the selected soldier, so you can just hover the mouse over wherever you want to go, and you'd see the resulting path and the limit of the range (...pretty much what you currently have when you CLICK the ground now, but have it continually updating, and not needing a click). The click would then accept that path. The current method is a BIT clunky for me somehow.

I've only played a few minutes, so I need to spend some more time with it to really get a feel for the controls and stuff... but, that's one thing that I noticed right away.

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Have the soldier tab (the tabs along the top of the UI at the bottom of the screen, that show the number, and mini health/AP's, etc) highlight when you hover the mouse over a solider (so you can quickly and easily get a sense of who is who).

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Lots of great improvement ideas, guys! Heres my nitpickings :) While "toggle roof" and "inventory" buttons are colored, the kneeing is not. Change all icons to white (or full color) to achieve cohesive look.

Also, one of the main things to make the game look stellar would be to smooth LOS edges.

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  • An toggleable option to have soldier's numbers display over their heads, probably just above where the white selected-soldier-arrow icon appears when you click on a soldier. Probably turned on/off with a hotkey and a tickbox in game options rather than a button on the UI, though.
  • This might be better in the new UI, but it can be really hard to make out which soldier's selected from the tabs. Maybe have a thick coloured border around the currently selected soldier's tab instead of only highlighting their number?
  • Class icons in/above those number tabs. Maybe to the left of the number?
  • I'm no longer sure whether suppression is binary. If suppression/alien TUs are still buggy then discard this point.
    I know that the most you can suppress a target is 50% of their TUs next turn, but I don't know whether a target is suppressed to that amount every time. If it's not binary, different coloured icons would be useful. The current blue background on the suppression icon to indicate that the target is suppressed but still has TUs to be drained (light suppression), and a red background when heavily suppressed to indicate that it's impossible to drain any more TUs this turn.
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I dont know if this has been suggested but I would like to be able to cycle through units via a single keybind instead of using the mouse scoller. The scoller feels weird and I simply cannot get used to it. I would much prefer Tab as cycle with shift+tab as cycle backwards. That leaves the mouse scoller itself unasigned so I would want it to be elevation level, which is perfect for me.

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Have a toggleable option to always see soldier faces on the bottom panel. I've a pretty large resolution (2560x1440) and as thus, there's plenty of room with an UI that sized, so I'd like to add another layer to remember my favorite soldiers by.

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I got to the first combat mission and played it through once and then reloaded to try to do better after learning.

After that I quit the game, my hand was sore from the insane amount of repeated movements.

Every single turn I have to hit the same pattern of keys and/or do the same mouse movement over and over.

Select Soldier, Move/Fire, Crouch * times number of soldiers in my group.

A much better design would be at the start of my turn it automatically select soldier 1, then I do something and hit space to End Turn for that soldier. If I have "spaced" all my soldiers it is the aliens turn automagically.

Auto Crouch and auto crouch as part of the TU reserve.

Soft TU reserve instead of the current hard reserve system. If I tell my soldier to use more TU's than his reserve, he should simply use them and ignore the reserve. Basically make the movement coloring the only effect the reserve system has.

Actually complete remove the reserve system from the UI, just use movement path coloring indicating that if he moves to this spot he will have TU's left for this or that depending on the color of the path indicator. Also it should show the movement path without having to press a button first, just by waving the mouse around it should give the path.

Edited by Miravlix
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I prefer to be able to select which soldier I want to move myself, it is rare I would move them in numerical order rather than by their position on the battlefield so that system would not work well for me.

Auto crouching is also something I dislike, what if I don't want to crouch?

Would it only crouch if there are not enough AP left for other actions?

What about if you stop moving part of the way to your ultimate destination to peer round a corner.

Would the game auto crouch you there so you had to waste AP standing back up or would you have to manually enable and disable auto crouch several times a turn so it only happened when you wanted it to.

Crouching should be a decision I make depending on the current situation, not something the game does for me regardless of my intentions.

I would like to see AP reserve for (manual) crouching added though.

AP reserve will have an override key so you will be able to go into your reserve without having to turn it off and on manually each time.

How would your coloured movement path decide which action to colour code itself to?

And how would it indicate which action it was currently showing the AP for?

A rifleman for example has the option of three aim levels plus burst, plus possibly a grenade, medikit, kneeling and so on.

The current system assumes you already know what you want to do with the AP you reserved as you were the one who reserved it.

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Quite a few of the ideas were actually in Terror from the deep.

Anyway, another request I'd have would be the "Supression" icon plus any other icons are currently dimmed out and really hard to see on aliens at the edge of vision. It would be nice if the little blue indicator arrow at least was exempt from the dimmed lights.

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