galaxy map information modes/overlays

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MikkoM
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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#121 Post by MikkoM » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:34 pm

Has it been considered to display the fog of war without actually using any kind of fog textures? For example, star systems that are currently unobserved could have their names inside these things (), probably called parentheses. Star systems that haven`t even been visited yet could be shown as they are currently shown without their names and planets. Information that is currently unknown about the star system or its planets could be indicated by question marks.

My biggest concern here is that if large parts of the galaxy and planets are covered with this fog of war texture, will the galaxy map and the side panel still look good?

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Geoff the Medio
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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#122 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue May 26, 2009 11:15 pm

eleazar wrote:The crowded parts of the galaxy are almost illegiable. Fortunately the type is large enough that shrinking is OK. Sizing the type according to the following [bunch of specific numbers].
I've made system name font size scale with zoom level. I didn't use the specific numbers suggested because that would involve a lot of awkward hard-coding, but instead just multiplied the zoom level by the main UI font size and imposed minimum (6 pt) and maximum (1.5 * main font size) constraints. Hopefully this is acceptable, but if not, the scaling can be tweaked after checking it out in v0.3.13, which should hopefully have an OSX binary available.
Also the white labels on empty system are popping out too much compared to the colonized systems. They should be a light grey such as #A0A0A0 instead of pure white
I believe this referred to the default unowned system name colour, which has been made greyer, I think. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but it was in the post I'm replying to so I thought I'd note it. The new colour can be seen in recent screenshots. I think there's also an option to adjust this colour, although I'm not certain of that.

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#123 Post by pd » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:04 pm

I've tried to visualize the detection ideas, discussed here. I have assumed that the minimal stealth is 1(0 being always visible). I hope I got all of this right.
Image

As you can see the distance from the outside to the detection threshold is the same in both scenarios, meaning it can be pushed outwards by increasing the detection meter(this is probably obvious).

Here are the first UI attempts. If there are multiple detectors at the same location on the map, only the strongest one should be shown:

The first two mockups are the same, the only difference are visual graduations at 25%, 50% and 75%. Maybe helpful, maybe not.
Image Image

This one shows two detectors at different locations.
Image

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#124 Post by Bigjoe5 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:28 pm

One slight quibble: Minimally stealthy, the way I understand it, is a stealth meter arbitrarily close to 0. At the moment, planets have a stealth of 0.01, so a planet just outside your circles would still be visible.

Also, I think that different intensities to indicate the stealthiest object that can be seen at that point is necessary; suppose there are four star systems, A, B, C and D which are arranged in a triangle like so:

Code: Select all

            A


            B


C                    D
Further suppose that the player has detecting objects at all of these points, such that there is no space in between them at which a minimally stealthy object could not be detected. If the detector at B is significantly stronger than those at A, C and D, the player would be able to detect a stealthier object at B than at anywhere else in his detection range, and should be able to know this at a glance. In a different situation, the size of the circle would be sufficient to this task, but in this case, B's circle would not extend beyond the circles of A, C and D.

Instead of having obvious changes in intensity, a gradient would look much nicer, if that's not too difficult. Also, while the "threshold" line should definitely stand out, there's no need, IMO, to make it a different colour like red, which could be misconstrued as a reference to another empire, and wouldn't really help it stand out anyway if the empire's colour was red...
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Geoff the Medio
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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#125 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:38 pm

Having 25%, 50%, 75% concentric circles at different opacities makes the overlay a lot busier and complicated... I think it's better without them.

To clarify Bigjoe5's comment about the red circle, and since I wrote it before he had posted, the green colour of the visibility circles in the recent screenshots is that colour because that's the colour of the empire the player is controlling. If the red circle for the user-set stealth detection threshold is supposed to stand out from that, it won't work in general, as an empire might have a red or reddish colour and the circle wouldn't be so easy to see.

Having the overlapping circles not add opacity (when filled) and not overlap their borders (when not) is somewhat complicated, particularly if the border / curved line is to be rendered as a line with all the standard line-related graphics tweaks, rather than as two slightly different radius filled circles, with the inner one marking the area where the outer one shouldn't be rendered, which might be harder to get looking right.
Bigjoe5 wrote:a gradient would look much nicer, if that's not too difficult
It would be rather difficult, as far as I know.

Setting a stealth threshold would be a useful alternative though, as it would detection rings of remove objects smaller, so the ring centred on an object that was overlapped by other objects' detection rings at stealth threshold 0 would still be shown as having visibility around its own area. (Edit: As can be seen with pd's third mockup, in the area around the ship that is covered by the system's stealth = 0 ring, but not the smaller stealth = 3 ring.)

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#126 Post by tzlaine » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:02 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:Having 25%, 50%, 75% concentric circles at different opacities makes the overlay a lot busier and complicated... I think it's better without them.
+1
Bigjoe5 wrote:a gradient would look much nicer, if that's not too difficult
It would be rather difficult, as far as I know.
Yes -- it requires the use of the stencil buffer. It's not rocket science, but it's a bit more complicated. I also think it's necessary, though, since letting the regions overlap will suggest increased/overlapping/cumulative detection.

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#127 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:18 pm

tzlaine wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:a gradient would look much nicer, if that's not too difficult
It would be rather difficult, as far as I know.
Yes -- it requires the use of the stencil buffer. It's not rocket science, but it's a bit more complicated. I also think it's necessary, though, since letting the regions overlap will suggest increased/overlapping/cumulative detection.
Do you mean avoiding the overlapping is necessary, or the gradients are necessary?

I don't see how gradients are necessary to avoid implying cumulative effect from overlapping detection discs. Just having a constant opacity within the shaded region, regardless of how many discs could be covering a particular spot, would seem sufficient. Like pd's 3rd mockup, as opposed to the screenshot earlier.

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#128 Post by tzlaine » Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:13 pm

I meant that avoiding overlap is necessary. And gradients are too hard, if we want to avoid overlap.

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#129 Post by pd » Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:55 pm

fixed the threshold color:
Image

It's probably a good idea to start thinking about the actual UI, that controls this detection "overlay", including the element to control the stealth threshold. The player should be able to toggle this and other things(see previous pages) directly from the galaxy map and shouldn't have to go to the options screen. I'm wondering if this could be embedded into the galaxy map(similar to the scale bar)? I'd like to avoid another floating window(the other being the fleet window(s)) if possible. Thoughts?

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#130 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Oct 16, 2009 6:25 pm

pd wrote:It's probably a good idea to start thinking about the actual UI, that controls this detection "overlay", including the element to control the stealth threshold. The player should be able to toggle this and other things(see previous pages) directly from the galaxy map and shouldn't have to go to the options screen. I'm wondering if this could be embedded into the galaxy map(similar to the scale bar)? I'd like to avoid another floating window(the other being the fleet window(s)) if possible. Thoughts?
Having a window would be consistent with the tech tree controls.

Whatever the presentation is, it should be possible to hide the map controls. We've usually ended up using an array of buttons, which could get quite bulky for more than a few display options.

Below the scale bar would be a good place. To the right of the scale bar might not be best, as there should eventually be other stuff related to resources there, perhaps including tooltips showing all the contributions of various systems or objects to the empire resource pools.

We also probably want an empire fleets list somewhere, which I had pondered putting on the left side of the map screen, although such a list could be just part of a separate sortable list of all objects on a separate screen or floating window...

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#131 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 6:49 pm

There are several options for accessing specific overlays that could be implemented, one of which should probably be keyboard shortcuts, regardless of whatever other methods there are for accessing these information overlays.

An unobtrusive tab on the left side of the screen, much like the one on the top which contains resource information and other buttons could be used to select specific modes/overlays. There is no need for this tab to always be present; there could be a button beneath the turn button which expands this tab. The buttons for the overlays themselves would not require words on them; that would intrude into the screen too much. Instead, icons should be used for a more compact format, and tooltips should be used (regardless of whether icons or words are on the actual buttons) to clarify the function of the specific overlay in question.

Alternatively, there could be a second row of buttons on the tab at the top of the screen, specifically for information overlay buttons. I'd prefer having them on the left though, as having more things on top might intrude upon the system sidepanel (and as Geoff points out, that space might be used for additional resource information in the future)...

As for adjusting the stealth threshold, this could be a more general issue for when a player wants to specify any specific aspect of an information overlay. Presumably, there need be only one information overlay active at once, so there shouldn't be a problem with a small pop-up window requesting specifications for the overlay - what the stealth threshold should be, for example, or which specific planet environment to flag. The pop-up window would disappear when the overlay is deactivated, and reappear where the player left it when it is reactivated. This way, it can be put in a prominent location when the player first activates it, so he'll notice it, but can be tucked away in a corner once he knows its there and what its for.

Another possibility would be to have these options be preset in a different options menu (not ideal) or to have the options be always visible next to the button that activates the overlay. The latter option has the advantage that every option for which the player can set a specification is made quite obvious, but the disadvantages are that it would further intrude into the galaxy map, and if the tab is collapsable, players who use keyboard shortcuts to activate the overlays will have to use the tab to set specifications anyway, defeating the purpose of keyboard shortcuts.

On a side note, in addition to specific information overlays, the player should have the option of viewing the galaxy map from the point of view of a different empire (using only known info about that empire, of course). This would mean that in any specific overlays or other UI elements, the selected empire's info would take priority over all others in the case where not all overlapping info can be shown. This would be particularly useful when determining if a specific ship or fleet can be detected by a certain empire, for example (the other empire's known detection levels may even be taken into account, so any objects belonging to the player that the selected empire can't see would be invisible to the player himself with this option). It could perhaps be controlled from the same panel as the other overlays, but there would have to be a distinction between it and the other options to imply that it can be operative at the same time as any other overlay.
Geoff the Medio wrote:We also probably want an empire fleets list somewhere, which I had pondered putting on the left side of the map screen, although such a list could be just part of a separate sortable list of all objects on a separate screen or floating window...
My opinion is that there should be several separate windows for colonies, fleet lists, known planets, etc., the buttons for which could be arranged on the bottom of the screen like in MoO2, which I thought dealt with those things very well. (There would/probably should be a bit of redundancy between these screens and the information overlays.)
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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#132 Post by Bigjoe5 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:11 am

Regarding the resource production overlay: just overlaying a pie chart of resource production seems kind of, well, clunky? What if the star itself turned into a shining pie chart for that overlay, with relative pie slice sizes displaying relative resource production and the intensity, or brightness of the star displaying overall resource production? Having stars with different slices different colours might look weird, but on the other hand, it might actually look much more elegant that just sticking a pie chart over top of the star system.
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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#133 Post by pd » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:58 am

Image

Looks quite confusing, was worth a try though. I wouldn't call the previous pie charts clunky, but they are pie charts after all, what do you expect. Above all, it has to be easy to read them. This is accomplished with simple shapes, clear edges and contrast(in color and/or tone). The stars' halos are a big problem in regards to this. Also star color can easily be confused with resource color.

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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#134 Post by Bigjoe5 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:38 am

It seems to me that the most confusing thing about it is the different radii for the different segments. I think it might look better if it was done more like this
Image
than like this
Image

It looks to me like the shine effect around the edges is a big factor in determining size, so if brightness is used to distinguish between different amounts of individual resources, it seems to me that they would almost certainly need to be different sizes. If it were used to distinguish between different amounts of total resources, than the whole star could be the same brightness and therefore the same size, regardless of the relationships between production of different resources.

I don't mean to be a back-seat artist, just coming up with bad ideas while other people do all the work, but what you made there isn't really what I had in mind, and I think a some of what you mentioned would be alleviated by making the whole star a constant radius. You would generally know more about this than I would, but I'd be interested to see if it would be effective this way; it really does seem like it could have potential to be nicer than the previous pie charts.

Edit: It would kind of be a mix between the first type of pie chart above, and this:

Image
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Re: galaxy map information modes/overlays

#135 Post by mZhura » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:48 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
pd wrote:It's probably a good idea to start thinking about the actual UI, that controls this detection "overlay", including the element to control the stealth threshold. The player should be able to toggle this and other things(see previous pages) directly from the galaxy map and shouldn't have to go to the options screen. I'm wondering if this could be embedded into the galaxy map(similar to the scale bar)? I'd like to avoid another floating window(the other being the fleet window(s)) if possible. Thoughts?
Whatever the presentation is, it should be possible to hide the map controls. We've usually ended up using an array of buttons, which could get quite bulky for more than a few display options.

Below the scale bar would be a good place.
i think stealth/detection become the most considerable game strategic feature. so, my thought is: UI element to control the stealth threshold must always be on galactic map (below the scale bar) and must be controlled with something like shift/ctrl+mouse-wheel
Bigjoe5 wrote:Regarding the resource production overlay: just overlaying a pie chart of resource production seems kind of, well, clunky? What if the star itself turned into a shining pie chart for that overlay, with relative pie slice sizes displaying relative resource production and the intensity, or brightness of the star displaying overall resource production? Having stars with different slices different colours might look weird, but on the other hand, it might actually look much more elegant that just sticking a pie chart over top of the star system.
IMO pie chart seems not enough informative because it shows only relative values. i think absolute values are necessary for most situations

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