Some UI tweak suggestions

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wheals
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Some UI tweak suggestions

#1 Post by wheals » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:15 pm

First off, this has been the first time I've played a game for the long haul in a couple years, and I'm blown away by the performance improvements later on, and I love the new additions, like Fighters and automatic weapon upgrades and the new outposts :D

The AI seems to be better these days too, though it's still way too cautious -- if it had been smart with its forces, it could have easily conquered me back when it had a production advantage.

There are a few UI tweaks I wanted to suggest -- I can make pull requests for them pretty quickly but I didn't want to spend the time if other people thought they would be a bad idea.
  • Putting the number of ships that you own belonging to each ship design in the window that pops up when you hover over the ship count, on the top bar of the screen, as a way to see your forces at a glance.
  • The way I often go through a turn is by opening the SitRep, clicking on each event to go to the system and maybe looking at the research window, etc., then closing the other windows so only the SitRep is open, and going to the next entry. What I'd like is for it to be possible to close everything but the SitRep just by pressing escape several times; the problem is that currently, the SitRep is the first thing that gets closed by pressing escape. I'd like to change it to be the last thing, to make this workflow easier.
  • Relatedly, a thing I'm used to from Civ is pressing escape when nothing is open to bring up the save/load/options/quit menu. I understand if nobody else thinks this is useful but it always trips me up when it doesn't work. :mrgreen:
  • Lastly, and this is basically just personal preference: I got confused when these summaries were below the visual indicators, since I expected them to be above. I've gotten more used to it over time, though, but I still think they would look better above.
    Image
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The Silent One
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#2 Post by The Silent One » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:36 pm

wheals wrote:Putting the number of ships that you own belonging to each ship design in the window that pops up when you hover over the ship count, on the top bar of the screen, as a way to see your forces at a glance.
This sounds like a very good idea. Also agree on all your other points.
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Jaumito
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#3 Post by Jaumito » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:01 pm

wheals wrote:[*] The way I often go through a turn is by opening the SitRep, clicking on each event to go to the system and maybe looking at the research window, etc., then closing the other windows so only the SitRep is open, and going to the next entry. What I'd like is for it to be possible to close everything but the SitRep just by pressing escape several times; the problem is that currently, the SitRep is the first thing that gets closed by pressing escape. I'd like to change it to be the last thing, to make this workflow easier.
Seconded. Although (if I'm not mistaken), the real culprit here seems to be the Pedia window - all (or most?) the other windows seem to Esc-close in LIFO order.

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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#4 Post by LGM-Doyle » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:39 pm

wheals,
  • Adding design summaries to the ship popup sounds interesting.
  • I agree with Jaumito that LIFO order is the correct way to proceed. Then each player can determine from their own play style what is the last window closed.
  • I think that Esc should only close/escape from windows.
    The "General menu" keyboard shortcut opens the save/load/quit window and it can be done while other windows are open. I think it defaults to F10.

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EricF
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#5 Post by EricF » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:56 pm

LGM-Doyle wrote:wheals,
  • I think that Esc should only close/escape from windows.
    The "General menu" keyboard shortcut opens the save/load/quit window and it can be done while other windows are open. I think it defaults to F10.
Yes, I play several games where hitting escape opens a save game menu,
but they also don't open a lot of pop up menus. This game does and the
easiest way to close them all is to just hit esc again and again.
For this game I like the way esc works as is.
That's my vote.

wheals
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#6 Post by wheals » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:01 am

LGM-Doyle wrote:
  • I agree with Jaumito that LIFO order is the correct way to proceed. Then each player can determine from their own play style what is the last window closed.
  • I think that Esc should only close/escape from windows.
    The "General menu" keyboard shortcut opens the save/load/quit window and it can be done while other windows are open. I think it defaults to F10.
I'll look into making it LIFO order, then. From the glance at the code I did, it doesn't seem like the function has that implemented at all yet.
Thanks for this, I didn't realize there were hotkeys for the windows. Time to go learn them all!
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#7 Post by Heracliton » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:42 pm

I hope no-one minds if I add some other points here - RL issues mean I haven't posted here for a long time & I'm not certain of current forum etiquette.

To begin, I am very impressed by the progress, echoing wheal's comments & more. Just one example - opening one of the recent versions & browsing ship designs, I laughed aloud in delight at the drone factory design. Really first-class. Looked just like my mental image of a space-born factory in Neil Asher's latest. Congrats to the designers :D

Re ships - I like your suggestions, thank you wheal :)

Also: it's quite hard to locate ships - especially outposters -when there are lots of movement dots. If you have a lot of a given type moving around locating them via the Pedia list is painfully time-consuming. One help would be to add in a feature to quickly toggle the dots via a pop-up from right-click on a starlane; much quicker then going back & forth to the Options screen.

I very much miss the fleets 'spreadsheet' in Stars! Something you might consider for the longer haul (& also one for planets). Very useful, indeed essential, were ship filters for the Galaxy map (anyone who's played Stars! even briefly will know to what I refer). There's a wealth of information that cannot presently be captured. In the interim (?) could we have a feature that was implemented in the last one or two versions of Stars!? - i.e. reports. These were optional dumps to separate text files (as CSVs or TSVs) of details of all known planets including infrastructure, & build queue for owned planets; all currently visible fleets including composition, damage, location/speed/fuel/destination/ETA, etc. Easily loaded into any spreadsheet and filtered/sorted. The data for enemy planets & fleets were vital shared data in MP games that permitted teams or alliances. Again very useful when diplomacy makes it into the game.

Also nice would be some record of other races' ship design (names - for Pedia look-up - & manufacturing race) and sighting dates. Having to remember or write down the names for future reference is tedious.

On the UI itself - it can be very difficult or even impossible to select fleets at a given circle when another approaching fleet is very close & overlies the stationary-fleets' icon. How about adding alt-right click on any given circle to open the fleet list?

Happy to expand on any point if there is interest.

Sitrep could be significantly improved also, but I'll make that a separate post.

Cheers, and any thanks or your very professional work.

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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#8 Post by Jaumito » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:14 am

Heracliton wrote:I very much miss the fleets 'spreadsheet' in Stars!
Ooooh, damn YES! And the split/merge fleets window, too - both simple and efficient. And the fleet waypoints orders. And... almost everything. Stars! could turn in a MM nightmare at times, with all those pop-and-minerals transfer hassles, but I still think its overlays and spreadsheet-oriented UI was peerless.

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MatGB
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#9 Post by MatGB » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:14 am

Re locating fleets, firstly ctrl+f/g cycle through all your fleets, alt+f/g cycle through your stationary fleets. I have a mouse button mapped to alt+f so I can make sure I haven't missed anyone and use it every couple turns.

Also, you can use Objects and filter by fleet or ship if you want, Objects is incredibly powerful but frustrating, the UI needs a major makeover but it's got a lot of what you want, I think.

Never played Stars, is it worth digging out?
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#10 Post by Heracliton » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:38 pm

Hi Mat

To start at the end of your post:

Yes, Stars! would be very definitely worth digging out. The interfaces - as Space Squid pointed out - were superb; they had the elegance of simplicity as far as the players were concerned (the programming was apparently something else..). That was a central reason for the game being hugely popular; the only game ever to have had a dedicated Usenet group. The last execs are free to download StarsFaq.com:

https://wiki.starsautohost.org/wiki/Pat ... d_versions

There are some activation codes listed also. Note that it's a 32-bit exe so if you have a PC (486 or better) running any version of Win32 from Win95 onwards, NP. Otherwise with an XP activation code you can also run it under M$'s XPmode, or other free VM; as I do for the occasional bit of nostalgia.

I think it would be well worth a few hours time to get to appreciate the fine design.

I have fiddled a bit with Objects but for a simple list of fleets and locations the Stars! system beats it hollow (sorry). It's vastly quicker than cycling through dozens of fleets. You can see precisely and instantly where every fleet is and its status.

I always hated the clunky MOO3 interface after several years of playing Stars! :)

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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#11 Post by AndrewW » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:07 pm

Heracliton wrote:. That was a central reason for the game being hugely popular; the only game ever to have had a dedicated Usenet group. The last execs are free to download StarsFaq.com:
There is a dedicated MOO2 Usenet group as well.

Also Stellar Frontier, though those might not count as, as far as I know they where only available on their own server.

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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#12 Post by MatGB » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:27 pm

Heracliton wrote: There are some activation codes listed also. Note that it's a 32-bit exe so if you have a PC (486 or better) running any version of Win32 from Win95 onwards, NP. Otherwise with an XP activation code you can also run it under M$'s XPmode, or other free VM; as I do for the occasional bit of nostalgia.
Cool, I normally use my Linux desktop but I've got a Win laptop I'll give it a go sometime, I'm always happy to look at what else is out there and I'd only really played MOO before FO, but I really love this style of game in general.
I have fiddled a bit with Objects but for a simple list of fleets and locations the Stars! system beats it hollow (sorry). It's vastly quicker than cycling through dozens of fleets. You can see precisely and instantly where every fleet is and its status.
Oh I'm quite happy to accept we're nowhere near having a polished user interface for the game in general, and that what we have got isn't as good as it could be, but in general things are getting better: I rarely use Objects for anything other than finding my systems, my fleet management approach tends to be "invade there, go for repairs, invade there" with a patch of "why can't I see that bit of the map, where's a scout", but I'm also the first to admit my strategy approach isn't the norm from what feedback we get on here and I can definitely see the appeal of this game as an empire management game as much as an invade and conquer game.

So, I thought I'd screenshot Objects to show what I mean and found that there are even more features I hadn't noticed or been added recently that are really cool, I'm 100% certain it's not what you're hoping we can have, but it's also way better than it was last time I looked:
Screenshot_20171118_181926.png
Screenshot_20171118_181926.png (225.26 KiB) Viewed 300 times
Of course, having done that I now want to be able to save that layout so I can switch between planets and fleets relatively quickly, don't suppose anyone reading fancies doing some real UI backend work on Objects? It's beyond me to code.

Note you can collapse a fleet view which I've done for some of my troop fleets, the parts listing is pretty cool, didn't know we could do that.
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Re: Some UI tweak suggestions

#13 Post by Heracliton » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:55 pm

@Mat GB

Actually it runs fine under Wine. One issue I found is that it's tricky to start the game; however if you have an existing game file (.m1) and associate that with Stars! the initial opening is no problem, If you want to go that route please LMK & I'll upload a game file for you.

I'll have another look at objects.

On collapsing fleets - I saw a post some while ago about slow performance. AIUI, the program makes a calculation for every fleet. The AIs do not combine fleets at all well. I've seen over 50 individual ships at a single AI base - a PITA when looking at what they have. It should not be difficult to include combining/separating of ships; Star! managed it moderately well.

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