Topic: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD  (Read 3310 times)

Offline Brendan Drain

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Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« on: September 06, 2013, 09:12:59 PM »
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Hey guys! The first Predestination Combat beta is now underway. If you're one of our beta backers, you'll have been sent a link to download the beta installer via Kickstarter or email. If you're a beta backer and haven't received the download link, please send a mail to combatbeta@brainandnerd.com with your Kickstarter username or the email address you used for pledging via paypal.

Please use this thread for any feedback you have on the Predestination combat system, and to suggest any ideas or improvements. Areas we're specifically interested in hearing about include:
  • Performance: How smoothly does each of the four scenarios run on your system? Scenario 1 is designed to be graphically the lightest and Scenario 4 is very heavy on particle effects, and we'd like to know if it causes any problems.
  • User Interface: How intuitive is the user interface to use? Is there anything missing that you'd like to see, like any more toggle options? Would you change anything about the UI?
  • Combat Mechanics: Any thoughts you have on the tactical gameplay, weapon types, modules, etc. shown in the beta.
  • AI: How effective does the combat AI seem, and does it make good decisions?
  • Ideas: You've previously given us a lot of ideas for ship weapons and modules, many of which are currently in development. We're interested in hearing any more ideas you have on the tactical combat portion of Predestination, including any cool weapons and modules you'd like to see.
For reporting bugs and issues with the game, head over to the official Bug Reporting thread. For information on the beta or help in getting it up and running, head over to the Help & Information thread.



Combat 2.0 updates: [Updated: 06 Feb 2014]

I'd like to give a special welcome to our new beta backers from the Predestination 3D Ship Designer Kickstarter! Based on the first round of feedback in September 2013, we've prepared version 2.0 of the fleet combat system. Combat 2.0 will be introduced as part of the upcoming galaxy beta and isn't in the Fleet Combat beta download. When giving feedback on the Fleet Combat beta, please check the list below to see if your suggestion has already made it into the Combat 2.0 update!
  • Moving the mouse over an enemy ship now highlights all weapons that can attack it.
  • Clicking on an enemy now automatically fires all weapons in range. Weapons can still be fired manually.
  • Shield arcs are now drawn as 3D models surrounding each ship.
  • It is now possible to Undo moves.
  • New map toggle option: Highlight Recommended Moves.
  • Ships and turrets can now be rotated correctly during deployment, and their firing arcs are highlighted.
  • The arrow keys now rotate the camera, and WASD can be used to directly control a ship one move at a time.
  • The "free turns" mechanic has been removed to simplify turning.
  • Tons of cool new weapons have been designed and implemented.
  • The AI no longer suicidally charges into deployed mines.

Cheers,
-- Brendan, Lead Developer
« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 02:13:26 AM by Brendan Drain »

Offline Kordanor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 10:53:45 PM »
So here is my feedback, which is exclusively about the interface:

-I think it's the standard to drag the mouse with left mousebutton and rotate the map with right or middle mousebutton. Rotation with left button felt off
-I don't see a point to move ships with arrow keys. Would prefer these to move the camera, also like in other games (e.g. Civ 5)
-The Interface looks quite basic in general but I guess this will be overhauled anyways (font not fitting, buttons oversized, useless up/down buttons...)
-Neither the interface nor the game itself did give me any direct feedback. Yes there were numbers. But it didn't feel like I attacked with a small unit or with a big one. The explosions were totally off
-the weapons buttons should not show details upon selection but show the info on the button itself. No use to have an oversize button just with the weapon name on it
-an option would be nice to always show weapon range. Maybe have a color for each weapon and then draw a thin line (e.g. like a green line for unselected ships) for each weapon range.

What bothered me most were the controls. Look at the pictures. In the top left you can see the enemy ship. In the bottom right you see my active ship. Now how should I navigate to be able to attack the enemy ship? I need to move one field to the right...but how?
The system like it is designed right now would work in a game without hexes where every ship can freely be turned, much like frozen synapse.
But with hexes it's more natural to have more abstract units and combat. Like a unit always fills out one hex and can attack into any direction. That would decrease the tactical possibilities of course. But right now this would be the easiest solution to frustrating controls.
An alternative could be to handle units like buildings in an RTS for example. There you "drag" the building freely on the screen and can turn it. Once you see it fits and all tiles are green, you click and the building is placed (= the movement is executed).

PS: this Verification after the post is really, really annoying

Offline DatonKallandor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 10:56:37 PM »
I think a good way to handle movement would be a single click on a hex "confirms" the destination hex, at which point the ship facing follows the mouse cursor. Same button again makes the ship move to that hex using that facing. It saves on clicks, gives simple abort options (the other mouse button) and gives maximum control.

Also here's some movement modifier suggestions:
A modifier (extra strong thrusters?) that gives a ship the option to move to an adjacent hex, with no change in facing, for 3 points. This won't save points for the front 3 hexes (1 turn, 1 move, 1 turn again for those - same cost), but will save points for the back 3 hexes. It'd be useful for players that want to dance in and out of combat range while still using frontal arc weapons.

A modifier to give up all your turning but gain extra movement points to use for straight ahead movement.

A modifier to give up all your turning in exchange for the ability to go straight backwards with no change in facing.

The ability for player designed ships to change their movement patterns is this way (or similar ways) would really make it a game of spaceship chess, where different ships move differently on the board. And it should be fairly easy to balance too - the cost of the modifiers when designing is the obvious way.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 11:05:59 PM by DatonKallandor »

Offline Kordanor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 11:04:05 PM »
That would be another possibility. But I think the game is currently designed in a way, that turning actually costs movement points. Therefore this method would not work that well.

Offline DatonKallandor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 11:07:17 PM »
Sure it'd work - silhouette the ship red in the facing selection phase of the 2-click movement order if there's not enough points left over to turn in that particular way. Or give the destination hex glowing borders - green for valid facings, red for invalid. Hell, the change facing phase (after 1 click) would also be a great time to show the weapon arcs for that particular ship, that way you can easily check your firing arcs for whatever position you need to know it from (if you let the player use it on out-of-range hexes for arc checks).
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 11:09:19 PM by DatonKallandor »

Offline Kordanor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 11:15:25 PM »
Yep, glowing borders indicating the valid facings sounds like a great idea.
But in that case the feedback about which part of the ship you are controlling needs to be better. So that you immediatly know that you are controlling the central hex of a 4 hex ship which has a Y shape and everything else will be adjusted according to the facing.

Offline DatonKallandor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 11:29:02 PM »
The multi-hex ships are worrying - it's really tough to get good player control feedback on that. There's a reason almost no hex-based game has mobile multi-hex units. Generally multi-hex stuff is kept static (stations, cities, etc.). But it's not an impossible problem. Make the "center" hex glow when the ship is selected/hovered over?)

Offline Brendan Drain

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 11:44:11 PM »
Hey guys,

Just dropping a quick note to say thanks for digging straight in and analysing the movement system. Videos can show you what the gameplay looks like accurately, but you need to test it out yourself to feel how it controls, so this kind of feedback is extremely useful for us. We want to make the controls feel right before release, and as I programmed everything so it'll always feel right to me. Tina did feel similarly to you guys when she first tested it out, so that's definitely something we have to address.

It's great to get fresh eyes on the game, that's precisely why we needed this staged beta. Please keep up the discussion and keep suggesting possible changes or alternative systems, it's all incredibly helpful.

Cheers,
-- Brendan, Lead Developer

EDIT: Attached a hex grid image that might be useful for illustrating your points on. I use it a lot when figuring out how things will work on the hex map. Also attached an image of the current ship types and their central hexes (titan and doomstar not implemented yet). This is all subject to being changed based on your feedback.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 11:53:13 PM by Brendan Drain »

Offline Kordanor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 12:08:59 AM »
Can you explain in short how the turning costs are calculated? To me it seems like turning to the next hex-side is free if you do it for the first time. And from then on costs 1 movement per turn. So a ship facing the upper side of the hex would need to do Up->UpperRight->LowerRight->Bottom= 3 Movements -> 2 Movement Points cost. And a cruiser would then also move one hex because instead of occupying the hex on the top of the diamond, it would then occupy the hex on the bottom of the diamond. So effectively this ship would have used 4-1 Points to turn + 1 Point to move.

Offline Brendan Drain

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 12:32:09 AM »
Can you explain in short how the turning costs are calculated? To me it seems like turning to the next hex-side is free if you do it for the first time. And from then on costs 1 movement per turn. So a ship facing the upper side of the hex would need to do Up->UpperRight->LowerRight->Bottom= 3 Movements -> 2 Movement Points cost. And a cruiser would then also move one hex because instead of occupying the hex on the top of the diamond, it would then occupy the hex on the bottom of the diamond. So effectively this ship would have used 4-1 Points to turn + 1 Point to move.
It's one move point to turn 60 degrees clockwise or anticlockwise. But we also have a "free turns" mechanic where we give each ship one free turn. This makes the movement pattern more uniform (discussed in this early prototype video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQjaujmWYmk ).  If it's unintuitive, we could just remove free moves.

For movement purposes, ships larger than one hex use their the central hex and all other hexes are additional hexes used in collision detection. Again, everything is up for change if you have an alternative suggestion.

Offline stickeynote

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 02:40:59 AM »
 I felt with the missile ships that it was hard to determine which missiles where from which ship when they were in the same region. I think it would be nice if the missiles that are launched from a particular ship give an indicator that they are on the move of that ship.
Also it would have been nice to know before I moved a ship in the path of a missile that they could collide with friendlies.
 

Offline Kordanor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 02:58:46 AM »
I tested around for quite a while now on a scratchpad. But I think the different systems don't work together.
Turning just does not work well with hexes.
If you have a map aligned as the one in your file, where the ships can go straight up- it's perfectly fine if they go up and have to rotate after that.
The problem will occur once your ships have to go to the left or right. Or when they need to fly around an obstacle. If they stick to very few moves/round and you add free moves/rotations into it, it will mask the problem but will feel unintuitive instead and you will wonder now and then why you suddenly can still move or rotate.

I think if you really want to keep the "costs for rotating" mechanic into the game, you only have two choices:
-switch to a square systems with 8 directions
-only use the hex system for display purpose, and to show which spots are occupied. But for the math and for the angle use "free space" /12 directions instead.
Example: Your destination is 4 hexes left from your ship.
Currently you would need to face topleft, move, turn by 30 degrees, move, turn by 30 degrees, move, turn by 30 degrees, move
With the "free space" system you would calculate the distance between your position and the target position. The shift would face left and then just move forward, ignoring the hexes, stopping at the right hex and then get it's points reduced by an odd number based on the distance.
This is btw the way Wasteland 2 will do it (they use squares though). I guess the obstacles should be counted as circles so that the edges of the hexes don't mess up the calculations.
The important thing is to display it to the player in a way he understands it immediatly.
Personally I find the System best which is used in Jagged Alliance 2. While they use square tiles with 8 directions I think the way it's displayed can also be a role model for predestination: When a unit is selected and you hover over a tile with your mouse you will see the exact points it will cost you to move there and the path you will take. And of course it's very logical which direction you are facing after that. In addition you know that with 1 point cost, you can turn your look into any direction.

Well, predestination does not use Movement points for firering the weapons so you can concentrate on movement points. Now if the player knows that with 1 movement point he can rotate for a maximum of 90 degrees for example that should work quite well. So the player would see "ah, I need 5,2 points to move to this hex where I would face north and then I have 1 movement left which is enough to turn towards the opponent

Offline Soyeong

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2013, 04:36:21 AM »

-The performance was just fine on my computer.
-It happen to me a couple times where I accidentally clicked on the wrong hex and my ship ended up using it's full movement to do a u-turn, then I had to spend its next turn turning back around.  I'd like to be able to undo movement until I do damage or end my turn.
-It would be nice if I could change the target of missile weapons and the nuclear weapon until they are launched at the end of my turn.
-I'd also like to be able to see the afterburner range without having to activate it.
-Ramming would be an interesting mechanic.
-I'm undecided if I like how ships move, but I think it'd grow on me.  I want to be able to turn on a dime, but it's more realistic that ships are primarily designed to move forward.  The difficulties of maneuvering can also be used to your advantage, so they add a tactical dimension.  Perhaps maneuvering jets could to equipped to a fighter to allow them to turn on a dime like a Babylon 5 Starfury or to a bigger ship to give a 2nd free turn.
-The AI was not bad, but I didn't have much trouble hitting multiple targets with my Plasma Thrower while avoiding hitting my own ships with it.  The Plasma Thrower also decimates 4-hex ships when you hit all 4 hexes with it.
-It would be nice if a ship could delay when it goes in the turn order until after a specified friendly ship goes.
-Hot keys such as with e to end turn and number keys to select weapons would be nice.
-There doesn't need to be a decimal point for hull damage, just multiply everything by 10 to get rid of it.
-I agree the verification after posting is really annoying, it only needs to be there to register for the forum.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 07:05:30 PM by Soyeong »

Offline Tausken

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 10:01:18 AM »

Here is some of my thoughts.

As someone who really liked using Grids. There needs to be some better contrast between ship movement, empty grid spaces and other objects. It grows on you a bit as you play, but I feel a darker gray might help a bit to contrast the empty from the non empty.

- Performance -
Crashed twice but ran fine otherwise

- Interface -

The health of the ships isn't exactly the most intuitive. It doesn't seem to really give me a solid indicator of a ships strength, and having to tilt my head to read the stats is kind of annoying. Maybe place the top left, top right and so forth flat but just have them colored and a little off to the side of the bar.

-Combat -

I really liked the missiles being shot down. I don't know why, but I just had to point this out. That was the single coolest piece of this.

I would like a button that fired every weapon on the ship. There was times where I wanted every gun, but had to select each individual gun for every ship and that was kind of annoying.

I think it would be nice to either have an option or see an indicator of a ships facing. I found those small ships in the first scenario confusing at to their heading at first. That or the model itself could maybe imply the heading better. Especially since that ship can move more freely I found myself a bit lost as to where it was facing at first.

Maybe I'm missing something, or maybe it just isn't there, but the game could use a number showing how many movements you have. Especially given that rotation takes a piece of your movement.

Overall I'm not really sure what I think of the movement or hex's at the moment. It can be incredibly frustrating at times when a ship barely skips the edge of a gun or your larger and multi-hex ships are blocking everything else, but at the same time the blocking and rotation feels like interesting mechanics. Just at the moment they feel kind of clunky. I think having a movement point number would help a lot when determining rotation usage and more clear mechanics behind it overall.

Offline DatonKallandor

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Re: Tactical Fleet Combat Beta - FEEDBACK THREAD
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2013, 10:47:24 AM »
I tested around for quite a while now on a scratchpad. But I think the different systems don't work together.
Turning just does not work well with hexes.

Oh we've got conclusive proof from decades of wargames that turning works just fine with hexes.
What's making it difficult right now is that the UI is clearly in very early stages and that we've got multi-hex units.

Here's a couple of things that would make it much easier:
An indicator that tells you which hex is the center hex of the ship during the movement destination selection process.

A large indicator (I'd put it right over the ship health indicator in the center bottom, or next to the ship name in the turn order list) which tells you exactly how many movement points you've got left and if you've still got a free turn (which personally, I'm not too hot on having anyway but that's just me). Think "MP 4/5 Free Turn 0".

Just that alone would make it much easier to handle movement.

I've already posted my ideas for making control easier earlier in the thread (a 2-click system for movement and facing, overlaying valid facings after the first click before confirming the movement and facing, overlaying firing arcs after the first click before confirming movement and facing).

Although I'll add that WASD for camera movement would be really nice - it's become sort of the standard even for 4X and strategy games, and it just makes sense.

Now that's movement and control, here's some basic UI stuff I've noticed:

The ship status indicator, while awesome is probably not enough on it's own. It's great if you want detail, but if it remains the only way to get information on enemy ships it'll slow play down quite a lot.

I'd love to see shield indicators in the play area when you mouse over a ship (enemy and friendly). They don't necessarily need numbers - coloured facings (the usual green-to-red-to-non-existant would work - although if you wanna be colour-blind friendly make it thickness as well) would work just fine for a quick overview.
Maybe as a toggle like firing arcs if you want to see them for every ship at once.

"Does this enemy ship have shields on this side?" Hover mouse over it, see coloured facings/thickness of facings and immediately know where the shields are weak. This would be something that is much faster (but less precise) than looking at the ship status readout - which requires you to think about where "front" is for an enemy ship that's most likely not facing "north".
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 10:56:22 AM by DatonKallandor »

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