Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Chat about anything and everything Frozen Synapse

Moderator: Admins

Post Reply
User avatar
Faxmachinen
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:27 pm
Location: Norway

Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by Faxmachinen » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:06 pm

The planning stage UI is a bit unintuitive, but once you learn the ropes it's usable for most purposes. But when you're trying to micromanage your units it can be rather annoying; units, their waypoints, orders and timelines all overlap and become hard to select. I've got a suggestion that hopes to rectify this problem, and make the UI more intuitive all in one go.

What do most level editors, image- and sound manipulation software and a cake have in common? Layers. And as you can clearly taste, it's rather delicious. The cake, that is. The principle is to group together things that both make some vague sense to keep together, and don't get in each other's way. Here is an example for Frozen Synapse:

Layer 1: Selecting units and playback
This is the default layer. It should have a hotkey. Click a unit to select it, or use the right-click context menu and select one from there. The cycle key (if there isn't one, there should be) lets you cycle through units. The playback/prime controls are only visible on this layer.

Layer 2: Creating waypoints and selecting them
Single-click to create a waypoint for the selected unit. The right-click context menu should let you select the closest waypoint, add a waypoint to the middle of a line, or remove the closest waypoint. The cycle key cycles waypoints.

Layer 3: Timeline and orders
This layer always shows a timeline for the selected waypoint. There is a "wait here" marker that you can drag along the line. There is also a selection marker that lets you add orders to a particular point with the right-click menu. Right-clicking the path leading away from the waypoint also gives you the option to select that point in time on the timeline. The cycle key puts the selection marker at each of the orders already on the timeline.


So what do you think? Is this idea stupid? Should there be a separate layer for commands that require targets? Should there only be two layers, so you can easily toggle between them? Do you like cake a lot?
User avatar
TheBeefiest
Posts: 214
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:48 pm

Re: Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by TheBeefiest » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:09 pm

I would like to take this space to express how much I enjoy the uniqueness of this games user interface. Sure a few things overlap and are hard to grab, but overall it feels very original and functional, especially for a beta.
Lyx
Posts: 101
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:28 pm

Re: Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by Lyx » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:24 pm

I don't have much to add to your topic, faxmachinen, except of that i agree that the mapUI is (still) too cluttered. Your layer-idea would certainly reduce the amount of clutter, but to me the switching between layers seems annoying. Personally - ignoring timehandles - i think that even though the map-UI is still too unintuitive and cluttered, there isn't that much left to do to make it intuitive and sufficiently uncluttered. However, since this topic is about a layered planning approach, i do not want to go into more detail, since that would be quite offtopic.
User avatar
Faxmachinen
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:27 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by Faxmachinen » Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:12 am

Lyx wrote:Your layer-idea would certainly reduce the amount of clutter, but to me the switching between layers seems annoying.
Very good point. You could map the layers to keys, but that means more keys to relate to.

On the other hand, Frozen Synapse is already using Ctrl and Shift to perform certain actions. Since you can have more room on the right-click menu (as well as the screen in general, by hiding the playback controls) with the different layers, you could move those actions there, and use Ctrl and Shift to enable the different layers instead. To me, this seems more intuitive than "you can issue any order with the RMB, except for 'look at', which is Ctrl+LMB".
As per the example, it becomes single-click to select and place units, Ctrl+click to add and modify that unit's waypoints, and Shift (or perhaps more intuitively, Ctrl+Shift) to change the waypoint's timing.

Another nice feature of layers is that you can provide layer-specific help in the tooltip bar.
User avatar
Omroth
Site Admin
Posts: 1825
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:07 pm

Re: Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by Omroth » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:24 am

Just a quick note - I know this isn't an ideal solution, but playing with it might forward your ideas.

Indiv Mode

Select a unit
press 'i' to start Indiv Mode
use [ and ] to cycle through plan elements
press 'i' to leave Indiv Mode

This allows you to edit only one waypoint at a time.

Ian
User avatar
Faxmachinen
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:27 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by Faxmachinen » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:18 am

That's quite handy. I will have play with it a bit.
User avatar
zoog
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:09 pm
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Suggestion: Planning UI layers

Post by zoog » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:32 pm

Although I see why layers would be nice for the current cluttering of timeline etc. I think it will be too much of a hassle. Right now it's very intuitive, no matter what, you can adjust everything. And most of the time you start with 1 unit and it's orders. So if you have to select unit one, give move, aim and timeline orders (constantly changing between layers) and then you address unit 2 and repeat the process I can imagine the layer switching is very unintuitive.

What I would suggest (just out the top of my head) is a function to enable and disable labels (just like google earth). So in normal view you have all labels visible, once you have set your overall masterplan (with the current intuitive interface) and you need to, for example, adjust some small things near two waypoints which clutter each other with several order you just temporarily disable a specific label (in example the timeline label) and switch them back on afterwards. So you keep the current intuitive interface, but at the same time you give people the option to micro manage/de-clutter when really needed.

So you could have something like:

Show labels:
[x] waypoints
[x] aiming
[x] timeline

And you can enable/disable by clicking on the cross, and you can combine the labels you like to see (instead of using pre-made layers of either everything, waypoints or aiming or timeline).
Image
Post Reply