I thought I'd make a post for community suggestions specifically about how the user interface (UI) could be improved, that I'd keep updated as new ideas arise and bad ideas are bashed , trying to give devs a nice summary of the best ideas.
This is particularly for little things that would make for a better general experience, without massive changes (rather additions/tweaks to the current UI). For example ideas to ease repetitive or tricky micromanagement, allow for faster items selections, make the game generally more user-friendly (if there are things that you find annoying in the UI, post here about how they could be made better)...
This post is here in the hopes that some of these ideas will be picked for Rebellion or an upcoming Diplomacy patch.
So let's start with ideas I have collected while reading the forums and thinking about it :
- Orders, ships behavior
- Cancel last order / last queued order given to a ship.
I find this would be great when making mistakes, not to have to redo the whole queue...
- Choose between arcing turns and in-place turns
This issue has been raised a long time ago and seems to have been forgotten since. Why not implement in-place turns and add an option in the Tactics Management menu to allow people to choose between those two behaviors ?
If I'm right this idea appeals to quite a lot of people. Could be done with Alt-Right Click for example. Also, it would be nice to fix the queued attacks overkill problem too (http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/410972)
- Choose engagement range and auto-join fleet before ships are constructed. Also being able to choose auto-attack for scouts would be very helpful.
This would be great to ease repetitive micro when you don't want ships to auto-join and want them not in the default "Gravity Well" engagement range. I don't know what would be best, to do it either only at a global level for all new ships constructed, or also at a planetary or factory level (would that level of control be useful ?).
Also has been suggested the ability to pre-select strikecraft composition. I suppose it's doable in a general squadron ratio form, would be nice too.
- Make trade/refinery ships unfollowable.
This has been pointed here : http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/406580/page/5/#2964645. Also, I think unfollowable strikecraft wouldn't be a bad idea (I sometimes find some of my ships following a random fighter while I thought I had told them to attack an ennemy target).
- Maybe fix this little move order issue :
When a scout (or any ship) is at planet A and you want him to go back and forth between planets A and B, if you queue move orders, it will interpret "move to B" orders simply as "phase jump to B", but "move to A" orders will be interpreted as "move to position: center of A gravwell". This behavior is not optimal, as I generally never want a ship to go to the center of a gravwell by clicking on the planet. If I want this, I simply click on a point near the center. However I haven't seen other people complaining about that to this day, I don't know if I am the only one trying to queue phase jump orders for my scouts... Thoughts ?
It seems that each queued order is relative to the current state of a ship, not to the order preceding it. Changing that would probably solve this little issue but I suppose would need a major rework, so maybe there's an easy fix ? Well it's not a big deal anyway...
- Fine-tune autocast abilities priorities
Could be nice to be able to choose which ability one ship (particularly capitals) should prioritize. Also, adding a kind of slider button to adjust the autocast threshold of some abilities : Flak Burst, TK Push with the number of strikecrafts in range, Adaptive Forcefield with dps taken... Could also be used for offensive abilities like Detonate Antimatter or Nano-Disassembler to choose if they should be reserved for high threat targets like caps or used on the first ship in range. Any idea to have a finer control over the autocast behavior in game would be nice. http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/411123/page/1/#2981227
- Set default autocast to off for superweapons
Would just be much better. Currently if you leave it on because you forgot and can't disable autocast while the thing is building, it fires at a random planet you have no interest at aiming (often the pirate base) so that's really not optimal.
- Selection ease
- Add "All superweapons" to the list of quick select
And fix the current Alt-U key mapping that is defined twice by default (Show/Hide Planet Names and Select All Upgadeable Planets, so Alt-U doesn't work for the planet selection). Maybe there are other things that would deserve a quick select (well, "All Titans" I suppose , but aside that ?).
- Make Tab / Shift Tab select the next/previous item of the same type (planet, ship, structure) in the empire tree when no group is selected.
Currently Tab does nothing when there is no group selected and I would have found intuitive to be able to cycle through items with it.
- Add a user action / shortcut key to select the sub-selected ship in a group.
(To be clear, that means deselect all other ships in the group so the only one remaining selected is the one that was sub-selected, as if you clicked on it). I find this could be useful sometimes when you want to move a particular ship from a group (using tab to sub-select the right ship into a small group then using a keyboard shortcut could somehow be faster than clicking sometimes, with a cap ship group for example, or a guardian group...). This is a minor idea and I'll remove it if people find it useless.
- Empire tree
- Allow some empire tree customization
This could include being able to change the number of items in a row, choose the maximum stack size (you can curently do this by manually editing the diplomacy.user.setting file, but in game would be much better). Also, being able to ignore mines in the dots section to free some space would be nice.
- Add an option to enable/disable starbase auto-pinning
More generally, some players would like to be able to really fine-tune which items are auto-pinned to the empire tree.
- Find some way to fix the empire tree jumping around late game behavior
Personnaly I'm not so much annoyed by this thing anymore, since some weeks ago I disabled planets and frigates auto-pin, and I now only pin what I find essential (mainly homeworld, caps, production planet(s) and battle location) so the empire tree is less cluttered and more concise. I would advice people annoyed by the jumping behavior to do the same if they don't already, as it can reduce it quite a bit. Anyway, finding a solution to this issue would be a good thing.
- Please fix the backdrop width
When "Empire Tree: Show Backdrop" is enabled, the backdrop width does not correspond to the empire tree width. (Currently in Diplomacy 1.31 it's not wide enough, though it's fine in Entrenchment 1.051). Also, I don't know if many people use the backdrop, but being able to fine-tune its color and alpha would be nice I suppose.
- Add the option to completely disable the empire tree
While most people think the empire tree is a very good thing, some don't use it at all. Would be nice for these ones to be able to simply disable it. http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/411123/page/1/#2981320
- General / miscellaneous
- Allow for higher feed amounts
Particularly for credits, being limited to giving 250 at once makes one have to click many times when he wants to give a high amount.
- Enable/disable autorecord option
There's an in-game option for autosave, but not for autorecord (you can change it by editing your settings file, but again, in game would be better).
- When an item is being scuttled, free up the corresponding logistics/tactical slots or fleet supply (command points too, but I suppose you don't scuttle your capital ships often )
It would just be nice to be able to queue things while the item isn't yet scuttled (this brings some questions though if the scuttle is canceled).
- Allow scuttling of multiple objects simultaneously when a group is selected
I guess this would be ok, not too risky if group scuttle canceling is there too. Maybe rarely really useful but in some cases I think it would help (if you're testing things, or if you want to scuttle all remaining structures at a planet taken by the ennemy...).
- Make the little jauge bars around planet icons more consistent
Generally, these would be better based on fleet supply present or structure slots used rather than on the number of ships / structures and mines present. Currently, you can't rely on them for knowing at a quick glance what's on a planet. Concrete examples include :
- If there is 1 scout or 1 capital ship at a planet, one bar will be present (but having an ennemy capship at your homeworld is not really the same as having a lone ennemy scout). I personnaly would like to see these bars based on fleet supply, and following a logarithmic-ish scale, for example : 1-3 fleed supply, 1 bar; 4-50 fleet supply, 2 bars; 51-150 supply, 3 bars, and so on.
- A starbase takes one bar (I think) but a minefield will quickly fill the jauge space even though the starbase is generally a bigger threat. It would be better if mines took much less space on these bars and starbases took more of it. Also, depending on the number of upgrades on a SB, they could take more or less bars to reflect the threat level.
- If you have a few ships mixed in an allied fleet, then often you will only see bars of your ally's color. Having at all times at least one colored bar for each faction present (even if it's only a scout) would be better I think.
- When fleets get around 800 fleet supply I suppose, the jauge bars are maxed, but this isn't really the biggest fleet you can encounter. I suppose it would be nice if they maxed only around 2000-2500 fleet supply.
- Add the option to sort galaxy forge maps by name
As it is now GF maps are sorted by players count. But if you have many maps and want to find one you play a lot, it would just be easier to find it in list sortedby name. http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/411123/page/1/#2981337
- Why not add diplomatic rankings in the hud alongside the three others (Empire, Military, Economy) ?
- Let the player know about the game mechanics (armor and weapon types particularly)
Let this info appear on infocards, and have somewhere a chart showing damage modifiers. Also, don't leave obscure infocards (the TEC shield generator for example doesn't show how much damage reduction it does; also the infocards for the 3 superweapons are not really useful for understanding the weapon effects)
August 14 : Added "Fine-tune autocast abilities priorities", "Add the option to sort galaxy forge maps by name", "Add the option to completely disable the empire tree", "Set default autocast to off for superweapons" and "Why not add diplomatic rankings in the hud alongside the three others (Empire, Military, Economy) ?".
Ok so that's already a big chunk of little things. Please add your ideas and let me know which ones you particularly like or dislike, so I will rearrange the list to reflect the most supported ideas and remove the most unsupported ones.