Misc thoughts

On spies, UI and the like

Discussion about the game and its default mods.
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DvD
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:45 pm

Misc thoughts

Post by DvD » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:21 pm

Just a bunch of thoughts I've jotted down over the time. I'm in no way a pro and I mostly play RA team matches, but these should be pretty generic:
  1. Spy power down ability. In large maps with many opponents especially it is rather easy for a player to sneak a spy into an undefended PP and it's comparatively hard for the opponent to counter that. The reward is fairly large compared to the effort, given that 30 seconds (was it 30?) gives ample time to snipe the opponent's nuke/IC/chrono/whatever or otherwise lay waste to an incapacitated opponent. I believe the issue is two-fold:
    1. It is relatively hard to defend against this approach. But fair enough, one should deserve that in 1v1's.
    2. There is nothing that can be done to prevent/mitigate the effect before of after a spy has infiltrated a PP. In other terms, the aggressor has the advantage of initiative (which is fine and should be rewarded for that) AND the safety in knowing there is no way the opponent can counter that. Addressing this point might mitigate the unfairness (if any) of the former point.
    For this I had three options in mind:
    1. Keep the black out as is, but regain power at a certain rate per second. This would allow excess power to be a factor as it means any investment in excess power would give a return in terms of shorter blackout time;
    2. Disable all power plants in a radius of the affected one. Maybe not as intuitive and doesn't make sense when there is no concept of power transmission (a PP provides energy to everything regardless of where it's placed);
    3. Allow engineers to infiltrate PPs to restore functionality. A $500 investment which could pay huge dividends when needed.
  2. The power down slowdown factor seems to be a constant. I recall that in original RA and C&C it was proportional to your power down delta. I might be wrong, but in either case it would be reasonable that a 10% power deficit shouldn't cripple production as much as a 100% one (indirectly making spies a little more powerful).
  3. An auto-repair option. Most often than not (say 9 times out of 10?) you'll want to repair damaged structures. For the one you don't want repaired you can always cancel it (1 click) instead of ordering repairs for the other ones (9 clicks).
  4. Build-on-top-of-queue hotkey. Another QoL suggestion. Right now you have to cancel an entire queue of things in case you desperately need something built or re-built. Placing a build order on top of the queue with something as simple as alt + click shouldn't be an issue unless I'm missing something very obvious here.
  5. You can see enemy powered-down structures. Is this WAD? I don't think you should be able to know that (just as it was in the originals).
  6. You cannot see enemy repair icons. This is the opposite of the previous one. You can see the health of a structure at any given time, so its repair status represents publicly known information: the repair icon should be also displayed for consistency.
  7. Tooltips for GPS icons. Maybe it's just me, but in 2v2v2 and the like I always struggle to know which is which, and I'm not even colour-blind. Just a tooltip showing the owner (and maybe the team, even) of that structure/vehicle/whatever would suffice.
  8. Tooltips for superpowers. Same as before: it would be nice to check whose player/team a certain nuke refers to.
  9. Can't chrono deployed MAD tanks. I guess it's because they become structures. Would've been cool, sending a bunch of MAD tanks back to an opponent's base.

SirCake
Posts: 289
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:40 pm

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by SirCake » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:19 pm

Hey DvD,
the obvious thing you are missing on (4) is skill...

Hehe. Could not resist that one. No really, it was decided - for now - that queue management is a skill and therefore this usability feature its deliberately not being implemented.

Same thing for (3) auto repair.

On (1) yes, totally of your opinion - way too inevitable right now. Look at my UOE mod maps for yet another approach (spys can only sap advanced power plants)

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FRenzy
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:00 am

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by FRenzy » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:33 pm

1. Spy power down ability
Other options :
- One spy shuts downs at certain percentage / or amount of power. For instance : -20% /or -500 in power.
- A spy only shuts downs facilities in a certain radius (base defenses, radar, production slow down of nearby structures, ...)
- Add an infiltration delay, similar to the engineer's capture delay (maybe shorter).
- Using the ping tool on an enemy spy would make any nearby unit (or defence structure) shoot it (chase it).

2. The power down slowdown factor seems to be a constant.
Valid point.
But making it less constant will make power targeting less viable : why should I risk assets attacking power, if its only gonna slow down production by 5-10% ?

3. An auto-repair option
Not sure.

4. Build-on-top-of-queue hotkey.
https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/issues/15752

5. You can see enemy powered-down structures.
Useful to know if your power targeting has beared fruit. Too costly to send a yak to know if AA guns are down or not ...

6. You cannot see enemy repair icons.
Why not. Although not a big deal as currently.

7. Tooltips for GPS icons.
Doesn't it show on hovering ? Or what did you mean ? Having team could be interesting though.

8. Tooltips for superpowers.
Good idea.

9. Can't chrono deployed MAD tanks.
I've no opinion. Why not.

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anjew
Posts: 505
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Re: Misc thoughts

Post by anjew » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:02 am

DvD wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:21 pm
Would've been cool, sending a bunch of MAD tanks back to an opponent's base.
Just dont deploy them until they are chrono'ed
SirCake wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:19 pm
it was decided - for now - that queue management is a skill
Its sad that the hardest thing about RA is queue management and its called a skill.

DvD
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:45 pm

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by DvD » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:31 am

anjew wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:02 am
DvD wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:21 pm
Would've been cool, sending a bunch of MAD tanks back to an opponent's base.
Just dont deploy them until they are chrono'ed
I mean if your opponent chronos them in your base and you try to chrono them back. You can of course chrono them before they are deployed but it wouldn't be as evil as doing that while they're thumping the ground, would it?
SirCake wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:19 pm
Hey DvD,
the obvious thing you are missing on (4) is skill...

Hehe. Could not resist that one. No really, it was decided - for now - that queue management is a skill and therefore this usability feature its deliberately not being implemented.

Same thing for (3) auto repair.
I don't know. Where does one draw the line between usability and skill? The queue system itself is a usability feature, meaning it adds nothing to what you can already do - you could build units and structure one at a time like in C&C and RA - but it would be a heck of a lot of annoying micromanagement.

I see from the GitHub issues that this is fundamentally a design choice much like you explained. I think that intentionally handicapping the usability of the UI is an artificial way for separating the wheat from the chaff and only hampers ease of use: you can always prove your mettle through cunning and whatnot, not necessarily by being quick on rearranging queues. But I guess for many that is what represents competitive RTS play.
FRenzy wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:33 pm
2. The power down slowdown factor seems to be a constant.
Valid point.
But making it less constant will make power targeting less viable : why should I risk assets attacking power, if its only gonna slow down production by 5-10% ?
Fair enough, although it also disables powered defenses and superpowers, so it's not that underpowered. Also it could be a more complex function like 30% regardless of shortfall and then it increases proportionally, but it doesn't have the virtue of simplicity of a constant function.
5. You can see enemy powered-down structures.
Useful to know if your power targeting has beared fruit. Too costly to send a yak to know if AA guns are down or not ...
Thinking about it it's true that you can see that your opponent's superpower clocks stops, so maybe my point is moot.
7. Tooltips for GPS icons.
Doesn't it show on hovering ? Or what did you mean ? Having team could be interesting though.
When GPS is up you have the icons showing the position of enemy structures etc., but they don't produce any tooltip when hovering over them.

SirCake
Posts: 289
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:40 pm

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by SirCake » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:19 am

anjew if you know classic RAonline, you know that was THE skill to master^^

Btw I think I was the first to request the in-front queue modifier. Because I like special infantry.
Though it is possible with skill - in my ragl matches I order each infantry ibdividually. Each one. Just so I can mix in the occasional flamer and grenadier. The trick is using mouse clicks and hotkeys at the same time:)

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FRenzy
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Re: Misc thoughts

Post by FRenzy » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:54 am

8. Tooltips for superpowers. Same as before: it would be nice to check whose player/team a certain nuke refers to.
Now that you raised that issue, I never really knew how it worked, so I took a closer look :
The way superpowers are displayed are by order of the player list (when you press Esc).
So it goes : Team 1: player 1a, 1b, ... / Team 2 : player 2a, 2b, ... / ...
Any new built superpower will be inserted in the right place.

I never knew that, and it always seemed messy and unreadable in team games.

Adding the tooltip could be an idea. Other possibility :
- Adding the team number before the superpower, and separating teams by a line or a space, i.e. :
Team 1 : GPS Satellite: 8:00
Team 1 : Atom Bomb: 9:00
_________________________
Team 2 : GPS Satellite: 8:00
(...)

Adding the name of the player on the the left might not be a good idea, since names lengths will be different, and text will be misaligned. If needed, put it at the end ? Such as :

Team 1 : GPS Satellite: 8:00 - FRenzy
Team 1 : Atom Bomb: 9:00 - VeryLongAndCreativeName
_________________________
Team 2 : GPS Satellite: 8:00 - SirCake
Team 2 : Atom Bomb: 9:00 - .1
(...)

SirCake
Posts: 289
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:40 pm

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by SirCake » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:40 pm

Frenzy how about a minimalist approach - No team names or player names, just a space or separator line between teams?

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FRenzy
Posts: 246
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Re: Misc thoughts

Post by FRenzy » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:49 pm

Yes, here's a suggestion I made in the discord #playtesting channel.

Image

The colors might not be optimal, but the idea is to :
- make information more distinguishable between teams
- simplify and reduce the amount of text, by regrouping similar information

EDIT : for more clarification : this example would be a 5v5v5. Player is on team 2 written where superpower titles are white, the two other enemy teams have their titles in black. Each colored timer correspond to a player's color.
Last edited by FRenzy on Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

SirCake
Posts: 289
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:40 pm

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by SirCake » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:02 pm

Well, the most important information is
1 - which team
2 - what comes first
in that order. Imo
3 - the class of weapon
is not as important as 1 and 2.

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avalach21
Posts: 211
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:01 pm

Re: Misc thoughts

Post by avalach21 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:26 pm

FRenzy wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:49 pm
Yes, here's a suggestion I made in the discord #playtesting channel.

Image

The colors might not be optimal, but the idea is to :
- make information more distinguishable between teams
- simplify and reduce the amount of text, by regrouping similar information

EDIT : for more clarification : this example would be a 5v5v5. Player is on team 2 written where superpower titles are white, the two other enemy teams have their titles in black. Each colored timer correspond to a player's color.
For tri+ team games maybe it would help to have a team title above each team? Team 1: Team 2: etc. I agree we should keep it as uncluttered as possible but it might help to clarify. I would also say that your team (in white) should always be on top for consistency's sake.. seems weird it is in the middle in between 2 enemy teams.

Also why is White teammate text only showing GPS and Atom bomb but not paratroop/bomb/spyplane? Chrono & IC?


Some other ideas, might be hard to implement but, it would be cool if the closest to be ready was always left most, and the furthest from being ready is rightmost... not sure how hard it would be to have the timers shift around in real time but that would be nice have some significance and consistency to why the numbers are arranged the way they are from left to right.

it would also be nice if you could hover the mouse over each timer to get a tool tip of what player it belongs to. In your screenshot for example, sometimes color is not enough as those 2 yellows look awfully similar to me.

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avalach21
Posts: 211
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Re: Misc thoughts

Post by avalach21 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:18 am

DvD wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:21 pm
Just a bunch of thoughts I've jotted down over the time. I'm in no way a pro and I mostly play RA team matches, but these should be pretty generic:
  1. Spy power down ability. In large maps with many opponents especially it is rather easy for a player to sneak a spy into an undefended PP and it's comparatively hard for the opponent to counter that. The reward is fairly large compared to the effort, given that 30 seconds (was it 30?) gives ample time to snipe the opponent's nuke/IC/chrono/whatever or otherwise lay waste to an incapacitated opponent. I believe the issue is two-fold:
    1. It is relatively hard to defend against this approach. But fair enough, one should deserve that in 1v1's.
    2. There is nothing that can be done to prevent/mitigate the effect before of after a spy has infiltrated a PP. In other terms, the aggressor has the advantage of initiative (which is fine and should be rewarded for that) AND the safety in knowing there is no way the opponent can counter that. Addressing this point might mitigate the unfairness (if any) of the former point.
    For this I had three options in mind:
    1. Keep the black out as is, but regain power at a certain rate per second. This would allow excess power to be a factor as it means any investment in excess power would give a return in terms of shorter blackout time;
    2. Disable all power plants in a radius of the affected one. Maybe not as intuitive and doesn't make sense when there is no concept of power transmission (a PP provides energy to everything regardless of where it's placed);
    3. Allow engineers to infiltrate PPs to restore functionality. A $500 investment which could pay huge dividends when needed.
  2. The power down slowdown factor seems to be a constant. I recall that in original RA and C&C it was proportional to your power down delta. I might be wrong, but in either case it would be reasonable that a 10% power deficit shouldn't cripple production as much as a 100% one (indirectly making spies a little more powerful).
  3. An auto-repair option. Most often than not (say 9 times out of 10?) you'll want to repair damaged structures. For the one you don't want repaired you can always cancel it (1 click) instead of ordering repairs for the other ones (9 clicks).
  4. Build-on-top-of-queue hotkey. Another QoL suggestion. Right now you have to cancel an entire queue of things in case you desperately need something built or re-built. Placing a build order on top of the queue with something as simple as alt + click shouldn't be an issue unless I'm missing something very obvious here.
  5. You can see enemy powered-down structures. Is this WAD? I don't think you should be able to know that (just as it was in the originals).
  6. You cannot see enemy repair icons. This is the opposite of the previous one. You can see the health of a structure at any given time, so its repair status represents publicly known information: the repair icon should be also displayed for consistency.
  7. Tooltips for GPS icons. Maybe it's just me, but in 2v2v2 and the like I always struggle to know which is which, and I'm not even colour-blind. Just a tooltip showing the owner (and maybe the team, even) of that structure/vehicle/whatever would suffice.
  8. Tooltips for superpowers. Same as before: it would be nice to check whose player/team a certain nuke refers to.
  9. Can't chrono deployed MAD tanks. I guess it's because they become structures. Would've been cool, sending a bunch of MAD tanks back to an opponent's base.
1, Don’t rely on only one power grid in team games for defending critical structures.. get AA/SAM from multiple team mates around your super weapons in case of a power down.

I agree though, maybe making the spy do a certain % based so you can power down certain things to counteract it…

Maybe if they can get multiple spies into multiple power plants (not the same one) you can stack the effect so if you get a spy into 3 separate powerplants, then you will get a 90% power down (30% each).

If you put a spy into the same powerplant consecutively, it should reset the timer but still only do the 30%.

2. Yes I do think it’s weird how there doesn’t appear to be a proportional power penalty.. it seems it is all or nothing. Which is brutal if you are just -10 power and have nothing to power down. I would be in support of a proportional power penalty.

3. Auto repair seems a little cheesy IMO
4. This has been discussed at length.. to some point I don’t get why the line is drawn as it is exactly.. we have structures and defense queues split up, queueing more than 1/5 units at a time. Holding shift to add 5 units to the queue at once – these were all ok additions to add playability and ease of use – yes they make things easier, so I don’t get why the line is drawn at adding something to the front of the queue which seems similar to all the other additions.

5.I think you should definitely be able to see the power status of powered down enemy structures. If a gap generator is powered down, you don’t see the gap anymore and it stops spinning. I guess that’s different than a tesla or an AA but sure you should be punished for not having enough power for them.

6. Sure, I wouldn’t mind repair icons being visible to all

9. I have no objection to chronoing deployed MAD tanks. Honestly I think MAD tanks are ridiculous OP in team games, yet no one really ever uses them so it goes unnoticed lol. With some very basic coordination, you can chrono in 5+ MAD tanks, iron curtain them, and absolutely level entire bases and there is very little that can be done in response. As you suggested, if they could be chronoshifted out in response, then it would give at least some kind of possible counter to it. If we could see the timers of enemy superweapons as in RA2, that would also help :-D

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