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Pawn World Markers (PWMs)


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#1 A1win

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 07:48 AM

As mentioned in this news post, we've already implemented a big chunk of the core functionality for IA!. With the groundwork practically done and out of the way, we've shifted our focus to some of the bigger gameplay-related features we've planned to include (and have already begun prototyping).

You've seen us mention time and time again our commitment to building a tight-knit relationship with our community, working hand-in-hand to create the best games possible. In addition to your own invaluable ideas and suggestions, we'll be asking you for feedback on specific topics many times over the course of IA!'s development, feedback which will help us ensure we're on the right track.

It's worth noting that with IA! being a spiritual successor to Overwatch (OW), we'll be making many references to the mod in these posts.


Yesterday, we kicked off IA!'s Feedback Requests series with an information-filled post about GP Roles. Today, we'll be covering a much simpler (but still very important) topic.

→ Pawn World Markers (PWMs)

Definition: a pawn is the physical representation of a player or non-playable character (NPC) in the world.

Attached Image: PWMs_01.png Attached Image: PWMs_02.png

For levels to be interesting and eye-catching, environments need to be filled with tons of detail (bright textures, props, etc..) and the game has to offer quite a bit of variety in the environments used (indoors/outdoors, bright/dark, etc..). While such complex scenes are definitely very appealing from a GP point of view, OPs (who view the world from a top-down perspective) might find it difficult to notice specific objects (like pawns). This is one of the reasons why typical RTS games keep the scenery in their levels simple.

Attached Image: ow_ingm07.jpg

PWMs' primary purpose is to highlight pawns within the world, making them easier to spot by the OP. As you'll notice in the image above, the combine unit on the far right would have been very difficult to see without the dashed circle projected underneath.

You've likely also noticed the different colours ranging from green to red. Since being able to know a unit's Health level at a quick glance is very important for OPs, we decided to kill two birds with one stone by integrating that information into the PWMs themselves.

Attached Image: PWMs_03.png

The solution we had implemented in OW works really well, which is why the feature is almost exactly the same in IA! for all OP Units. Here are the details:
  • The inner circle is always visible and shows whether a unit is selected (full) or not (dashed).
  • An outer circle that rotates and has a subtle particle effect (Selection Circle) appears whenever the OP box-selects or hovers over one or more units.
  • Both the inner and outer circles have a matching colour that varies from green to red based on the unit's HP count (Health Indicator).
In case you're wondering, we have discussed using RTS-style health bars instead of our Health Indicators as bars would give a much more precise measure of health. However, they would also clutter the screen with information that isn't that useful. Giving OPs relevant information using as few HUD elements as possible (keeping the clutter to a minimum) is what we believe is most important.

Attached Image: PWMs_04.png

One aspect of PWMs that's been completely changed since OW is how other pawns are highlighted in the world. In OW, red projected circles were used for GPs and other units (like zombies in Crossroads) and, although the circle wasn't exactly the same as the one used for OP Units, it was often difficult to tell them all apart.

In IA!, we've been prototyping a completely new system for GPs (an outline/glow that can be seen through walls) and have been discussing options for other in-game objects that should also be highlighted. We'll discuss this aspect more in detail as soon as we have some in-game screenshots of a few prototypes.

PWMs will definitely not be the only way for OPs to keep track of pawns, with the Minimap also playing a big role. Keep an eye out for future Feedback Requests covering that topic and more.


We're now counting on you to share as much feedback (comments, suggestions, questions, etc..) as possible on what we've described above, and we'll be looking forward to showing you the end result of our collaboration in a Spotlight video blog as soon as we're done implementing the feature in the game!



Please note that the features and details described above are subject to change.

#2 WAXT

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:24 PM

 A1win, on 21 February 2012 - 07:48 AM, said:

In case you're wondering, we have discussed using RTS-style health bars instead of our Health Indicators as bars would give a much more precise measure of health. However, they would also clutter the screen with information that isn't that useful. Giving OPs relevant information using as few HUD elements as possible (keeping the clutter to a minimum) is what we believe is most important.
You could always introduce a third (thinner) ring that acts as a health bar. Or the outer ring could be used in the same fashion.

#3 A1win

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:27 PM

 WAXT, on 24 February 2012 - 09:24 PM, said:


You could always introduce a third (thinner) ring that acts as a health bar. Or the outer ring could be used in the same fashion.
A circle-shaped bar would be difficult to read, especially if there is a unit standing at the middle of it. In Natural-Selection (Half-Life mod), health was indicated like this, but they also had it change color based on the health value. The actual bar was often impossible to see completely due to the model being in its way.

#4 Dancing

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:19 AM

One of the thing's that really got on my nerves with Overwatch was how much I couldn't assign hot keys to units. In every RTS I was able to use hot keys to people in groups and etc. I think DOW2 has a very minimal HUD and places units on the right side of the screen.

BTW I can tell a lot about what is going on in this scene


I know the Termagant is retreating (hence the yellow !)
I know the scouts and normal marines are basic ranged infantry (bullet symbol)
I know who the Hero is and what type he is (he has the wing symbol and the fist icon tells me he is a Heavy Melee Infantry)
I know what the assault marines are capable of (the arrow pointing up means they can jump and the less-bold fist means they are normal melee infantry)

Basically my point? I think Intruder alert should use icon's in a similar way for both sides from a distance to see what they are dealing with.



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Edited by Dancing, 26 February 2012 - 11:40 AM.


#5 AndY

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:58 AM

 Dancing, on 26 February 2012 - 11:19 AM, said:

One of the thing's that really got on my nerves with Overwatch was how much I couldn't assign hot keys to units. In every RTS I was able to use hot keys to people in groups and etc. I think DOW2 has a very minimal HUD and places units on the right side of the screen.
You can assign keys to groups in OW.. Look at the Keyboard Options menu. :P

IA! won't have the same problem as that game, as units won't resemble each other so much.

#6 Sabre

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 01:07 PM

 Dancing, on 26 February 2012 - 11:19 AM, said:

One of the thing's that really got on my nerves with Overwatch was how much I couldn't assign hot keys to units. In every RTS I was able to use hot keys to people in groups and etc. I think DOW2 has a very minimal HUD and places units on the right side of the screen.

BTW I can tell a lot about what is going on in this scene


I know the Termagant is retreating (hence the yellow !)
I know the scouts and normal marines are basic ranged infantry (bullet symbol)
I know who the Hero is and what type he is (he has the wing symbol and the fist icon tells me he is a Heavy Melee Infantry)
I know what the assault marines are capable of (the arrow pointing up means they can jump and the less-bold fist means they are normal melee infantry)

Basically my point? I think Intruder alert should use icon's in a similar way for both sides from a distance to see what they are dealing with.

I think the main issue is not assigning squads, the game has that already, but they are short lived and it's rare the OP attacks on multiple fronts. So normally I don't assign groups, and when the situation presents itself it's to late.

I don't like having to micro abilities (such as manhacks in OW) and other than crossroads, I can't think of a situation where it was benificial to send one guy on his own. Assuming there is a pop cap in the game, having units asigned to groups on creation and placed on the hud somewhere might be nice. Another solution could be to not allow micro of indervidual units at all. They do everything as a group when it comes to orders. They are still lone guys as far as AI, Health ect. So that you never forget about that one guy who didn't get grabbed in the selection box.

Edited by AndY, 26 February 2012 - 01:31 PM.


#7 AndY

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 01:33 PM

 Sabre, on 26 February 2012 - 01:07 PM, said:

I don't like having to micro abilities (such as manhacks in OW) and other than crossroads, I can't think of a situation where it was benificial to send one guy on his own. Assuming there is a pop cap in the game, having units asigned to groups on creation and placed on the hud somewhere might be nice. Another solution could be to not allow micro of indervidual units at all. They do everything as a group when it comes to orders. They are still lone guys as far as AI, Health ect. So that you never forget about that one guy who didn't get grabbed in the selection box.
So they spawn in groups and are selected as one group?

It could be a good idea. Light units could spawn in groups of 5, medium units in groups of 2-3 and heavy units as 1.





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