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Post your ideas on where the future evolution of Multiwinia should lead

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Qjet
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Postby Qjet » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:05 pm

if were going to get anywhere were going to have to have common ground. If we just flat out disagree with everything we say, then how will we come to a conclusion? In situations like this the next step is to establish points that we agree on, and make inferences from those points.

actually we seem to have almost enough common ground for me to make my point. just ONE more issue and im not sure how this will play out.

The function of an interface.
Do you believe an interface should be something that translates the users wishes as best as it possibly can.
Or is there function in limiting the users control over something he does control.

Most views on interface design state that a good interface is something that is transparent, that organically translates the users will into the program.
Yet some people have a belief that by limiting control over a program something can be gained.
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MarvintheParanoidAndroid
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Postby MarvintheParanoidAndroid » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:29 pm

And fixing pathfinding issues will achieve this, to a perfectly reasonable extent. However, I can wish for the interface to let me (taking an extreme example) have Multiwinians throw grenades on command as hard as I like... doesn't mean it's going to happen.
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Postby bert_the_turtle » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:38 pm

Qjet wrote:Do you believe an interface should be something that translates the users wishes as best as it possibly can.
With excetions and limitations, yes. But within the limit of the rules of the game world. In Lemmings, you can't give the order to turn around. You can't give the order to stop doing whatever the little guy is doing right now. In Tetris, you cannot flip blocks. In Doom, you cannot jump. All of that is OK because everything else is designed with that in mind.

(Exceptions being games where mastering the interface is part of the game. Fighting games with lots of tricky combos come to my mind there. Limitations being what xander said: you don't want to go as far as to interpret the users "I want to win" wish.)
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xander
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Postby xander » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:47 pm

Qjet wrote:Do you believe an interface should be something that translates the users wishes as best as it possibly can.
Or is there function in limiting the users control over something he does control.

When you are talking about a word processor or screen capture utility, then the role of the interface is to translate the user's desires into actions as transparently as possible. However, games are a different kind of animal. The role of the interface is to translate the user's desires into actions within the rules of the game. Limitations placed upon the interface are part of the rules of the game. In Darwinia, it was impossible to directly control DGs -- they could only be ordered around with officers. You could not select a group of DGs, and tell them to go somewhere -- you had to control them indirectly. This was a limitation placed on the game by the interface. In Multiwinia, complicated maneuvers require the use of officers -- that is a limitation placed upon the game by the interface.

Thus, you prevent a false dichotomy. The function of the interface is to translate the user's desires as best as possible, but also to limit the actions that a user can take.

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Postby mehoo462 » Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:32 pm

The interface is the way you communicate with the software.

If you think about it, every interface in the world... even simply communicating face to face with other people in the real world, has it's limitations. You can't get around it. It's nature of the universe type stuff. So you choose to use certain software and avoid other software based on the limitations you feel like bringing upon yourself.

In productivity software, you absolutely want those lines of communication to be a clean, clear, flexible, and efficient as possible.... thus trying to approach the matrix style "download my thoughts directly into the software" thing.

In entertainment software there are some aesthetics involved. What kinds of manipulations do I want the player to be able to do easily. What should be more difficult? You're going to be communicating, having a conversation with my game. What will the tone of that conversation be? The developer gets to make that decision. This is the toy element of the game. Ideally playing with the toy should be fun. Is the interface fun? Or is it tedious? Or is it completely bland and without character?

How important is the Toy element to the total software design? I think it's pretty important to Introversion, and they do it well. The fact that you can't communicate directly with the multiwians makes them all the more charming. It gives them, and the game more character.

Then we get the question of how much the Toy, which is essentially a single player experience, affects the Game, the competetive multiplayer experience. Is my energy directed at virtuosic manipulation of the toy (fighting games, micro-heavy RTS games), or is it directed at acting and reacting to my opponent (chess).

Is the competition about who can manipulate the toy the best? Or is it about more direct interaction with the opponent. One of the connotations of "arcade games" is that they are very toyish, an emphasis on manipulating the interface.

A developer chooses a spot on these spectrums and then designs the interface to meet them. I think Introversion has found a pretty good sweet spot. The game is pretty directly competetive, but the toy has lots of character and is fun to manipulate. (the interface in Chess is pretty bland)

The only decision i really wonder about is the fact that you can't shift-tab to move backward through the powerup list. (unless there's some undocumented keystroke that does that)

If I were designing the game, I would also allow you to select multiple officers at once, to be able to give a single move order to many groups of DGs. But I think Introversion's tastes are slightly more "Arcadey" than my own. I think they like the click-frenzy that is involved with trying to direct several officers to the same place at once. And it is fun to click a bunch to get lots of DGs moving in a co-ordinated manner. The darn multiwinians, they are cute, but man they can be tough to mobilize en masse. Personally, I value the sleek elegance of a powerful single click a little more. It's just a matter of taste and preference. And I'm glad they've stuck to their point of view.


That's my essay on interfaces.
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xander
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Postby xander » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:03 pm

mehoo462 wrote:The only decision i really wonder about is the fact that you can't shift-tab to move backward through the powerup list. (unless there's some undocumented keystroke that does that)

Use the number keys.

Otherwise, very nice post.

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Postby mehoo462 » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:52 pm

Hey thanks xander. :)

The number key thing is good to know. But really... shift-tab should work. :)
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Postby The GoldFish » Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:34 am

If you want to you can add it, but uh, kinda annoying to do so...
-- The GoldFish - member of former GIT and commander in chief of GALLAHAD. You could have done something, but it's been fixed. The end. Also, play bestgameever!
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Postby Pinky » Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:29 am

xander wrote:Pinky: stop being an ass. Cyan. may deserve it, but Qjet doesn't, and being an ass doesn't help make your point.


There's room enough for two elitist assholes on this forum, and if there isn't I'll fight you for the position.

And the discussion has turned to one of the points I'm not happy with IV on. There's no easy to find hotkey guide, you've either got to push all the buttons and combinations of buttons on the keyboard, or find someone who has, to know how to move an officer, for example.
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Postby Qjet » Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:33 pm

ok so we have alot of mixed answers when it comes to what an interface should do.
I think the lemmings example is best.

my statement goes something like this:
there is a boarder between a game like lemmings and a game like... vikings.

it has to do with what you have direct control over
i'm making a statement that there is a boarder between multiwinia and darwinia.

darwinians you ordered
multiwinians you controlled.

Lemmings you ordered
Vikings you controlled.

the distinction was made when the user was granted direct control over the characters.

Limiting the function of orders is part of the game, but limiting control (like in vikings) can be very frustrating.

Infact vikings serves as a fantastic example of this, because this game was alot more fun with 2 players. With two players the game correctly translated the users will into control. When you took away one player, the game was still good, you still technically had mostly the same control, but it was more frustrating.

see this relation
when you control something, the more accurate you are able to translate your will TO what you control, the less frustrating it is.
when you order something, the accuracy of translation doesn't matter, because that's the nature of an order.

It's the difference between telling someone to do something, and doing it yourself.

And my statement is that when you are doing it yourself, you should be able to do exactly what it is you wanted yourself to do.
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Postby Shwart!! » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:26 pm

You have a point, but consider this:
Multiwinia is still pretty far from 'direct control'. The only order you can give is movement, everything else is automatically done by the unit AI.
In RTS games, waypoints have options: you can generally order your guys to hunt down anything they see, or completely ignore enemies, or somewhere in between. Given the unit AI nature, this will never be implemented in Multiwinia. There is no point.
Waypoints are useful because the enemy won't usually have enough time to counter your actions, as they are planned ahead with units that follow your every order. In Multiwinia, units actions can be easily countered by skilled micromanagement. Then, units attempting to follow a waypoint path would get bogged down in normal unit combat/fleeing events.
Waypoints would, further, be of little help as a result of this. Generally units on a waypoint path are expected to follow it; the unit AI in Multiwinia would prevent this in many cases. Thus, you would actually have to babysit them almost as much. It would seem almost counterintuitive, as individual orders would carry themselves out reasonably, while waypoint routes would often not work.

I'll admit, waypoints would only really break for enemy contact. However, though this does leave waypoint movement in your own territory working fine, Officers already work fine for own-territory movement.

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Postby xander » Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:19 am

Qjet wrote:--==<snip>==--

This is a false dichotomy. There is a spectrum of options between having zero control at all, and having complete and total control. Lemmings is actually a rather good example of this -- you cannot control lemmings directly, but you have tools that allow you to control one lemming at a time (say, to dig, build a bridge, or direct traffic). Thus, you generally don't have direct control over your units, but you can get control over them in certain circumstances.

Now, there are certain levels in Lemmings where I would like to be able to tell one lemming to dig an angled tunnel for a given distance, then dig a horizontal tunnel. If Lemmings had some king of waypoint system, I could queue those orders, such that this individual lemming would do what I want it to do. You have argued that if you have control over something, then you should have complete control over something. By your logic, Lemmings needs some kind of order queueing or waypoint system.

Furthermore, as Shwart!! correctly pointed out, DGs don't follow orders very well when then encounter the enemy. So, the fine level of control that you would get from waypoints is mitigated by the DG AI, which causes them to defend themselves, fire weapons, and run away. I still don't see any situation where waypoints would actually be useful in the game, other than situations where officers giving orders get the job done just as well (i.e. coordinating a flanking attack against a gun turret).

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Postby Qjet » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:08 pm

consider that you can emulate waypoints perfectly with timing, it's just annoying.

and constantly selecting and clicking will move DG's in your direction, thats how you rush turrets.

also my statement is that waypoints don't belong in lemmings. Vikings is more prime for waypoints. my logic was that lemmings represented orders, and that having units out of control was just the nature of orders.
if you could make a case that vikings would suffer in gameplay because of waypoints, i'd be on board, but personally i think that game would be rather cool if you could queue up some actions then play it out. Sort of like that old n64 swat game.

Also shwart we went over this, officers are not a substitute for waypoints.
because officers arnt a substitute for manual commands by themselves.


waypoints represent an action you are perfectly capable of doing manually, but something that has to happen with your attention, that's not fun.
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Postby xander » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:46 pm

Qjet wrote:consider that you can emulate waypoints perfectly with timing, it's just annoying.

and constantly selecting and clicking will move DG's in your direction, thats how you rush turrets.

Say I set up a bunch of waypoints to take a turret. I can then turn my attention to some other place on the map. So, adding waypoints makes it possible to interact with two different fronts at the same time. Right now, it is nearly impossible to manage more than one front effectively, and more than that is even more difficult. Waypoints, then, would remove a part of the game; i.e. deciding upon which front to focus. Thus, I think this is a perfect example (i.e. rushing turrets) of when waypoints would detract from game.

Qjet wrote:also my statement is that waypoints don't belong in lemmings.

Why don't waypoints belong in Lemmings? I think I did a very good job of explaining a situation where I could sit and micro a unit, but where it would be easier to give it a list of orders in a queue. Your argument seems to be that waypoints should be in Multiwinia to allow a user to queue up several movement orders, so that they don't have to constantly pay attention to the units. My argument regarding Lemmings is that I could queue up several orders without having to constantly pay attention to the units. What is the difference?

Qjet wrote:if you could make a case that vikings would suffer in gameplay because of waypoints, i'd be on board, but personally i think that game would be rather cool if you could queue up some actions then play it out. Sort of like that old n64 swat game.

This, right here, gets straight to the heart of the issue. You mention Vikings, which seems not to have waypoints(? -- I've never played it). You then say that it would be a better game with waypoints, "sort of like that old n64 swat game." This sounds like an admission that it would not be the same game -- that it would, in fact, be a different game, more like some other game that is already out.

Multiwinia with waypoints might be better, it might be worse, but it would not be the same game. It would not have the same feel to it. The DGs would feel much less alive, micro-managing units would no longer be so key -- it just wouldn't be the same game.

Qjet wrote:Also shwart we went over this, officers are not a substitute for waypoints.
because officers arnt a substitute for manual commands by themselves.

I did not say that officers were a substitute for waypoints. I said that there are basically two situations: (1) your DGs are in battle or (2) your DGs are not in battle. In situation (1), officers substitute for waypoints, and in situation (2) the DG AI prevents waypoints from being all that useful (unless, of course, you remove some of the autonomy of DGs, which gets back to the previous paragraph).

Qjet wrote:waypoints represent an action you are perfectly capable of doing manually, but something that has to happen with your attention, that's not fun.

Again, where do you draw the line? You could create a game like Multiwinia where you queue up a hole bunch of actions before the game even starts, then let it run without any further user input. Or, you could create a Multiwinia where officers can only form formations, and you have to micro every DG all of the time. Somewhere between the two, there is a happy medium. You think the happy medium is closer to complete automation; IV created a game that is closer to complete micro-management.

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Postby Cyan. » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:56 pm

May I add to this last post that Multiwinia is a not so casual game when you need to micro-manage your units all the time, preferably all units, wich means you'll need superfast mouse control.
And may I further say that the casual part of this game is only pretended because of the random crates?
And may I say that I don't give a shit anymore whether there are waypoints or not, and may I also say that this topic is becoming so boring. And may I say hat I will add even more dull comments to my list of comments. And if I may, I'll like to say that Qjet is right. But may I add to that, that its possible that xander is right instead of qjet?

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