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POV for ship to ship combat in pirate RPG

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well nothing says you can't have key prompts at the bottom of the screen (In fact I would strongly suggest it, with the option to disable/hide with a quick key). You don't really have to memorize them, just have the default ordering of stuff match up with its on screen counter part so there is less spacial translation going on to figure out what input to use. (The reason to go with a multi-tier set of keys where qwert being your root choices and stuff below being your decisions is so that you can cancel an order command/go back up a level in your command tree at any time and jump back to a different root just by pressing a top row key.)

 

The goal should be to give the players something that they can input the orders in a quick, easy, and logical fashion, as well as offering them a suitable selection of orders that would cover what actions a commander might want to be able to tell his crew to do in real life. I would not suggest having fully blind "Hit random key for this obscure command", but rather hitting keys to build a visual representation of your desired command on screen, and submitting it after you confirm it is what you wanted to tell your crew. (This is where a logical command tree comes in, who are you ordering: What kind of order: Order/target/etc as needed)

 

 

Also from research I've helped with for a real world weapon control platform, memorized key pad inputs tended to be in the order of 2-3 times faster for soldiers to enter commands than any kind of GUI based system after just a few hours training, and could easily reach 5 times the number of controlled inputs in a give time frame to using a mouse. (Even active display touch screens were never as fast as solid physical buttons. Touch screens greatly suffered from high rates of mis-inputs, hesitation, and users feeling lost as to where they were in the command cycle due to not having tactile feedback and obscuring their view of the commands.)

 

 

As for the physics of it: I can happily blow five or six hours processing time simulating a few seconds of a sailing ship's hull and sails in a storm. It really depends on how accurate you want things to be, how many ships, crew AI, etc. Things can quickly add up fast when it comes to processing resources.

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well nothing says you can't have key prompts at the bottom of the screen (In fact I would strongly suggest it, with the option to disable/hide with a quick key). You don't really have to memorize them, just have the default ordering of stuff match up with its on screen counter part so there is less spacial translation going on to figure out what input to use.

 

good point. i take it you like keyboard controls for this type of interface.

 

 

(The reason to go with a multi-tier set of keys where qwert being your root choices and stuff below being your decisions is so that you can cancel an order command/go back up a level in your command tree at any time and jump back to a different root just by pressing a top row key.

 

yes, menus that "pan out". i used this to good effect with mouse driven menus in a previous title. the top level menu appeared at the left. when you made a selection, it was highlighted and the sub menu appeared to the right of the top level menu. you could then click on the sub menu, or on the top level menu to display a different sub menu. the system went 3 levels deep, and you could pick from top level, sub level, or sub sub level menu at any time.

 

so i'd say a strong case for good hotkey controls has been made. 

 

Also from research I've helped with for a real world weapon control platform, memorized key pad inputs tended to be in the order of 2-3 times faster for soldiers to enter commands than any kind of GUI based system after just a few hours training, and could easily reach 5 times the number of controlled inputs in a give time frame to using a mouse. (Even active display touch screens were never as fast as solid physical buttons. Touch screens greatly suffered from high rates of mis-inputs, hesitation, and users feeling lost as to where they were in the command cycle due to not having tactile feedback and obscuring their view of the commands.)

 

I know just what you're talking about . i've done a fair amount of UI research. it was an "area of interest" shall we say, before i got into game development. and what you say it true. and it holds in the computer world as well. a power user can use a keyboard interface faster than they can use a mouse driven one. haptics. that's the secret. that's the difference. we don't even thing about our sixth sense, but its there. and that's what makes keyboards faster. you dont have to look for or mouse over the "commands" button, because your middle left finger IS the commands button.

 

a "panning" menu system that's both mouse and keyboard driven, and that pauses the simulation and lets the player assemble a command for the crew sounds like the way to go.

 

As for the physics of it: I can happily blow five or six hours processing time simulating a few seconds of a sailing ship's hull and sails in a storm. It really depends on how accurate you want things to be, how many ships, crew AI, etc. Things can quickly add up fast when it comes to processing resources.

 

well, obviously, we wont be using a Cray to model fluid mechanics at the atomic level. <g>.

 

actually, i don't see the physics being that big an issue.   simple models of wind, tide, and tack should suffice. except for the issue of slowdown with lots of targets onscreen, naval battles with 100 ships and boarding operations with 200 combatants should be possible. 

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