# Does this work? (clear enough)

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Hi

Im doing a multiplayer RTS in a medieval setting:

You build cities and regiments of soldiers that you move as you would in warcraft or dune 2, only the scale is larger (each unit is hundreds of soldiers). But ranged unit still fire projectiles on enemies like 5 tiles away so they will be visible (melee units fight when they "touch").

1. So does simple symbols work for different units? (on screen is peasants, swordmen and spearmen)

2. Otherwise what would i have? Tiles are to small to add animated units and i also wanna avoid the extra work (im alone on this hobby project)

3. I need to have some health bar on each unit. Any idea on how to avoid it being to cluttered?

4. Different teams. The yellow ones onscreen are enemies. Clear enough?

Thanks!

Erik

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It looks pretty cool. Some things to consider:

1. You might want to consider represent the units with, well units, and not weapons. Doesn't have to be animated, but just units(like in Archon or the original Civ).

2. It's hard to differentiate the units from the cities. Different shape will do the trick (units are round, cities are square).

3. For health, you can put a small bar on the top of the unit (again, a-la Civ). If you don't have space for a bar, use the outline of the circle to represent health.

4. For different units - use different background color. The foreground is not very noticeable.

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i think having a little guy with a spear etc instead of just the weapon will be too small, and thereby too hard to differentiate the different types (like 10-12 types) sadly...

For example i have both spear and pikes. And as symbols its ok. But as actual units i think it will be too small.

Otherwise good points. Anyone else?

Edited by suliman

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It would halp with instant recognition if the tools/weapons were not all at the same angle.

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It would halp with instant recognition if the tools/weapons were not all at the same angle.

Yeah, peasants with pitchforks facing down vs soldiers with raised weapons would make more sense. Or perhaps raised swords vs horizontal pikes vs bows raised to 45 degrees? And then mirror all the enemies, so everything is facing the opposite direction for them.

I would add a colored border around units or have a colored interior with a dark outline, the weapons are too small to be easily differentiated I think.

Or scratch that- like N.I.B. said,  you could put a circular health bar around the units, which would turn green to red clockwise. In my experience small linear health bars are less disruptive than you might think, though, so I wouldn't be afraid to try that approach, too. I also agree that buildings should be a different shape from mobile units.

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I like the round icons visually but gameplay wise I have to say they feel more like an abstraction than an actual Spearman or Peasant. Perhaps it is also about them aligning perfectly with each other since they snap to grid cells that makes them look unnatural. It would be totally appropriate to use this kind of non-personifying icon in HUD to say "you have this many of this unit alive" but those icons roaming around the woods doing this and that seems out of place.

Another thing is what many people comment on: when you try to get a good grasp on the situation and glance around, everything is just black circles. You have to focus on each unit to see which unit it is and who it belongs to.

Since you're asking for feedback on visuals I would recommend you to try to make rudimentary characters (how about just a chess set type of pawn with some distinguishing accessories?) and use more "user colors" in them in some way. You have more pixels than what some of the old RTS games had so it shouldn't be problem but it does begin to be a pixel art task rather than general graphics task. Everything suggests you could do it and I could see characters improving your looks considerably. You wouldn't have to animate them if you don't have time for it.

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So make small static characters holding the weapons would be better?
I tried a bit but it was hard to make them distinct enough to tell them apart... But i agree it looks a bit dull like this :(

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I think symbols are fine; they immediately convey the relevant information that an entire person might be more difficult to convey.

I agree with Sun and Shadows, that the weapons need to be pointed at different angles.

Also, the spear is hard to discern what it is supposed to be at the level of zoom.

Thirdly, I wouldn't color the weapon itself, I'd color the background of the icon to more visually tell friend from foe.

Here's a mockup of the changes:

(Note: In my sloppy mockup, the shading of the weapons and buildings themselves were accidentally colored. They shouldn't be colored, only the background circles should be colored)

Fourth, I also agree with ShadowFlar3, and came to the same conclusion myself, that it might feel a bit more "human" if the icons weren't perfectly aligned, but were each randomly shifted negatively or positively a few pixels on the horizontal and vertical axis. Here's an example of what that might look like:

You could do this nicely and more uniformly by saying: Every 4th column, offset the Y position of the icon by 3 pixels, Every 3rd column, offset by -1 pixels, Every 2nd column, offset by -2 pixels and +1 pixels horizontally, every 1st column, offset by +1 pixels. Then tweak it until it looks right. Actually, instead of each column and each row, get the index, and mod that to lookup in an array the offset.

int mapIndex = (tileY * map_width) + tileX;
std::vector<Offset2D> offsets;
iconOffset = offsets[mapIndex % offsets.size()];

A few tiny offsets would give a much less rigid look to the icon placements.

The spear icon still is too hard to see. Perhaps have just an enlarged spear head with only a few inches of the shaft for an icon, instead of the entire spear, that way it'd be much more visible (and as a triangular shape, it'd have a much more distinctively different shape than the other icons as well).

Your artwork looks good, btw!

Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Ok tried some stuff. But its hard:)

Symbols to the left, actual units to the right. Smaller (full figure with all of legs included) didnt work at all. I think these mid-sized figures (to the right in the image) will be hard also since there is so many different unit types. This is only 3 types...

Any ideas? Maybe the map itself makes it hard... And tiles are small, but they need to be this small.

Edited by suliman

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I like the ones on the left better - the symbols.

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