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# Does this work? (clear enough)

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15 replies to this topic

### #1suliman  Members

Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:09 AM

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

### #2N.I.B.  Members

Posted 03 November 2013 - 10:02 AM

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.

### #3suliman  Members

Posted 03 November 2013 - 10:24 AM

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, 03 November 2013 - 10:25 AM.

Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:59 PM

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

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.

### #5Prinz Eugn  Members

Posted 04 November 2013 - 05:12 PM

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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Posted 05 November 2013 - 11:44 AM

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.

### #7suliman  Members

Posted 05 November 2013 - 01:42 PM

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

### #8Servant of the Lord  Members

Posted 05 November 2013 - 02:43 PM

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).

Edited by Servant of the Lord, 05 November 2013 - 02:43 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' or 'SotL' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames -

### #9suliman  Members

Posted 06 December 2013 - 02:16 PM

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, 06 December 2013 - 02:19 PM.

### #10Servant of the Lord  Members

Posted 06 December 2013 - 02:59 PM

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

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' or 'SotL' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames -

Posted 09 December 2013 - 03:05 AM

Yeah that's what I was talking about. Symbols vs actual units.

I prefer the ones on the right but I believe it's really about opinion and how you view such games. Do you want a more "overlord resource management" feeling where you look at abstraction data like a map with symbols in a tent and tell your messengers to send message about what each unit should do and are only interested in numbers and results. Or are you actually in the same scene witnessing the individual people doing the actions and ordering them as they go.

I believe lots of the problems you are having with creating the art is the fact that all units have the same dimensions and outline where as traditionally stronger units are bigger in pixel size. If you have a clear order of superiority in the units you can also reflect it inside the icon. Weak icon characters could be small with lots of black and strong units could have bigger characters with more white in them so you could also visually grade some battles at one glance even if you needed to further check the types in more depth.

### #12kseh  Members

Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:52 PM

The units on the right are quite nice aesthetically but I still have a hard time telling which unit is which. An RTS might be just twitchy enough that you don't want to sit trying to figure out which units are which. I think you need to make it just as easy to tell what weapon the unit carries as you do the team color.

What about something such that you have the circle the same color for both sides again (perhaps a lighter grey than originally) and then the figures like you have on the right side but in their team color instead of white, and then have the weapon they're carrying another prominent color appropriate to the team? Something so that there's a little more than just the two colors to define the edges.

My art skills aren't that great and I don't know for sure if it would turn out ok but it should be simple enough a change to give it a try.

### #13suliman  Members

Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:54 AM

Another try:)

If i make them much bigger, and use the unit info card (that i already had for each unit type), how does this work? Rough sketchup. This demands that unit move/pathfind in larger tiles, made up of 2x2 maptiles, or that i make the maptiles much larger, which may not look nice...

Edited by suliman, 20 December 2013 - 03:13 AM.

Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:06 AM

Wow, you sure have come far from where you started. The icons look great and the critical viewers' attention now turns to lower definition background.

I'm sure the players could learn to recognize these icons and intuitively know what they do. If you want to, you can try highlighting ( ~ brightening ) the differences in them (most notably the weapon gear perhaps).

### #15suliman  Members

Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:29 AM

You mean the terrain look blurry? I should redraw the original graphics instead of scale which i do now.

The background around the units could be nicer, and more sharp as well. I think i need this size, as i now have room for healthbar and promotions on each unit.

Edited by suliman, 20 December 2013 - 07:30 AM.

### #16mdamman  Members

Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:22 AM

Personally, I like the weapons symbols more than the person outlines, though those latest images seem distinguishable enough.  I just think it gives it a "pure strategy game" feel if the display serves to tell you exactly what you need to know.  If you're looking to sell the game though, some visual flare is certainly a good idea.

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

Instead of a life bar beneath each unit, you could put a green ring around the unit's circle icon.  As they lose health, a portion of the ring turns red.  Just make sure the red and green portions won't blend in with either the rest of the unit's icon or the background battlefield.

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