The Second Antarean War is a multiplayer team-based real time strategic battle simulator. It simulates battle between spaceships in fully accessible 3d space. As an admiral, you can call in different types of ships for different situations. The game aims to be played against other people, not the game itself. The 3d navigation, order queues, smart orders and no limits on build queues aim to hide the visible user interface completely and allow you to focus on the battle at hand. You can join any battle in progress at any time. Some battles start small and grow in player size and in their importance to universal scale. The universe is persistent. Each battle has an impact on how well your faction does. Winning battles progresses the war and earns you medals, rank and respect from people you play with and strikes fear into players you fight against. Good hunting.

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Here i try to think about the UI in 2aw by drawing a similar UI on top of Starcaft screen shot. Key points i try to stress are Full Zoom, icons when zoomed out, range rings and aggregate group readout.

Posted by treeform on Jun 25th, 2010

HUD interface always is a delicate balance between too much information and too little. Some times less is more, for instance 2aw uses range-rings to tell you how far the ships can fire, icons when you zoom out, grid stems to show you the height of the ships relative to the grid, and the grid itself. On one hand this info tells you a lot about the game, an interface that tells you a lot requires you to memorize less.
 
http://media.moddb.com/images/articles/1/57/56275/auto/info_panel_multi.png
 
In RTS games that don't have extensive or informational UIs you are guessing at what many of the stats really are. To become good at the game you have to memorize those stats. Extensive UIs requires you to memorize less, so you can advance at being a better player faster.
Look at this Starcraft interface:
 
http://media.moddb.com/images/articles/1/57/56275/auto/sc_normal.png
 
Not even basic UI niceties. You have to develop a feel for range and speed. And now look at this my quick mock up of what "2awfied" Starcraft interface would look like: I have drawn the range rings and icons over Starcraft units:
 
http://media.moddb.com/images/articles/1/57/56275/auto/sc_new_interface.png

My diagram features:

  • Full zoom
  • Icons when zoomed out
  • Range rings
  • Aggregate group readout

But having all that super cool UI comes at a cost. It becomes less like one is playing with spaceships and more like one is playing with icons, circles and lines. That makes the game less immersive. Less time is spent admiring the graphics and more time is spent at looking simple icons and lines.
I would not say Starcarft with my UI added to it would be better. it would just play different. With better UI Starcaft might have shifted the focus from being a micro heavy game to a macro game. Would it be better? I do not think so, but it would have been different.
I think 2aw deserves to be a game that uses more UI, it is set in space too. Also its important to tone down the use of UI as much as possible to bring back the immersion you have with the game.

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Anonymousperson
Anonymousperson Jun 25 2010, 11:14pm says:

Well that's a cool UI, simple yet complex enough to where it's not just "Attack-Click."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like a Supreme Commander/Homeworld 2 kind of thing, while also retaining originality. All good things.

+1 vote     reply to comment
treeform
treeform Jun 26 2010, 10:19am replied:

Yes those are some games that use more UI then less.

+1 vote     reply to comment
vfn4i83
vfn4i83 Jun 26 2010, 2:04am says: Online

I grown with classic Warcraft/Starcraft huds but got used and love huds like Men of War and Nexus. With a lot of micro.

But neet idea, just seen implemented to fully understand how it really work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
zombieOnion
zombieOnion Jun 26 2010, 5:33am says:

Fascinating blog post, community member.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Melik
Melik Jun 26 2010, 6:31pm says:

sins of solare hase a nice feuter wehn you press shift you see the rings for the atack range i like it that way you only see them when you want/need them
i missed something like that in hw2

+1 vote     reply to comment
treeform
treeform Jun 26 2010, 11:38pm replied:

We thought about this before. For some reason it did not work as well but i don't remmber. Maybe I should try it again.

Thanks!

+1 vote     reply to comment
lol1234
lol1234 Jun 27 2010, 8:57am says:
Quote:Not even basic UI niceties. You have to develop a feel for range and speed. And now look at this my quick mock up of what "2awfied" Starcraft interface would look like: I have drawn the range rings and icons over Starcraft units

starcraft is awesome! by drawin' your "rings" and crud over it, it makes it harder to focus, because if you mass cannons like in that pic it makes it hard to see!
and niceties? wtf?? if you like starcraft things like those rings become an annoyance not a nicety!

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Angels Fall First : The Second Antarean War
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treeform
Engine
Panda3d
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