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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In 2aw I have a problem with scaling and zooming. I am not playing with the ships at all! I am playing with radar dots, ship ranges and icons and its not visually pleasing! Might as well bring out excel. I fear that the epic battles of the game are hidden behind the icons....

Posted by treeform on Jul 13th, 2010

In 2aw I have a problem with scaling and zooming. Basically the 2aw battles I fight are at the farthest possible zoom level. This gives me a good overview on all visible units as well as the positions of all command points. I rotate around the battle zone to see everything in 3D.

And than the problem hit me! I am not playing with the ships at all! I am playing with radar dots, ship ranges and icons and its not visually pleasing! Might as well bring out excel. I fear that the epic battles of the game are hidden behind the icons....

playing-with-icons

The only time I zoom into the level where i can see the ships and the battles is when I take a screenshot. Its like I am playing with lines and circles but they represent real spaceships which I barely ever see....

real-space-ships

One way I tried to combat this zoomed-out problem is making the weapon ranges and view ranges on ships shorter. Shorter ranges mean that I wont zoom out as much in order to properly place my ships. I can see the ship and its fire range on a single screen, It looks a little unrealistic that a ship could fire only such a short distance but at least you get to see the ships and splosions.

range rings

Another way I tried is making the ships slower. At first ships flew clear across the map in seconds. This made positions of individual ships not matter much. Who cares where the ships are if it can be anywhere in seconds? Making them slower gives importance to their position in 3D space and hopefully the player will zoom in to make sure its exactly right.

A kind of a side effect of making the ships look nicer - adding shading, normal mapping, glow, and specular - makes me want to look at them more, zoom in and appreciate the detail better. In a way that also helps to improve the zoomed-out issue, because now the ships are more interesting to look at - so I naturally want to look at them more.

Another idea I had is getting "WASD" or arrow keys movement working as well as the standard camera movement I have now, which is focal points + zooming + orbiting. You can focus on different objects in space, zoom, and orbit around it with the mouse. The "WASD" movement would be different where the player would be more like a first person capsule flying around in space. This hopefully puts the player more where the action is.

One drastic approach I can still try out is simply limiting the zoom level. Games like Homeworld, DoW2, and WiC have done this, to make sure you see the action. Games like Supreme Commander and Sins of Solar Empire do not have a zoom cap and they also suffer from the icons problem. Putting a cap on the maximum zoom level is restricting, but maybe neccesary.

This is the maximum zoom level in HW2 while not in the sensor manager.

http://media.moddb.com/images/articles/1/58/57332/auto/hw-600.jpg

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Melik
Melik Jul 13 2010, 7:27pm says:

maybe you can make your own senso manager like in hw2 with backspace
with similiar restricitng in hw2 youre very far away when you push backspace you take a short look pose a few ships and than go back to normal view

+1 vote     reply to comment
Khalus
Khalus Jul 13 2010, 7:47pm says:

Perhaps a mix of HW2 and Supreme Commander? The former for seeing the action and then the latter to get an objective view the fleet commander would see in his command center on a ship?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hell_Diguner
Hell_Diguner Jul 14 2010, 12:35am says:

HW2 suffered from the "icons problem" as well, because often times, the action was so spead out, and the "sensors manager" allowed for all the functions of the normal viewing mode, that people often found themselves in the rut of just playing the game in the sensors manager. HW1 didn't have this problem because in its "sensors manager", you weren't able to differentiate unit types... a gigantic warship was represented by a single dot, just like a tiny fighter, and the same is true for enemies... you would have to exit the manager to tell bombers to attack capitalships and not fighters yourself as well, ships didn't automatically know what to attack in the first HW game.

Besides icons to make ships visible at far distances, there was also NLIPS (Non-Linear Inverse Perspecive Scaling), which if turned on, made ships LOOK bigger as you zoomed out. But in doing so, ships also would LOOK closer together, or even inside one another. I didn't like it myself, but that feature indeed was present in both games.

The HW games forced the player to stay close and watch the action by several ways:
-Weapons have relatively short range for what you would think in the vacuum of space... the primary weapon of a laser firing ship would only extend ten times the length of the ship itself
-Ships turn and accelerate fairly quickly, but there is a very low speed cap... even with the smallest of maps, and the fastest sensors probe, it still will take thirty seconds for the unit to cross the map. But, the fast acceleration and turning speed (realative the the speed cap) allows for quick and interesting combat
...

+2 votes     reply to comment
Hell_Diguner
Hell_Diguner Jul 14 2010, 2:14am says:

...continued
-The zoom level is capped, as you mentioned
-Unit Icons are minimalistic, being both thin, and only semi-informative... they only show the general size of the unit, if you want to know exactly what it is, you will have to at least hover your mouse over the ship. They also do not show the range of the ship.
-As you mentioned for 2aw, the homeworld games are visulally stunning, and this alone makes people want to zoom in on the action. Put gratuitous effects on everything, firing guns have a huge flair, ships recieve visual damage (No Frikkin' Shields for any of 2aw's ships!), turrets are large enough to be interesing to watch them track and fire (and there's hardly two ships whith the same turret), and missiles detonation has a full 60 frame animation, with each frame being different, from the initial blinding light, to the last bubble of liquified metal.
-Visceral sounds accompany the effects, all the over-the-top visual effects are accompanied by over-the-top sound effects, and even small things like the rotating of a turret can be heard. Plus you hear snippits of combat radio chatter from nearby ships, and units acnowledge orders that you give them with both proper military curtness, and varrying degrees of casualness and urgency if the ship you have ordered is in combat. But, if you zoom out, these game doesn't even process these sounds.
-In addition to replacing ships and in-game objects (like asteroids) with dots, the HW games further punish the player for being in the "sensors manager" by darkening and dulling the background (which are also over-the-top), lowering the volume of the music, not playing the sounds of the ships or combat at all, AND adding ever so slightly annoying repeating sounds, like a really low static, and artificial noises of computers (beeps, pings, tones etc.).

+2 votes     reply to comment
treeform Author
treeform Jul 14 2010, 2:23am replied:

You right maybe i should focus on getting the FX really cool then they are just begging for the player to zoom in and see it.

+1 vote   reply to comment
MrEmjeR
MrEmjeR Jul 15 2010, 1:53am replied:

this is an idea:

if the volume of the sound is softer when zoomed out further people will zoom in to hear the sounds. because without the sounds the game is less fun. so people will zoom in without realizing.

btw when playing homeworld 2 I rarely use the sensor manager. only to see if enemey ships are on the move, to order ships to travel on a large distance or to select a wide spread amount of units.

+1 vote     reply to comment
KoleAudioSolutions
KoleAudioSolutions Jul 15 2010, 3:25pm replied:

This is a good idea. Furthermore, (if you didn't want to change the volume) you could also have the engine run a low pass filter over all the audio. Then as you zoom in, the low pass filter gradually opens up allowing all the frequencies to be heard.

There are also quite a few interesting things you could do with the music regarding zooming in/out, but I have no idea what the musical direction for this game is :) Speaking of which... any previews on that side of the game?

+1 vote     reply to comment
treeform Author
treeform Jul 15 2010, 5:31pm replied:

Sadly music and sound is a week point. We don't have any one on the sound effects at the moment.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Su[)az][mA
Su[)az][mA Jul 14 2010, 6:25am replied:

heh especially that irritating SM noise keeps me out of it.... i wonder if they did that on purpose... we could have the music fade away with distance..hm

"-Ships turn and accelerate fairly quickly, but there is a very low speed cap... even with the smallest of maps, and the fastest sensors probe, it still will take thirty seconds for the unit to cross the map. But, the fast acceleration and turning speed (relative the the speed cap) allows for quick and interesting combat"
i think this is a very good one, acceleration isnt implemented yet. but will need to be.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Micah
Micah Jul 14 2010, 10:15am says:

Oooooor you could take the top right section of the screen and have it be a secondary zoomed in camera that where ever the mouse goes the top right screen shows the player's in a zoomed in version. So you can be watching the action all while being zoomed out enoguh to command the action!

+1 vote     reply to comment
treeform Author
treeform Jul 14 2010, 1:38pm replied:

2aw has the same 6 degrees of freedom as Home World. You cant really grasp the battle fields from a small image you have to be able to rotate around the game play area to grasp whats going on.

+1 vote   reply to comment
ghost59
ghost59 Jul 14 2010, 3:49pm says:

ok will this be in the full game

0 votes     reply to comment
treeform Author
treeform Jul 14 2010, 4:52pm says:

No home world screen shot will not be in the full game!? Everything else you see here maybe.

+1 vote   reply to comment
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Angels Fall First : The Second Antarean War
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