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View Full Version : Suggestion: Auto-pilot & input


Bluddy
06-15-2012, 10:44 AM
I'd like to see different levels of input and autopilot in the game, given the size of systems and sectors.

Input Level 1: Tactical. Clicking on a position in space takes you there. I'm not sure why this option isn't there: WASD is more for an action game, and holding down the mouse to move is, frankly, annoying.

Autopilot 1: Follow the mouse (like what's available now). Disengages as soon as enemies fire at me or as soon as I click so I don't have to push anything to stop it. Also, temporarily stops following the mouse if I pull up my inventory/character screen. This is because you can't both select and manipulate things and keep using this scheme.

Autopilot 2: You'd select a planet/system/gate from a list of ones you know and immediately head in that direction. Because this game has so many different planets and locations that are spread out, because we constantly have to move from one star system to another, and because we're in a spaceship that would have this kind of functionality, it would be really nice to have this in the game. This autopilot would disengage when you click to go anywhere else -- either in space or on an item. This is because, unlike autopilot 1, you can still manipulate things while moving in the direction of your destination if you so choose. Re-engaging this autopilot would automatically go towards your previously selected destination unless you choose to change it.

torikamal
06-15-2012, 11:17 AM
I like those ideas a lot. I've got to say that we're lucky to have such dedicated and insightful fans. A huge thanks for your continued support and feedback!

PixelLord
06-15-2012, 11:26 AM
Autopilot 1: Follow the mouse (like what's available now). Disengages as soon as enemies fire at me or as soon as I click so I don't have to push anything to stop it. Also, temporarily stops following the mouse if I pull up my inventory/character screen. This is because you can't both select and manipulate things and keep using this scheme.

Autopilot 2: You'd select a planet/system/gate from a list of ones you know and immediately head in that direction. Because this game has so many different planets and locations that are spread out, because we constantly have to move from one star system to another, and because we're in a spaceship that would have this kind of functionality, it would be really nice to have this in the game. This autopilot would disengage when you click to go anywhere else -- either in space or on an item. This is because, unlike autopilot 1, you can still manipulate things while moving in the direction of your destination if you so choose. Re-engaging this autopilot would automatically go towards your previously selected destination unless you choose to change it.

I'm assuming that you're already aware of tapping the "W" key for the Autopilot 1 suggestion (I just call it AutoThrust)? "W" turns it on and left click anywhere to turn it off.

Like the second Autopilot 2, but in the meantime

viper34j
06-15-2012, 11:34 AM
Autopilot 2: You'd select a planet/system/gate from a list of ones you know and immediately head in that direction. Because this game has so many different planets and locations that are spread out, because we constantly have to move from one star system to another, and because we're in a spaceship that would have this kind of functionality, it would be really nice to have this in the game. This autopilot would disengage when you click to go anywhere else -- either in space or on an item. This is because, unlike autopilot 1, you can still manipulate things while moving in the direction of your destination if you so choose. Re-engaging this autopilot would automatically go towards your previously selected destination unless you choose to change it.

+1

Love this idea. Maybe a simple dropdownlist near the map that is populated with all known gates and planets in the system. When the selected value of that dropdownlist changes, the ship begins moving towards it.

This would alleviate the feeling of being so lost, and reduce the number of times I flip between the map and main game screen trying to orient myself.

Bluddy
06-15-2012, 01:24 PM
OK the mention of weapon arcs on the other thread made me realize how hard it is to come up with a control scheme for this game. ARPGs have just enough stuff in them that you can control them well with a mouse and the number keys. For this game, it gets much harder. Ships in a space game are constantly moving, tailing one another and shooting stuff at medium to long range. This makes it really hard to adapt ARPG controls to a space game.

These are the control possibilities as I see them:

1. Directly controlled ship, directly controlled attacks. This is a classic action game setup and maybe even is the best fit for a generic space game. You move your ship around directly (not with the mouse ie. you're not telling the game where you want the ship to go but actually moving it) and you fire weapons in the direction they're meant to go ie you're not targeting things directly. This method supports weapon arcs. For example, missiles shoot forward, mines pop out of the back.

The main problem with this control scheme is that it doesn't fit an ARPG game so well. Because you're usually not targeting an enemy - you just shoot, and if it hits, it hits - there isn't room to do attack/defense calculations based on stats. Other than that, it works really well for a space game.

The other issue is that the mouse doesn't really control well with this setup. The mouse is ideal for targeting a location to go to, not to constantly affect movement. But it could be said that the mouse isn't ideal in general for navigation in a space game, since you never want to stop in any specific location.

2. Directly controlled movement, indirectly controlled attacks. This is basically the scheme Drox uses. You move your ship around directly, but you fire either with the mouse or with the number key via auto-targeting. The problem of the inefficiency of the mouse for movement crops up here as well. The mouse is just not built for constant movement control. The 'W' mode (following the mouse position on screen) works much better, but then you can't use the mouse to do anything else. Basically, you simply have to use WASD to move efficiently in the game.

There are other issues here as well. Weapon arcs aren't really possible. Because you can fire any weapon at any time, there's no way to display the arc (or range) of any one weapon. This is a pretty big deal for space games, since weapons coming out of specific areas of the ship, or weapons having different ranges is a big part of the notion of space battles. Instead, most weapons need to be direction and range neutral, which limits the tactical nature of combat.

Additionally, I find that I'm often a sitting duck. I should be moving around fluidly, but instead my ship stops as I target my enemies. Moving ahead while targeting seems like too much for my feeble brain. One thing that would really help here is to have moving ahead as the default in combat. I rarely want to stop moving while I'm fighting in space -- my ship should always be on the move, and all I'd need to think about then is turning or possibly occasionally slowing down.

Another issue is that using WASD + the mouse to target means that it's much harder to reach for a number key when I need to. By default, this means that I'll normally resort to NOT using the mouse at all, but using only auto-target instead. The mouse is really not effective in this scheme. This is alleviated somewhat by having constant forward movement as the default.

Finally, thinking about both constant movement in space and targeting my enemies means I have little brainpower left to think about stats, or to consider my ship vs my enemy's ship etc.

3. Indirect control, direct fire: this is the scheme DC and DoP used, and it's the mode most ARPGs use. You don't move around anywhere -- you tell the game where you want to move using the mouse. But when you want to attack, you click on the target or press a button and the computer immediately shows you the result or tells you you're out of range.

This mode has problems in a space game. One problem is the sitting duck issue: here, it's built into the control scheme. You click to move, and the ship moves to your destination. And then it's static. It's fine to be static for an ARPG in a dungeon, but you want constant movement for a space game, which requires constant clicking.

One way to deal with this is to make it such that when you click on a location, the ship doesn't just fly to that spot -- it circles it. When you click on an enemy, the ship doesn't just fly next to it and stop -- it follows the enemy and circles around him. I think this is a fairly graceful way to make this mode work well.

Another problem with this scheme is that it can't support weapon arcs well. Since the enemy is fired upon immediately when you enter the command, and your ship may not be facing the enemy the right way at that particular moment, you'll keep on encountering difficulties trying to attack. In DC, your generic attack goes out the front of your avatar (sword attack etc), but turning towards a monster is effortless, so the issue doesn't exist there. Here, turning isn't trivial, so you can't just turn to your enemy and attack. By the time you turn, your enemy might not be there.

4. Indirect control, indirect fire: this mode is similar to what you have in an RTS. You move the character indirectly as in mode 3, but you also don't control exactly when an attack happens. Pressing an attack key queues the attack for your ship, and your ship then tries to maneuver to the right position to use the particular attack. This works really well for weapon arcs: fire an attack that goes out your side, and your ship will attempt to position itself where it can fire said attack. Fire missiles, and your ship will maneuver into missile range and orientation.

The downside here is that you lose direct control of your ship. You give your ship orders and it tries to carry them out for you, but it won't fire right away. The really nice bonus is that you no longer get 'out of weapon range' (or potential 'out of weapon arc') notices -- the game will take care of moving your ship into position to attack until you change your instructions.

Another downside is that this mode is hardest to program.

I'm not sure which of these schemes is best for the game, though I really like 4 because it allows for a lot of tactical depth (weapon arcs, not having to think about movement as much so you can think about stats). My suggestion is that if scheme 2 is kept as the default scheme, your ship should always move forward in combat by default. That reduces a little bit of mental stress and eliminates the 'sitting duck' syndrome. It's worth thinking about the fact that in the current scheme, the mouse is just about useless for navigation in combat -- there's really no easy way around that.

In any case, I think these options are useful to think about just to realize the give-and-take between different possible control schemes, and how challenging it is to come up with a good scheme for this game.

Bluddy
06-15-2012, 01:29 PM
I'm assuming that you're already aware of tapping the "W" key for the Autopilot 1 suggestion (I just call it AutoThrust)? "W" turns it on and left click anywhere to turn it off.

Like the second Autopilot 2, but in the meantime

Yes I was aware of that. The reason I listed it is because I'd like to see some modifications to this mode: I think it should disengage as soon as an enemy appears within a certain range. The problem is that it's too easy to forget about this mode, target the enemy, and then have your ship veer into the enemy. Also, this mode should be aware of the inventory screen.

Brian Rubin
06-15-2012, 01:29 PM
I love a lot of these ideas. Might I add three of my own?

- Lines on the minimap pointing to you your next waypoint. If you lay down more than one waypoint, have them be numbered, and have a small line on the map pointing to the next one, so you can easily follow it. Right now it's VERY vague.

- Let us set waypoints on specific objects, such as planets.

- For quests, give us a hint as to where they actually take place, like an arrow pointing to a gate, for example. I know we're supposed to explore and such, but it feels like I'm running around randomly to find a gate to a specific place.

Other than these items, I am LOOOOVING the game. Thank you.

NefariousKoel
06-15-2012, 02:50 PM
1) While the Thruster toggle option is okay, I'd prefer the on/off toggle function be used in only one key, as opposed to two separate ones. I'd also like to see the Left-mouse button toggle on/off the same way, itself, and I would prefer to use this latter method along with mouse cursor following remaining on it.

Click on-Click Off, while aiming the cursor for maneuver direction, would be great in that it would completely free up the left hand for hotkeying. :)



2) I think the "Autopilot" might be easier to do by using a rt-click action on the Map Screen, on a gate/planet to make the ship fly there directly.

Since a rt-click on the Map is already implemented with the gate travel feature, perhaps that part of the code could be adjusted for this use too.