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Welcome to World War II online - Battleground Europe : Free community contributions to a new User Interface design

Oct. 2009

Please sit back, relax, throw some food to the fishes, and take a hour to discover the content of this blog.

The purpose of this input is to introduce new gameplay concepts that could contribute to a fix of persistent issues highlighted during the last couples of years, with a special focus on the User Interface (UI).
Though it will confuse established players, I believe it will be alot easier for new players to understand.

The blog (creative) layout has been designed to make the reading more comfortable (you can easily pause your reading thanks to feature #IDs) as to make search & discuss easier. Use the labels to select a single part, or use the tree on the right to find a specific feature back.
If you are in a hurry, you may just have an attentive look at the screenshots which should be intuitive to understand. The text is just pointing out drawn features or detailing the context.

All opinions and suggestions are welcome. Please, provide feedback (here) in the official forum . Remind that the whole content is a free gift to Playnet.

Since English isn't my main language, please apologize for the mistakes. I hope you will still enjoy the reading.

ZEB
-Un0fficial gameplay architect, advises concepts since 2002-

1.1. Side HQ - Welcome screen


[SIDE HQ
   - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected

[PLATOON HQ]
   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display

[BRIGADE HQ]

____________________________________________________________

    The current welcome screen -accessed after having chosen a side and a persona- only displays a list of divisions with their brigades and a population indicator, along with an interactive map. This design was created when "Tables Of Equipment" were expected to go along with players sticking to their own brigade, as they used to do  (virtually) at the very beginning of the game.  But the game evolved, and so did the playerbase. New gameplay features made the game much more dynamic, and such a layout is no longer pertinent.  Both players, MLs, OIC and HCs suffer from the current lack of (easily-accessed) situational awareness. The new design tries to fix this


Typical side HQ display at arrival on this screen

#5.   Persona selection becomes dynamic and intuitive. You no longer need to pre-select a branch persona  but just a side persona. You can then easily jump between each other via dedicated tabs (ground, air and naval forces). Branch persona upload -with its appropriate rank- is then performed instantaneously. Each branch has its own side HQ welcome screen but ground forces should always be displayed by default to give a situational awareness to joining players. Best would be to also have branch ranks shared between different countries of the same side since brigades of both countries are mixed (feature #7).

#6.    A common “recruitment chatroom” is accessed when displaying one of the side (branch) HQ screens.

Players lose access to this chatroom once they leave to another level of UI (brigade, mission, squad, events…). MLs may continue to use it while they are not deployed in field (recruitment purpose) but OICs and HCs may access it at any time. Colors help identifying mission leaders and brigade leaders and brigade ID helps identifying their location.

#7. Brigades are no longer separated between countries and divisions, and are displayed individually on the screen to allow different displays according to the wanted information (feature #8). However each brigade name is still preceded by the initials of its division and a picture of its country flag

#8. The list of brigades with their missions are by default sorted by descending active population .
 It's a simple means to know where the action is currently the most intense, or to identify towns lacking forces according to its current situation. However, a scroll menu would suggest alternative displays, such as a sorted list by country/division orbat, attack/defense AO, remaining supply,....
Eventually, if HCs are allowed to define P1, P2 and P3 AOs in the future, it could then have an influence on  the default display (these would be displayed at the beginning of the list, even if not containing the most population).

#9. A supply status in % of remaining equipment is displayed for each brigade in order to allow a quick situational awareness of supply without the need to join the brigade. This would be helpful both for players and for leaders. Note the use of a large supply box icon, which also serves as visual reference to help the brain distinguish different brigades.

#10. The current side CinC is displayed. By default it's the name of the campaign CinC, but in the future it could eventually be an online HC that decided to took the temporary lead in the same way OICs do. This would improve situational awareness of the side organization, both for players, MLs and OICs.

#11. Players currently having an active lead role (MLs, OICs, CinC) have their own identification color that is displayed everywhere their tag appear (chat, UI, ingame tag).

#12. Each brigade displays its current attack and defense objectives. Since there's always a permanent defense mission for home towns (feature #1), defense objective is never empty  (permanent indication of location), while attack objective appears only if an AO has been set by the OIC. If there is no active AO, the icon is colored grey. For defense target only, ews/attack icons are eventually displayed for increased awareness.

#13. For each brigade, missions are grouped according to their category (feature #1)

#14. A quick glance should allow players to find missions that will offer the experience they are mainly looking for (experienced ML, large platoon, armored column, defense mission...).
Therefore, mission information displayed on the "mission line" is limited to : ML's tag (colored), his leadership points (upcoming feature), the number of mission members, the eventual specialization and the mission type (offensive/defensive). Icons notifying the use of a Platoon Command Post (PCP) for deployed platoons may also be displayed, as the use of a countdown. Target is a secondary priority information since it may change (dynamic target as upcoming feature). Display may be adapted according to mission category.

#15. A "join" button allows the player to immediately jump into the wanted mission without needing to open a brigade tab first as it is currently the case. Missions that can't be joined because of gameplay restrictions don't display such a button, i.e. deployed platoons because of feature #3 and squad missions which can only be joined via a recruiter (feature #26)

#16. Selecting a brigade/mission/squad will display more detailed information on the other half of the screen, providing an instant situational awareness (see  following topics bellow).

#17. If nothing has been selected yet, the other half of the screen displays an interactive map that can be used for situational awareness, but also for intuitive deployment if selecting a town would instantaneously filter all brigades currently hosting a mission related to that area (feature #29).  Notice that the map tools (search, legend, ...) are displayed at this level, in opposition to the current system where you need to open the large map to access these.
A "reset button" allows to come back to this map when an unwanted selection had been done in the list, though is doesn't cancel the ordering criteria (feature #8) nor the filter display (feature #19).

#18. Officers may quickly form up a new platoon by clicking a "create platoon" button available above the "deploying platoons" list of every brigade. This will make mobilization much easier  to perform compared to the current design.

#19. A filter display allows to perform a detailed research into the current active missions, with dynamically updated display.

#20. Gophur mentioned he supported Rexxor's idea of a calendar gathering events. I called the tab "events". An art concept has been posted on the official website.



4 comments:

  1. suggestion : Notify somehow in the "forming up platons" list, about prior targets set by the OIC (feature #50e) that must still be created.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Zebbeee, I was wondering if the support missions could be combined with free rifle accounts ? This would be cool and attract more players.

    ReplyDelete
  3. *I like the concept of just clicking on a town on map to filter dedicated missions.

    *I also like the calendar but we should find an anti-spy protection

    * An overall positive feedback for the concept

    ReplyDelete
  4. An idea to make it easier for people to join forming up platoons, would be to gather these missions in a box above the list of active brigades.
    The lack of space could be recovered by removing the huge "battleground europe" title at the top of the screenn.

    ReplyDelete