« on: March 03, 2012, 06:55:57 AM »
I recently picked AI War and it's hooked me like few games have. I feel a bit like a kid in front of Master of Orion again. So much to learn, and so much to explore.
Overall I find the game fairly smooth to navigate. I've sunk about 15 hours into it so far. I've gotten used to the shortcuts, keeping one hand on the keyboard. It's pretty quick, but there are still some things that could use improvement.
Well, with that out of the way:
Holding shift down to build multiple structures.
How often does anyone build a single turret? Single transport? Single engineer? Single anything (other than maybe colony ships?). It gets tiresome always reaching for that shift key so that I can paint a wormhole with tractor beam turrets. Should paint-building not be the default? Players can always right click to exit 'build mode', and holding shift could enable "single build mode'. Maybe a menu toggle for this? Or perhaps paint-mode for certain structures being automatic (like turrets), whereas others (like power plants) just single-build. In any case, I would prefer paint being the default, since I'm almost always holding shift.
Getting to the galaxy map / mini map.
There is plenty of space at the bottom of the screen to shuffle in one more icon. Why are both of these maps grouped under a single button with an awkward menu? The menu doesn't seem to work all that well either, sometimes kicking me back to the system view when I make a selection, or doing something else weird. A user shouldn't have to click twice to get to these critical views when there's plenty of room for two buttons. I know we have one hand on the keyboard, and I usually go for the TAB key, but sometimes I'm feeling lazy, and burying these tools two clicks deep seems like an odd design decision.
When I see a wave is approaching, I have to pause the game, hit F1, and scan the 'by mark/alphabetical' ship lists for whatever is approaching to check their stats. In a multiplayer game I really don't feel like holding everyone up while I sift for information that doesn't need to be hidden like this. It would be nice to hover the mouse over the wave-warning box and have it display the stats for the approaching ships.
I've seen videos of older versions of the game and the mini-map in the top right corner looks quite nice. Because of the very far zoom-range, the full-screen mini-map seems mostly redundant. The only time I bring it up is to check which wormhole is flashing when a wave is coming in. Kind of a pain, since the only other indicator is a slight color-change of the wormhole when you zoom close in (and I'm a bit color blind). The only other reason is to make sure I'm within the planets gravity well.
On that note, it would be nice if the gravity well was represented visually in the system, perhaps with a slight color-shift of the background or something. As a new player I found it very confusing why my ships were not moving, and why I couldn't unload transports, etc, until I did wiki-reading. Having to constantly bring up the mini-map to make sure my transports aren't going into the "no-zone" is very annoying. This stuff either needs to be visually represented in the planet view, or the mini-map collapsed back into the corner so I can reference this "large-scale" information (just like blinking wormholes) at a quick glance. The mini-map really offers no other helpful information.
There is also something comforting and familiar about having a mini-map in the corner. Standards exist for a reason. That would also do away with that awkward map button/menu.
Anyway, I love the game and will continue to pour countless hours into it. I just think there are a few improvements that could really polish and streamline the experience.
Thanks for bringing such an amazing creative vision to life.