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Nice concept...but...

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Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 12, 2010 at 7:05 am

Hi

I only discovered this game when I saw it advertised on Steam. I tried the demo and I am impressed with the game concept and all the mechanics behind it, but not so much with it's implementation/presentation. I need to understand what the thinking is behind some of the implementation/game design to see exactly if it is worth expecting any more of this game in the future.

Here are some things that stand out as questionable design decisions that really detract from the enjoyment of playing the game:

1. The first and most obvious thing is it seems everything is OVERSIZED and OVERSCALED, from the font size/line spacing (is this game made for people with poor eyesight?) ) to the size of the unit icons you see when you zoom out. I mean, the size of the font used in the Messages window is so big that it can only really fit no more than five words before a new line is needed. Same with the Objectives window. Surely the layout/presentation of the information in those windows can be improved. Just decrease the font a bit. The other thing that seems out of whack is the scale/size of the "chess piece" style unit and buildings. Do they really need to be so huge? It results in a lot of overlapping clutter that just males it hard to see what is going on. I for one would welcome a reduction in teh size of at least the "chess piece" 3D models on the startegic map view.

PS: It seems the developers seemed obsessed with HUGE font sizes. Just look at the web page design. Seriously, have the designers made this game and website for people with eyesight reading problems? Not only do I find it harder to efficiently read (eyes need to move too much to read small bits of information), it really is distracting and looks amateur.

2. I like the idea of being able to zoom in/out the map (from detailed view to strategic view and "chess pieces") but the transition between the two seems really poorly implemented. In fact, there is one level of zoom between the tactical view and the strategic view that really is a third kind of map (looks like the tactical map without trees) which displays virtually no information at all: all units are hidden, towns/other map items dimmed. I really can't see the reason why it even exists, because seeing this odd transitional zoom level while zooming from tactical view to strategic really breaks the link between the tactical and strategic map. What I mean is that it makes it difficult to track/identify the location a unit on the tactical map through to the strategic map when it suddenly disappears during the transition. This to me is just very poor design and would love to know what the thinking behind it was (if any).

3. The game seems to progress a little too fast for my likings. Combined with the unit tracking difficulties mentioned in the point above as a result of zooming in and out, trying to control units on different fronts in real time at the current game speed seems a bit to unnecessarily frantic and clumsy. I would be happier with an option to slow the game speed down and enjoy the game more rather than it being a clickfest.

4. Without going in to detail too much, I think the labelling/use of icons/symbols on the game map (in the tactical view) next to units/towns/map features etc. (small font!) would better provide the player with a better overview of what is what, and reduce the need to perhaps zoom out to the strategic view to see where units are. Spotting units on the tactical map can be very hard to see.

As I said a great game concept but I would really like to understand the thinking behind some of these unfortunate game design decisions.

Level 16 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 12, 2010 at 10:30 am

Thanks for the feedback.

Regarding the font size, while I do personally prefer a smaller font size (I code at 1920x1200 on a small laptop screen) we generally had more comments when the font was smaller. It would be nice to have a configurable font size but we've got a lot of other things on our wish list as well.

The size of the "chess pieces" is obviously a compromise between how large they are up close while still keeping them large enough as you zoom out. Unfortunately since combat units can overlap on the tactical level it's impossible to keep the miniatures from overlapping regardless of how small you make them. Very early in development I imposed collisions on the miniatures to keep them separated but that just caused more problems as it meant the miniature position didn't accurately match the location of the unit.

I think what they did in RUSE by merging the stacks is visually cleaner but you lose the ability to select individual units and it doesn't work well when enemy and friendly units are close.

It's not a perfect solution but in the next update to Hegemony Gold I've actually cut back on drawing some of the target and group miniatures in order to avoid unnecessary overlaps.

There is a point during the transition where the trees are gone from the terrain but before you can really see the 2d map. It was necessary to drop the trees from the 3d map in order to free up resources to draw the sprites on the strategy map. At the point you're looking the 2d sprites are there and consuming resources but the are just faded to the point they are almost impossible to see.

At one point in development we prevented the player from stopping the camera during the transition and forced the camera to completely transition to one map or the other. However, we found that the camera just felt better when you never lost control and decided it was a reasonable compromise even if it meant there were points when it didn't look ideal.

Regarding the game speed, it's our general aim to expand the strategy in Hegemony and reduce how frantic it can get at times and we're aiming to do this via a wide range of changes from reducing how fast the enemy can rebuild to making it easier to select units quickly in the middle of combat. We're actively working on the followup to Philip right now and are always open to comments and suggestions.

Labeling and visibility on the tactical map is something we've talked about and we'll keep your ideas in mind.

Thanks again for the comments.

Level 8 Human Cyborg
Alignment: Good
Posted on November 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm

3. The game seems to progress a little too fast for my likings. Combined with the unit tracking difficulties mentioned in the point above as a result of zooming in and out, trying to control units on different fronts in real time at the current game speed seems a bit to unnecessarily frantic and clumsy. I would be happier with an option to slow the game speed down and enjoy the game more rather than it being a clickfest.

Rob replied to you already, and he's more qualified than anyone else to respond. But to this one all I have to say is "PAUSE" it's a life saver. Don't really see how the game can go any much slower. It even has built in "Pause on X" functions for being attacked, enemy sighted, and out of food.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm

3. The game seems to progress a little too fast for my likings. Combined with the unit tracking difficulties mentioned in the point above as a result of zooming in and out, trying to control units on different fronts in real time at the current game speed seems a bit to unnecessarily frantic and clumsy. I would be happier with an option to slow the game speed down and enjoy the game more rather than it being a clickfest.

Rob replied to you already, and he's more qualified than anyone else to respond. But to this one all I have to say is "PAUSE" it's a life saver. Don't really see how the game can go any much slower. It even has built in "Pause on X" functions for being attacked, enemy sighted, and out of food.


agreed. slap spacebar (pause) everytime you feel you need to. you can issue and attack orders while paused.