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Old November 11, 1999, 12:12   #61
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I have the Macitosh version of Civilization II. I don't know how it compares to the Windows version.

What I dislike about it is the vast number of dialog boxes and clicks required to get where you want to go.

When you meet a foreign leader print all the chit-chat you want but get to the buttons in the first window.

When you want to airlift a unit note which cities that have already been involved in an airlift so that I don't try to use it twice. If the unit to be airlifted is a freight unit, add messages indicating which cites need the item in the freight.

Thank you for your consideration of these items.
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Old November 11, 1999, 22:24   #62
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I know this is something small and trivial, but one thing I'd like to see is more Hall of Fame lists. Covering things such as largest populations, greatest cities of all time, highest civ score, etc.

I'd also like to see those same lists be altered in order to eliminate the same civilization from appearing on the same list more than once due to multiple retirements.
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Old November 17, 1999, 15:27   #63
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Ah! One more thing! (well more than one actually)

Things that have nothing what so ever to do with the actual game, but ad to the mood.

Like the throne-room. The castle in civI was great. The way you could choose the style of your castle added to the enjoyment of the game IMO. The one in civII was less enjoyable as you could only choose the order of what you would build and not the style. The civ: CtP was even worse, even though I chuckled a bit when they tore down the cathedral to build a bridge. In SMAC, it seems they did away with the concept all together, only leaving a mind-bogglingly dull pyramid-thingy to tell about your achievements.

Why, WHY, does it seem that as the games get better and more advanced, the throne-rooms get duller and duller?

Another thing: The city view. You had them in civI & II, why don't they have them in CtP and SMAC? I quite liked to scroll through a successful city, noting the pyramids, the great wall, the university, the offshore platforms etc. It had next to nothing to do with my ability to actually win the game, but I found it enjoyable. And I still find the actual enjoyment of the game to be of importance when I play.

One thing I love about SMAC is the humour. When I quit a game it is always a pleasure to hear the canned voice telling me to “Please don’t go! The drones need you. They look up to you!” It is nice to have some tension breaking after the game is over, just to remind you that it is just a Game. In other ways, SMAC is a lot less cheery than the other games. Some of the wonder movies made me seriously question if the advance in knowledge was really worth it. (As an avid University-player, my answer was ‘Hell yeah!’ but still…) And the movie sequence you get when you have finally captured the last city of an enemy faction is not much better.

So: I like the humour and the sombre themes, each in it’s place.

I also liked the counsellors from civII. I didn’t usually do what they wanted, but it was fun listening to them all the same.

Oh well, a long rant about irrellevant things. I'll go back to my life now (aftr just one more round of SMAC...)

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Old November 19, 1999, 15:52   #64
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I like this idea someone else so much, I just have to repost it ;-)

For this reason I think there should be a screen for mass management, such as, a common queue for all cities to use as a building guideline. Each city can override this queue if need be. I realize you can set this up in a text file but it isn't dynamic for game play.
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Old November 20, 1999, 01:35   #65
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A lot of the suggestions that have been raised thus far are quite good, so I'll just hrow in my say.

1. Please make the city view like that of Civ 1. In Civ 2 it looked crap at times because, for instance, when you built the Hoover Dam you got a dam wall shoved in the middle of you city. Similarly, when you built city walls it got placed in between 2 trees. In contrast Civ 1 placed the Hoover Dam at the back in the mountain range like a real dam, and had the City Walls going right across the screen. I also like it a lot better in Civ 1 how your cities developed through the ages (in the early ages you had huts and tents, while in the later ages you had skyscrapers), whereas all Civ 2 did was chuck in a few roads etc. as you went along.

2. When you open up a city, please have everything on the 1 city screen (like Civ 1 and 2), unlike CTP which although keeping it all in the tool bar requires the player to flick through multiple screens to do everything they want.

3. Not sure how to word this, but IMHO the diplomacy screens in Civ 1 were 10 times better than Civ 2. In Civ 1 you actually met the leader and the background reflected the type of government and age the civilization was in. In Civ 2 all you gopt was a emissary which just danced around on the spot.
Old November 20, 1999, 16:43   #66
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I totally agree about the emmissaries from Civ1 being better. I loved seeing those advisors in the background, just standing around, it was fudn to guess which historical figures they were supposed to be
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Old November 27, 1999, 19:16   #67
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Yet another thumbs us to the replay...probably one of the best features in civ1
Also, in the city status screen, it would be useful to have an icon or something showing which cities will be in disorder NEXT turn rather just those which are currently in disorder.
This would help when you have a large civilization and are changing to democracy after a long time in another government.
Often when doing this cities which have been in disorder because of being in anarchy will be in disorder on the first full turn of democracy and if you have a lot of cities in disorder you have to check each one to see if it will be again in the next turn to avoid the government falling because of the 2 turns of disorder.
(sorry about the longest sentence ever written)
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Old November 27, 1999, 23:28   #68
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Ahem. Back to "Interface design"

I'm an art student with strong interest in design so my ideas relate to the appearance and utility of the interface rather than indivdual specific features.

1) Colour, Colour, Colour.

All of the Civ games have failed visually, but to varying degrees. Hopefully Civ III will not follow them.

Colour is an absolutely vital subject when designing the interface and map, which should complement each other, like Civ II but unlike
Civ:CTP. Civ II was definately far more successful than all the other Civ games visually as it was both non-strain-inducing and easy to see what was going on. SMAC had deeply painful colours and some ugly, ugly combinations and clashes appeared particularly in unit design.

As the Earth is mainly blue, green and tan, the interface colours should be both darker and complement and these.

With colours a degree of simplicity is necessary (I feel, I guess you know how to do your job!), so I hope there will be plenty of pure tones and not SMAC's unfortunate "dot of one colour, dot of another, intended to combine to form third colour look". People can see pixels! Stay away from pointillism, and stick to more solid hues.

I would like to see colours with real depth and warmth used, not pastel shades and half tones. The sea should be deep blue-green and the land strong solid shades of whatever colour is appropriate.

2) Actual Interface

K.I.S.S. is the obvious thing... SMAC failed on this... It was powerful but somewhat clumsy and confusing, and Civ:CTP lost many gamers affections due to the illogical and overcomplicated nature of it's button system.

Everything should be immediately obvious - Improvements and resources should stick out from the landscape, and on the city screen one brief glance should tell you all you need to know, like in Civ II, but unlike SMAC, which required scrutinizing to determine what was going on.

There should be as little clicking as possible. Nothing should be more than three clicks or so away, preferably two.

It should be "intuitive" (duh!), that is, a player of Civ II or SMAC should be able to use it without difficulty - Unlike Civ:CTP. Keep current convention like faces for population unless you can think of something vastly better.

Main window should have as little obscuring your view of the land as possible...


A strong degree of player customization would be welcome, in both the colour of windows and backgrounds and how things are displayed as well as what is shown. Different people have different tastes and needs, and it is impossible to cater to everyone, so customization would help.

4) Things to avoid.

A) Dull or over-bright colours. The glowing gold of the Civ:CTP menu bar was a distraction, and the SMAC map as horrid on the eye...

B) Silly gmmicks: Particularly the "Age determines style of interface" option... Oh purleeze! How gimmicky and Flintsones-esque can you get! I would rather have one beautiful, elegant and lasting interface than four or five so-so ones of vary utility. I can see why this appeals from a "that would be cooooool!" perspective, but from a design perspective it is an appalling idea, more suited to kid's TV than a complex and thoughtful strategy game. If you do go with that silly idea, please, please, please make it an option to turn it off and choose one interface for eternity.

Really, please, please stay away from gimmicky ideas like this, and stick to elegance and lasting style... Remember this is a Civilzation game, and people will be playing it 5, even 10 years from now. We will have to spend hour after hour staring at it. It must be beautiful, clean and elegant, not tacky and gimmicky.

C)Too many numbers, not enough symbols

Civ:CTP had this bigtime, and SMAC suffers from it too... The icons are small and unclear so one has stop, think and look at the numbers. This is irritating and slows things down trememdously. Make the symbols large and bold and near the top of the screen
like in Civ II, not small and cramped down the botton like SMAC. SMAC had everything you needed to now, but it took time to find it, Civ II had it right there in your face. Decisions could be made quickly and intuitively.

D)Boring Icons - SMAC and Civ:CTP are again the big offenders, with icons that slide past the eye rather than attracting it... That may be nice in theoretical design but that are unmemorable and inaccessible.

E)Too much brown. Simply that... It is a bad colour. Uninspiring.

That's enough from me for now, thanks for listening.

"You're standing on my neck."
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Old November 28, 1999, 01:33   #69
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In the report screens where cities are displayed one per row, for the order of the cities listed:

a) sort-able. You can sort the order by name, location, size, establish year, trade route type, unit/improvment being built, etc.

b) group-able: several cities can be grouped and given the same order.

c) cross-reference: when a city is selected, using different colors to display: cities of the same continent, cities linked by road, cities linked by rr, cities has trade route, cities within protection radium (e.g., 8 squares away and you have a bomber in the current city), cities can protect the current city, etc.

d) a special case of c): when a city is selected, and you want to change the city configuration, then use a distinct color to show the cities which share squares with the current city. And when the change has been made, use a distinct color to show the cities which were effected by the change.

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Old December 3, 1999, 04:11   #70
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I like what I read here about the castle view, city view, history book, advisors etc. They contribute a lot to the atmosphere of the game (is this correct english ?? Oh ? Well...)
I also agree that the ticker should contain info on current affairs (i.e. wars etc.) and rankings.
But most important of all, don't make the interface ctp-ish !! For one, it needs a lot(!) of clicking, and secondly, the city view (what city view ?) is very impractical. Again, you need to click a lot to get all the information, which you can't see on one screen. Combined with the fact that the "mouse-clicking" is very sluggish (I don't know what you call this, but I often have to return to those mini-mini-buttons because the click didn't "catch"), and it makes the city-management a tedious job. If I'm in the city view, I want to be kind of in the city. The CTP view feels very sterile.
Last of all, it would be really nice if you could customize view and listings, although this is probably not so simple to implement.(but do it anyway, thankx)
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Old December 3, 1999, 10:27   #71
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Yeah, I know what you mean about sometimes having to go back and click a button again because it didn't "catch." I suppose it would be a good idea to warn the interface design team against a novel yet impractical mouse pointer graphic. A simple arrow will do... we don't need a fat-fingered hand or an animated explorer or a fancy sword or anything special, just a simple arrow so we know we're clicking. It might also be a good idea to make all buttons that need to be clicked a lot, like the "rush buy" button for units, fairly large so that it's difficult to "miss" them.

Hmmm... one other thing just occurred to me. One of the things that annoys me about Microprose's Birth of the Federation game is a feature where holding the mouse pointer over a certain part of the map will, after a few seconds, bring up a small window of information. It's kind of like the feature in Windows 95. (Hover your mouse over the "Post a Reply" graphic, for example, and you'll get a little manilla box that says "Post a Reply.") The problem is, unlike Win95, the BotF feature slows down the game immensely. Just dragging the mouse over the map seems to take forever. The game is apparently always checking to see whether it should display information or not. I certainly hope Civ 3 isn't going to opt for a feature like this.

Okay, okay, I'm through whining...
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Old December 4, 1999, 07:39   #72
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Ruinexplorer, you are probably right about the interface changing with technology.
But the reason I suggested it is to reduce boredom, and increase ..?? excitement and acheivement.
I think if they did each (prolly 4-5?) interfaces well, it would work. And it wouldn't be a big change, just enough to see that it blends in with your current stage of technology.
Old December 9, 1999, 01:22   #73
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I have little suggestions for an interface really. My only real complaint is the lack of a City window in CTP. However, I do have two minor features that would make the game's micromanagement much easier.

A useful tool for those with short memories (like me). You place bookmarks on the map in places you want to go back to later, even labelling the bookmark if you want. These bookmarks then can be controlled from both a "next bookmark" button or a window displaying a list of all of the bookmarks and their map locations (i.e. section A-7). The window would also display a small world map, divided into sections, with dots for each bookmark.

Just a simple text editor like the Windows notepad allowing you to electronically scribble a quick note such as "bomb England" that you want to remember but know you won't.

The Electronic Hobbit
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Old December 17, 1999, 06:45   #74
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I agree with previus suggestion about adding sorting choice, filter choice, drill-down choice (clickable items/words like in Web pages to go to detailed screen), use right mouse button menu to give orders (SMAC put a step in right direction, about contestual menu).
I would also like a (moderate) styling difference in report screen (maybe only on background) when you Civ change era (as happened in CIV II with city look).
Not to completely redesign the whole screen, just to add the right, historical feeling.

But I would point out that in real world the ability to collect info and statistics about your civilization changed a lot with available technology. In fact you also need more and different info when your civilization grow and change (e.g. pollution wasn't a problem at all until Industrial revolution, now it's a critical issue).
So it could be very interesting to have an interface that add/change some items to better suit the control panel to the change of time. I mean, is pointless to me to have in SMAC a button to bring up a Satellite panel until I haven't a satellite at all. It could gentle my learning curve of game if the button appears only when useful
May be I can gain more info (or more detailed) when I develop Computer network, than when I must rely to messenger and herald By example, in early game I can't have good hints about population revolt until it happens (like on CIV II), then I can gain more advice (a turn before it could happens?) and control, because of mass media development. Shouldn't this add more point to develope your civilization and also help you to manage better a larger population?
I know this concept will apply more on other screens than Report city's, but I like to suggest it here anyway because it could help to comply with this concept on every game interface.

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<font size=1 face=Arial color=444444>[This message has been edited by Adm.Naismith (edited December 17, 1999).]</font>
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Old December 17, 1999, 10:07   #75
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I generally have three or four games going at any one time - the biggest problem I encounter is re-entering the philosophy of a game - can there be some sort of (optional) synopsis of history on a load ...

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Old December 17, 1999, 19:35   #76
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Ok, so ideas for Interface :

1) Right click menu. Not overdone, and not to replace hotkey. ie. Right clicking a city gives you a menu :
Build -> Gives you the current queue and allow you to build a structure anywhere in the queue, still menu driven. Faster than having to click on the city, set thing to build then leave.
Governor -> Change governor type(if it is used as in SMAC) easely.
Units -> A list of all units in the city. But could be in a status bar, a la CIV2, althought a status bar should be 'optional' or autohiding of some sort (taking way too much place for its use. Only good for begininers, and even then...)

2) All similar info on one screen. The idea is not to crank up everything you can on a screen. Actually, it is a very bad thing, may it be a game, a book, etc. In a city report screen(with all cities listed), put everything pertaining to the city : current production, shields, food, pop, etc. DO NOT put units residing in the city and the whole build queue, but do put trade routes currently working. Also try mixing numbers and graphics. Number are unappealing but take less space than graphics. ie. put an Unhappy citizen icon, and the number of them beside it. Do not put 5 unhappy icon, taking too much space for nothing, put that in the ciy screen where everything isn't cranked up, not in the report screen. You want a quick look of the city there(hence the name: report), you do not manage the city from there. Then again, maybe options like 'Set all cities to...', or 'Set selected cities to...'(where you could ctrl-select different city) : Gov type, production, autobuild, etc. Also, the right click menu could be good there, easy management without cranking tooo much stuff, and not having to click and view the whole city screen, then change, then come back, etc.

3) As for the city screen itself... I love the Civ2 city screen much more than the SMAC one. Simple, too the point, appealing, etc. Actually, it took me 5-10 minutes to figure out how to build something in a city in SMAC, haha(go ahead, laugh at me =), until I saw that the bar at the bottom of the screen actually changed.

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Old December 23, 1999, 06:23   #77
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Simple and unobtrusive are some fundamental priciples of interface design.

Any interface that sticks in your face and reminds you of itself can't be that good. That's why <em>CtP</em> and <em>SMAC</em> interfaces are at best mediocre. However, CtP is worse because <em>it violates established conventions</em>. For example, the position of the "cancel" and "ok" buttons are reversed. Same with <em>Starfleet Command.</em> A selected opinion is darkened instead of lightened. A player has to think about what to do before proceeding.

Any information that can be hidden should be hidden. For example, there are supporters for a "ticker tape" idea. However, two main flaw mars the suggestion. First, ticker tape won't appear until Industrial Revolution. What about earlier (and later) Ages? Seond, it sticks in the user's face. A better way would be a pop up window that lists all the events which can be hidden by the push of a key (or click of the mouse). It can be called up through a menu selection.

Little icons above cities showing various status would make it easy to check things out at a glance.

Make sure all the important information can be accessed easily. In Civ/Civ2/SMAC, I can find out how many of each unit I have. Knowing that I have 28 Pikemen is good but not very helpful. What I <strong>really</strong> need to know is the location of these units. And to do that I have to go to various cities and click on the units they support/produced. It would be very nice if I could click on a unit type to get a map showing where every unit of that type is.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Use subdued colors for the interface so it won't call attention to itself.

2. Use icons and symbols to represent information wherever possible. They need less interpretation than words. An added benefit is they don't need to be changed when porting the game to another language.

3. The interface should normally not taken up more than 1/10 of the screen.

4. alt+tab should be a "shell escape:" it drops you out from the game and into Windows (Warlords III has this feature).

5. Use bar graphs to represent numeric information. It is a lot easier to compare bars of different lengths than numbers.

6. Be consistent. A color or symbol represents one thing one place should also represent the same thing in all other places. That's why the look of the interface should not be changed. It confuses the user.

7. Hyperlink everything, but make sure all hyperlinked items are different from non-hyperlinked ones.

That's all for now.
<font size=1 face=Arial color=444444>[This message has been edited by Urban Ranger (edited December 23, 1999).]</font>
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Old December 24, 1999, 14:56   #78
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I believe the ticker tape is a bad idea because things don't happen in real time to report. At the begining of the turn you want to glance at the events which happened and then move your units, but you rarely look back at it once you've started moving units ect.. In SMAC they had a small list of events which occured and you could atomatically zoom to where they happened. This should again be included. It could also advance through the ages from a stone tablet to early writing to manuscript to printing press to typed.
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Old December 31, 1999, 14:27   #79
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I got more specifics right here

I've been testing my skill at the One City Challenge, and the intensive play has reminded me of something. Put relevant information together. For example, in Civ2 the Tax/Lux/Sci sliders are in a separate window from the Trade Advisor and the Domestic Advisor. It would be OK if you could have more than one of these windows open at the same time so the changing the sliders changes the Advisor screens, but we can't do that. SMAC has a similar problem with the SE controls.

The advisors, controls, and other screens should be windows we can size and move, and toggle to stay on top when we click on the map to move units.
Old January 27, 2000, 01:08   #80
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I had no trouble with the SMAC interface---I want to learn the hotkeys quickly and right-click context menus help me do that. But a lot of people seem to hate it and I have to admit that it is very hard to use just the mouse in SMAC. You really needed to use the keyboard or you would end up doing incredible amounts of clicking.

IMO, the current gold standard of interfaces is the one in Age of Kings. When you select a unit in AOK you get full information about that unit in a nice transparent overlay, you get a small control window with icons for all that unit's actions and you get a status window that displays the units current combat stats.

While this is not that much different than SMACs interface in most respects, it is the iconic control of actions that seems to be what people want. Icons seem more immersive than word-based menus. As I said, I generally prefer hotkeys, but icons (with slow tooltips or an explanation box) are better when you are learning the game or when you don't want to use both keyboard and mouse.
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Old January 28, 2000, 06:30   #81
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When I play I would really like to have a clean map as background. So I would like some sort of customizable layer system for the map. Say, the first layer shows everything, while the second layer shows necessery info like roads/rails and cities BUT NOT farms/nets/mines.

Everybody who has played CTP will know what I mean, by the time u get the third upgradeble terrain improvment the map is cluttered with improvments. Then wouldn´t it be great to able to change the appearence!
I was thinking in the lines of what the SimCity series has, were you can change view between 'underground' and normal view. Kind of like that, it should only be one mouse-click away.



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