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Thread: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

  1. #1

    Default Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    I just want to list all of the stuff I can because I really enjoy this game and have played hundreds of hours BUT so much of the user interface is horribly, horribly designed and I can't understand why.

    General:
    1. Almost no tool tips, the ones that do exist contain almost no information - usually just the name of something. Why? Low resolution? Pretty sure when I got this game shortly after it came out my PC had 1600x1200, doesn't seem legit, and on the strategy map especially video performance shouldn't really be an issue, even for the time it was released.
    2. Disconnected Information Screens: In order to get useful information, you have to click on the unit/building - but sometimes it's a right click. Other times pertinent information (say on a city) cannot be accessed from the menu at all, and instead you must click on one of the lower buttons to open up your Faction Menu and then click another submenu. Why not at least have a link between the lists and submenus and the main information screen for a specific city, unit, etc?

    Strategic Map:
    1. Pointlessly Bad Camera Controls: You cannot rotate the map. You have a very limited ability to zoom in or out, or change the angle of viewing. This makes #2 much worse.
    2. Units blend in with the background, especially non-military units. This makes keeping track of spies and diplomats very difficult and tedious, and very often it's almost impossible to tell whether one or two armies are in an area if it's straight-on and thus occluded by terrain, cities or other units. Sometimes even if you can see the unit it's almost impossible to click on it due to the fact that it's almost entirely blocked and you can only click on certain parts of a unit to activate it.
    3. Huge User Interface with a Huge Font, so that barely any information is contained and most/all of the map is blocked when you open a menu.

    Battle Map:
    1. Deployment is incredibly finnicky and almost impossible to get straight, troops in different units are are always listing away from each other on one flank. or overlapping in ways that disrupt formation. There is no ability to make templates of armies, or to arrange units 'block' style so that they actually form neat lines. It would be fine if the 'drag and drop' method existed (but even still it's too goddman sketchy and arbitrary and disrupted by menus and borders that occlude a quarter of the screen or more) but there's no reason you shouldn't also be able to pop down a grid and line up your initial deployment. During deployment you should have banners with numbers for each troop in an off color from the currently selected unit always visible.

    2. Horrible Movement Controls: #1 is made worse by the arbitrary pathfinding AI and crap method of giving orders to troops, so that they jumble up and randomize their position in ways that cannot be controlled and don't make any sense. Any attempt to move your line results in people pouring over eachother, ending up at a completely unpredictable angle to the target, randomly turning the wrong way, or just flat out screwing up the entire formation you just put together. You can't just tell the troops to march forward or wheel, you have to click a spot and hope that it decides to end up in some coherent formation that isn't suicide. If you try to draw out the lines using the drag method you not only cannot see where you were going to position other troops meaning you either have to keep clicking back and forth or just guess about where you put down the last end position. If you try to use the drag method it will completely ignore any formation or positioning and just lump them all in a rectangle where each troop has roughly equal frontage, your general's cavalry and velites each taking up a position just like your hoplites in some random point along the line. This is Total Retard and not a formation anyone would ever use for any reason, in game or IRL.
    I'm not complaining about disorder and lag in reaching positions, which is totally realistic and OK. I'm complaining about how it's impossible to give coherent orders that tell the troops roughly where they should be in relation to each other and make sure they're at least pointed the right ing way. Likewise, as with #1, you should be able to DESIGN TEMPLATES and order troops to arrange themselves in that format at a position you click on.
    Troops also can't 'remember' to do anything in order other than shift-clicking for waypoints, for example, you can't click 'wedge' on a cataphract and then click a place for him to go; you can't have your archers drop a ram and form up behind it - you have to click drop, unpause, and then give them orders to form up in a certain pattern.
    As with #2, you should have numbered banners and faded location markers showing where your troops are supposed to be GOING at all times, and likewise corresponding numbers on every unit banner. This could be turned off for a restricted view/Fog of War mode, but as it is ordering troops to do basically logical things like "DON'T LINE UP FACING EACH OTHER BUT AWAY FROM THE ENEMY WITH YOUR LIGHT TROOPS RANDOMLY IN AN X EVEN THOUGH I NEVER GAVE ANY SUCH ORDERS" is so difficult that any 'assistance' from such indicators is more a reflection of common sense and spatial awareness that the computer utterly lacks. If I want to make ridiculous formations, or if the units get overlapped or disordered while moving, that's FINE, but this crap of them just 'deciding' to finish moving and consider themselves fully finished in their movement with such outcomes is absurd.
    It is also impossible to give orders to a unit to march and attack in formation, that is if I tell my pikeman to go forward I can tell him to stop short, to try to walk through while basically ignoring attacking enemies, or order him to break formation and randomly attack a particular enemy unit in a blob. What I cannot do is to tell him to engage in an advancing melee, engaging enemies in his path but maintaining formation as best as he can. This is especially annoying because this is basically WHAT PIKEMEN DO. While having them break ranks and engage the enemy as much as his unit can should be an option (currently what happens when you order an attack), I don't think the order to 'walk forward and attack anyone that get's in your way' is an unrealistic order, nor do I think that telling several units to march in order this way is unreasonable or unrealistic. Granted that terrain, attacks, etc. will disrupt the ranks and slow flanks, the point is that it should not require ing sorcery and random luck to keep them facing forward and offensively marching at an opponent.

    3. Horrible Camera Controls: This further accentuates #1 and #2. You cannot zoom out far enough, you cannot shift your angle enough. In deployment this means it's a total to see where all your units are at, and you constantly have to click-and-reclick hoping to find just the right angle so that you're not running into other troops. It also means frustrating click-fests as you try to deploy troops only to find the red line (often invisible from your deployment view) screwing you up again and again, or some unclear border of a terrain feature that stops you from laying down a position at all.
    This is true even if you take all camera restrictions off. I could see some limitation on viewing angle during a battle - especially with general view on - but the camera is just too damn close, too obscured and too flat. This results in endless frustration if I'm trying to deploy, this adds nothing but frustration and does not simulate any realism. It would be fine if most of the map was covered in FOW during deployment, but this camera angle business does not hide anything, it just makes control incredibly tedious during deployment phase. Again, to be clear, a limited viewing angle and range DURING THE BATTLE makes perfect sense (though when I turn it OFF, it should be ALL THE WAY OFF - I should be able to view the whole map by zooming out, select troops without worrying about selecting twenty random troops because they're occluded by each other, etc.

    That's all I can think of right now. Obviously this is an old game, but I don't know why some of this nonsense got past beta testing. What's worse is that, unlike TW Rome 2, RTW's interface and camera controls is mostly hard coded and thus there are no mods to fix it. This game is really good, but so many key elements of the INTERFACE are awful, in a way that accomplishes nothing whatsoever and should be obvious to anyone playing - let alone designing - the game.

  2. #2
    Tiro
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    Default Re: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    For the records i dont think anyone had any problems (or any serious problems) with the interface.By the way there is an option for the battle map interface to be switced to the old total war interface.
    Last edited by crazyroman; November 01, 2017 at 01:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Ultra123's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    Ive never had any issues with the interface whatasoever, your tooltip point is only useful for a new player and never seen again when you know what your doing. Deployment is fine, select say a Hastati line, Ctrl-1, then, SHIFT-1, click and drag to now adjust your perfect line. Your pikeman point is solved with guard formation, this only changed with certain mods that attempt to nerf pikes. Camera controls for the time were actually adequate, there was nothing wrong with them for that time.

    To be honest the vast majority of your points are because it seems like you arent familiar with the older TW's and are coming from the newer ones, where you have 20 buttons for camera controls, can drag more than one unit into a instant line, etc etc. This stuff simply didnt exist in concept back when RTW was released, it certainly wasnt a top priority.

    I must say, of all the thing that WAS critized about Rome 1 in its time, i think literally none of your post mentions.... I'd rather have my lesser camera controls but a full family tree with proper general traits, theres a lot to love still despite its age. In fact i just came out of a 4 hour SPQR mod campaign i have going, far more than i can do in one go on anything warscape.
    Originally Posted by Garbarsardar
    R2 is a deeply flawed, partially completed, hastily assembled, sub-par product.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ultra123 View Post
    Ive never had any issues with the interface whatasoever, your tooltip point is only useful for a new player and never seen again when you know what your doing. Deployment is fine, select say a Hastati line, Ctrl-1, then, SHIFT-1, click and drag to now adjust your perfect line. Your pikeman point is solved with guard formation, this only changed with certain mods that attempt to nerf pikes. Camera controls for the time were actually adequate, there was nothing wrong with them for that time.

    To be honest the vast majority of your points are because it seems like you arent familiar with the older TW's and are coming from the newer ones, where you have 20 buttons for camera controls, can drag more than one unit into a instant line, etc etc. This stuff simply didnt exist in concept back when RTW was released, it certainly wasnt a top priority.

    I must say, of all the thing that WAS critized about Rome 1 in its time, i think literally none of your post mentions.... I'd rather have my lesser camera controls but a full family tree with proper general traits, theres a lot to love still despite its age. In fact i just came out of a 4 hour SPQR mod campaign i have going, far more than i can do in one go on anything warscape.
    Agreed. I started to play the Total War game series with Medieval TW and Shogun TW then I became a Total War fan when I by a coincidence bought Rome TW after I returned another game to my local game store GameStop store, because I could't figure it out how to get the game (I returned to GameStop) working.

    I just want to add one feature that the newer games does not have, I don't know how it is with Shogun 2 TW, Attila or Warhammer TW, and I what I am referring to is about playing a battle in Rome TW and clicking on any unit in-game.

    Older games: Medieval TW, Shogun TW (I don't remember since I haven't play it in years), Rome TW, Medieval2 TW (I don't recall seeing it in M2TW since I don't play it anymore)

    Newer games: Empire TW, Napoleon TW, Shogun 2 TW (I have only played it for 5 hours and I don't know how it is), Rome 2 TW (I stop being a Total War fan after the disastrous release of Rome 2 TW and I don't play it anymore)

    When the player clicked on any unit card during a battle the game will automatically focus to the selected unit and rotate to show the direction of that unit regardless where the camera is on the battefield.

    Both ETW and NTW doesn't have that "clicking on a unit card then auto-rotate the camera to focus on the selected unit" feature. If you do that in-game the game will not auto-rotate the camera to show what direction the unit currently has.

  5. #5
    Ultra123's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    Leonardo, its a ridiculous amount of things cut from warscape era TW. I could literally write an essay on this. Like i say i think the things the OP has issues with are something that was 'generally' done ok in the newer games, but hes completely missing the depth of the older ones. Go to a med2 or rome 1 general and look at his traits. Realise that if you do certain things with him such as put him in a settlement with a school for a while he becomes educated. then go to rome 2 and look at how general traits are done there. I literally cannot remember any Rome 2 general i have had ever and i have MANY attempts to give it a fair chance over the myriad patches and as a result i have hundreds of hours in it. I can however, remember my generals from my campaign two months ago in medieval 2 specifically the THERA mod.

    They couldnt have screwed up more in my opinion. I mean literally all they had to do was Rome 1 with increased graphics.
    Originally Posted by Garbarsardar
    R2 is a deeply flawed, partially completed, hastily assembled, sub-par product.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ultra123 View Post
    Leonardo, its a ridiculous amount of things cut from warscape era TW. I could literally write an essay on this. Like i say i think the things the OP has issues with are something that was 'generally' done ok in the newer games, but hes completely missing the depth of the older ones. Go to a med2 or rome 1 general and look at his traits. Realise that if you do certain things with him such as put him in a settlement with a school for a while he becomes educated. then go to rome 2 and look at how general traits are done there. I literally cannot remember any Rome 2 general i have had ever and i have MANY attempts to give it a fair chance over the myriad patches and as a result i have hundreds of hours in it. I can however, remember my generals from my campaign two months ago in medieval 2 specifically the THERA mod.

    They couldnt have screwed up more in my opinion. I mean literally all they had to do was Rome 1 with increased graphics.
    Yeah, you got that right. My post is about why older players still like playing RTW, instead of playing a game that has way too many bugs and I don't think I need to mention what game I'm talking about don't I.


    You know, in recent years I have started to consider RTW to be equal to what Morrowind is in comparison to the newer TES games such as Oblivion and Skyrim.

    Despite its flaws and sometimes buggy gameplay with outdated graphics. Both RTW and Morrowind has the same depth in-game, which the later games in both game series seriously is lacking of IMO.
    Last edited by Leonardo; November 08, 2017 at 08:56 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why Is the User Interface So Awful?

    3. Horrible Camera Controls: This further accentuates #1 and #2. You cannot zoom out far enough, you cannot shift your angle enough. In deployment this means it's a total to see where all your units are at, and you constantly have to click-and-reclick hoping to find just the right angle so that you're not running into other troops. It also means frustrating click-fests as you try to deploy troops only to find the red line (often invisible from your deployment view) screwing you up again and again, or some unclear border of a terrain feature that stops you from laying down a position at all.This is true even if you take all camera restrictions off. I could see some limitation on viewing angle during a battle - especially with general view on - but the camera is just too damn close, too obscured and too flat. This results in endless frustration if I'm trying to deploy, this adds nothing but frustration and does not simulate any realism. It would be fine if most of the map was covered in FOW during deployment, but this camera angle business does not hide anything, it just makes control incredibly tedious during deployment phase. Again, to be clear, a limited viewing angle and range DURING THE BATTLE makes perfect sense (though when I turn it OFF, it should be ALL THE WAY OFF - I should be able to view the whole map by zooming out, select troops without worrying about selecting twenty random troops because they're occluded by each other, etc.


    That's all I can think of right now. Obviously this is an old game, but I don't know why some of this nonsense got past beta testing. What's worse is that, unlike TW Rome 2, RTW's interface and camera controls is mostly hard coded and thus there are no mods to fix it. This game is really good, but so many key elements of the INTERFACE are awful, in a way that accomplishes nothing whatsoever and should be obvious to anyone playing - let alone designing - the game.
    On the contrrary,one of the major reasons i still play rome1 is because the battle map camera,is not sensitively fast and doesnt turn you around at a crucial moment like a drunkyard.When i first played med2 i was unable to fight battles because at an important moment i turned around in the wrong direction and was hampered by the strange new angles.A matter of perspective i guess.
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