[Suggestion] Change the "expedite priority" functionality

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[Suggestion] Change the "expedite priority" functionality

Post by Woetoo » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:29 am

There's a common quote "Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler."

I've mentioned it before here on the forums, but I think the UI has been made "simpler" than it needs to be and a fine example is the recently added "priority construction" functionality. Where a player can double click an incomplete item to get it pushed to the top of the build queue.

I find the mechanic clunky at best. Downright frustrating at worst.
It's existence is obfuscated and I would imagine most users who don't read the patch notes (ie, just play the game) wouldn't even know it has been added.
I can imagine that it's something that could be added to the tutorial and people would become aware that way - except there will be players who skip the tutorial. It's not like anyone reads the manual any more. It's like one of those games where someone only finds out they can do something because they found it in the keybind settings.

I can see how it happened.
Players are constantly complaining that things aren't getting built and they don't know why - so a "build quicker" function is added to appease us. (See note below**)
Because Simon has expressed a preference for a "minimal UI", that functionality got bound to double click as a way of avoiding it being added to the UI.

At the end of the day, if it's an important piece of functionality, it shouldn't be so hard to find out it exists. And sticking rigidly to to a design philosophy ahead of user experience is just crazy.

** Note: I don't actually think the "build now" functionality is needed at all. It is a solution to a symptom, rather than a cure to the underlying problem. That is to say, if a player doesn't understand why something isn't getting built - the problem lies is the lack of information and feedback available to the player. Of course, there's also the alpha nature of bugs also interfering with building stuff. So it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't world.

So what would I do?

Solution 1: Add a "High Priority Build" button next to the "Call Down Lander Capsule" button.

Clicking the button would be a toggle. The cursor would change to perhaps have a lightning symbol overlaid on it or drawn on the hand or something or perhaps a colour change. Just something to highlight that the cursor is in "boost" mode.
Clicking an unbuilt item in the world would flag it as being high priority. Bonus points for putting a lightning symbol over the top of the item template shown in the world. The hand cursor would return to normal.
Right clicking without using it would cancel the boost mode.
Perhaps the use of the button could be tied to some unspecified resource (time? average colonist mood?), so that the boost isn't available all the time and would become one of those gameplay resources which could be varied to introduce variety/difficulty.

Solution 2: Add a priority information console to a mythical "control room" room.

I've mentioned a central base control room a couple of times. I think Simon even mentioned that he had plans for one.
So I'd like to add a construction item to the room. A floor standing logistics command console.
When hovering the mouse over the console, the tooltip shows a list of outstanding build items and their "status" (maybe "Waiting on colonist Jenkins" or "Waiting on build materials" or "Colonist Jenkins on route"). The list would be sorted by build priority, so the player knows what things are going to (roughly) happen in what order.
Bonus points for changing the interface from tooltip to clicking on the console to show an overlayed popup interface that looks something like an iPad, showing the same information.

Solution 3: Add an alternative priority information console to a mythical "control room" room.

Maybe have it automatically added as a wall console to a new control room, so it's always available.
An alternative to solution #2. Instead of showing a list of current tasks... show the internal priority table weightings.
Okay, I'm speculating. But I suspect that the priority things are built in is controlled by a single weightings table.
Something like:
  • Build Workshop Table = 99
  • Build Doorway = 95
  • Build Pot Plant = 10
  • Build Heater = 75
  • Build Smelter = 80
  • Build Bed = 65
  • Build Hydroponics plant = 66
Or something similar. btw, extra points if there are two or more priorities per task (one for first time, one for every time after that ... ie. 1st workshop table is essential, the 2nd isn't).
One criticism of the game right I have right now is that players don't see enough information about why things are happening. Just displaying this information would help with that.

Triple bonus points for implementing a system similar to Settlers by Blue Byte Software (1993), where the user can alter those priorities within the game. Essentially dragging tasks up and down the priority list to alter what tasks the colonists will choose to do next.

Solution 4: Add colonist information console to a mythical "control room" room.

As an addition to, or an alternative to solutions #2 or #3. A list of colonists (and robots?) and what they are currently doing.
Selling point for Simon: This would make the UI simplier, because it would remove the need for the "Base Manifest" UI element by moving it into the game world.
To be useful though, it would need to be explicit detail on the colonist's current activity - not just their current location.
Again, bonus points for a popup iPad style overlay.

As a side note: I should say that I've never used the Base Manifest until today. I'd ignored it's UI element [?] as being just a general help button or something linked to the mail system. It was only writing up this forum post jogging a vague memory of Simon using it during a livestream that made me fire up the game and try it. At the very least, it perhaps deserves a more eyecatching icon - something which conveys it's true purpose. Honestly though, I think it could be better implemented as a console's display - especially since the current tooltip information is often bigger than the screen, so a lot of information can't be shown.

Solution 5: Remove the double click functionality completely and fix the underlying issues.

Once bugs are no longer stopping colonists completing tasks...
Once a player can reasonably understand "why" something hasn't been built yet...

... the double click stuff isn't needed. So fix those instead.

Either with a combination of the solutions I've already suggested. Or by adding a bit more information to the tooltip when a player mouses over a structure waiting to be built (status, assigned colonist, "waiting for...", etc).

Fix the root cause, not the symptoms.

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