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Random Thought: Builders beyond available metal should turn off

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12 days ago
I've been playing and spectating in the lobpot this evening, to distract myself from postoperative pain, and noticed something:

New players very often don't seem to understand more buildpower != faster building.

So, what if builders beyond those that are not actually needed to contribute the current rate of metal just... turned off? Maybe with a "No metal" popup icon on them. No actual change to what is happening, just a purely visual indicator that these builders aren't doing anything.

(Also, can we limit the number of storage built to player elo/200 :s)
+5 / -0

12 days ago
make storage unlockable through experience points
+1 / -0
quote:
So, what if builders beyond those that are not actually needed to contribute the current rate of metal just... turned off
I think you are on to something, but as far as I know each builder get a small share of the metal, so practically they do contribute but less and less the more they are for the same "income".

Still, any visual indication for how much a builder is used would help - something to transmit the idea of "builder has only 5% of metal needed to be function".

Additionally that would make priority easier to manage. Now if you forget a builder on high/low priority it is harder to notice...

EDIT: USrankKerr: hope your operation went well at least!
+0 / -0
12 days ago
Could just be a matter of putting a no metal icon on top of builders that use using below, say, 40% buildpower.
+0 / -0


12 days ago
If it is just UI, then it depends entirely on the visual design. Such a thing could very easily become another icon in a whole sea of things to look at.
+1 / -0
12 days ago
If you use the particle system you can see it from teh caretakers or builder puffing a bit less i think
+1 / -0
12 days ago
Groups of builders working on the same task with insufficient resources could redistribute work to allow as many of them as possible to turn their effects off. For example, if there are ten Convicts putting 17 metal per second into one Fusion Reactor wireframe, only four of them need to be actively building and the other six could be standing by with no visual effect.

A stronger version of this change would make the extra workers actually change what they are doing in certain commands when they have insufficient metal. For example, if three of those ten Convicts are on area repair commands and there is no energy stall, those three excess Convicts could automatically move on to other subtasks that will not require metal. Attack move and Patrol commands could act similarly. The risk here is that a brief interruption to the metal supply could result in splitting the available build power among different wireframes, but if you don't want that you could've just been using Guard or a single target Repair.
+0 / -0

12 days ago
From a visual perspective, in order to not clutter the UI, it's possible to change the thickness of the bean or the density of the nanolite particles in order to signify, "This unit is starving for metal." Considering how beams turn on and off already, this shouldn't complicate design too far: The highest priority is to ensure the visual effect does not tank CPU usage (My game can't handle low setting, only the lowest, and I've got a feeling that I'm not alone).
+0 / -0

12 days ago
quote:
If it is just UI, then it depends entirely on the visual design. Such a thing could very easily become another icon in a whole sea of things to look at.


Ok but that didn`t stop the other icons from being used either, am I right?
+0 / -0
12 days ago
Buckymancer: I specifically wouldn't want a change in behavior. I often put more constructors on a job than needed - so that a metal glut can be used. It would be frustrating if they left to do something else when they were given a specific job.

I think turning off the nanobeam/particles + flashing a no metal icon on them (sort of like the wait icon) would be my ideal result. Possibly flashing a no energy icon could also be helpful.

It's just to provide visual feedback to new players that do not yet understand the systems at play.

Diminishing the nanoparticles/beam only would not be very useful IMO. They are already basically not noticeable. Not also having the icon would make people wonder "Why the heck aren't these builders working?!"
+0 / -0
It is very difficult to suggest a change that isn't already in the game and that new players do not already undertand or pay attention to.

For instance I once requested a buildpower bar that shows the total BP of selected units and their current spending, thinking I could just point new players to it and they would understand immediately.

That was already in the game and I never noticed it, or it just got added at some point and it took me a really long time to notice.


If you already understand that 20 bp on 10 metal income can, no matter what, only spend 10m/s at most (assuming depleted storage) and also understand build priority, any more information in the UI is just clutter. All you need is to know how much BP you currently have selected, which build priority it's on and then quickly look a the top to check your metal income.



I think the real situation is that it's a mix of players don't understand economy, or they do understand to some degree but don't understand their build order is either bad or straight up dysfuctional.

If a player opens with 2+ plates or 1 fac and 6 caretakers, I simply don't know what to do other than to tell them you do not currently have 30+ metal per second to spend and, in lop pot, very likely never will during the entire match. All those players need is at some point, one match, to see one player spam cons and reclaim a bunch, then build a single krow on 4+ caretakers and then they endlessly try to replicate that without understanding how that worked that one time in that one unicorn of a match.

"It sometimes works" ... or so I've been told. Yah, right.



I thought of things like having the commander set to high priority by default and then having a tooltip for new players that states that everything builds slow unless your commander builds it, but that's training wheels and any experienced player will fight back stating that training wheels instill bad habits and are not leading to acquiring a deep understanding of the mechanics.

The same can be said of some level of automation. Some replaces things that are easy to understand but hard to execute (such as skirmishers dodging each other's shots), but some automation becomes a nuisance that the player fights against. What if I intentionally send a bunch of cons to assist something because I know I am capturing a reclaim field and am about to drastically increase my income? Or, what if the team is about to donate me a bunch of metal? I don't want to have to fight automation pulling my cons away when I understand what I am doing and intend on doing exactly what I am ordering.


Thinking out loud, the only thing I think that might work is if cons/cares are pooling more than they can spend, have the beam/fog flash different colors so that it draws attention. If they can spend their full BP, then it's steady green. But that won't stop people from executing 7 cons into 6 caretakers into having all that stall at spending 10m/s.

Some players just don't want to understand. There's that one thing they do and that's what they're going to do every match.
+3 / -0
12 days ago
USrankKerr I agree with most of what you said, which is why I only suggested behavior changes for area commands.
+0 / -0

10 days ago
Instead of adding more information to the UI, it would be better to have some kind of economy tutorial.
"Team/Shared economy" seems to trip up a lot of new players (ref. storage spam).

Alternatively, auto-place a "Hi, I'm new!" label for them in lobpot :P
+0 / -0

10 days ago
There is a tutorial: the campaign.
+0 / -0
10 days ago
The information "My construction is going slow because I'm low on metal, and more builders won't help" is derived information with the interface as it is. The problem with derived information is that it requires understanding of the underlying system. Making the builders appear to stop working would make it immediately obvious that building more wouldn't change the situation.
+1 / -0
AUrankAdminGoogleFrog If I spent a minute writing a widget for this sometime soon(tm), would we consider trialing it as a default? I don't want to spend the time to do it if there's no interest at all.
+0 / -0
If I have a bunch of builders (on the same priority) and their buildpower substantially exceeds my available resources, then all of my builders are going to slow down to the same reduced efficiency.
quote:
builders beyond those that are not actually needed to contribute the current rate of metal just... turned off? Maybe with a "No metal" popup icon on them.

So I'm not sure that this idea makes sense in that context, since it is not possible to identify the "offending" builders.

quote:
For example, if there are ten Convicts putting 17 metal per second into one Fusion Reactor wireframe, only four of them need to be actively building and the other six could be standing by with no visual effect.

This addresses that issue, but I am pretty leery of a solution that involves units not doing what they are told.

(Obviously the situation changes when one messes with priority. But I don't think this is terribly useful to somebody who understands the priority system, anyway.)
+2 / -0
AUrankAdminAquanim
In my mind, the change is purely visual. 10m/sec available, and 10 builders contributing, each still builds at 1m/s. Just stop the nanobeams/particles, building animation, and draw a no metal icon on a portion of the builders.

I do understand the concern about units appearing to stop functioning. I'd argue that this is more true to the reality of low metal than appearing to still function.

For that matter, now that I think about it, when I am building something frontline and it isn't getting enough metal... I usually notice by stopping and watching it for a few moments (the ETA text is small), or thinking "hey that should have been done by now".

Alternately, If stopping the building animation/particles is too jarring, we could just use the icon by itself.
+0 / -0
Here's another idea. If your build power applied to a single project exceeds your income by a certain margin (metal or energy, whichever is lower or/and at 0 storage), all the builders of that project have a "AFK" icon or some sort of visual effect (like disarm flashing) applied to them.

That way the player who doesn't understand eco yet can see that effect and pull one con at a time to reclaim/repair and see if the effect persists, then pull another one until the icon/effect disappears.
+1 / -0


8 days ago
quote:
AUrankAdminGoogleFrog If I spent a minute writing a widget for this sometime soon(tm), would we consider trialing it as a default? I don't want to spend the time to do it if there's no interest at all.

  • 1. Running a trail is pointless if no data is being collected. I don't see what data we have that would detect anything like the expected effect size.
  • 2. It isn't clear what problem is being solved or how to solve it. Surely a mock-up before a full widget would be better.

Can we start with images? So we know the baseline that we're talking about. This is what stalling and non-stalling construction looks like.


The difference seems pretty stark to me. Is this what you see? If it isn't, perhaps graphics could be fixed such that it is? Perhaps nanolasers are a necessity for some reason, could their widths be adjusted? What does BAR do? Presumably they want to have effects that work for broken graphics drivers.

This seems like the place to start. Clean up the current visual feedback to give more useful information, rather than add even more clutter. The proposals for extra icons or overlays look very optimistic to me. The story seems to be something like this:
  • An icon pops up over a constructor, or a constructor starts flashing, or otherwise looks a bit different.
  • The player notices this and investigates it.
  • The player swaps constructors around and finds that the effect is to do with there being "too many" constructors.
  • The player intuits that they need to get more metal and energy to increase their build rate, rather than add more constructors.

This story seems quite questionable.
  • I don't see why we would expect players to notice a new icon or state when it appears. New player attention is very narrow and there are a lot of things vying for their attention. Many things look bad depending on your context, and I think a lot of people have been taught to filter our such things.
  • A player removes a "bad state" constructor from a project and notices that "bad state" goes away. They add it back, and the "bad state" returns. It seems natural to assume that the constructor is broken somehow. Shuffling around constructors to check whether the "bad state" moves around feels like an extra step that people are going to stumble across rarely.
  • Even if the player reaches this "This construction can only support two Caretakers" conclusion, how are they going to link that to metal and energy? Maybe it means that factories have a hard constructor limit of two, which is a simpler hypothesis than something to do with the whole economy. A player with ten plates is going to avoid having "bad state" on all of them, right?

It seems to me that singling out a single constructor as "the problem" would actually mislead players. Not to mention all the times good players intentionally put their constructors into "bad state", with examples in this thread. These are often temporary attention-saving measures, but if we do actually successfully train people to avoid "bad state", then such measures would be unavailable to players as they learn a bit more.

I am also wary of making this state look like a game mechanic. Disarm and EMP flashing mean something, they aren't just a bit of UI. Teaching a phantom mechanic seems quite bad.

I'm not saying nothing can be done, just that:
  • I haven't heard a reason that we can't get all the available benefit from improving existing feedback, and I think my main disagreement here is the extent to which people can be forced to learn this by a bit of UI.
  • I don't think blaming a constructor with an overhead icon is going to help.

By all means make a widget, but I think the main thing to do now is design, so it would be a prototype to mock-up ideas. Here are some things that should serve as good intermediate goals:
  • Aim for something that is good enough for everyone to keep enabled, even after they become a lot better at the game. Training wheels that are meant to be removed will bitrot, and there won't be any pressure to make the UI any good. This also means the system has to unobtrusive and not spam false positives at people who are using the economy in reasonable ways.
  • Think about how to make it context sensitive. If you can detect when people are thinking about the build rate of project X, then display this information exactly at those times, they are much more likely to notice and make a link. Perhaps display the efficiencies of constructors assisting a factory when it is selected, or when mousing over a nanoframe.
  • Be defensive. We know what the icon means, but to anyone else it is a cluster of pixels. Think about the many things that the indicator could mean, and figure out how to help players discount those possibilities, with no extra information.
+4 / -0
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