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Moving from a main 2D interface to a 3D?


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I wonder if moving from a 2D interface to a cooler looking 3D free camera interface would hinder the gameplay, since there are so many clicks and missions etc that seem to be easier to do in 2D. Of course a nice 3D zoomable Universe would be really nice to look at; but I was afraid it would make it a pain to to keep track of a couple hundred planets at one glance. maybe a TAB overlay button to help in 2D to show loyality and some other book keeping data.


I invision seeing the hyperspace routes, and somewhat realtime /trun based action. To see you fleets moving to a system and zooming in for the action, plus watching realtime ground assaults and planetary batteries firing.


Sins of a Solar Empire kind of does this, and so did EAW. I just wonder if it would really work in Rebellion type game, messing up the basic gameplay mechanics too much.

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  • SWR Staff - Executive

I've always had problems with the Rebellion interface. That is what I think turns off most people. More 3D with less "windows" to open would be ideal.

I never liked the "jump anywhere to anywhere" system either. It doesn't give a sense of territory, plus people can just leave their ships in hyperspace for months ... not realistic. Obviously the Rebels had the advantage of "surprise attacks" but I think you can incorporate that into other avenues of the game system.


I would almost say, make Sins of a Solar Empire into Rebellion 2. It has a great interface and works pretty well... my only concern is it lacks true units other than spaceships... no characters, no special forces, no troops, etc.


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When the Space Empires series transitioned from 2D to 3D, I was initially a HUGE fan. Then I played it....and hated it. I like 3D graphics but the engine is sluggish and the UI is terrible (worse than Rebellion's IMO). I've gone back to playing SE4 because of it's speed and efficient design.


Rebellion's UI makes terrible use of the on-screen real-estate but I think with some re-organization it would work decently.


I tried playing the Warlords mod for Sins of a Solar Empire, and I found that controlling and interacting with multiple solar systems to be excruciatingly painful. I wouldn't want to use it to simulate a galaxy-wide conflict like the ones we have in Star Wars.


Take a look at Freeorion (www.freeorion.org). I like how they handle the galaxy map and system displays. One thing I've learned from the Space Empires series is that having full system maps where ships can move around is largely unnecessary, since it's mostly unused dead space. You can easily handle multi-planet systems without this feature.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, here are my two cents.


First all of the mentioned games (EAW, Sins, Rebellion and FreeOrion) are basically 2D games and IMHO it doesn't matter whether you use 2D or 3D camera as long as you honor some basic GUI/HCI rules - GUI should be well-arranged, and intuitive, requiring as little clicks/key shortcuts/hand movements as possible, shouldn't be confusing to the user and must be easy to pick up (=intuitive). I'll talk about 2D space (like in those games), although some ideas could be easily translated into fully 3D galaxy (and some ideas might require 3D glasses ;)) if anyone's interested.


Let's start from the start - we have a view of the galaxy. What do we want to display? Systems (Rebellion, FreeOrion) or planets (the other games)? How are the systems connected - by lines or are they just placed in space somewhere (also lines could be easily translated to 3D, while lines would require a bit more expensive hardware :))


Displaying is pretty straightforward, imho the best would be to squeeze as much info about a sector/planet into it's icon. I really liked the "star" highlighting in Rebellion, so I would probably use it as well (colour of a system icon indicates its alegiance and loyalty/industry/etc). Might as well display small icons near the system (like EAW or Sins). The icon might have some highlight effect (display more info when the mouse was over), but we don't want the player to exercise his muscles much so this shouldn't be a pivotal element of out GUI :). If we want to use 3D camera and find it too confusing, we can always carefully restrict it's movement.


The tricky part is interaction with our galaxy map. We want to reduce the number of clicks required for each operation so it'd would be probably best to abuse drag & drop mechanism a little. There are basically two kinds of objects we can interact with - ships and agents.


Ship movement:

This might be simple drag & drop (like in original Reb.) encountering enemy fleet leads to battle simple. At least if we use the system=planet model, otherwise it's a bit problematic. Out fleet is hidden in a system, which means we have to open some kind of window with that system (1 click :() - I kinda like the system view in FreeOrion (http://www.optisch-edel.de/fo/screenshots/galaxymap.jpg) although there are no ships on the screenshot, however targetting a new planet would require us to "open" another system to see it's planets, which is another click and another window obstructing the view, that's bad. How to do it? Here are some possible scenarios.


- We could have a small transparent popup window with planets appears above a system when mouse hovers above it for a while. So we could grab a ship, move it over the target system, wait (ouch ouch, players are impatient) until the popup appears and drop the ship over it's destination. However if we moved the mouse over several system and popup timeout would be set too low, many annoying popup windows would be spawned, which wouldn't be too good.

- If we chose to display planets and sectors like on this screenshot (http://img.gamespot.com/gamespot/images/2006/037/reviews/925349_20060207_screen001.jpg - is it galciv?)w e could easily drag our fleets onto any planet we like. problems with galaxy visibility could be solved by utilizing zoomable system (Sins) which would from a certain zoom level display only systems (and hide planets).


Agent interaction:

This is a slightly bigger problem than ship movement, because agents (and missions) do not target entire planets, but other agents, ships (and planets). One possible solution (at least what I could think of right now) would be to redefine the system of agents/missions and use them more like Total War series does. Eg. we have an diplomat - if he's on a planet and is active, he automatically conducts diplomacy/incite uprising missions. The same system could work for spies (espionage). Recruiting could also work by dragging onto a planet. Question is what to do with other characters...

Perhaps a little dialog box. Let's say we drag a researcher over a planet and a small dialog box (or a popup menu) pops up :roll: and lets us choose what kind of research should this character conduct. Or we could drag him onto a specific production facility (but that would require him to already be in that system or an extra click). Officers could be promoted by dragging onto ships/fleets/ground units (although unpromoting would be unintuitive). Sabotage/abduction/rescue missions would have to be done with the help of that popup menu (unless someone has a better idea) :(


So these are my ideas, I'm looking forward to your feedback, especially from future players :)

-rebellion2 enthusiast-

Terra Reconstructed

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  • 2 years later...

I have zero problems with the 2D galaxy in Rebellion. I think it's really hard to pull off a good 3D way of doing this, the last time I saw it done in a way I liked it was in a game called Ascendancy, but that worked out well because you could only go between planet systems by specific links (wormholes basically), not freely. So the structure was easier to understand.


Besides, the Star Wars galaxy is rather flat, just like ours. So what's the point. (On the other hand a tactical 3D battle makes sense, due to maneuvering/tactics, even though star systems are generally flat too).


A common theme that I think applies to all such questions: please remember you're not just making "a cool game", you're making a remake of Rebellion. People want to play a remake of Rebellion because we love Rebellion, and we hope it will be very much like Rebellion, not just "vaguely related to" or "inspired by".


So any idea X might answer YES to the question "does this sound cool" but NO to "is this a good idea for a remake of Rebellion". At least that's how I feel about it. I hope that made sense. :)

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